Two Questions on Judgment Day

I was often asked about what happens to those who did not hear about Jesus Christ. Will they be considered lost, punished or sent to hell? How about those who died before He came? It is easy to quote verses from the Bible that Jesus is the only way. Without Him, mankind is cursed. It is a must that we should all accept Him. How about those who have not heard? Here are two questions we will find answers to based on the Bible.

1. Will those who did not hear about Jesus but survived the Great Tribulation and the Lord's Day be among those living in the Millennium with Jesus Christ?

The Millennium is the thousand–year reign of Christ over the whole earth. The earth has become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished after six thousand years of work. It is exactly the beginning of the seventh one thousand year from Adam ’s creation, and that is why it is the thousand years of rest or the sabbatical Millennium. It is also the time when Satan is in prison, kept in the abyss or death.

When the smoke clears after the tribulations in those days, people who have not heard God's fame and glory will become citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

For the first question, we find an answer in the prophecy of Isaiah.

"I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations — to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD — on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says the LORD" (Isaiah 66:19-21).

We say salvation is only by grace through faith. However, that can not happen if you do not even know to whom you will give the faith unless the Good News is heard. Surely, there are parts of the world that have not heard of the Good News of salvation, God's fame and glory even until Jesus comes again. The passage above simply tells us that God is an ever-merciful God to those who have not heard about Him. At the very end, God will give them the chance to hear Him and believe in Him and thus earn the ticket to eternal life. Not only that... some of them will also become priest and Levites. That's a great reward, something that even many of the long-time believers will not receive. Therefore this prophecy will be fulfilled:

"So the last will be first , and the first will be last" (Matt 20:16).

That is why those who have been a Christian long before the last days are commissioned to spread the gospel, continue the work of Jesus Christ so that Christian population will multiply. God has put a burden on people who have already seen His glory and fame. However if we fail to obey, our faith in Him will be in question.

2. How about those who have died without hearing about the Good News?

Now let us get to the second question which requires a more detailed answer. How about those who did not have any chance at all to hear the Good News then died? Again, conservative believers will say they will also be lost, no salvation. Salvation is strictly by faith and grace. Of course, there are many biblical basis that support this belief. Among them are:

John  14:6-
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

1 John 5:12
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

John 3:16-17
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 1:12-13
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

John 3:3
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

However, all these verses can only apply when a person had the chance to hear about the Good News and decide to accept or reject. God is the perfect and merciful Judge. Even a sinner will not put one to prison without cause. There are so many good people on earth that deserves to become a good Christians only if they were told about Jesus. Then how will God judge them? Read this prophecy by Jesus Christ:

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink , I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' (Matt 25:42-43). This picture proves that the world is guilty of not giving enough help. Whether it is a famine in Africa or the hungry in the streets, sick person, a prisoner-- they are all an opportunity for everyone to show love to God.

Matt 25:31-46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink , I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink , I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'  

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

First, notice that Jesus Christ is talking about His judgment of all the nations-- all who have lived and died since the beginning of time. Surely, we know that not all nations believed Him or have heard about Him. At present, only around 33% of the world are considered Christians and perhaps only a small percentage of this are considered true believers. Also notice that the judgment will be very simple. Jesus will just be looking back to the the records on how a person treats the needy. It is not a series of questions that a lawyer or a judge will ask a defendant before a judgment is pronounced during a trial in court. Also notice that the judgment of Jesus in the above passage is not based on whether a person was a Christian or not. But true Christians will be be judged differently since they have no more condemnation but already passed from death to life. They were already saved by their own faith. The verse below is for the believers.

John 5:24
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

The believers will be judged with how one's faith will be able to stand the heat of God's test. Christian's judgment is for a reward not a condemnation to hell.

2 Cor 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad

1 Cor 3:11-15
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Also, to better understand Jesus' judgment on the nations, read 1 Peter 4:17-18. There will be two sets of Judgment - first one is for the family of God (Christians) and then secondly, to the nations, including those who have not heard about Him.

1 Peter 4:17-18
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

With this in mind, it is therefore clear that Jesus judgment on the nations no longer include the believers because the judgment on them was already done earlier. In that case, the nations can not be judged on the basis of what they have done as Christians since they are not Christians in the first place. They will be judged according to what they have done towards their neighbours! That's why the test of Jesus to them will be very simple and only few will pass the test. He said by giving to the needy is the same as loving Jesus Himself. So that is a way of accepting God because every needy person in the world is Jesus knocking at the door of the hearts of everyone (Rev 3:20)! Jesus is the only way to the Father (Jn 14:6) and many who have not heard had already walked that way without knowing it by giving love to the less privileged. That is also a test for Christians on how much love they have for their neighbour (Jn 13:34-35). It is indeed hard even for many Christians to pass the fiery test of God. Peter was also warning those who have heard the gospel and yet did not obey. They too will face condemnation.

Look around us today. Look at those people who are not saved, those who have not heard the Gospel, and those who hunger around the world. Christians as well as to those who have not heard will have no excuse. The opportunity is immense for all nations to enlist in the Kingdom. There is hunger in Africa and everywhere, there are homeless people in the streets. People will even have no excuse into believing that there is God who controls everything. If every third person is a Christian, then spreading the Word to the other two should not be difficult especially in this age of modern technology.

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen...(Rom 18:20).

Rom 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Then the conservatives will say, 'then there is no need for Jesus to die on the cross.' Just let nothing from God be heard and we'll just be judged by how we live. But how do we live by faith if we do not know God? How can serve and love God if we do not know Him? Jesus died to demonstrate God's love for mankind, to show His love by redeeming us from death. His sacrifice is not only for Christians but also for those who have not heard His glory, past, present, and the future. Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Rom 10:17). The world needs to know who the true God is and respond to His love. God has prepared a plan and He has more wisdom than anyone. Our God is not a do-nothing God.

In conclusion, it is clear that God is fair, He is merciful and He is JUST. For Christians, our life should reflect our faith that it should survive in the coming judgment. Christians have big responsibility, so important that His last words before ascending to heaven was about the Great Commission.

Matt 28:19-20
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

For Christians, continue to obey His will for God is furious to those who don't. They may even end up receiving nothing or be condemned. If those who did not hear about Jesus but are able to love others by giving, then Christians are also expected to do the same and better.

Matt 7:21
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord ,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

Ezek 34:2-4, 10
Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally... I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

For those who have not heard, search for the Truth, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, provide for those who have no shelter or clothing. Be a good Samaritan even to those you do not know. In today's age, it is hard not to hear about Jesus Christ and His Good News. When you are reading this, the Holy Spirit is already convicting you and you become one of those who have already heard. From now on, work out on your own salvation. Your decision, whether you are for or against Him, that is a day you will never forget for eternity.

In order for you to get saved and become a Christian please follow these simple steps.