Our, ‘What About?’ series, aims to answer the most common questions we get asked as a Christian Church in Texas.
Watch the sermon or read the manuscript to find out how we communicate with people who haven’t heard the Gospel.
What About, People Who Haven’t Heard?: Sermon Manuscript
This morning we are continuing our series called, “What About?” You can look through the devotional to see where we are going over the next 7 weeks, and I just want to let you know how proud I am of our church family going through this series.
I know this series is weighty, I know the conversations are challenging, but there is a sweetness to the challenge, because it’s possible you are thinking to yourself, “How come Michael didn’t say this or that?” Why didn’t Michael bring up that point or this point?
My goal throughout the series is not to address every question. My goal isn’t to put a bow on these conversations, so we never need to talk about it again, but instead this series is an invitation.
It is an invitation to get involved. It is an invitation to engage. It is an invitation to Look Around so that the volatility of the day doesn’t lull us to sleep but instead moves us to get involved.
Two weeks ago, we talked about the role of women, last Sunday we talked about abortion, both of which you can find on our YouTube Channel, and this morning we are talking about what happens to people who have never heard about Jesus?
What does the Bible say about people who are Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, Hindu, or atheist? What about the person who lives in the jungle and never has contact with anyone? How do we engage that conversation today?
In our time together we are going to focus on three sub-points; 1. Define The Conversation. 2. What Are The Objections? 3. How Does God’s Word Respond? (Let’s look at the first sub-point; 1. Define The Conversation.
- Define The Conversation.
As we step into this conversation, we need to acknowledge this isn’t a hypothetical conversation. We are talking about real people, real lives, for eternity, therefore, we want to be clear in this conversation, but we always want to be sensitive and gentle when we talk about this conversation. Does that make sense?
This is the challenge is all of these conversations of our day. We don’t want to be so clear that we are hurtful, but we don’t want to be so gentle that we are ambiguous, so this morning we will just begin with the statement:
Scripture is clear, only upon hearing the name of Jesus, and responding in faith and repentance can we be reconciled to the God of Scripture and spend eternity with Him.
There are many verses we could read, but just want to give you a few this morning:
- John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
- Acts 4:12, “12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
- 1 John 5:12, “12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”
- John 3:18, “18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
It is common for people to hear those verses and say, “Yes, but Jesus was about love, gentleness, patience, sympathy, and I don’t think Jesus will hold us accountable for something someone has never heard.”
Yes, Jesus is loving, gentle, patient, and sympathetic, but I want you to also see that Jesus makes really radical statements about the importance of His role in humanity and they are statements of superiority.
- John 11: I am the resurrection and the life. Jesus doesn’t say, “My life points to the resurrection, I am a symbol of resurrection, but I am.”
- Mark 2: I am the Lord of the Sabbath. In Mark 2 Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath and the religious leaders say, “You shouldn’t be working on the Sabbath.” Jesus doesn’t say, “I point to the Sabbath, I model the Sabbath, I am encourage people to take Sabbaths.” No, Jesus says, “I am the source and author of the eternal Sabbath rest.”
- Mark 11: I am rest. In Mark 11, when Jesus speaks of rest He doesn’t reference others, He doesn’t encourage other books, He doesn’t point to other prophets, but instead Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
If you read about Jesus’ life in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John you will see there is never a discourse where Jesus embraces ambiguity.
Instead, Jesus is always challenging, always pushing, always pointing people to either reject Him, or follow Him and worship Him as Lord, so that you could really take the life of Jesus and break His life down into four categories.
- Jesus’ Power. There is no other religious leader in history who did what Jesus did. Miracles over nature, over life, over sickness, and then personally conquering death in the resurrection and appearing to over 500 people over 40 days. Every other religious leader is dead. Jesus is alive.
- Jesus’ Predicted. 100’s of years before Jesus is born we see promises of what Jesus would look like, where He would be born, when He would be born, so that other people were trying to fake it so that they would look like the Savior, but Jesus is the only one who fulfilled them all.
- Jesus’ Preaching. Not only did Jesus do the miraculous, but His teaching was miraculous. No other religious leader has talked the way Jesus talked. Every other religious leader tells us what to do, Jesus tells us what He would do, and then He did it. Said believe in Me!.
