Throughout this series, we have discussed Jesus’ role as the only source through which anyone receives salvation and eternal life. There is nothing that anyone can do to save his or her self. Whether or not an individual knows Jesus by name or only as the one true God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, salvation is by faith alone.
Although unfortunate, there are undoubtedly those who live and die without ever hearing about Jesus or a coming Messiah. Even so, the majority of individuals are without excuse, having seen the glory of God in the created world but denying God’s place in their lives.
The God that we learn about through His Word, the Bible, is all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly wise, patient, and altogether good. With these qualities, it seems reasonable to me that He would save the highest possible percentage of those He creates.
As stated last time, God orchestrated the entire timeline of human existence as an elaborate design, fitting individuals together like an intricately completed puzzle. The resulting creation brings God the greatest glory possible because it features free moral beings willfully acting out God’s wishes and desires uncoerced.
But what about those who have no physical capacity to see the glory of God displayed throughout the cosmos? Individuals such as the unborn, who die in the womb, infants, young children, and those with certain disabilities would not possess the sensations and mental acuity to make a meaningful faith choice.
The first thing that we must remember when answering this question is that God is good. Nobody will receive undeserved punishment, and God will extend His grace as far as possible. Psalm 96 teaches us that His judgments are fair and righteous and that He is faithful.
10 …he will judge the peoples with equity.”
13 …for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness. (Psalm 96:10, 13)
God’s purpose for the physical universe is His glorification through the redemption of lost souls for an eternal kingdom filled with those who love Him and seek to glorify His name. He does this through Jesus and has put everything in His hands.
35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:35-36)
There is no other way: no other person, belief system, or process through which anyone can be saved. Aside from the saving work of Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection, God’s wrath over sin remains on every one of us.
So what can we say about those whose lives provided no significant opportunity to see the glory of God or to make a meaningful decision regarding God’s grace through Jesus?
I can think of four possible alternatives (although I am sure that there are probably others) that God could have taken regarding these individuals.
- These individuals are simply lost, counted among those God does not elect to save.
- These individuals are lost, but God’s election is based on the individual’s potential for salvation. These individuals may be those that God places in the time and location He does because there is no scenario where they freely choose Him.
- They are all saved.
- They are all conditionally saved, with final jurisdiction coming during the millennial reign of Christ.
To the best of my knowledge, none of these four options can be explicitly discounted through scripture.
Options one and two need little explanation, as they fall in line with discussions that we have looked at throughout this series. Although unfortunate, those who are lost may have little to no input into the matter.
Although the most comforting from a human perspective, option three is seemingly the least likely. Such individuals have no developed personality. It seems to me that they would fall into two categories as manifested entities. Saved individuals with no refined earthly personality would most likely be no different than preprogrammed robots made to worship God. Otherwise, they would be capable of rebelling against God in their regenerated bodies after given time to develop,
There is much controversy surrounding the fourth alternative, but I believe that the Bible teaches a pre-millennial return of Jesus. Following His return, He will rule on earth for one thousand years.
While the Bible does not say it explicitly, I believe that there are several clues in Scripture as to who will live during the millennium and what life will be like during that time. I propose that those who did not have an opportunity for faith in the prior phase of their lives will have a chance during the millennium to reveal the disposition of each one’s heart toward God.
It is merely speculation on my part at this point, as Scripture does not explicitly address the millennial kingdom in great detail, and my understanding of what it does teach is limited. But I believe that the millennial kingdom, with Satan’s influence removed, is the final staging area for determining the final eternal destination of each individual.
God does what He thinks is best. And while we cannot fully understand the mind of God, we can begin to know Him through His revealed Word.
What place does Jesus hold in your life? If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, there is no better day than today. Nobody knows how long he or she has to live. You may not have another day or even another hour.
Pray to God. Humble yourself, admitting you are a sinner in need of salvation. Recognize that there is nothing that you can contribute to saving yourself, and believe in Jesus as your sole source of salvation.
God has provided the means through Jesus. Accept His free gift and begin a new life in Christ today.
For more information on how you can be saved, please follow this link (How can I be saved?).
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.