Truth #3: Every person will be judged and granted the extended capacity to fulfill in eternity the deepest yearnings and desires of their hearts while on earth.

Let’s unpack Truth #3 phrase by phrase.

First, every person will be judged. Believers and nonbelievers will be judged, and we will all have to give an account to God. I will explain this in more detail in just a moment. This judgment will then result in giving every person “extended capacity” to fulfill forever their deepest yearnings and desires with regard to their relationship with Christ. Those who received God’s forgiveness during their lifetime and longed to know Him and serve Him will be given the extended capacity to do that at a depth and level unimaginable for all eternity in heaven with Christ. Those who stiff-armed God, rejected His grace, and didn’t want anything to do with Him will be given an extended capacity to live apart from God’s presence forever.

The church doesn’t talk much about judgment these days, but the Bible has much to say about it, and the chief spokesman on the topic is Jesus Himself. Interestingly, even apart from Scripture it seems that God has planted in the human heart a deep awareness of judgment and accountability.

I read a white paper recently by a cultural anthropologist whose goal was to look beyond all the different cultures and religions to find what it is about the human psyche that we all have in common. According to the anthropologist, every culture and every religion has a sense of “ought.” Interestingly, everyone has a sense that there will be a day when you will give an account for all you have done. There will be judgment, a day of reckoning, of accountability.4

It’s way bigger than an annual review. It’s the review of your whole life. There are many different views of how this review will go. According to the Bible, “People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27). There’s not a second chance or a soul sleep. There’s not an opportunity to see how everything comes out and then decide.

Every single person will be present for evaluation time. I’m very grateful that Jesus is the Judge. John 5 makes it very clear that He is the Judge. He alone was entrusted with the responsibility of being fully God and fully man. He lived on earth and was tempted in every way like us, but without sin. He cares so deeply for us and understands our struggles. He will be the Judge and He judges with absolute fairness.

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice. (John 5:24–28)

Jesus is fair, loving, and kind. No one will get a raw deal. People will not be judged by their intentions or by their own sense of morality but by their works. God’s holiness demands that we are 100 percent pure in every relationship and area of our life in order to have fellowship with Him. The Bible is equally clear that no one measures up—“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The consequences of our sin are universal.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23 NASB)

In John 5:24–28, Jesus clearly states that He is not only our judge but that He also came to save us, to forgive us, to actually cover our sin and take it upon Himself so that we might be made holy and acceptable to God. Note the amazing promise in verse 24: “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life” (emphasis added). Eternal life is the life of Christ. It’s not something that happens after we die, but it is a quality of life we received as a gift when we put our faith in Christ. Then notice the very next phrase; it says that we do not come into judgment but have passed from death to life.

God’s heart’s desire is that every person would acknowledge that Christ is the free gift of God so that they might have eternal relationships with Him forever. The Scripture emphatically states, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).

Take a moment and ponder this statement: “In eternity you get an ‘extended capacity’ to fulfill the deepest yearnings and longings of your heart.” In other words, what you really wanted and longed for on earth, you will get to experience more deeply and forever.

For example, there will be an extended capacity for intimacy with God for the people who follow Him, embrace forgiveness in Christ, and yearn to be close to Him. Have you ever had a moment when you have been in prayer and it seemed like you could reach out and touch God? Have there been times when He has whispered so loudly to you, it was like an audible voice? Maybe there have been times when you have experienced and felt God’s love in ways you never had before. That is a small taste of what heaven will be like. You will experience an extended capacity for love, peace, and joy that is exponentially greater and infinitely deeper than anything you’ve experienced on earth.

You have gifts, dreams, and desires, and you will have an expanded capacity to use them and develop them forever in a perfect environment. Your relationship with Christ covers all your sin, and at the moment of death you’ll be ushered into heaven. There you will have an expanded capacity, far beyond what you had on earth, to fulfill your yearnings and desire to know God, please God, honor Him, and follow Him in a new reality in a new heaven and new earth in a perfect environment.

By contrast, there are people who have spent most of their lives stiff-arming God. In their hearts, they tell God to leave them alone and not mess with their life. They don’t want his morality or direction because they want to be in control. At the heart of turning away from God is our desire to worship ourselves.

If the deepest yearnings of a person’s heart while on earth were all about themselves, their control, and their desire to have distance from God, they will receive just that. God is righteous, and He honors the dignity of our free choices. Every person who rejects God’s offer of life with Him will have an extended capacity to be absolutely autonomous and alone forever.

 

Ingram, Chip. 2017. Why I Believe: Straight Answers to Honest Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.


We have just completed a 6-Week Bible Study Lesson Series on Chip Ingram’s book, Why I Believe. It is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription plan. The idea is to invite each participant to purchase their own book and discuss it each week.

Topics include:

Why I Believe, Lesson #1
Chapters 1, 2
Why I Believe in the Resurrection
Did Jesus Really Die?

Why I Believe, Lesson #2
Chapters 3, 4
Why I Believe the Bible
Don’t Take My Word for It

Why I Believe, Lesson #3
Chapters 5
Why I Believe in Life After Death

Why I Believe, Lesson #4
Chapters 6, 7
Why I Believe in Life Creation
Science or God?

Why I Believe, Lesson #5
Chapter 8
Why I Believe in the God of the Bible

Why I Believe, Lesson #6
Chapter 9
How is that Working for You?