Jesus was clear about the rules for receiving salvation when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). And when speaking about Jesus, the apostle Peter said in this passage, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Further, all people have to answer to God whether or not they have “heard” about him (see Heb 9:27). The Bible states that God has clearly revealed himself in creation (see Ro 1:19–20) and that he has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecc 3:11). This means that people see all around them the evidence of God and sense within themselves the truth that they are meant for more than this world. God is not the problem; humankind is. Because of sin, people reject this knowledge of God and rebel against his will (see Ro 1:21–23). It is only because of God’s grace (see Eph 2:8–9) that he saves people from their own sinful desires (see Ro 1:24–32).
How God works out his plan is mysterious and complicated. We have our ideas of what it means for Jesus to be “the way,” but he is not bound by our understanding. God works to accomplish his goals in ways that we will never see or comprehend. The wideness of God’s mercy and the tenacity of his love is beyond our intellectual capacity.
Jesus is central in the redemption story. But God rewards those who seek him (see Heb 11:6). It is our mission to help those who seek him and make sure that those who have yet to answer God’s call hear and understand the gospel (see Mt 28:19–20; Ac 1:8). God always acts justly; he never acts unfairly or wrongly (see Dt 32:4). We might be surprised at the final roll call of heaven. Fortunately, it is God—not us—who will sort out the details in each person’s case.
Taken from NIV Essentials Study Bible