Pastor and author David Platt says that God won't condemn people to Hell simply because they haven't heard the Gospel but rather because they are still lost in their sin, warning that the American church should be more invested in bringing the good news to the unreached.
The 44-year-old pastor of McLean Bible Church in Virginia and former head of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board preached a sermon last week before the Watermark Community Church group The Porch, which holds meetings every Tuesday for young adults.
"Somebody will say to me: 'What do you think happens to the innocent man or woman or child in X part of the world who never hears the Gospel?' And if you ask me that question, I would say, based on the Word of God, that person without question goes to Heaven, even though they've never heard the Gospel," Platt said.
"Of course, they go to Heaven. The only problem is they don't exist. There's no innocent people in the world waiting to hear the Gospel. There's guilty people all over the world. That's why they need to hear the Gospel."
Humans have "no clue of the depths of the sinful [nature] of their own hearts and in the world around [them]," according to Platt, stressing that "there is no one who is innocent before God."
"Not only are all people guilty, but there's no amount of good we can do to overcome our guilt. All people are condemned for rejecting God. And that's true regardless of whether or not someone has heard the Gospel," Platt said.
Platt questioned the audience if they think it would be just for God to condemn someone to Hell if they never heard the Gospel.
"I think the answer to that question is 'no.' They're not accountable for what they've not heard," he said. "At the same time, that doesn't mean they go to Heaven because they're condemned for rejecting the God that has been clearly shown to them."
"People start to think, well, 'Well maybe, if, because they haven't heard the Gospel, God will let them into Heaven. God is loving [and] gracious. We know He wants them in Heaven. They haven't heard the Gospel. Maybe He will let them in because they haven't heard,'" Platt continued.
The pastor warned that the problem with this reasoning is that would mean "the worst thing we could do for all the people" who haven't heard the Gospel would be to "tell them the Gospel."
"If they have not heard the Gospel and that is some kind of pass into Heaven, and we get there, and we're like 'we want to tell you the good news,' and because we've come with the good news, now there's a chance we can go to Hell, they would be like: 'Just keep it to yourself,'" he continued.
Citing Romans 3:19-20, Platt said that everyone "stands condemned for rejecting God."
"This is good news that we proclaim to people who have rejected God," he said. "The point here is that regardless of whether or not someone has heard the Gospel, all people stand guilty before God and sin and deserve eternal separation from Him."
"I picture Paul writing the book of Romans. It's been two chapters worth of the sinfulness of man all the way up to Chapter 3, Verse 20," Platt continued. "I picture him with tears in his eyes, but then I picture him picking up that pen and writing, 'But now a righteousness from God apart from the law has been made known, and this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe."
Platt said every Christian should make an effort to "reach the unreached" people groups worldwide with the Gospel before it's too late for many souls.
"What that word 'unreached' means is not just lost. It's not just that they're sinners who are separated from God by their sin," Platt explained. "People are just like that in Dallas, Texas."
"The difference is; there's Christians in churches in Dallas, Texas. [But] in the middle of Saudi Arabia, there's very few Christians and very few churches. And what that means is if you live in Saudi Arabia, the likelihood is you've not been reached by the Gospel."
When someone is unreached, Platt noted, it means that "you'd be born and you'd live, and you'd die, and the likelihood is you'd never hear the Gospel."
Platt continually expressed throughout his sermon that if someone dies without the opportunity to hear the Gospel before dying, they will be permanently separated eternally from the Lord.
"I think for most Christians in America, where the Gospel has come, either we don't realize there are 3 billion people in the world who have never heard the Gospel, or we think they'll be OK when they die, [that] they'll go to Heaven," Platt preached.
"That's the only answer I can come up with for why we are not talking about this all the time in our churches. And everywhere in Christianity today, if we believed 3 billion people were dying and going to Hell without ever hearing about Heaven, I think we'd be talking about that all the time."
Platt asked if there is "any greater injustice than 3 billion people going to an eternal Hell while all the people who know how to go to an eternal Heaven sit back and do little to nothing?"
"We spend most of our money on ourselves. We give some of our money to churches and ministries. And we spend most of that money in churches and ministries on making ourselves more comfortable in our churches and ministries. And then there's a small percentage of the money that we give to churches and ministries that goes toward what we normally call missions overseas to other countries," Platt said.
He added that roughly 1% of American Church funds regularly go to missions to reach the unreached people groups overseas.
"We're fooling ourselves if we think we're passionate about giving to missions while we're ignoring 3 billion people who've never heard the Gospel," he stressed.
As his sermon came to a close, Platt told the crowd that they "have been put in a time and a place where there are more opportunities to get the greatest news in the world to people in the world than ever before."
"Jesus is saying to the room full and other gatherings full of young adults who have this good news: 'I've left you here for a reason. And it's not to waste your life [carving] out a comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. You were created for so much more than this,'" he concluded.