But how in the world does this answer the question when it speaks nothing of deserts, or desserts for that matter? It is all in the words, "who do not know God". While it is extremely dismal to think that there may be someone lost for eternity because they did not, presumably, have access to the wonderful Word of God, an understanding of this phrase quickly shows that to be the case and an understanding of God quickly shows why one ought not look at this as a flaw on behalf of the Creator.
Let's look at some of the other places in the New Testament which use this same phrase and see if it will shed any light on the matter at hand.
"...it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8, NKJV)
(Galatians 4:8) - In writing to the Galatians and exhorting them to not follow after the new Gospels which were being pushed in their area, Paul shows a knowledge of God to that which leads the individual into a life in accordance with the Truth of Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 4:5) - Comparing the life of a Christian in sexual purity to the life of a non-Christian (i.e. Gentile) in sexual immorality and lust, Paul again points to the fact that a knowledge of God is an obedience to His standard of living.
(Titus 1:16) - In writing to his son in the faith, Titus, Paul speaks of those who, while professing this knowledge of the Divine, do nothing more than deny His very existence by following their own thoughts and passions.
(1 John 4:7-8) - Finally, the cousin of our Lord, John the apostle, speaks of love as a way by which one knows God. Since love is a command given to all of God's children (Hebrews 13:1, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8), it is again seen that obedience is knowledge.
Now, what do these passages and the hypothetical situation have to do with each other. If one's knowing God is a culmination of hearing the Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:21), the compulsion to follow that Gospel (Galatians 4:8) and the actual carrying out of that compulsion through obedience to the ordinances of the Almighty (1 Thessalonians 4:5, Titus 1:16, 1 John 4:7-8) then the only way to escape the coming Judgment of vengeance is to do just that. But, the individual who never hears the Gospel does not have the ability to carry out the two other steps. Therefore, that individual, taking the Bible alone into consideration, will be lost in his sins.
This means two things...
- It is the individual's responsibility to search out spiritual truth! - If God can create the world, make Himself into flesh, carryout the incredible story of the Bible, create the magnificent church and come back to receive that church (John 14:1-4) then it is only reasonable to know that God can providentially help anyone searching to find the Truth.
- It is MY responsibility to take that person the Gospel! - Since I'm commanded, just as every Christian is, to take the Gospel to the whole world (Mark 16:15-16) then there should not be a person who has not had the opportunity to hear the Truth. Always remember, "When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand (Ezekiel 3:18)."