Answering The Atheist
September 21, 2003 / Volume 3, Issue 38
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
How will God judge people, according to their words and deeds (Matthew 12:37; John 5:29) or according to their beliefs (Mark 16:16; John 3:18, 36)? Is there a contradiction?
The words and actions which we have are a direct result of the beliefs which we hold. If we believe that it is wrong to curse, and yet we curse, we make ourselves a hypocrite. If we believe it is wrong to cheat and steal, and yet we cheat and steal, we again are hypocritical. Will God judge us according to our words? Indeed. Matthew 12:37 clearly teaches that we shall be held accountable in judgment for the use of our tongues. Will we be judged according to our deeds? Yes! Jesus in John 5:29 clearly stated that each one would receive either eternal life or eternal condemnation depending upon their conduct. These two facts in no way contradict the idea that we are judged according to our beliefs. In fact, in Mark 16:16, Jesus expects action on our part. It is not simply the one who believes that is saved, but the one who believes and is baptized. He expects action on our part – obedience.
If the questioner had been more careful in reading John 3, he would have noticed that in verses 20-21, the Lord said, "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." Sure sounds like our actions have something to do with whether we truly believe or not.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible