What if there’s no Judgment Day? Without a doubt the configuration of human ethics would change. Apprehension about appearing before the judgment seat of God is a great modifier of human behaviour. For theists, it’s at the back of the mind somewhere. The materialistic philosophical framework favoured by atheists will most likely gain traction if there’s no Judgment Day. That framework is captured in King Solomon’s philosophical musing on despondence, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead) where you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 AMP) An epicurean mind-set might emerge as culture – Let us eat, drink and sleep for tomorrow we die. (Ecclesiastes 8:5) But we seem to be getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s back up a little.
An apocalyptic vision of final judgment is presented to us by Apostle John in the Book of Revelation: “I saw a Great White Throne and the One Enthroned. Nothing could stand before or against the Presence, nothing in Heaven, nothing on earth. And then I saw all the dead, great and small, standing there — before the Throne! And books were opened. Then another book was opened: the Book of Life. The dead were judged by what was written in the books, by the way they had lived. Sea released its dead, Death and Hell turned in their dead. Each man and woman was judged by the way he or she had lived. Then Death and Hell were hurled into Lake Fire. This is the second death — Lake Fire. Anyone whose name was not found inscribed in the Book of Life was hurled into Lake Fire. (Revelation 20:11-15 MSG)
Incidentally, that famous passage about every knee bowing to Jesus is not so much about demon subjugation; it’s really about the final judgment. In the passage in question (Romans 14:10-12) Paul was warning (Roman) Christians about criticism of fellow Christians. Criticism is judgment. And yet we’re all going to kneel before the judgment seat of God: “So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother?…Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit.” (Romans 14:10-12 MSG) In support, he goes on to cite Prophet Isaiah as authority: “As I live and breathe, God says, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God.” (Romans 14:10-12 MSG, Isaiah 45:23) Paul’s advice was simple, and we find it in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of — inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5 MSG) Again in his second letter to the Corinthians he says, “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NLT)
The presiding judge at these sessions is actually Jesus Christ. “The Father handed all authority to judge over to the Son so that the Son will be honoured equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonours the Son, dishonours the Father, for it was the Father’s decision to put the Son in the place of honour.” (John 5:22 MSG) Curiously, Jesus says he’ll also judge cultural and political collectives like Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum for lack of faith. His cross references for such judgments are Tyre, Sidon and Sodom: “Next Jesus let fly on the cities where he had worked the hardest but whose people had responded the least, shrugging their shoulders and going their own way. “Doom to you, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had seen half of the powerful miracles you have seen, they would have been on their knees in a minute. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you. And Capernaum! With all your peacock strutting, you are going to end up in the abyss. If the people of Sodom had had your chances, the city would still be around. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you.” (Matthew 11:20-24 MSG) It means we become liable not only for our personal sins, but we also partake in the wholesale sentence on a faithless political collective steeped in aberrant cultural mores. If we buy into the spirit of the age we partake in the sentence on the spirit of the age. It’s why Jesus spoke about the absolution of the men of Nineveh as a political and cultural collective – “The men of Nineveh will stand up [as witnesses] at the judgment against this generation, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now, something greater than Jonah is here.” (Matthew 12:41-42 AMP) The dominance or prevalence of a spirit of the age is not exculpatory of personal responsibility before God. Noah and Lot chose not to subscribe to the spirit of the age however dominant. You have a choice.
But to fully explore the question of what if there is no Judgment Day, we must ask ourselves what exactly Judgment Day portends beyond juristic circumference. There are three derivatives embedded in the logic of Judgment Day:
1) Man is not supreme, he is accountable to a higher Authority.
2) God is supreme authority.
3) God is our Creator.
Without these logical derivatives the idea of Judgment Day will not make sense. If man is not subordinate to higher authority, he cannot be accountable to a higher judicial system. God’s court cannot assume jurisdiction over man otherwise. And for God to assume ultimate authority, he must be a supreme being. That’s logical. But then if God is not Creator, on what basis then is he presuming to judge creation? And so you can see the three derivatives are naturally assumed in the concept of Judgment Day.
It’s also logical to state that man would be a law unto himself if he’s not subject to God. The problem with that however is that man didn’t create himself and therefore could not have gifted himself with primordial power. In a manner of speaking a self-made man is an oxymoron. Man is a donee of power. A donee of power cannot be a law unto himself. Ultimate power resides in God. As the Psalmist wrote, “God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to you.” (Psalms 62:11 NLT)
Given these facts it is most ironic that man as an evolved political collective periodically seeks to overthrow God’s hegemony. There’s a citation of one such rebellious attempt in the Book of Psalms: “Why do the nations rebel? Why are the countries devising plots that will fail? The kings of the earth form a united front; the rulers collaborate against the Lord and his anointed king. They say, “Let’s tear off the shackles they’ve put on us! Let’s free ourselves from their ropes!” (Psalms 2:1-4 NET)
Sometimes, these attempts at overthrowing God’s authority are progressed through popular culture, ideology and philosophy. Secular humanism for example rejects religious dogma and supernaturalism. It exalts human reasoning and ethics. In reality, it’s just an ideological and philosophical variant of the case study in Psalm 2:1-4. The extreme political expression of man’s rebellion against God of is of course the notion of an atheistic state, like present day North Korea or 1900s Soviet Union. Yet the Bible says, “But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.” (Psalms 2:4 NLT) That’s because God has time on his hand. He can afford to wait and see. He lives in eternity. Communism began in Russia when the Bolsheviks revolted in 1917. But the Soviet Union collapsed on December 26, 1991. It lasted all of a meagre 74 years – hardly the span of a generation.
The alternative to God’s sovereignty is not really man’s sovereignty, however much that is assumed. It’s actually subscription to something the Bible calls “the mystery of lawlessness” or “mystery of iniquity.” The prime figure in that mystery is the man of sin (ho anthropos tes anomias), the Antichrist. The Bible says, that mystery is already operational – was deployed over 2,000 years ago: “Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed — the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 7 NLT)
If there’s no Judgment Day the global world order will be the mystery of iniquity.
If you’ll like to give your life to Jesus, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me Father. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.If man is not subordinate to higher authority, he cannot be accountable to a higher judicial system. Click To Tweet