Innocent people in remote parts of the world who’ve never heard the Gospel message won’t go to heaven, says missions-minded Pastor David Platt. That’s because “innocent” people “don’t exist.”
In a message titled “Reach the Unreached,” Platt recently told the young-adult group at Watermark Community Church in Dallas that not having the opportunity to hear about Jesus is not “some kind of pass into heaven.” He urged listeners not to sit back and “waste your life” chasing “a comfortable Christian spin on the American dream” when so many people remain unreached.
David Platt, 44, is pastor of McLean Bible Church near Washington, D.C., and author of Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream. From 2014 to 2018, he served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Missions Board.
Pastor David Platt: We’re All ‘Condemned for Rejecting God’
Platt, who is often asked about the eternal destinies of unreached people, says although they’re “not accountable for what they’ve not heard,” that “doesn’t mean they go to heaven.” The reason? “They’re condemned for rejecting the God that has been clearly shown to them.”
“They’re condemned for rejecting the God that has been clearly shown to them.”
Some Christians think that because God is loving and gracious, he’ll just let people into heaven if they haven’t heard about Jesus, says the pastor. But that would mean sharing the Gospel with unreached people is “the worst thing we could do” for them. “If they have not heard the Gospel and that is some kind of pass into heaven,” Platt says, then bringing the good news would mean “now there’s a chance [they] can go to hell.” So “they would be like, ‘Just keep it to yourself!’”
Romans 3:19-20 makes it clear, Platt says, 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.” The good news is Paul’s declaration that “righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”
Why Reaching the Unreached Is So Vital
In his message, Platt expresses frustration about why so few U.S. churches and Christians talk about the world’s 3 billion unreached people. The only answers he can fathom, he says, is either we don’t realize the number is so large or we think God will let them into heaven.
No “greater injustice” exists, says Platt, than billions of humans facing eternity in hell “while all the people who know how to go to an eternal heaven sit back and do little to nothing.” The pastor urges Christians to prioritize missions and outreach with their time and money.
Only one percent of U.S. church-spending is dedicated to overseas missions, he says. Instead, the bulk of congregational budgeting goes toward “making ourselves more comfortable in our [own] churches and ministries.”
Platt tells young adults that Jesus has put them “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.” God created us “for so much more” than pursuing worldly goals, he says.