The Bible says explicitly that people are destined to die once and to then face judgment." Yet if God is really loving, why wouldn't he give people a second chance after death to make the decision to follow him and go to heaven?
"If people tasted hell, wouldn't that give them a strong motivation to change their minds?" I asked.
"This question assumes God didn't do everything he could do before people died, and I reject that," Moreland said. "God does everything he can to give people a chance, and there will be not a single person who will be able to say to God, 'If you had just not allowed me to die prematurely, if you'd have given me another twelve months, I know I would have made that decision.'
"The Bible tells us God is delaying the return of Christ to the earth to give everybody all the time he possibly can so they will come to him. i3 If all a person needed was a little bit more time to come to Christ, then God would extend their time on this earth to give them that chance. So there will be nobody who just needed a little more time or who died prematurely who would have responded to another chance to receive Christ.
"God is fair. He isn't trying to make it difficult for people. I believe it's certainly possible that those who respond to the light from nature that they have received will either have the message of the gospel sent to them, or else it may be that God will judge them based on his knowledge of what they would have done had they had a chance to hear the gospel. The simple fact is God rewards those who seek him."i4
That only dealt with part of the question, however. "Wait a minute," I said. "Wouldn't death and the awareness of the presence or absence of God after you die be a very motivating thing for people?"
"Yes, it would, but in a negative way. First, you've got to realize that the longer people live separated from God, the less likely they are able to exercise their free choice and trust him. This is why most people who come to Christ do so when they're young. The longer you live with a bad habit, the harder it is to turn that habit around. It's not impossible, but it's harder. So what would make people think that, say, a ten-year incubation period of being separated from God would get their attention?
"Besides, that would make life before death utterly irrelevant. Then the question would be, why didn't God create people from the beginning with the incubation period? Why did he create them on earth for seventy-five years and let them die and then put them in the incubation period if it was the incubation period that they really needed in the first place? Here's the truth, Lee: this life is the incubation period!
"The next thing you have to keep in mind is if people saw the judgment seat of God after death, it would be so coercive that they would no longer have the power of free choice. Any 'decision' they made would not be a real genuine free choice; it would be totally coerced.
"It would be like me holding a paddle over my daughter and saying, 'You will say you're sorry to your sister for wearing her dress without asking.' Any apology would not be a real apology, it would just be avoidance. And people who would 'choose' in a second chance would not really be choosing God, his kingdom, or his ways-nor would they be suited for life in his kingdom. They'd be making a prudent 'choice' to avoid judgment only.
"I'll suggest one more thing. God maintains a delicate balance between keeping his existence sufficiently evident so people will know he's there and yet hiding his presence enough so that people who want to choose to ignore him can do it. This way, their choice of destiny is really free."
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