“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” (Psalm 2:1)
According to the scriptures—The word “heathen” occurs 104 times in the scriptures. The heathen are also called “the people” (Psalm 2:1), “the nations” (Deuteronomy 4:27; Genesis 18:18), “the wicked” (Psalm 9:5, 15-17), and “the Gentiles” (Malachi 1:11; compare Galatians 1:6; 2:9 with Acts 26:17-18).
All heathen are spiritually blind, ignorant, and vain—The heathen are all those “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2Corinthians 4:3-4); who walk “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The heathen walk, “in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:17-19)
All heathen are sinners—By “the first man Adam” (1Corinthians 15:45) “sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12, 23) Do not be offended, but the truth is that at this present time, the age of the church—the time of “the dispensation of the gospel” (1Corinthians 9:17; 15:3-4), before “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1Peter 1:23), everyone of us was an heathen!
None of the heathen are good—When a man addressed him as “Good master,” the Lord Jesus “said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18). David, who declared: “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me” (2Samuel 23:2), wrote: “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 53:1-3)!
According to Noah Webster, 1828—An heathen is ‘A pagan; a Gentile; one who worships idols, or is unacquainted with the true God. In the Scriptures, the word seems to comprehend all nations except the Jews or Israelites, as they were all strangers to the true religion, and all addicted to idolatry.’
According to Merriam Webster, (since 1828)—An heathen is ‘an unconverted member of a people or nation who does not acknowledge the God of the Bible’ (Merriam Webster, since 1828)
Common misconception—Many would imagine a heathen as a man wearing only a loin cloth and having a painted face with a bone through his nose; but this is far from the truth. A heathen might be a heart surgeon in white surgical clothing, a cowboy in boots and jeans, a politician in an expensive suit and tie, a college student or professor, a brilliant natural health advocate, or a military man in his uniform. The devil is the spiritual father of all heathen (John 8:44). They are “without Christ…having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:11-12)! The heathen fill the entire spectrum of humanity: from a sweet and kind little religious lady to a bloodthirsty serial killer; from a quiet and peaceable man to a raging rebel; from a thoughtful and kind neighbor to a murdering religious terrorist; from an airline pilot to a drunken bum on skid row; from the base to the brilliant; from the illiterate to the scholarly; and from the beastly to the socially refined.
Foolish conception of salvation—The ignorant heathen make foolish statements (based on the kindness, generosity, and good deeds they observe in a person), such as: ‘If anyone will go to heaven it will certainly be him (or her)!’ Nevertheless the word of God still declares, “there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 53:1-3)! Furthermore God’s salvation is, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his [God’s] mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5): “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The biblical world view—The timing and events of the creation are clearly written my Moses; and by his words we have the true view of how and when the world began. The Lord Jesus told the unbelieving Jews: “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46-47) The majority of professing Christians today do not have a worldview that agrees with the word of God. New George Barna Research, March 30, 2020, declared: ‘Dangerously Low Percentage of Americans Have a Biblical World View.’ Barna’s recent United States poll discovered that: ‘Although 7 out of 10 Americans consider themselves to be ‘Christian,’ just 6% actually possess a biblical worldview. Just one-fifth of those attending evangelical Protestant churches (21%) have a biblical worldview, as compared to one-sixth of those attending charismatic or Pentecostal churches (16%). The study finds even smaller proportions in mainline Protestant (8%) or Catholic (1%) churches…Regarding the youngest adult generation, the numbers are even more startling. A mere 2% of those 18 to 29 years old possess a biblical worldview.’ Obviously well over 90% of professing Christians do not actually believe the Holy Bible! Nevertheless their unbelief does not “make the faith of God without effect” (Romans 3:3-4).
