That Far-Away Island
I wonder how many souls have rejected Christ because of that "Far-Away-Island"? The reasoning goes like this. "On some far away island there are people who have never heard of Jesus Christ, or of His commandments. They cant believe if they have not heard; they cant obey if they do not know the commands, so surely a just God will save them." (Its amazing how many people who will not consider what God says, can figure out exactly what God will do — on the basis of their concept of right and justice.) Then, an otherwise intelligent man, with Bibles all around him and concerned friends pleading for him to hear and obey Christ, assumes that he can ignore Christ, and be saved "like those far-away savages".
The analogy is far-fetched and illogical, even if people on that faraway island are saved "because they never heard the gospel"—and that is "far-away" from being proven. Men are not lost (in the primary sense) because "they didnt hear the gospel." Men are lost because of their sins, no matter where they are or what they have or have not heard. Sin is the disease that brings spiritual death, while the gospel is the remedy. We do not die because of the remedy, but because of the disease. The Bible says "All have sinned" (ROM. 3:23), and "death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (ROM.5:12). Accountable people on that far-away island are lost because of their sins.
Paul also uses another argument — one that comes closer home. He indicates a moral consciousness "written in the hearts" of men who had not a codified law as did the Jews (2:12-f). There are subjective standards of conduct, things we "feel" to be right-things we "ought" or "ought not" to do (read again, ROM. 2:12-16), and God justly holds men accountable to do the best he knows to do, in the absence of more complete information (cf. ROM. 14:23 in context.). It should be noted that subjective standards can never supersede available revelation from God, to be approached objectively. (ROM. 10:17; JOH. 12:48)
That "Far Away Island" needs Jesus Christ just the same as the rest of this sinful world. Their condemnation is just (for their own sins) whether we take them the gospel or not; but if we are unconcerned and neglectful about taking them the gospel remedy, our condemnation is twice justified. How utterly lost is the man who uses Far Away Island to justify (?) self.