IT’S NOT FAIR! The most common category of questions I hear from people regarding what biblically happens to us after we die has to do with God’s justice. And quite honestly, most of those questions are very valid and well thought out! When you’re dealing with two extremely different destinies that appear to be forever, in addition to such a variety of human exposure to what you need to know to get you to one destination over the other, a lot of important concerns about justice and fairness will and should be asked. The Bible promises both that God is just and that he judges justly (e.g. Deuteronomy 32:3-4, 1 Peter 2:21-23); however, many very common opinions Christians hold about where people end up actually don’t allow God to either be just or judge impartially.
Healing Hereafter addresses several of these troublesome yet widespread beliefs in later chapters, but in Chapter 7, the most problematic one is tackled: the belief that God condemns humans to hell without giving them an opportunity to hear and understand his only way to get into heaven. Below is the quick-read version of the chapter, introducing you to God’s way of setting up the hereafter that allows him to simultaneously judge justly and make sense.
Our line of questioning turns to the fate of everyone who doesn’t have access to God’s solution of Jesus in a way they are able to comprehend during physical life. What happens to those who died before Jesus lived on earth, who were deceased at a young age or in the womb, who have always been mentally incapable of comprehending the gospel, or who otherwise have no way of learning about Jesus’ message? As we search for answers, we are first reminded that God is impartial and never condemns any humans to Hell without giving them a fair chance to demonstrate their faith and hear the gospel. To do so would force God to violate his just nature by using a double standard for who ends up in Hell. It also makes no sense for God to go through all he did in providing the solution of Jesus if it were never applicable to the majority of humans who have lived to this point. Instead, we find it biblically and logically consistent that God wants to, can, and does fairly reach everyone with the gospel before judgment day, the day every human enters their eternal destination. God may accomplish this through earthly human evangelism, through earthly divine evangelism like dreams or angels, or through postmortem divine evangelism, such as the Bible’s teaching that Jesus preaches to some who are dead. This is just, makes the solution of Jesus applicable to all, and judges everyone according to the exact same standard.