This is not the easiest question to answer, but it comes up often and typically within a small group setting. What happens to the man in the jungle who has never heard the Gospel and therefore, never has the opportunity to accept Jesus? What if he simply responds to the light he’s been given? He was a great guy, and if he heard the Gospel, he would have more than likely believed it. Will God save him?
I would assume most of us would want to say yes to this question because it makes sense and seems fair. But there is a problem with that: There’s nothing in Scripture that says anyone will be saved apart from faith in Jesus.
Scripture teaches that the “light,” which is otherwise known as “general revelation,” is sufficient to condemn someone, but not to save someone. When people look at creation and see there must be a God, and yet have no way of knowing His name or His plan of salvation, the Bible teaches these people do not respond positively to such “light.”
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” – Romans 1:18-22
This area teaches that people have been given knowledge that there is a God and people still reject this knowledge and are therefore, without excuse. I’m not saying I have all the answers here and I tend to think that someone out in the middle of nowhere might respond positively to the “light,”, but the Bible argues otherwise. These verses teach that all people are condemned not for rejecting the Gospel but for rejecting the “general revelation” that’s been given to all people.
The Bible teaches that a person must come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to be saved. However, God can reveal knowledge through many different forms: dreams, visions, or divinely given thoughts that penetrate the mind of the person living in the jungle, or anyone. I’m sure you’ve heard of stories of people living in many other areas, or practicing many other religions, where the Gospel is not being proclaimed and yet somehow, people come to Christ. They may have a vision or dream where Jesus appears to them, and they respond to Him. God has the authority to save whoever He wants, however He wants, but He will always do it through the one avenue that He Himself paved for us: His Son Jesus Christ.
However, we don’t want to lose the emphasis on preaching the Gospel. In the Bible, people are normally saved through someone proclaiming the Gospel. Romans 10:13-15 indicates that preaching the Gospel is the typical means through which God saves people. While God has used dreams and visions to reach people (Galatians 1:12-16), we should not depend on such means to reach the lost. There are still billions of people who have never heard the Gospel. God does make it clear that is is the responsibility of the Church to go to them.
I know not everything can be addressed in a blog post, but this seems to be clear from Scripture. At times like this, we must ask ourselves if we truly believe Scripture is the authority in our lives. We may not understand everything in there, but we need to believe the Bible and not go beyond it. We need to trust that God is God and that at the end of the day, the Judge of all the earth will do right (Genesis 18:25).
Here are other Frequently Asked Questions and how the Bible answers them.