The Heart of God in the Midst of Judgment

What Is God’s Heart in the Midst of Judgment?

The discussion that follows relates to the final judgment all people will face just before God creates a new heaven and new earth.

Heart1 Tim. 2:4 tells us that God wants all men to be saved from eternal judgment:

who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4 NIV)1

In the middle of speaking about the coming judgment, Peter writes:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)1

God’s heart is clearly that all people be saved from eternal judgment.

Since God Wants All People to be Saved, Why is There an eternal Judgment?

JudgmentEternal judgment exists because God is just and there are consequences for breaking His laws. However, He has provided a means of escape from eternal judgment.

Have you ever said or heard someone else say, “That’s not fair”? This statement reveals that there is a desire for justice in mankind; a desire for things to be fair and right. Although we don’t always agree about what is right and wrong, people have a sense that justice should be served.

The-Cross-of-ChristBecause God is just, the breaking of His law requires consequences. The ultimate consequence is to be separated from Him forever. However, God is love, and He doesn’t want people to be separated from Him. His solution was to cause the punishment of all the sin of all people to fall upon Jesus.  Jesus is God and had no sin of His own to pay for, so when He suffered and died on the cross He received the consequences for man’s sin, not His own.

This solution enabled justice to be served and made a way for all people to be brought into right relationship with God.

Since Justice Has Been Served, Why Is There Still a Final Judgment?

Let’s look at 2 Peter 3:9 again.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)1

God offers pardon to all people. He has given us the power to choose, and each person needs to choose to “come to repentance.” There is a final judgment because people have been given a choice.

What Is Repentance?

Repentance involves a change in thinking and a turning from sin to God:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, (Acts 3:19 NIV)1

In the Greek text the word translated repent is metanoia, which means a “change of mind”, and involves a turning with contrition from sin to God.

In Jesus’ time, crowds of people – including the religious leaders of the day – came to His cousin John to be baptized. John knew their only motivation was to escape judgment. He knew there was no repentance – no turning to God – in their hearts. He told them to do the work that is consistent with repentance and then gave practical examples of what repentance looked like for people in their time:

Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. (Matthew 3:8 NLT)2

This gives understanding as to why eternal judgment is coming, even though God wants all people to be saved. God has provided the means for all to escape eternal judgment, but those who do not believe and repent reject the means of escape that God has provided.

How Does a Person Escape Final Judgment?

Jesus said to the people of His day:

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 NIV)1

The apostle Paul preached the same thing:

First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. (Acts 26:20 NIV)1

A person escapes final judgment by turning from his sin to God and believing the good news.  The good news is that although all people have broken God’s laws and have no means within themselves to bring about reconciliation with the Father, Jesus (who is God), lived a life of complete obedience to the Father, and received the punishment that man deserves.

ForgivenessThrough His death and resurrection, He offers forgiveness and reconciliation to all people who receive it. When a person believes the good news, chooses to turn from his sin to God and asks God for forgiveness, he is saved from eternal judgment.


1 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

2 Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.