THE FINAL JUDGMENT
T. PIERCE BROWN
Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mk.16:16).” John Doe has not been baptized. He dies. Will he be saved? In the 65 years that I remember hearing some of the most scholarly and soundest gospel preachers of this generation, I am aware of none that would have answered the question with an immediate and direct, “No.” Each of them was thoughtful and humble enough to says such things as, “No one except God is able to determine the final destiny of any specific person,” or “One would have to know various other things about him to even make a legitimate conclusion about his final destiny.”
Yet we find brethren today who say, “To make a statement that we cannot know the eternal destiny of anyone is nothing short of calling God a liar!” How anyone who claims to be a sound gospel preacher can assume the position and wisdom of God is strange beyond expression.
Cannot any thoughtful, intelligent person see that it is our responsibility to teach the general truth that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned,” without either the ability or responsibility to try to apply that general truth to a specific person? The Bible teaches that there are at least the following factors that will be present in the final judgment: 1. The knowledge of the person being judged. (Lk. 12:47-48, James 3:1)). 2. The opportunity of the person (Mt.10:15, Luke10:14). 3. The ability of the person (Mt. 25:15-20). 4. The word (John12:48). No doubt there are other factors, such as motive, attitude and purpose of heart. The only one we can know is the word, and we cannot know for certain how God will apply that to a specific person, for He will apply it in terms of the various other factors.
Jonah went toNinevehand preached that after 40 days the city would be overthrown (Jonah 3:4). It was not. Surely no one would be so ignorant or arrogant to say that God lied, or that Jonah was teaching false doctrine. The fact that Jonah was not satisfied to let God apply His own sentence in His own way should be a lesson to us. It is our responsibility to preach the message without compromise, addition or subtraction. It is not our responsibility or privilege to assume the right to make the final judgment as to how that message will be applied to a particular individual.
All thieves will have their part in the lake of fire, as will the fearful (Rev. 21:8). We have heard persons say that they were fearful that if or when they did personal evangelism they would not be able to teach a person properly and convert them to Christ. Suppose they die, not having overcome that fear. According to the presumed logic and arrogance of some of our brethren, if we say that we do not know their eternal destiny, it is “nothing short of calling God a liar!” God said that the fearful would be lost. This man not only was fearful, but admitted it. He is therefore in hell! If you are not able to see the difficulty with sort of analysis, and even its stupidity and arrogance, an article like this will be of no value to you.