According to Scripture, each of us must stand before the judgement seat of God when our time on earth is done. Christians do not contend with this statement. However, there is not a consensus on what follows.
Most Christians maintain that there are only two possible outcomes. The first, of which, follows an innocent verdict: The Pearly gates. The second, which follows a guilty verdict, is believed to be irrevocable and undeniably hopeless.
Before we delve into the rationale behind what follows conviction, let’s consider what led up to this case of God v. The People. Is it God v. The People (as a whole) or is it God v. [you/me]? If it is not one or the other, but both, consider how that may effect what Jesus was sent to accomplish here on earth.
Did Jesus die for humanity or particular individuals? Now, that is a major division in the Body of Christ. Jesus died for humankind. Although Augustinian theology teaches that Jesus only died for particular individuals (the Elect), let’s tackle this question assuming that Jesus died for everyone.
If Jesus actually is the Savior of the world, we must see the sheep in his parable as an image of the world rather than a tiny predestined group of individuals. When a Christian attempts to draw the latter inference, the only thing that this achieves is a minor avoidance of a contradiction in theology. There is nothing profound about Jesus leaving 99 predestined “sheep” to find another predestined sheep that just wandered off from the flock.
When it comes to “the Judgement Seat of God”, is it even proper to view divine judgement as a modern day court case? Should we see Jesus as our defender or prosecutor? Who is our judge? According to John 5:22, that would be Jesus; which makes him our judge, jury, and prosecutor/defende .
Few Christians question the fate of those who die “unsaved”. Most believe that the lost will suffer forever, with no possibility of grace hereafter. They believe it to be a decree from the Most High. So, why question it? Although few question it by mouth, most believers question it by their inaction.
So, how do you plead? Before you make your plea, you should first determine the charge. Many assume the charge is sin. That is the route many evangelists take, after all. If they are correct, no one can enter a plea of innocence. That seems to be the gist of evangelism nowadays.
What if I told you that sin is no longer the primary charge? Has the letter of the Law ever been a means to salvation? No. Jesus has always been the only road to redemption. According to 2 Corinthians 3:6, the letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives a life which the Law cannot negate.
Ever since Jesus rose victoriously from the grave (defeating sin and death on our behalf), there has only been one offense for which we all must enter a plea: the command to repent.
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,”
—Acts 17:30 ESV
If one’s charge is disbelief, how is justice served in that regard? It’s quite different than the whole “sin against an infinite God deserves an infinite punishment” scheme, isn’t it? What is the consequence for disbelief? Rather than attempting to reason this out, let’s first determine if Scripture has already given us a straightforward answer to this question.
Anyone who knows anything about the Bible knows that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Given that Jesus died and rose from the grave on behalf of the world, thereby settling our ransom, it follows that the wages of disbelief deserves the same condemnation. (Keep in mind that ransoms are paid to captors. The Father is not our captor.)
Many assume that we have a long (sometimes short) life to live; a life which determines our destiny. However, according to John 3:18, condemnation for disbelief is not some future sentence. For, “those who do not believe are condemned already.”
The faithless do not know God and, consequently, live a life of spiritual condemnation. Just like a hog wallows in the mud, so also do the lost wallow and grope in darkness. The blind do not see the light because they do not currently possess the faith necessary to have their sight restored. Which begs the question: Will some eyes remain eternally closed?
I can’t help but believe that our Heavenly Father is much better than even those closest to his heart can imagine. Yet, if I am mistaken and have failed to see God as he truly is, then although sin and death may have lost the battle at Calvary, when all is all said and done, they will have certainly won the war.
Yet, we do not need to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow is in the hands of our Maker. Rest assured. We have been promised a day with no more tears; no more pain; no more fears. A day will dawn when all will be made new. On that day, we will no longer depend on the the sun for light or warmth; for he will be our light. And where there is light, there can be no darkness!
The Light of the world shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied. Just as the good Shepard is not satisfied with 99 sheep, neither can the Light of the world be satisfied with even a single eye left unopened.