The inference is that those who have never heard the gospel are basically good people who do not deserve to go to hell. So, tell the questioner that they will be fine—if they are good people. However, in God’s eyes “good” is moral perfection in thought, word, and deed. So if they have broken even one Law—lied, stolen, murdered (hated), or committed adultery (lusted)—they will get what they deserve. (See Rom. 1—3.) God will do what is right and just, and will punish wrongdoing no matter where it is found. That is why we send missionaries to these people—so they can be saved from their sins through faith in Jesus.
Second, the person is really questioning God’s character. If some people were never given a chance to hear and be saved, then God must be unable to reach them and uncaring in letting them go to hell. But Scripture tells us that God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, and that He has given light to every man. We have the light of creation, telling us there is a Creator, and the light of conscience, telling us there is a moral Law (and therefore a Lawgiver). All who respond to the light they are given will be given more. Everyone who seeks God in truth will find Him—they will be given the light of the gospel.
Because God is omnipotent and omnipresent, no one is beyond His reach: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26,27, emphasis added).
We see examples in Scripture of people in faraway lands seeking the true God, such as the three wise men in Persia (Matt. 2), and the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10). Cornelius was sincere but wasn’t worshiping God in truth, so God gave him a vision and sent him someone who “will tell you what you must do.” This is why God sent Philip to speak with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26–29).
We have countless examples today where people, like Cornelius, are given visions and dreams about Jesus. There are thousands of Muslims coming to Christ every year after Jesus has supernaturally revealed Himself to them. Others who realize the religion in which they were raised is just not true may have a dream telling them to go to the marketplace at noon, where a missionary passes by to hand them a Bible. Even in countries hostile to the gospel, God knows those whose hearts are seeking Him, and He will find a way to get the gospel to them.
So once you have assured the person that God is not willing that any should perish—no matter where they live—then say, “Now, let’s get back to you…”
Romans 2:12For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law