If you missed the first post, Will There Be Non Believers In Heaven? – Do Good People Go To Hell?, check it out before you read this one. One of the readers, sent me the following message:
You have to ask yourself this question. What good can possibly come from your article Will There Be Non Believers In Heaven? – Do Good People Go To Hell? None. It will cause confusion to the unlearned and the non believer. If you leave any opening and allow the reader to wonder if maybe they will get to heaven by good works and being able to make a decision after death in the resurrection it causes doubt.
There is a ton of good that can come out of these questions. Furthermore, I never mentioned anything about making a decision after death. That’s what Mormonism and Catholicism teach, and they have a far broader reach than I do. These questions aren’t new. The unlearned and non believers have been asking these questions for hundreds of years. What good can possibly come from ignoring these types of questions? None. When Thomas doubted that Jesus was risen, he questioned it. In fact, the Bible tells us the following:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8
There is a reason that I posted the topic, and that’s because a very confused young lady asked us quite a few questions this past Sunday. The very first question she asked Brian (our Sunday School teacher, not the person above) was, “are we allowed to ask questions?” She had a ton of questions, one of which was, “what happens to people that never heard of Christ?” She gave us a little bit of background in which she told us that she had been to several different denominations, and had encountered different groups, none of which wanted any of their traditional doctrine questioned. That’s usually the sign of a cult that wants to control you, not educate you, or feed you spiritually. Staying silent on controversial issues even though you have questions is for cowards and the brainwashed.
Since the previous posting, I’ve received several cookie cutter, indoctrinated answers that deal with Old Testament saints and preaching to the dead before the resurrection, but in these answers, we as Christians always forget about a huge group of people.
- The people that died after the resurrection, but before hearing the Gospel.
I’m always amazed that Christians don’t want other Christians asking certain questions, even though the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit, puts no such limitations on anyone asking about any subject at all. In this particular case, I’m playing Devil’s Advocate (great movie if you haven’t seen it).
“The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.” – Proverbs 15:28
I always question the motives of any teacher, preacher, or Christian in general, that discourages people from asking questions. It’s completely against what the Bible teaches. Revelation 20:12-13 clearly says that those specific people will be judged according to their works. Are we not supposed to question why this verse is written the way it is? That leaves us with three options:
- Avoid Talking About It
- Dismiss It Completely
- Deal With It
The original question has started a pretty interesting dialogue on Facebook between myself, King Wells, and a few others. So far, nobody has put forth a Biblical explanation as to what happens to people that died after the resurrection, but before hearing the Gospel. Those people certainly can’t be considered believers in Christ, but at the same time, they can’t deny a Savior that they’ve never heard of.
Salvation Through Grace
I believe in salvation through grace and not by works for those of us that have heard and had the chance to either believe or deny Christ. I also believe that a righteous Judge would have a way of dealing with people that fall within that gray area, which definitely includes millions of people. Even Abraham pointed this out to Christ in Genesis:
“That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” – Genesis 18:25
This was before the Law of Moses and before the sacrifice of Christ. That means, there was already an established way of separating the righteous from the wicked, unfortunately, we don’t have the criteria with which it was determined.
Salvation By Request?
Prior to the Law of Moses, there are two examples of God granting clemency based solely on the request of a righteous person. The first happens in Genesis18, in which Abraham asks God to spare the city if He can find 10 righteous people. God agrees to the request. He didn’t find ten, so he spared Lot and his family.
The second request is from Lot to spare the city of Zoar. Unlike Abraham, Lot didn’t place any conditions on the sparing of the city. He wanted to flee there and live. The angels granted the request, based solely on the request of Lot.
Did the Law of Moses replace this previously unknown criteria of determining righteousness? I’m fully aware that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness, but what about Lamech, the descendant of Cain? He considered himself to be a righteous man (Genesis 4:24). At least that’s what I assume based on his comments.
Judged By Works and Not Faith?
I asked King Wells this question on Facebook during our conversation: Why does Revelation 20:12-13 specifically say works, and not make the criteria the belief in Christ?
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” – Revelation 20:12-13
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this White Throne Judgement is that the text does not say that every person in front of the White Throne was cast into the Lake of Fire. It says:
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:15
Its not clear at all if some of these people will be found written in the Book of Life or if none of these people will be found in the Book of Life. Asking these questions doesn’t confuse people. They are already confused or they wouldn’t bother to ask.
Stop Blindly Accepting Tradition
I find that many people that claim to be “awake” are still in a partial slumber. They have a list of things they are willing to question, but reuse to give an honest look at certain traditions. Jesus didn’t come teaching tradition at all. In fact, it was one of the reasons that the Pharisees wanted Him dead.
If you have any Biblical support for what happens to a person that died after the resurrection, but before hearing the Gospel, I’d love for someone to post a comment with that verse in it. Like it or not, Revelation 20:12-13 does mention certain people being judged based on works. I freely admit that I don’t have the answer to this one, but I’m working on it.
“Well Dante, some things I do not have the answer for. However, I do know what the Bible says we must do to enter the Kingdom of God. I personally believe that those who have not been reached by the Gospel, that God personally sent an angel or something. Somewhat like the story I heard about an African in the jungles who ask God to reveal himself, and then he met a Christian.” – King Wells
I believe this is a real possibility, but its still just speculation because there is no scripture to back up a claim like this. Again, I don’t disagree with King Wells on this, I just can’t verify that God did this for the millions of people that died after the resurrection, but before the Gospel.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” – Proverbs 25:2
Paul, Sin, and The Law
The book of Romans has some pretty interesting things to say about Sin, Death, and the Law (The Law of Moses).
“But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” – Romans 7:8-9
What happens to the person that has not received the Law of Moses because they never heard it? What happens to the person that does not accept Christ because they never had the chance to hear of Him? The reason I pose these questions is because another person brought up that they believe these people will be judged according to the Law of Moses.
It would be nice if we took a serious look at questions like these because they come up. Over the course of my life, I’ve heard these types of questions on more than one occasion, and I’ve yet to hear a Biblically sufficient answer come from a Christian, regardless of their title in the church.
Feel free to ring in with your opinions or a verse that answers the question if you have one.