Can people who have never heard about Jesus be saved?

Written by Sherm Carstensen / March 2017


“Can people who have never heard about Jesus be saved? Do they not even have the opportunity to believe?”

When I first read the questions I immediately knew the answer or what I thought was the answer. No. The only way to be saved is by knowing your Savior, Jesus and what he has done for all mankind. That is what the Bible says.

As I pondered the question even more I started to really question my initial answer. Thoughts like: “this isn’t really fair to the individual that never had a chance to hear about Jesus”. I thought of Bible passages like 1 Timothy 2:4:

….(Jesus), who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Jesus wants all to be saved even those that do not have the opportunity to hear His saving word. It logically follows that if Jesus is the almighty God, who is all powerful, can save all people because it is His will.

So maybe the answer is yes. One can be saved if they don’t know about Jesus and all He has done for mankind.

The problem I was having coming up with an answer to this question, the conflict I felt inside, comes from faulty reasoning, human reasoning. Do I trust my own reasoning?

In order to answer the questions, we need to go to God’s infallible Word and see what He says. When we rely on reasoning that is tainted by sin, we may come to the wrong conclusion. But by faith, we can see the truth from the Bible.

Jesus himself answers the questions when talking to his disciples in Mark 16:16:

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

The gospel of John also clearly speaks of the way to heaven when Thomas says:

“Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:5-6

There is only one Way to be saved, and that Way is through Christ. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection covers the debt of sin we all owe. God is perfect and demands perfect obedience. We have the perfect obedience only because Jesus paid our sin debt on the cross of Calvary.

How is one saved?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

Can people who have never heard about Jesus be saved? According to God’s Word the answer is no. The only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ. To speculate or reason any other answer is just that: speculation and faulty human reasoning.

Do they not even have the opportunity to believe? We leave this question to our almighty God and perfect Judge. We dare not guess what God will do.

Instead let us take what we know from God’s Word and let that faith in Jesus take over our lives so that we can’t help but share the message of Christ crucified and sins forgiven. And pray that all have the chance to hear this saving message.