After the great search has been made, and each person’s life carefully examined to see if there was anything for which they could be rewarded, only the worthless will go to the Sea of Fire. The compassion that motivated God to send His Son will not be withheld from those who were kind to their neighbors and hospitable to strangers. The least act of kindness shown to a disciple will be remembered. As Yahshua himself said:
And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward (Matthew 10:42)
That reward will not be merely “the coolest room in hell.” How much our idea of judgment has been twisted and warped by people who don’t know God’s character! Where do such ideas come from?
In Dante’s Inferno are levels of hell for increasingly evil people. There, punishments and tortures tailored to the offense are dished out with sadistic glee by crazed, yet tireless, demons. They are the agents of God’s wrath. Whatever the source, ideas like this have affected the whole world. The typical idea of hell is enough to frighten children into screaming nightmares.
Since God is the Judge who put them there, it is as if God is a sadist, just waiting to get a hold of all those stubborn people who would not become Christians. And what of the children who die young and the infants? What is their fate? There is a reason behind the existence of Vacation Bible Schools. It is the same thinking that causes preachers to try to get children to say the sinner’s prayer. Yes, it’s because they are going to hell forever and ever if they don’t believe in Jesus.
While a person’s normal sense of decency and justice would tell them that children can’t be judged like adults, that is not what Christianity teaches. Worse still is the doctrine of infant damnation. It is hidden like a shameful secret that no one wants to bring out of the closet. Even though babies have not done anything good or bad, they are born in sin, aren’t they? Why do you think so many people baptize their babies?
It is because they have been taught, even if they are hardly aware of it (because the knowledge is too terrible to put into thoughts, let alone words), that their baby will go to hell if it dies. The classic Protestant expression of this doctrine is in the Day of Doom, the most famous poem of colonial days. It pictured infants pleading for mercy before Jesus at the Judgment Seat. His answer still chills the soul:
None but mine elect can I save. But to you this boon will I grant: the coolest room in hell.
And Catholics have their “limbo,” just outside of hell, for unbaptized babies. The whole of Christianity is a religion that preys on people’s deepest fears, offering a seeming security against the murderous god it has created. Right at the beginning of life the net of fear and guilt is laid, and generation after generation is caught in its sickening grasp.
It is GOOD NEWS to hear that God is not that way at all. Yahshua taught that there is a place of comfort and a place of torment in death. He told about two men who had died to illustrate this concept in vivid terms:
Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades [death] he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus [the poor man he had ignored] in his bosom ... Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things, but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.” (Luke 16:22,23,25)
All the people who never had a chance to become a disciple will one day be called from the places they have waited in death. Suffering there is the price you pay for sin. If you have even once failed to love your neighbor as yourself, you have sinned and will be held in death. Some will have waited in torment with the rich man because that is how they treated people, too. But God is just, and the people who struggled to live a good, moral life will not suffer in death as much as those who deliberately defied their consciences. Job spoke of the hope of the second life for those who die with a good conscience:
If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait, until my change comes. You will call, and I will answer You; You will long for the work of Your hands. (Job 14:14-15)
Human beings are the work of His hands, they are His highest creation. Sadly, God will not long for everyone. He will not desire anyone He can no longer recognize. They will have destroyed the image of God they were born with by their evil, willful actions. As children look and act like their parents, so we were meant to reflect the moral goodness of our Creator. People who choose immorality, greed, and a life of selfish ease end up mirroring the evil one, not their Maker. They will not be allowed to bring that ingrained evil into eternity. Instead of the second life, they will justly be condemned to the second, unending death.
But there will be so many He will desire. Among them will be all the aborted babies, and all the children who never had a chance in this life. All the people who did the best they could, by the light they had in their consciences, will be there. Even though they did not have the opportunity to believe in Messiah, they did take the opportunities they had to be kind to their neighbors.
The Son of God spoke about the judgment. He told His disciples that God was impartial. He knew they would be surprised to hear it. They had grown up despising everyone outside of Israel. Perhaps He looked ahead to the slander of God’s character that Christianity would do as well. He had told them:
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who did the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)
One day Yahshua will say to the righteous people of all nations:
Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:34)
There, in the nations of the eternal age, they will receive the direct care and healing of the God of Heaven:
And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree of life were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
He also promised that His bond servants, those who have forsaken everything to serve Him in this life, will eat the fruit of the tree of life. They will rule over the nations forever and ever.1 All the tragedies and nightmares of this age will be gone, even their memories. Never again will God be slandered.