What Happens to People Who Die Without Hearing the Gospel?

Ephesians 2 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. When we repent of our sin and accept Jesus as our savior, He restores our broken relationship with God, that we might live with Him forever.

But what about people who die without hearing about Jesus? Will they miss out?

Bridging the Gap blog #hurthealedwhole

This important question goes back to the Bible itself

Consider Acts 17:26-28, in which the apostle Paul preaches, “From one man He [God] made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.”
Scripture appears to be saying that we are each ordained by God to be born exactly in the moment of history that gives us the opportunity to find Him. Some overlook this opportunity, some disregard it, and others eventually wholeheartedly accept Him.

Josh McDowell, for example, was brought up in an abusive family, which led to his pain … which led to his hate … which led to his quest to soundly disprove God … which backfired and led him to accept Christ as Lord. Josh had no idea he would make this about-face and step into his life’s purpose!

Because Josh chose to not cling to his wrong assumptions about God and Christ, God has used Josh over the past 50+ years to teach millions around the world about the historical and archeological evidence that supports the resurrection of Jesus and other claims of the Bible. 

Effectively sharing the Good News

No human really knows how God will deal with the souls of those who die without hearing about Jesus. So not a single one of us is qualified to judge or assert who will or won’t be in Heaven. (There are bound to be surprises!) But one thing we do know is that God is good and just, and will do what is just.
Our tension with this question should only serve to motivate us to readily share the Good News of Jesus.
Remember, patience and humility should be our default when we dialogue with people about Christ. Jesus never bullied, blamed, or shamed anyone into believing in Him or following Him. He was gentle and loving — even as He suffered on the cross.
If you find yourself angry at non-Christians because they won’t “see the light,” the attitude you need to adjust is yours. In His amazing grace, God offers each of us the complete freedom to accept or deny Him as Savior. We need to offer this same grace.

Some blog posts with helpful tips on sharing your faith with others, so they don’t die without hearing about God’s amazing love and grace:
Christians: Dialogue With Skeptics Part 1
Christians: Dialogue With Skeptics Part 2
5 Reasons Apologists Get a Bad Rap


  • Want to watch the movie about Josh’s life? Click this link.
  • Interested in knowing God personally? Get started with this really good info.
  • Need prayer for more power in your faith? Contact us. We would love to pray for you!
  • We invite you to read Josh’s book, More Than a Carpenter. This short apologetics classic examines the historical evidence of Jesus. He died. He rose. He lives!
  • Check out Matthew Tingblad’s video on this question.