It’s a classic question: What happens on the Day of the Lord to those who have never heard the gospel? While we could answer this question and many others like it with pages worth of retorts, passages, and more questions, I instead am going to default to a moral answer for now in hopes that it might satisfy us.
In asking this question our fear is really about God’s character, is it not? Our concern is that God might be immoral in His judgments and so we want a laid out system that we can use to assess His character and predetermine His judgment results. It helps me to rest in the fact that God cannot sin or cast bad, inappropriate, or immoral judgment on anyone. In His omniscience, He judges us with every last single thing we’ve ever done or didn’t do in mind.
Another thought I try to keep in the forefront of my mind is that Jesus is our ultimate judge. We so often like to express our faith with phrases that keep us in control: “I chose Jesus and so He’ll let me into Heaven.” But in reality, that’s backwards. It’s more that, “Jesus chose me and has deemed me worthy to enter Heaven.”
That being said, only God decides who gets in and who doesn’t and His character is not flawed. So if He ever were to deem someone worthy to get in because they were in a strange situation of “never having heard the gospel before,” (or some other case like that) that would still fit the paradigm of Jesus using His perfect judgment to accept them into His kingdom if they are willing to give their lives to Him. He will always be the answer and the perfect moral righteous judge, so we can trust him to handle the grey areas correctly.
While these answers may not quench our desire for the specifics, I hope they’re good enough to at least give us some peace on who gets in and who doesn’t when grey areas come up. We must trust in our loving and gracious judge to exert His omniscience and omnipotence with total righteousness. And in this phase of human existence, we must continue on mission with the truth: Jesus is the only way to get into Heaven and so we must invite the world to follow Him as He draws them to Him.