Will Jews, Buddhists, and all others who truly believe in God but not that Jesus is God, and who adhered to the Ten Commandments and who have done charitable acts throughout their lives, be excluded from getting into Heaven solely because of their non-belief in the divinity in Jesus?

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    There is none righteous, no not one.
    – Narnian
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 12:29
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    Buddhists believe in God now? Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 9:09

6 Answers 6


Per Scripture, the only way to heaven is by putting our trust in Christ and accepting His free gift of salvation.

The question you pose is based on a common misunderstanding of the relationship between how "good" we are and whether or not we are "good enough" to get to Heaven. The problem is that not one of us has ever kept the Ten Commandments, much less the hundreds of other laws in the Bible, and therefore not one of us is "good enough" to get to Heaven on our own merits.

There's a much more complete explanation of this here.

A longer version of the same answer would go like this:

First, everyone on earth has sinned, save Jesus.

Romans 3:23 (KJV)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

When you examine it, every one of us has broken each and every one of the Ten Commandments, if not in deed, then in heart and in intent. For example, perhaps we've never committed adultery physically, but as Jesus said, if we've looked at someone with lust, we've committed adultery in our hearts.

Matthew 5:28 (KJV)

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

We've all broken the other Commandments in spirit as well, but even if one of us has squeaked away with not committing all of them, it doesn't matter. The Bible tells us that if we've broken even one, we're guilty.

James 2:10 (KJV)

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

So, the none of these people are sinless by the standards laid forth in Scripture.

Romans 1 touches on the subject of whether or not we are held guilty if we've never heard the Gospel message. It lays out a few truths:

  • God reveals Himself to us, and we are without excuse.
  • Our ancestors had access to the truth of God, and chose to turn from them.

Romans 1:18. (KJV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Their unbelief and rebellion against God meant that their children, their children's children, and so on were not taught about God. It's not His fault, it's theirs. Because they chose to rebel when they knew the truth, and didn't teach their children, they doomed their children to not knowing the truth of God. This is one reason that Proverbs 22:6 is important. (Again, KJV)

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

In Romans 2 (KJV), we read:

11. For there is no respect of persons with God. 12. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13. (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15. Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

These theoretical people you mentioned are guilty. Scripture here tells us that "he shall perish without law". They will perish because they have sinned, and ignored the conscience that God has placed in each and every one of us.

Finally, it should be noted that even in civil, earthly law, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking the law.

If I were to carry a concealed weapon in a state that doesn't allow concealed carry, for example, and I was arrested, would I be able to avoid the consequences by telling the Judge "I didn't know"? No. I'd be punished according to the law, whether I intentionally broke the law or not.

As we saw in Romans 2 (quoted above), the Bible tells us that God will not accept ignorance as an excuse. They will perish without the Law, as God's word states, because they have sinned and broken the law, not because they have rejected Jesus. Accepting Jesus is the only way to be saved. He pays the penalty for our guilt. However, the reason we are guilty is not because we didn't accept Him, it's because we chose to sin.

We can try to blame God all we want, and we can even try to blame the ancestors, but the simple fact remains that these people will be condemned because of their own sin.

  • Should this say "Accepting Jesus is", not "Accepting or rejecting Jesus is" in the second-to-last paragraph?
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 15:12

Fundamentally, Christianity doesn't believe that anything you do gets you into heaven. You can do good things, and not be saved. You can do bad things, but be forgiven. Who you are, and what you do is, sad to say, irrelevant. From God's perspective, "even our righteousness is as filthy rags." To believe that our poor power to add or detract is a fundamental misunderstanding of how truly incredibly large God is. Its like thinking that we can use a lighter to break a country out of a cold snap. We're too small, and he is too big.

Christianity, in its most basic form, simply says that God saves people.

(Yes, we can get into questions about whether there is first-order volition and predestination and all that - but this isn't the point. You might also ask why God doesn't save everybody - and that would be a good question - but does it make sense to blame a fireman who saved half of the people in the burning house for the deaths of the other half who refused to leave?)

It doesn't matter how good you are, only if God has loved you.

A rejection of the divinity of Jesus is a rejection of the belief that you cannot save yourself. Either we accept that we are not able to save ourselves (and hence ask Jesus to save us) or we try to be own our own Redeemer, in which case, we get precisely the Lord we requested.

  • I think that God's plan is to save everyone. This has been a teaching of the Church since the 3rd. cent. and was iterated by the current Pope on May 22nd 2013 when he said:"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!".. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
    – Waeshael
    Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 14:19
  • Expanding on your point about unsaved people doing good and saved people doing bad, I think the hope is that if you are saved, the Holy Spirit should (if you let him) start doing good in you so you live a life to give God glory; in other words, bear fruit. Fruit (good works) is not a requirement of salvation but once your saved, fruits should be the result of salvation. Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 5:43

Let me attempt to briefly address another issue here. Implicit in this question is an assumption that going to heaven is good and desirable, while going to hell is bad and undesirable.


Why is it desirable to go to heaven? What is in heaven that a Muslim or a Buddhist would want?

I think that our cultural sensibility has so effectively clouded the true meaning of heaven, that we only have left this vague understanding that heaven is somehow good, while hell is somehow bad, but we're not really sure why. Perhaps it's because heaven seems less fiery than hell, and because people speak well of heaven, but poorly of hell. But surely we don't decide our eternal fate on the temperature on the thermostat.

Let me suggest that heaven is heaven simply because it's where God is. Heaven is heaven because we get to commune with God, and no other reason. If God were in Hell, then his very presence there would make hell heaven. And vice versa. If God were absent from heaven, then heaven would cease to be heaven, and would thus become hell.

