Yes. But I deny that they are lost because they have not heard the gospel. God is not willing for anyone to be lost (2 Peter 3:9) and so He has provided sufficient grace for all people to be saved (Titus 2:11). No one can plead complete ignorance (Romans 1:20). Furthermore, since no one is left without a witness (Acts 14:17), it is a misconception that anyone is truly “unevangelized,” even though parts of the world have never been evangelized by human missionaries. According to Scripture, everyone has received light (John 1:9) and only those who reject that light will be lost (John 3:19). Therefore, it is “fair” that people are lost although they have never been reached by a human missionary. Yet this doesn’t leave them hopeless. Cornelius is an example that at least some will be saved before missionaries reach them (Acts 10:2). As Dennis Kinlaw once described it, we are always the “second witness” after the Holy Spirit. How this does not undermine our zeal for missions is for a later question.
No, it isn’t fair. People who hear the gospel have an advantage over those who do not. But what does the question imply? To say that something is unfair is to say that someone is unfair. Who is unfair in this case? Usually it is the fairness of God that is questioned, as if any unfairness that exists can be blamed on God. But God does not guarantee that everything will be fair, and the existence of billions of free-thinking, mostly self-centered decision makers means that there will not be fairness, since God allows real results of their actions. God is not to blame for sinners’ guilt in the first place, but He provided the atonement, gave the gospel, calls messengers, empowers by the Spirit, gives conviction and desire to the hearers, and gives grace to those who respond. So if it’s unfair that some have not heard, who is it that is unfair?
God and His judgments are perfect and just. His declaration in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned,” doesn’t refer simply to breaking the Ten Commandments or refusing to trust Jesus as Savior. Paul, in Romans 1 and 2, reveals at least four other yardsticks for judgment.
God’s creation (1:18-21): Through nature God has revealed things about Himself and His character. Because of what they know, men are “without excuse” if they turn from God.
Their own standards (2:1-3): Some people condemn others for doing wrong things that they themselves commit. When they don’t live up to their own standards, they become guilty of wrongdoing.
Known law (2:12-13): How much or little of moral law do people know? Their response to what they know is a fair standard by which God will judge them.
Conscience (2:14-16): Even depraved mankind has some inward sense of morality and rightness. The most primitive tribes have rules that indicate some sense of right. When people disobey and excuse themselves, they are guilty.
God is always fair and just. He sent His Son to be the “The True Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). All people can be saved. They are not lost because they don’t hear the gospel. They are lost because they reject God and His Light (Romans 1:19-23). The only way that anyone can be saved is by grace through faith. Abraham never “heard the gospel,” but he was saved. How? By faith.
Anyone could respond to The Light, but “how will they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). God has chosen us to spread the gospel. Without hearing, the vast majority will be lost; this urgent reality should grip us. To whom much is given, much is also required. But is it fair? It isn’t fair that any of us are saved; it is God’s Grace.
“Fair?” That is not the issue. Is it fair that some people are healed from cancer while others aren't? Is it fair that some people are intelligent and others are not? Fairness is not the issue at hand. From my perspective, justice is the issue. Is it just for sin to enter Heaven? What does Romans chapter 1 indicate regarding this subject?
Please read this next sentence very carefully: If the unknowing heathen are NOT lost, wouldn't it be better if we did not go to their lands with the gospel, thus making them responsible to have their sin dealt with? I believe that a better question regarding this subject is: What responsibilities must the comfortable-living Western Christians shoulder to tell the unreached people-groups of the Gospel of Hope? [Read Ezekiel 3:18]. It’s amazing how we so easily gloss over this vital subject so that we do not ruffle our American-dream "comfort zone" too much! Perhaps the Back-to-Jerusalem Movement is a contemporary example of what the Church is supposed to be today!
Let's consider the reverse question. Is it fair that people be saved in spite of their sin? As sinful humans, we justly deserve God's righteous wrath. Instead, Jesus died to provide a way of escape. Those who place their faith in Christ's atonement are promised eternal life. That's not fair. That's not what we deserve. That's mercy.
The Bible declares that somehow Jesus gives light to every man (John 1:9). Paul writes that all humans are without excuse because they have received the general revelation of creation (Romans 1:20). In the end, people are lost, not because they haven't heard the gospel, but because they reject the knowledge of God that they do possess. To review, all people have light and are without excuse before God. Inasmuch as they accept the limited revelation they possess, they are saved. Since human beings are sinful in heart, they generally reject God and need the gospel to be saved. That's fair.