What Happens To Those Who’ve Never Heard The Gospel?


I received an email a few months ago asking me, what would happen if a man was stuck in a cave and couldn’t be baptised before he died, would he go to heaven?

I could tell by the nature of the email that the person who emailed me wasn’t sincere in their question, they didn’t believe that baptism was necessary for salvation and so they were trying to justify themselves from not being baptised. Needless to say, I reminded them that they weren’t in a cave and had no excuse.

Just like the man in a cave question, what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel, is a similar question which is usually asked with one of two motives. We have those who are sincerely concerned about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ, never mind the Gospel, and we have those who seem to be looking for some kind of salvation loophole so that they themselves don’t have to believe in the Christ or respond His to offer of salvation.

The latter group of people have almost certainly heard of Jesus Christ or they wouldn’t ask about Him, they obviously know they need to do something concerning their own salvation or they wouldn’t be concerned about those who haven’t heard of Jesus or heard the Gospel. It’s possible though that they have never heard the Gospel themselves.

What is the Gospel?

‘Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the GOSPEL I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this GOSPEL you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.’ 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

When we read what the actual Gospel message is, it clear, it’s simple and it’s certainly not confusing. The Gospel is ‘Good News’ and it’s all about what God did for us, God wants us to rejoice over the good news of what Jesus did for all of us on the cross.

Although our sin deserves death, Jesus paid the price and even defeated death, so we too can live forever with God. We’re all sinners, Romans 3:23, in need of salvation but through the death, burial and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, He has provided an opportunity for us to be forgiven of our sins Ephesians 1:7 / Ephesians 2:1-10 and receive eternal life, John 3:16.

His love for us in unconditional, Romans 5:8, but the salvation He offers us is conditional and that’s because God isn’t only a God of love, He’s also a God who requires obedience to His will, Matthew 25:21 / Revelation 2:10.

No Excuse

‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.’ Romans 1:18-20

Paul here speaks about how no-one, no matter where they are from in world, have got no excuse for not knowing God. There’s something instinctive in humans that seeks knowledge of our Creator and the universe He created, and He uses His creation as proof that He exists. Most humans at some point in their lives look up into the sky and wonder, where did all this come from and who created it? etc.

The next natural step in this instinctiveness is to find out more and I’m certain if anyone is determined to find out more about God, then God will make sure it will happen.

What happens to those who’ve never heard of Jesus or heard the Gospel when they die?

The heavens declare God’s glory, Psalm 19:1-6, and tell us how powerful and wonderful He is, but those very same heavens don’t tell us what God wants from us, they don’t tell us the Good News about Jesus.

I believe that it’s absolutely possible that a person may come to the conclusion after looking at creation that there has to be a powerful Creator, they may be in the middle of a remote jungle or on a desert island but what happens if they never get a chance to hear the Gospel, what happens if they’ve never heard of Jesus the Christ?

‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ 2 Peter 3:9

The Bible is very clear that God loves us so much, John 3:16 and wants everyone to get to heaven, and so He is very patient with everyone and doesn’t want anyone to perish.

However, if that person finds themselves living in a place where they’ve never had the chance to hear the Gospel and never even heard of Jesus Christ, I believe that God will do what’s right.

‘Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ Genesis 18:25

When someone dies without ever hearing of Jesus, never mind hearing the Gospel, we can be assured that God, who is loving, just and sovereign, will always do what’s right. His perfect love and justice far exceed our own and whatever He decides will be loving and fair.


I’m confident that nothing will stop God from getting the Good News out to even the most remote parts of the world, Acts 1:8 / Revelation 5:9. And I’m confident that He is more than capable of revealing the truth about Himself to anyone, anywhere. The question is, how does He do that today?

He uses people like you and me, to get out there and tell people that He loves them, and they need to obey the Gospel, in order to live with Him for eternity in heaven.

‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Matthew 28:19-20

God wants us to share the Good News of Jesus with the people in our world, no matter where they are in this world.

‘If you are worried about the people outside of Christianity, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself.’ C.S. Lewis

If you’re a Christian and you’re sincerely concerned about those who have never heard of Jesus and those who have never had a chance to respond to the Gospel, the question is, why don’t you go out and reach these people?

If you’re not a Christian, what’s stopping you from believing in the Christ and obeying the Gospel?

Our Response To The Gospel

Our response must be to have faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Romans 10:17 / Hebrews 11:6. We must repent (change the direction of our lives), Acts 2:38 / Acts 3:19 / Acts 17:30, and acknowledge our faith in Christ Jesus, Matthew 10:32 / Romans 10:9-10 and be baptised (immersed) into water to receive the forgiveness of our sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and so be added to the Lord’s church, Mark 16:16 / Acts 2:37-42 / Acts 22:16. In this way we enter into a new relationship with God and His Son and begin a new life in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 4:17-32.



"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11