Do you think that, were you to die and stand before God right now, he would welcome you to heaven or send you to hell? When that question is asked, most people who acknowledge the truth of God’s existence say that they hope for heaven. But if you ask them by what standard they expect heaven, they have no biblical answer. In most cases, they look to whether or not they believe themselves guilty of a damnable offense.
One of our greatest problems in relating to God is our inability to really understand what is offensive to the Lord. Yes, the Lord has shown us this in his word, but we are so very dull. Obviously we grasp that some things are wrong. There are things that nearly any human being would agree are evil. WE do not like to see other people hurt. We agree that things like theft and assault are wrong. We agree that murder is wrong.
The thing that is very difficult for the people of our world to imagine is that God would judge a person, eternally judge a person, based on issues of faith. It is an unwelcome idea in the world to suggest a person would be lost based on a refusal to believe in Jesus. Such a doctrine is seen as bigoted, closed-minded, and unsophisticated. A person will ask, “Are you telling me that I’m going to hell if I do not believe what you believe?”
When we are faced with the world’s scorn for suggesting that faith or lack thereof is the measure of salvation, we have one of two choices. WE can either compromise by ignoring the word of God, or we can allow the word of God to show us the truth. God has always judged men and women based on more than their participation in what we consider to be major evils. God also judges based on our hearts. And God sees a lack of faith in him as a damnable offense.
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
and I will punish the men
who are complacent,
those who say in their hearts,
‘The Lord will not do good,
nor will he do ill.’
Notice whom God will judge in this passage. It is not that God says he will search Jerusalem for the vilest offenders only. HE is not simply after the murderers, rapists, and the like. For sure, those will face God’s judgment. But God is here telling his people that he will judge the men who are simply complacent about him. God’s judgment will fall on those who simply assume that God is a non-factor.
While I have no reason to try to justify the judgments of the Lord—he is absolutely perfect, after all—I will make a simple point here. God is the Creator. God is the Lord over the universe and beyond. God fashioned this universe for his glory. God created people in his image to acknowledge his lordship. It is an evil thing for a person, who has the responsibility to worship the Lord, to instead refuse to acknowledge him. God is not petty. God’s purposes are perfect. And to refuse him that for which you were created is to rebel against him deeply.
So, will a person be judged by God for something as seemingly trivial as not believing? Absolutely they will. This is because what seems trivial to fallen man is not at all trivial. God is our Creator. He created all things for his glory. He has every right to demand our allegiance. If we refuse him that allegiance, he has every right to judge us for that offense.
And before being offended about this concept, remember that the Lord has also given a global command. All people everywhere are commanded by God to turn from sin and trust in Jesus Christ to be saved. Will you obey God’s call? Will you yield to the Lord who made you? If so, praise God, you will be saved. If not, do not be surprised that you will face the judgment of the God you refuse.