The God of the Bible is full of love and grace, giving life to the unworthy and giving them all a chance to turn to him through the death of his son. He loves us enough to tell us that our works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6... literally "menstrual cloths"), and that we can never do anything to earn God's love, because we've all sinned and failed.

Of course, if you view heaven as being with God, and your desire is to be with Him, then at this point you're going to be frightened. With the disciples, you're going to ask yourself "Who then can be saved?" (Mark 10:26). If God is so demanding and we've all failed so horribly that there's no way we can be with him, then we're in a very bad position. God is all that is good, and we're in a state where we're going to be completely rejected by him, and without him for all eternity.

This is where Jesus comes in. Jesus paid the penalty. His death was fully sufficient to pay the penalty we owe God. It's not simply that God forgave the sin, but that the sin was properly paid for. God grants eternal life with him to those who depend on Christ's sacrifice, and not their own good works, for salvation. And he loved us enough to send Christ, knowing that there's no way that we'd be able to generate enough good works on our own.

So the question is: do you want to be with such a God? Do you want to worship a God who is both demanding but loving and forgiving? If the answer is yes, then there's only one way: through Jesus (John 14:6). If the answer is no, then any other belief can accomplish the task of keeping you from Him, but of course, not every belief accomplishes exactly what it promises. (Matthew 7:14)

So in a nutshell: Those who don't have faith in Christ as the sacrifice for their sin will not go to heaven. But the bigger answer is that they don't really want to.

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    Luke 16:19-31. Hell is a pretty undesirable place in any event. I applaud the idea, and I see where it comes from, but I don't see this as a classically Christian answer. Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 14:50
  • I'll grant this isn't the typical answer to the question, but I stand by it. If all good things come from God (James 1:17), and hell is the absence of God (eternal death being 'eternal separation' from God), then it follows that Hell is the absence of all that is good. This viewpoint can only be taken if we recognize that we, in and of ourselves, have no good in us at all. It's not your typical answer to the question, but I've been thinking about it for the last couple of years, and, at least so far, I find it to be consistent with Scripture and within the bounds of orthodoxy. Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 16:53
  • The fact that someone does not know God does not imply that they would not enjoy knowing God. Someone who disbelieves in God might believe that there is no joy to be found in knowing God, but they would be wrong. God is objectively good, and a person's belief about God does not alter the fact that being with God is infinitely better for them than being without Him. Furthermore, the Bible describes Hell as a place of suffering, and "weeping and nashing of teeth". You'd be hard pressed to find someone who finds that desirable.
    – user971
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 17:12
  • @Eric, I don't think I'm disagreeing with you here. I had a friend who once said that the sick joke of the work/family balance is that most people tend to overwork themselves when they're young, but when they get older, they regret spending so much time at work, because they come to the realization as they get older that their family is really what they want, but by that time it's too late. Their decision has been made. Whether a person objectively will enjoy God or not doesn't change the fact that people make consistent decisions that seem to indicate the opposite. Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 17:17
  • @Eric: In short, we don't always pursue that which is good for us. Hence the reality of sin and the depravity of man. Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 17:19

You can find answer to this question in scriptures where people were asking the same question. Acts 16:30-31

30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

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    Welcome! How does this answer the question? Please exposit scriptures you link to. If you don't feel qualified to do the exposition yourself please use quotations from a commentary that supports your claim.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 13:45

Well, God wants to save everyone - that's what He wants. But it is not His sovereign will, or else everyone would be saved, which we know isn't true. Also, it would depend on if Jesus had died on the cross yet. Before Jesus died on the cross, the Jews would make sacrifices to please God's wrath. It wasn't the act of the sacrifice, but it was the faith they had placed on God that he would save them. Basically they were looking forward to the cross. Now though, Jesus has died on the cross and it is said in the Bible that we must believe that yes, Jesus is God, and that He was a man, not an angel or "holy man." He was 100% God and 100% man.

Also, just because you are good, you are not good enough in God's eyes which is why God sent His son Jesus so we can be called righteous through Jesus, not through our good deeds. God says that those who are saved will do good works because we are saved not to "keep our salvation" or anything like that.

So, I don't think Jews, or Buddhists, or people who believe in a god will go to Heaven because it is clearly stated that everyone knows that there is a God or creator. Aka general revelation.

Oh and this is from a 12 year old's knowledge so I am definitely no Bible Scholar xD

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    Welcome to C.SE! I appreciate your answer, although when get the chance, I'd suggest you check out how we are different. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 17:25
  • Sorry for the confusion, but this question you have answered is old and "off-topic" now. We generally stick to questions about Christian doctrine (ie. What to Lutherans say about ...) So with that, even if the question is "off-topic" answers should at least quote Scripture. You seem knowledgeable and I am sure you could post well for this site, but this question was not a good one to start on.
    – user3961
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 19:26

Jesus said something like : Don't go looking for the Kingdom of Heaven some place else. The Kingdom of Heaven is within/among you (and outside you - according to Thomas.)

The KOH is where you are while you are getting to know God. When a person centers his life on God he/she is in the KOH. Any believer in God can do this. Since the idea of Heaven is monotheistic, a non-believer will not be able to enter it. This is not the same as a life after death, which is a belief of many religions.

For Christians you can think of Jesus's life, or even Jesus himself, as the KOH into which we enter and as Paul said "have Christ within us, " and "to be in Christ." It is a teaching of all Christian Churches that Christ is the life that sustains humans, and so as long as we are alive, we cannot be separated from Christ (as Paul said,) only we may not know of Christ if we are ignorant of the Biblical teaching. The gradual awakening of this knowledge of Christ within us is the result of stepping into the KOH. Any person can take this step, whether an isolated native in the wilderness, or not.

If you are wondering what will happen after death, I have no idea.

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