Q. I have zero doubt Jesus died on the cross for MY sins- personally for ME. He is my Savior and for me that is unshakable. I had a discussion with a good friend, who is a good and compassionate person but does NOT believe Jesus died for him. He believes we should live as Jesus preached, but he does not buy the fact that Jesus died for us. His reasoning, which was impossible for me to refute, is the untold millions of people that have never had the opportunity to hear the name of Jesus–if an undiscovered tribe of people in some far off land has never heard the name Jesus, is that whole tribe doomed to hell? How do I answer this question?
A. Your friend has an excuse but it’s not a reason. In the first place, it’s illogical. If he had terminal cancer, would he refuse a cure just because other people haven’t been cured?
Second, his opinion that untold millions have died without hearing the gospel can’t be supported in Scripture. Spending just a few minutes studying the character of God will show that He is a just and righteous and loving God. Therefore, He couldn’t require something of us and then condemn us to hell simply because we didn’t know about the requirement. A just God couldn’t do it because it wouldn’t be fair. A righteous God couldn’t do it because it wouldn’t be right. And a God who loves us enough to die for us would want to be sure everyone knew how to avoid judgment because He loves us.
God made Himself so obvious in His Creation that no one can use ignorance as an excuse (Romans 1:18-20). 1 Timothy 2:4 tells He wants everyone to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Colossians 2:13-14 says He’s already forgiven all our sins, and therefore “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Short of forcing us to act against our will, God has done everything possible to give everyone a chance to be saved. As I’ve said before, it’s not a big deal for God to find anyone, anywhere in the world, who is looking for Him. He can even show up in our dreams.
Your friend’s reasoning is without merit and shows that at some level, conscious or subconscious, He really doesn’t want to confront the issue. At this point you should keep him in prayer and wait for the Holy Spirit to open a door into his heart. When that happens you’ll be able to have a meaningful discussion.