God’s Judgement to the Heathens
The Bible addressed the question, “How will God judge the heathens” in the book of Romans. Paul wrote, “For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law” (Romans 2:12). Each person will be judged by the process suitable to his case. God will judge the believers by His written “law of Liberty” (James 2:10; Exodus 20:2-17). And He will judge the heathens by His unwritten law of conscience.
The Bible teaches that God reveals His knowledge by three ways:
First: Internal Revelation
He reveals Himself by an internal revelation to the reason and conscience of each man. “Who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (Romans 2:15; John 1:9). Thus, the Lord gave people the ability to judge their own thoughts, words, and actions. But note that the conscience can be over scrupulous (1 Corinthians 10:25) or “seared” by abuse (1 Timothy 4:2). Therefore, it should be enlightened by the knowledge of truth (1 Corinthians 8:7) so that it works according to the light it receives.
Second: External Revelation
God reveals Himself by an external revelation through the works of creation. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). People can know about God through His created works in nature. Even though affected by sin, the “things that are made” affirm that One of immeasurable power made this earth. There is ample proof of God’s goodness and care in His creation. Thus, it is possible for even the pagans to see and know the power and love of the Maker of this earth.
Third: Revelation of Jesus Christ
The Lord reveals Himself by the unique revelation of Jesus Christ, which confirms and completes the other revelations. For God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2). “No one has seen God at any time.” God ordained that “the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father” to reveal His Holy character (John 1:18). And Jesus Himself affirmed this truth when He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Although the heathens don’t know or have the full knowledge of God or His law, they are not without the unwritten law of conscience. Paul affirms, “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves” (Romans 2: 14). And in addition, the heathens have the Revelation of God in nature which tells them of the Creator.
A Fair Judge
The Bible teaches that the heathens will not be judged by a law that they do not know. Nevertheless, if they break the unwritten law of conscience they will be lost just as those who have sinned against a greater light. For this reason, the heathens are without excuse if they didn’t accept God’s revelation to them in nature and in their conscience (Romans 1:19, 20, 32). The lack of more light does not give a person the right to sin against a lesser light. The heathens who sin will be lost, even though they do not have God’s written law. They have sinned against the law they do have. Therefore, God’s judgement will certainly come as a result.
In His service,