Dealing With the Unreached
There is an important issue that critics have with Christianity. Christians will often tell you that if you don't accept Jesus as Lord and Savior before you die, you're toast. Christian evangelists then will often tell you that if they don't reach the ends of the Earth all those people who have never heard of Jesus will go to Hell (So send money now! :-)). Then there is the problem that there are many people who lived before Christ came. For instance, there were the Canaanites that God ordered the Israelites to slaughter. Critics will say that the Canaanites never had a fair chance because no one ever came to tell them about what God wants for people and how He wants them to behave. Why should they have to go to Hell if they were never even informed about what is going on here on Earth? It seems that these people are automatically and through no fault of their own doomed to Hell. The whole situation appears to be unfair. Some people are reached and others aren't. A lot of people reject Christianity because of this.
The most important point that can be made is that God actually cares about people and wants them to repent so they can be with Him in paradise. He doesn't want to lose anyone. God put it this way in Ezekiel 18:23:
23 Do you think, asks the Sovereign Lord, that I like to see wicked people die? Of course not! I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.
and this way in Ezekiel 18:31-32:
31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don't want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!
What people who think God is being unfair are missing is the message of the cross. Jesus came as a poor, humble baby. He put up with a terrible life on Earth and then was put to a terrible death on the cross to save people from Hell. The cross shows us just how much God loves us. When you truly come to understand that you will know that everyone across all of time and across all the Earth who can possibly be saved will get saved. The cross tells us God is not like a petty bureaucrat who will say "Oh, hey you didn't know you have to fill out the form by April 15? Well, too bad for you." or "Oh, they ran out of forms? Too bad for you." or "Oh, the computer crashed just as you were going to send it in? Too bad for you". The cross tells us that God is not going to be like that and say, "Oh, you were born at the wrong place at the wrong time so too bad for you, you go to Hell." God and the petty bureaucrat are just two completely different personalities. It is sad to say this, but there are a lot of Christians who believe God thinks legalistically just like a cold, heartless bureaucrat.
While the cross tells us everyone who can be saved will be saved we don't know for sure exactly how God makes it perfectly fair for everyone but there are some obvious possibilities. First, you have to remember that God did a careful job in arranging the world by placing souls in various places around the world at just the right times so that those who would actually be interested in Him will find Him. He knew the places missionaries would not reach and put souls who want Him elsewhere, places the missionaries will reach.
Second, there are stories of Jesus revealing Himself to unsaved people around the world. For instance, there are many reports of Muslims who have had a dream or vision about Jesus and who subsequently became Christians such as those on the website, More Than Dreams. The classic Biblical story here, is of course, when Jesus reveals himself to Saul on the road to Damascus and Saul becomes the very famous apostle Paul (see Acts chapter 9 ). So this option is a real one: Jesus can simply put in an appearance any time He has to.
Third, there is an interesting item that comes up in 1 Peter 1. Between the time Christ died on the cross until the time He came alive again on Earth, Christ was preaching to people who had died. In 1 Peter 4:6 we have this:
6 That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead - so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.
Some people interpret this to mean that ALL people who died before Christ came got to hear the Good News but other people interpret it differently so exactly what this means is debatable although of course preaching the Gospel to ALL people who died without ever knowing about Christ sounds like a pretty reasonable idea.
Finally, you often hear stories about people who died briefly and started off on their way to Hell. They suddenly knew Jesus was the answer and they cried out to Him and were changed. Maybe a lot of this is going on so that at that point people can make their final choice on their way to Hell.
Besides the problem of being in the wrong place at the wrong time there is also the case of a person not living long enough to get around to repenting. Sometimes you will hear a preacher or an evangelist or a missionary tell sinners that they should repent now because by tomorrow they may be dead and then it will be too late and then they will be wishing for all eternity that they had become saved before they died. The reality, again, is that God does not want to lose any soul so if God knows that a person needs 5 more minutes or 5 more hours or 5 more years or 50 more years or 500 more years God will provide the extra time.
Whatever is going on, the message of the cross clearly tells us that no one is going to Hell unless they really, really want a life without God