Is Salvation by Faith in Jesus Unfair to Those Who Never Hear of Him?

Written by Amy K. Hall |
Thursday, June 6, 2024

God’s grace is freely given—not to those who are owed it, but to those who aren’t. No one can say that justice demands they be given something they didn’t earn; and if someone gives an undeserved gift to one, in no way is he required to give the same gift to all. As Sproul concludes, this is the beauty and wonder of grace. 

What about those who never hear of Jesus? This is one of the most common questions I receive, and as with most of those common questions, it has to do with a challenge to the character of God. Is God acting unfairly if his salvation depends on trusting in Jesus and some never hear of him? Does justice require that God reveal himself to everyone?

In God’s Love, R.C. Sproul responds to the even stronger objection leveled at Calvinists that God would be unjust if he chose some for salvation but not others, but you don’t have to be a Calvinist to appreciate the quote. His concise explanation of why election by grace is consistent with the character of a good and just God applies equally to the objection about those who never hear of Jesus:

Somehow it is widely assumed that God owes all people either the gift of salvation or at least a chance of salvation. Since they cannot be saved apart from His grace, He owes it to everyone to grant them that grace.

This kind of thinking results from a fundamental confusion between God’s justice and His mercy or grace.

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