“They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.” (Job 24:13)
One of the most common objections to the Christian gospel is our insistence that belief in Christ is necessary for salvation. What about those who never hear of Christ—are they lost as well as those who willfully reject Him?
Because of this problem, a number of evangelicals are now saying that people in other religions can be saved if they live up to whatever light they have, whether in nature or conscience or religion. The problem is that they do not live up to the light they have. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
There is, indeed, much light in the creation. In fact, Romans 1:20 says these evidences “from the creation of the world are clearly seen”—in fact, so clearly seen that men are “without excuse” when they reject this light. But reject it they have. They “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (v. 23). In fact, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and thus are lost without Christ.
But are there some who accept and follow whatever light they have, and will God save them? Consider Cornelius. He was “a devout man, and one that feared God” (Acts 10:2), and Peter was sent to him by God to tell him about Christ. “In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him,” Peter said (v. 35). Cornelius was not actually saved, however, until he personally believed on Christ. The implication may be that God will send more light by some “Peter” to those few who do believe and obey what light they already have. Once they finally hear of Christ and His great salvation, they will gladly receive Him and be saved—but not before. HMM