Talking about God & heaven/hell

Earlier today I was having a conversation with someone who wanted to talk about God, but we started going in circles when it came to the issue of whether or not people who had never seen a Bible would go to hell or not. I was hoping you'd have some ideas on how to respond to this concern of non-Christians.

The person basically said that people who have never read a Bible but live their lives peacefully and lovingly never knew about the covenant laws and therefore how could God decide they should go to hell?

In case you were wondering I did share the "Good Policeman" story taken from the World according to God by Greg Johnson about why God needs to punish evil. They understood that but couldn't seem to grasp the idea that all humans sin because of the pervading idea in society that people are "basically good."

I also mentioned that none of us are more worthy than the others. Any ideas on this topic would be appreciated because I don't fully understand it myself...


For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen ,being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Rom. 1:20).

While it is very difficult for many to accept that someone who has never heard of the Bible is to be condemned, we must remember that Scripture is only ONE of the ways that God reveals Himself to us. Nature and the beauty of the world around us is living proof of God's existence and power. Undoubtably, this is hard for someone who doesn't believe God to accept - especially when public schools are basically forbidden to teach "Intelligent Design" is classes any more.

Furthermore, when it comes down to it, living a "good life" does not mean that one deserves salvation. No one deserves it. It is only through grace that God grants salvation to those that HE CHOSE. How to convince someone that they are basically evil, and not good is something that is challenging to say the least.

Maybe ask this person why God would save someone who never prayed to Him, never served Him, never gave thanks to Him, never glorified Him, etc.. Maybe ask this person how they define a "good life." By whose standards is their life good?

Well said. Nobody deserves to go to heaven no matter how good they are. It's by God's grace that anyone is saved.

Nobody deserves to go to heaven no matter how good they are.

Perhaps it's more a mattering of phrasing, but I think that that statement could use a little clarification. The point that I would argue should be stressed is the magnitude of God's holiness and the perfection required, and that we all fail that test (ie. none of us are good).

What kind of questions could you ask someone to convince them that they are not, in fact, good enough to be saved, or that their good works outweigh their bad? I.e. someone will say, I didn't break any laws, I loved my friends and family, I volunteer a lot

How do you counter act this to someone who doesn't understand sin?

Ask this person what they have done for God. Did they serve Him, pray to Him, etc.? This is what is comes down to. We have to serve God, not just live a "good life". And while serving God involves living a good life, serving God is what matters, not living a good life.