The Dilemma of Probable Outcomes
What if a person lives a good life but chooses not, or absolutely refuses, to believe in the “Christian” God? Why would God condemn a “good person” even though he or she lived a “good life” and was a “good person” by Man’s standards? What if all the “good souls in the world” do not possess the psychological wherewithal to make the “leap of faith” to Christ? Does God condemn them for their lack of faith?
The hypothetical questions posed above assume there is an ultimate authority or judge in eternity. If that is the case, then one eternal authority renders all other possible outcomes (oppositional beliefs) invalid. If there is, as the queries suppose, one particular God (as opposed to a plethora of lesser gods) then it is reasonable to conclude the God-in-control sets the terms and conditions for acceptance into the hereafter. The same God would already have instilled the capacity within human beings to respond affirmatively or negatively to faith as a matter of choice (free-will.) The sinner-salvation model of Christianity makes no allowances for the sinner to earn his or her way into Heaven, which naturally poses quandaries for work-based, catch-all, feel-good, and soul-recycling belief systems.
I don’t know what God will do with the aforementioned “good people” who are outside of the fellowship of Christ. Quite frankly, I am not willing to make that discovery firsthand. Nor am I foolhardy enough to risk an eternal death sentence where there is no higher authority to whom I may appeal the decision. I am not God and do not pretend that, because I have received Christ, I am privy to the innermost counsels of the Most-High-God. For you see, if that were true, I would not need to seek God of my own volition, and neither would you.
I only know what the Scriptures report. It is my decision to believe their veracity based on the testimonies of those who were witnesses to the events contained in the reports, as well as what I have observed and experienced in the exercise of my own faith. And having walked in faith (in Jesus Christ) persistently for the past twenty-one years, I have come to the understanding that I know a great deal less about the mind of God than I would hope, but know more about the heart of God than I had ever expected.
So it is understandable why some folks suggest the consequence of unbelief (in eternity) appears to be extremely harsh. Others contend such a negative outcome from the “God of love” sounds very "un-Christ-like" and in opposition to the message of love Christ offers. Many non-believers are bothered and perplexed at the seeming contradiction between God’s unconditional love for us and the consequences of “Judgment Day” for unrepentant sinners with the approach of the end times scenario.
There is no contradiction where the Scriptures are concerned. God has revealed Himself to be consistent, persistent, and insistent on obedience to the laws He set in place from the beginning. Who else but the Creator knows what is best for the Creation? The problem with most of us is that we are complacent and comfortable, settling for a great deal less than God’s best. It leads us to the irrefutable dilemma all human beings contend with concerning the issue of obeying God‘s laws and following our own selfish desires. It is called “sin.”
This is where the practice or absence of faith moves humanity along two distinct paths: acceptance or rejection of God's terms and conditions for everlasting life. It is indeed possible for God to love each of us as sinners, yet detest the sins we commit. Just as earthly parents must train and appropriately discipline their children for defiance and rule-breaking, it does not imply by any reasonable standard that parents do not unconditionally love their offspring. On the contrary, prisons around the United States are filled with recklessly defiant, overly-indulged, and extremely undisciplined adult children of parents not overly concerned about the issue of obedience, who loved their kids right into handcuffs and detention.
Make no mistake! God knows what is best for us because He created us. That is not a matter of whose religion is right or best. It is a matter of what the eternal outcome will be if one does not make the choice God desires him or her to make. There is a mutually exclusive decision to be made: on the one hand, God offers the choice of receiving the atonement for sin to each human being; while on the other hand, there is the requirement of the Law to stand accountable for disobedience in sin. There is no higher authority than God, so whatever your decision, it will stand for eternity.
In making the choice, each person must either accept (in willingness) or reject (through willfulness) the grace of God. Thus, based upon the response, your decision for or against will reflect in complete agreement the outcome both you and God have made. Whether the issue of your “goodness” on Earth has any bearing in judgment is between you and God.
Let’s hope you have been really, really good if it comes down to a matter of judgment.
(copyright 2008, Gregory Allen Doyle)