What is the Gospel? Part 4: Accountability and Judgment
Are we sinful and broken at our very core as humans? I recognize that people will answer this question differently throughout our world today, but in my last blog, I tried to show that the Bible would say, “Yes, humans are rebellious and sinful. Humans are not fundamentally good.” If our minds are hostile to God and we do walk in the passions and desires of the flesh, does it actually matter? Will there be a judgment day? Will we be held accountable for our actions, decisions, and thoughts in this life?
Psalm 145:20 says, “The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.” Acts 17:30-31 proclaims, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed.” There does seem to be a day of judgment and accountability coming. The Lord will separate those who love Him from those who continually walk in sin and wickedness with no desire to change. As we will see in the upcoming blogs, perfection is not required from humanity in order to be in relationship with God but those who love Jesus will be shown by their faith and trust in Him and their repentance from sin.
This time of accountability and judgement is furthered by Paul’s argument in the book of Romans.
“Every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God” (Rom. 3:19b). “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12).
We will all provide an account to God before His judgment seat. Hence, it is a really major deal how we live in this life.
The book of Hebrews also tells us that there will be a time of judgment after we die: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (9:27). Hebrews also provides context into how people were made right before God before Jesus. Priests would offer sacrifices for the people’s sins and shortcomings. Hebrews 10:11 says, “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” Unfortunately, we can offer as many sacrifices as we want and do everything we can, but our sin is not just going away.
The Scriptures clearly show that God is a God of love (1 John 4:7-8). But His love does not mean He simply looks past our sin. Revelation 19:15 describes how Jesus will respond:
“From his (the Word of God; Jesus) mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the almighty.”
The wrath of God is real. We cannot have a God who is perfectly loving who is not also just (see the first 2 blogs). We do not want to worship a God who is OK with heinous acts of injustice. Many people say they cannot believe in hell even if it is described in the Bible. But do we really want a world where evil and wickedness go unpunished? We want accountability. We want justice. We just do not necessarily want justice for our own actions.
The final destiny of unrepentant, unbelieving sinners is the wrath of God and eternal, conscious torment called hell, which is described as an unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43; Rev. 20:10). But there is so much hope for all people because of one Jewish carpenter, born to a virgin and who seemed so insignificant in the world’s eyes. We have a broken relationship with God and Jesus is the only one who can fundamentally change us and bring us back into relationship with God.
Here is a summary of where we have been so far in this blog series as it relates to the gospel. First, we acknowledge that God, the infinite-personal Creator who is holy and righteous and just, is there. Second, we acknowledge that we as individuals have sinned and have true guilt before the God who is there. We, as finite beings, have no way to remove the guilt before the infinite God. What is the solution? How exactly are we brought back into relationship with God? What is required of us? John 3:36. We will talk more about this in my next post.