- Jesus’ Perfection. No other religious leader has lived like Jesus. Jesus was perfect in every way. Others make claims that point us to God, but Jesus told us He was and is God.
This is why we can say, “Scripture is clear, only upon hearing the name of Jesus, and responding in faith and repentance can we be reconciled to the God of Scripture and spend eternity with Him.”
I know this is hard to hear, I know this is controversial in our culture today, I know there is a layer in us this morning that wants to push back and say, “But, what about the millions and millions of innocent people all over the world?”
And we will touch on that objection in a minute, but when we say to ourselves, or to others, “All God’s Children, God knows our heart, all faiths are the same” then you need to know we are rejecting God’s Word and we are calling Jesus is a liar, because Scripture is clear, only upon hearing the name of Jesus, and responding in faith and repentance can we be reconciled to the God of Scripture, and spend eternity with Him. Let’s look at some objections.
- What are the objections?
First, the primary objection a person might give is, “Who cares?” Who cares about Jesus? Who cares about eternity? Why does this conversation even matter? Listen to me, we are in a day when the people around us aren’t familiar with the Scriptures, so they don’t even understand why this conversation matters.
But the reason this conversation matters is because there is pain and suffering in this world. That isn’t an option. We don’t get to choose if there is pain and suffering in this world. It just is, and as human beings we have to figure out a way to navigate the pain and suffering of our day.
Jesus is the best answer to help us navigate the pain and suffering in this world! Heaven isn’t just in the future. In Jesus, we can taste of heaven on earth today, and Jesus looks at our pain and suffering and doesn’t say, “Suck it up, work harder, block out.”
Jesus doesn’t say, “Pain and suffering isn’t real, just meditate.” Jesus doesn’t say, “Do all these things to overcome pain and suffering.” Jesus doesn’t say, “Just love one another.”
But instead, Jesus says, “I will take your pain and suffering at the cross, and defeat it for eternity” so that we can have living, eternal hope in Him today.
Second, people will say, “Isn’t it better to just say, ‘All faiths are basically the same?” It sounds more inclusive. It sounds more accepting.
But do you know how offensive it is to walk up to a Muslim and say, “Your faith is basically like Buddhism.” It’s not very unique. It’s not that different. In a culture that values tolerance and acceptance, you need to know that response is very offensive.
Second, the statement “all faiths are basically the same” is an arrogant statement draped in humility. It sounds humble and accepting, while at the same time making a dogmatic statement “all faiths are the same.” Please don’t say that to people. It’s rude.
Throughout this series I want to provide principles you can apply to all of these conversations to help us engage these conversations, and there is a narrative in our culture today that the faiths of the world are the primary problems of our world.
Therefore, if we can neutralize those faiths by presenting them as “all say the same thing” then we are going to make the world a better place. But it won’t because the statement is rude and offensive.
Third, and last objection, people will say, “But, surely God will give a special pass at some point? What about those millions and millions of people? How can people be held responsible if they’ve never heard?”
Here’s the problem, if never hearing the gospel was a means by which we get an exemption, and there is no accountability, then we should never share the gospel. Does that make sense?
We should put the gospel in a box, lock it up and hide it away, so that humanity can always claim that exemption, but instead in the life of Jesus, and the disciples we see the exact opposite.
We see them tirelessly taking the name of Jesus around the known world. We see them sacrificing their lives, sacrificing comforts so that as many as possible might hear the name of Jesus, and be reconciled to God. Let’s look at God’s Word.
- How Does God’s Word Respond?
Let’s look at Romans 1:18-25. Romans is written by the Apostle Paul, and in the beginning of chapter 1 we see the Apostle Paul in awe of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and in verse 18 he begins to explain why Jesus is so important.
Romans 1:18, “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”
Listen we see the phrase “wrath of God” and that makes us really uncomfortable, but you need to know the God of Scripture is always fair. 1 Peter 1:17 our Heavenly Father is impartial in His judgment. Romans 2:11 for our God shows no partiality.
None of us are comfortable with God’s judgment, but the answer isn’t indifference. No, our greatest hope is that the wickedness of humanity will be held accountable, and we can take great comfort that He is fair in His judgment.
