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1 The return of Christ - Appendix 2 Who are responsible?

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Who is a responsible believer? 

The Bible tells us that only the responsible believers will be taken to the judgment seat to be judged. So who is a responsible believer? 

A responsible believer is a person who has a reasonable knowledge of the Bible.  

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. John 12: 46–48 NKJV

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. John 15:22 NKJV 

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains. John 9:41 NKJV 

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. Romans 2:12-16 NIV

A responsible believer is someone who has enough knowledge of the message of the Bible that it brings them to the understanding of what God requires of them. These people will be held accountable to judgement regardless of their response to that knowledge. 

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. Luke 13:24-28 NKJV 

Two ways mankind can be divided up – classification one 

If we consider mankind, we can see that there are two groups divided according to their knowledge – there are the enlightened and there are the unenlightened. The enlightened group can be further split into three groups according to the following words from Peter: 

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now,

“ If the righteous one is scarcely saved,where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1 Peter 4:17-18 NKJV

There are three distinct groups within the group of enlightened believers:

1.                1.   Righteous or godly saints

2.        2.   Ungodly saints

3.        3.    Enlightened sinners 

Two ways mankind can be divided up – classification two 

Or else you can look at mankind in another way – there are two classes within mankind: saints and sinners.

Within the saints there are groups: godly and ungodly saints.

Within the sinners there are two groups: enlightened and unenlightened sinners.

Who are sinners? Who are saints? 

Within classification one (above), the first two groups are known as saints whereas the third group are known as sinners. So who belong to the group called sinners? 

Everyone born into this world is known as a sinner because they have a nature that leads into sin. 

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans Ch.5:19  

However when a person obeys the call of the Bible and enters into a covenant relationship with God, he is called a “saint” or sanctified one. 

To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans Ch.1:7 NKJV

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:  1 Corinthians 1:2 NKJV 

Who is Responsible? Who is accountable? 

You are regarded as being responsible if something has been put into your care and you are answerable for it. The people who enjoy a covenant relationship with God (saints) are in this position of being responsible. Because of the responsibilities given to them, they must answer for the way that they act. They have been given the knowledge of the Bible and they must explain the way they have used it. These people will be either godly or godly according to their actions.

You are accountable if you are liable to give an explanation of something. These are the “sinners” who were enlightened by the message of the Bible but refused to accept its responsibilities. These people will have to give an account of why they refused.  

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. John 12: 46–48 NKJV 

Will all people be raised? 

Only those who are responsible will be raised from the dead. However, some religious sects put forward the idea that all people will be raised. This idea is incorrect, as shown in the following passages from the Bible: 

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2 NKJV

They are dead, they will not live; they are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore you have punished and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish. Isaiah 26:14 NKJV

Who brings forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power (they shall lie down together, they shall not rise; they are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick): Isaiah 43:17 NKJV 

He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish. Psalm 49:19-20 NKJV      

Who are the people who will not be raised? 

There are many groups of people who fall within the category of those who have not the true knowledge of God, and are not therefore responsible to Him.

Throughout history (both now and in the past) there have been millions of people who have been ignorant of the true Gospel. There have been severely mentally ill, who are unable to understand the Bible’s message. Also, there have been babies and young children who have died before being old enough. There are also those who live in areas of the earth and in times where Christianity was not taught or known.

All of these people will not be resurrected, regardless of their parents’ spiritual status. 

Those trying to “escape” responsibility 

There are those who having understood the principle of responsibility to God, made the decision that they didn’t want to gain any more knowledge of God in case they became responsible to Him and the judgment. Yet it is quite likely that they are probably already responsible to God, as their knowledge of God’s Word has made them aware of the fact that God is working in their lives, offering them a real relationship with Him. 

Conclusion 

The honour and privilege of drawing close to God brings with it responsibilities. We should never forget that God will be watching us and observing how we respond to the love he offers. Therefore we should rejoice in the special closeness we have to God, and respond by trusting in the greatness of His love. This will lead to our ever increasing love of God’s ways and desire to follow them

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Last Updated: Sunday, 08 March 2015