Where is the Justice in
Our Birth Circumstances?
Q. Why are some persons born into circumstances where they can hear the Gospel preached to them and others not? Where is the justice in this? Are those who do not respond to the Gospel damned?
God is perfectly just. We must always begin with that assumption in answering such a question, otherwise we are approaching the question from an atheistic point-of-view.
The Scriptures teach that those who receive the Gospel in this life were predestined to it (Rom.8:29-30; Eph.1:5,11). This means that God, who is omniscient (all-knowing), knew from the beginning, even before we were born, who would receive the Gospel and who would not. This does not necessarily mean, however, that those predestined to salvation would receive it in this life necessarily, for two reasons:
(1) Paul says that those who have no Law taught them (that is, never hear God's Law), are judged according to the way they have responded to their conscience, which is another way of saying the way they responded to the Light of Christ within them (see FAQ 56; Rom.2:14-15);
(2) We are told that many who did not receive the Gospel in mortality, because they had no opportunity to, received it in spirit prison when Jesus went and preached to the generation that was drowned in the Great Flood. Noah and his three sons were the only preachers of righteousness on a planet of millions and so obviously could not have reached everyone, or even a small portion of them -- they were also busy building the ark. The scripture in question bears citing here:
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom He also went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark as being built" (1 Pet.3:18-20, NIV).
From this passage we can conclude that those who do not have the opportunity to receive the Gospel in mortality: (a) are judged as to whether they shall dwell in spirit paradise or spirit prison based on the way they responded to the Light of Christ on earth, and (b) hear the Gospel preached to them in spirit prison (if they have not lived according to the light of conscience) either by Christ Himself or by His apostles.
Such a biblical teaching, which is sadly absent from most churches, is a wonderful testimony of the justice of God. Why some were predestined to hear and respond to the Gospel in mortality and some in the spirit world only God knows.
In conclusion, there are two important things we must remember: (1) The fact that some are saved later, in the next life, does not abrogate our responsibility to teach the Gospel in this life; and (2) In light of what the scriptures teach, we should not always suppose that everyone who dies without the Gospel will automatically go to hell in eternity, even though they may go to a short-term hell, which is spirit-prison. Our desire to spare them that should be enough incentive to preach the Word. We should not become lax.
This page was created on 8 April 1998
Last updated on 8 April 1998
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