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