The world view of born again believers—I know that am one of “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26), because the Lord has given me “of his Spirit” (1John 4:13; Romans 8:9), and “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16, 9). Furthermore I know that God is working in me “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13), and by the scriptures I know that I am a labourer “together with God” (1Corinthians 3:9). By the word of God I know that I am “of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1John 5:19)
The world is the enemy of God—Born again believers are commanded: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1John 2:15-16) James asks, “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4; 2Timothy 4:10)
The world view of the heathen—Apparently most of the heathen in the world today have believed the ridiculous, fantastic, and unscientific worldview of the so called ‘theory of evolution by natural selection, first formulated in Darwin’s book “On the Origin of Species” in 1859’ (livescience.com). Men who otherwise appear intelligent have been so brainwashed by this false theory, that they frequently use it to support their reasons for things we can observe today. This is far from a biblical [true] world view. Such men either have no knowledge of the truth according to the Holy Bible, or else they have willingly rejected Jesus Christ and his words (John 12:48).
THE TERRIFYING STATE OF THE HEATHEN
Spiritually blind—The minds of the heathen are blinded by “the god of this world…lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2Corinthians 4:3-4). The heathen are “children in whom is no faith.” (Deuteronomy 32:20) They are idolaters who have not known the LORD (Psalm 115:2-8; 79:6). Most of the heathen have some form of religion. Some of them even say they are Christians: they “profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:16) Speaking of such false professors the Lord Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Speaking of the religious heathen (unbelieving Jews), the scripture says: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3) All religious heathen are self righteous, but they are ignorant of the righteousness of God, which God gives to men without the works of the law, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:21-22)
Condemned!—Jesus plainly declared: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:18-19)
The Lord’s estimation of the heathen—“Behold, the nations [all heathen] are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance…All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.” (Isaiah 40:15-17) Nevertheless our great merciful God wills for “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1Timothy 2:4) The Lord spoke to Israel through his prophet Ezekiel, and said, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11) The prophet Isaiah commanded: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7) The apostle Peter declared: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3:9) The “man Christ Jesus…gave himself a ransom for all [heathen], to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2:5-6) Many of the heathen have been deceived by damnable heresies of false teachers, and as a result they deny “the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2Peter 2:1) Although salvation from eternal death in the lake of fire is offered as a free gift (Romans 5:15-19; 6:23) to all heathen who will believe the gospel, the heathen who reject the Lord Jesus Christ are counted to God as “less than nothing.” All the “unbelieving…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) They will go into God’s eternal trash dump where the smoke of their torment will ascend up for ever and ever (Revelation 14:11)!
The heathen’s self estimation—When he asked, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26), the Lord Jesus made it very clear that a man should esteem his own soul to be exceedingly more valuable than the whole world! For the soul of every heathen will either dwell in eternal torments or in eternal joy and pleasure.
HOPE FOR ALL HEATHEN
Because of God’s mercy and grace—During the church age, which began on the very day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, when the apostles received the Holy Ghost (John 20:22; Luke 24:45), Jesus also “said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature [all the heathen].” (Mark 16:15) The soul saving gospel, “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1Corinthians 15:3-4) “is the power of God unto salvation to every one [every heathen fornicator, idolater, adulterer, effeminate, abuser of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners (1Corinthians 6:9-11)] that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
Hope for heathen children—The so called ‘age of accountability’ is determined by God. When commanded to go in and take the land he had promised them, the men of Israel rebelled against the LORD through unbelief, and said they would not go up. The LORD heard their words, and said: “Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers” (Deuteronomy 1:35). However because of their faithfulness to the word of the LORD, Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter into the land. The LORD also said, “Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it” (Deuteronomy 1:39). The same truth was declared in the book of Romans when Paul said: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Romans 7:5-9) When men receive the knowledge of good and evil through the commandments of God, they pass from their original state of innocence to a state of condemnation. They were “alive without the law once,” but when they come to know good and evil they are declared to be, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1)! Therefore it is a blessing to know that despite the fact that abortion is very wicked, all of the innocent victims of those who murdered them in the womb of their mothers will be in the eternal kingdom of God! The Lord Jesus declared: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16)
God promises every heathen—As long as you are breathing God’s air, drinking his water, and eating his food, you are promised: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9) When the jailor asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31)