Second, the word “suppress” means all of humanity knows God, and literally “pushes the knowledge of God out of our lives.” The tribesman in the darkest jungles knows God. The middle schooler at Murchison knows God, and both push the knowledge of God out of our lives. Look at verses 19-20:
Romans 1:19-20, “19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
How does all of humanity throughout all of history “know God” and “suppress the knowledge of God?” We do it through ignoring God’s “invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature” revealed in creation.
Listen to me, I am not saying every person in history knows about Sunday morning worship at 10am, but I am saying every person in history knows deep inside of them there is a divine Creator God, because verse 19, “that which is known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them” and we push it out.
It’s like if we go to the dentist, dentist says we have cavity, and we say, “I don’t want to think about that right now.” Or, we go to school and the teacher says, “We have a test on Monday” and we think to ourselves, “I don’t want to think about that right now.”
It is as though humanity sees the complexity of muscle tissue, the expanse of stars, planets, and galaxies, the beauty of mountains, land, and sea, and concludes, “Oh, obviously those detailed, intelligently designed beautiful things spontaneously sprung into existence.”
You with me? First, God is always fair. Second, all people know there is a God. Third, all people reject Him so that we are without excuse. Look at verse 21:
Romans 1:21, “21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Romans 3 says we have all fallen short of the glory of God. Ephesians 2 that we are dead in our sin. Genesis 3 cast from His presence. John 8 we are spiritually blind, so that in our state of darkness we not only suppress, and reject, but we also exchange. Look at verses 22-23:
Romans 1:22-23, “22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”
You see the problem isn’t ignorance. The problem for humanity isn’t an opportunity. In Romans 1 we see humanity “knows there is a divine Creator” at the core of our soul, and we simply give our lives to something else.
The bible calls those things idols, but today we call them hobbies. We don’t just eat food, we worship food. We don’t just work a job; we worship our career. We don’t just fall in love, we become stalkers. We don’t just make some money, we worship money, because we suppress, reject, and exchange.
Therefore, when we talk about this question, we need to remember God is always fair. Second, all people know there is a God. Third, all people reject Him. Fourth, we not only reject, but we also exchange, so that the fifth take-away this morning is that there are no innocent people.
We always think to ourselves, “What about the innocent people of the world?” The word “innocent” is so important. There are no innocent people in the world. You know that’s true?
If people are “innocent” then those people will spend eternity with Jesus, but none of us are innocent, therefore, it doesn’t matter what country you live, or what point in history, we can be confident there are no innocent people.
Therefore, when we ask the question, “What happens to people who never believe in Jesus?” They perish. This is why Jesus is so glorious.
Jesus, the creator of all things sees His creation not only rejecting, but giving our adoration to man-made idols, and yet His response is to step out of the heavens, take on flesh, go through the humility of being spat upon, and He willingly lays down His life at the cross and conquers death in the resurrection, so that whosoever might believe in Him will find life, and find life abundantly. That’s the gospel.
I hope you hear some urgency in this conversation. There is urgency to respond. Believe in Jesus today.
You don’t have to attend North Village Church. You don’t have to vote a particular way. The door is wide open to believe in Jesus, but, you do need to believe in Jesus today. There is no other answer for the pain and suffering in this life than the name of Jesus.
For those of us who have believed in Jesus, then like the disciples of old, we want to sacrifice the comforts of our lives to proclaim as far and as wide the name of Jesus.
Romans 10:14, “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?”
Might we be praying for those people around us! Might we be learning how to walk someone through the 3 Circles Gospel Presentation! Might we be Looking Around for those opportunities expectantly! Might we be able to say to Jesus, “Any time, any place, any person?”
Can people be saved without human beings bringing the gospel? Yes. I read an article stated 1/3 of all Christians in Turkey are drawn to faith through visions and dreams. In China there are thousands coming to faith in Jesus. In 1800 75% of China had never heard of Jesus, and today it is 28%, and shrinking!
Jesus can make the rocks cry out His name, but the invitation in God’s Word is to not only receive Jesus, but also invite people around us to believe in Jesus, because if you don’t know Jesus you will perish!
Many people around us have heard the name of Jesus, but they’ve never heard the gospel. They’ve never heard about heaven on earth through faith in Jesus. They’ve never seen someone walk with grace and truth, therefore, might we not just be content with being nice people, but also clear people who invite people regularly and often to believe in Jesus.
North Village Church
This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.
Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.
North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.
You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.
Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.