"What About the Person Who Never Heard of Jesus?"

I have a question. I have a Jewish person asking me "What about the guy who lives in a far off place and has never heard the name of Jesus proclaimed--is he going to hell?" My immediate answer is that God finds a way to speak to your heart. Now, the Jews of the times of Abraham and Moses who believed in one God--after the cross I would say that John 3:16 holds true--but to a Jewish person who never looked at The New Testament--is there a sensitive yet clear and concise way to answer this?  

I agree with you about God finding a way to speak to your heart. And I do believe that there may be people in heaven who trusted in the God they knew was there without necessarily knowing His name, through no fault of their own. Since Romans 1 says that God has left evidence of His eternal power and divine nature all over creation, so that we are without excuse, every person is responsible for responding to the light he DOES have, and God, being a fair judge, will know whether a person had the chance to hear the gospel and name the name of Christ.

Concerning your specific question about a Jewish person who never looked at the New Testament, I think he might be in the same category as people who never heard of Jesus. . . however, in today's Jewish culture, part of what defines a Jew is "not believing in Jesus." It's not a valid definition, and it's not true, but it's hard to imagine anyone growing up in a Jewish culture--particularly in North or South America--who wasn't aware of the Jesus of Christianity in the surrounding culture.

So, I think the bottom line is that God would judge a Jewish person by the same standard as anyone else: "What did you do with the light you received?"

Your Jewish friend asks an important question, and it gives you the opportunity to talk about the character of God. I am grateful that our God is not only just, but loving, and I believe that He will allow the blood of Jesus to cover those who had no chance to reject Him, such as babies who die before or after birth, or the mentally impaired. I would think that this same heart that longs for us to turn to Him would also respond in love to the cry of a heart that says, "God, if you are there, here I am! I don't know you, but you are God and I am not, and I trust you!"

I hope this makes sense.

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries

See also Kerby Anderson's answer to this question