ARE THE HEATHEN LOST ?
By Dr. Paul E. Griffis
The answer to this question is simple and conclusive – YES. There can be only one answer. The heathen are lost! They will die in their sins, without God, without Christ, without hope, unless we, who have the gospel, carry the message of salvation to them. Millions of dollars have been given, and thousands of lives have
been sacrificed to take the good news of salvation to the ends of the earth – all because we sincerely believe that the heathen are lost and that they need our Savior. Certainly Christ would not have commissioned us to go and tell if He did not mean to indicate that they are lost and did not intend that we should realize the urgent necessity of reaching them before they die in their heathen darkness.
The Heathen are Lost because:
1. THEY ARE SINNERS – and the penalty for sin is death.
The Bible very emphatically declares that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4,20), and “that the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The universal scope of sin is clearly portrayed in Romans 3:23, “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” The heathen, although they do not have the Word of God do have “the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness” to their sin. They are guilty of sin, they realize their guilt, and they seek to appease the wrath of God, or their gods, by acts of self
abasement or sacrifice. They throw their newborn babies into the Ganges; they walk on beds of spikes; they force themselves on long torturous journeys on their hands and knees – Why? Because they realize that they are sinners and that somehow they must make atonement for their sins. Yes they are guilty, lost sinners – and sin can never enter the holy halls of heaven. There must be some provision made for it.
2. THEY NEED A SAVIOR – and Christ is the only one that can save.
The Bible with unequivocal finality declares, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The heathen seek to appease their conscience, they seek a satisfying emollient for their sinful condition, but we know that Christ, and Christ alone, is the answer. While we might have hope that those who have never heard of Christ might somehow become the recipients of God’s mercy and that He might overlook their sins or make some other provision for their salvation, we have no authority, whatsoever, to even suggest that any guilty, responsible sinner can ever be saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ. We may hem and haw and hedge about, and hint, “Well, now of course, if they have never HEARD of Christ, maybe the Lord will be considerate and excuse them,” but we have to absolutely no biblical basis for any such supposition. The Word of God makes no apology for stating that Salvation is in Christ and Christ alone.
3. THEY DWELL IN DARKNESS – and we must take the light to them.
Jesus said “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Jesus is the light of the world. He and He alone can dispel the heathen darkness. We must get to earth’s darkened areas with the light as soon as we can. Every moment of delay carries increasing multitudes of lost men over the brink of death into the furnace of God’s wrath. They wait for us, we must not fail them.
English literature records the story of early missionary days in the British Isles. A missioner named Paulinus came one day to North Umbria to King Edwin and his warriors. In the evening they gathered
before the open fireplace in the huge lodge. Paulinus told the story of Jesus and His love, of salvation and light and hope. The warriors listened intently and when he finished, sat quietly musing over his words. Suddenly a little sparrow darted through the doorway, across the firelight, then out the other side. One of the aged warriors, a sage of the tribe, arose to his feet and the poet has him solemnly say,
“Around us lies the black of night,
Athwart the room a sparrow
Darts from the open door:
Within the happy hearth-light
One red flash and no more!
We see it come from darkness,
And into darkness go:
So is our life, King Edwin!
Alas that it is so.
And if this pale Paulinus
Hath somewhat more to tell;
Some news of whence or whither,
And where the should will dwell:
If on that outer darkness
The Sun of hope may shine,
He makes life worth the living:
I take His God for mine.”
Yes, they dwell in darkness, their eyes are blinded – they wait for us. They are lost! They need a Savior! We must tell them, “Ye dwellers in darkness with sin-blinded eyes, The Light of the World is Jesus.”
1. Is not God unjust to condemn those who have never heard of Christ, who never had an opportunity to be saved?
Answer: God is just. “We are sure that the judgment of God is according to the truth” (Rom. 2:2) and that He “will render unto every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). He will never be found guilty of a single injustice to anyone. His very nature requires this. Therefore we can conclude with all confidence that no one will ever point a finger of accusation at God and say, “I didn’t get a fair deal.” Everyone who is lost and consigned to hell will know that he is justly condemned. Like the thief on the cross, he will have to
acknowledge, if he speaks truthfully, “We indeed suffer justly”! This, however, is God’s responsibility, not ours. It is our job to get the message of salvation to them. It is God’s responsibility to pronounce judgment upon them. He will do only what is right.
2. What will be the basis of their judgment since they have not had the gospel?
Answer: Apparently they will be judged according to the light and understanding they have. While we have absolutely no right to hope that they will be saved unless they accept Christ, we can easily believe that their punishment will be in proportion to their opportunity. The Scripture seems to substantiate this. In Luke
12:47-48 we read, “And that servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that KNEW NOT, and did commit things
worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”
While I am concerned that the heathen are lost and will be punished by God, I tremble to think of the dire judgment that God will mete out to the “heathen” of our own land who are admittedly without excuse. With a Bible in every home, a church on every corner, preachers in every hamlet, and the gospel on radio and television, certainly no one in our privileged country will have the temerity to complain to the Lord, “I never had an opportunity to be saved.” The Lord will certainly give to every man his “just dessert.” and
his punishment will be proportionate to his guilt.
3. If the heathen sincerely seek after the true God, does He hear them cry and save them? Does not the Bible say “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”?
Answer: Not being able to ascertain the sincerity of the human heart, it is impossible for me to judge. Apparently, if actions are used as a basis for judgment, there is a great deal of sincere seeking after
God among the heathen. God alone, who knows the hearts of men, can determine the measure of sincerity.
I am glad, however that we do have some illustrations in the Bible to demonstrate that God does make provisions for the salvation of those who actively seek Him. Cornelius (Acts 10) was a gentile, considered a heathen by the Jews. He prayed for light. God answered his prayer and sent Peter to tell him the way of salvation, and he was saved. God made arrangements in answer to his cry for help. There were some sincere seekers after the truth in Macedonia (Acts 16). God gave Paul a vision and a message to come over into Macedonia and help us. “Paul had intended to go in another direction but God directed him to those that were calling for help.” I would like to believe that the Lord always does this. I cannot imagine Him ignoring a genuine cry for help. I have heard missionaries tell of reaching some remote villages where the gospel had never been known, but after telling of Christ and His salvation, the natives came weeping and receiving Christ, and declaring “we have been praying that someone would come and show us the way of
We do know that God is not willing that any should perish. We do know that it is His desire that all should hear and be saved, but the awesome, awful thought strikes me that, if any sincere seeker after the true God has perished, it must be because the Lord has not been able to find someone to go and tell the story. It does depend on us.
Romans 10:13 does say that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” but Romans 10:14 says, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”
The heathen are lost! God wants to save them! He needs preachers! Will you go?
Give them at least one chance to hear,
Groping in the heathen night.
Eternity perchance so near, no “Harbor Home in sight.
Tell them how loving is His call, God’s “Whosoever” means them all.
Give them at least one chance to live, give them at least on chance.
Give them at least one chance to know peace that will not depart
In all their sad mischance will flow oil for the breaking heart.
They’ve waited long this news to hear,
We are so slow – the night draws near
Give them at least one chance.
Give them at least one chance to bow before the God of Heav’n;
See white-robed saints advancing now, singing of sins forgiv’n.
When at the judgment bar you stand,
will there be blood stains on your hands?
Give them at least one chance to live, give them at least one chance.
Computers for Christ – Chicago