It is a common wish for life to be fair. There is a common statue outside courthouses that show justice is blind. Defining and finding justice can be difficult. If it is someone who has wronged me, then I have my biases for what I want dished out to the other person but we do not always get things seen the way we prefer. As a counselor I refer to the court system as a “stranger in a black robe”. I say it that way with purpose in the sense of how imperfect a judge on judging guilt and meting out a sentence.
People can be initially repelled of God in heaven being a judge. The first reflex in someone who is effected by shame and a legalistic form of Christianity is that God is out to punish for the sake of a macabre satisfaction of making us suffer. With a right representation of what Christianity is about the nature of God being holy and Love in the flesh in Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. God being love and holy may seem to be contradicting but really they are paradoxes in perfect harmony with each other in the person of Jesus. In explaining the dynamics of the important lines of demarcation one can see a building stage by Jesus on the Holy Spirit illuminating this truth.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:7-11).
Weeks later the Holy Spirit came down on the Church’s birthday. When consistent with the deposit of faith, the Holy Spirit communicates through the Church the reality of Jesus as Lord and Savior, his role as High Priest in going to the Father and Satan being judged. When the gospel is preached in the world, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, Christians can engage in the marketplace of ideas and call out those things that are rays of light. This was picked up on by Paul in respecting and engaging the culture.
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you (Acts 17:22-23).
Here Paul uses something 200 years before in the history of Athens where they had prayed to every god they could to cure their sheep, and came up empty. Among their means to “grope for him” they came up with their spiritual door to an unknown God.
The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,“For we too are his offspring.” Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’ When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ (Acts 17:24-33).
Yet Paul does not water down the need to turn from sin. He says, “While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
For the people at the end who converted we see beauty, truth and goodness on display. Paul led them into conversion by embracing the light that was in their culture and put what validly attempted to meet the needs of humanity in the true light of the gospel. But among the dark forces they were tied to there is to be a day when the parties that “scoffed” will get their wish of not being connected to God.
The scoffers in all ages come up with other means that were more enclosed to their boxes. Paul shines a light on how those fail in contrast to God’s long-term golden thread of sovereignty in humanity.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles (Romans 1:18-23).
The Apostle John saw this to a logical conclusion at the end of this age.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
Yes, it is possible for someone to choose to not be with God as well as to be with God.
If actions speak louder than words, God is willing to honor the “no thanks” of the human person. God is Love in his essence and no choice would mean no love. Satan is the one who already stood judged and hell is not meant for us. Augustine was one who went from scoundrel to saint. He had riches, high intellect and lots of immorality before having a radical conversion to Christ. He said, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee” (Confessions, 5th Century). Restlessness for all eternity is not appealing to me nor to God and thus it is his preferred will that we choose him.
“God allows man to learn His supernatural ends, but the decision to strive towards an end, the choice of course, is left to man’s free will. God does not redeem man against his will.” “John Paul II, Love and Responsibility).
And such is the hidden beauty on this divine fork in the road. The principles of God are laid out and the end result of what we choose will have startling conclusions one way or another.
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened” (C.S Lewis, The Great Divorce).