The debate of the destiny of the unevangelized is an issue that both Calvinist and Arminian continue to study. They attempt to answer questions similar to, “what about those who have never heard the gospel?” “Will they be judged simply for living in some faraway place where no missionaries have been?” “What about the people who lived before the time of Christ?” These questions are based on the exclusive claim of Christianity that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. There are four views that have strived to answer these questions. There is the restrictive view, universal opportunity view, postmorten evangelism view and inclusivist view. Each stance offers a Biblical argument, however not every view can be correct. In effort to answer the question, this paper will review each position and explain why of the four views; universal opportunity makes the most theological sense and in no way conflicts with the great commission.
Universal opportunity believes its view stands on two realities. “First the Bible teaches that God is all powerful. He can do whatever he wants. He uses humans when it pleases him. But he does not need them to get the job done. Second, the Bible teaches that God wants everyone to be saved. He takes no delight in the destruction of any soul, however wicked (Ezek. 18:232; 33:11).” This view teaches that God will see to it that all of the unevangelized who seek Him will be presented the Gospel of Christ so they will be able to make a decision before they die. The universal opportunity view embraces the doctrine that not one person is hopelessly condemned without the opportunity of being saved however, these people are not saved until they hear and believe the Gospel of Christ.
In the New Testaments we find teachings that present a picture of a God who loves all people. In Romans 5:6-10, the Apostle Paul declares that Christ died for those who are ungodly, sinners and enemies of God. Paul and Peter concur that God does not want any to perish but for all to share in eternal life (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9). John Sanders points out;
“The father so loves the world that the Son became incarnated among us and did all that is necessary for the redemption of human beings who are unworthy and wicked. Jesus loved even those who love him not: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Luke 13:41).”
The only thing that can prevent God’s desire to save all people is their own resistance to be saved. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:3-4, “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” God will reward those who seek Him. In Matthew 7:7-8 we learn that it says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and...