Q. Do the unbelievers before the Salvation message of Jesus have any hope of having a choice of accepting Jesus at the Judgement Seat? I am referring to pagans and Romans. And are the sins of the Priests who put Jesus to death knowing that he was the son of God ever forgiven? And being that our sins were forgiven as believers, what are we accountable to at the judgement where we stand before God and remember all our sins?
A. The first thing to understand is that the salvation message didn’t originate with the New Testament. It has been known since the beginning and you can find hints of it throughout the Old Testament. Countless numbers of people who lived in Old Testament times believed in a coming redeemer and were saved.
Second, we’re given one lifetime to choose to believe the salvation message. Once we die it’s too late. Rev. 20:11-15 describes the judgment of the unsaved. They’ll be judged according to the record of their life. There’s no hint of another opportunity to accept the Lord there. If the priests who were complicit in the Lord’s death came to believe He was the promised Messiah and asked Him to forgive them before they died, then they were forgiven. If not then they weren’t.
In 2 Cor. 5:10 Paul wrote that all believers will have to give account at the judgment seat of Christ for the things we did whether good or bad. This will happen after the rapture and is not a review of all our sins. Our sins were taken away at the cross (Colossians 2:13-14). In 2 Cor. 5:17-19 he said that if we’re in Christ we’re a new creation and our sins are not counted against us.
What he meant in verse 10 is whether the things we did as believers were prompted by the Lord and done in His strength (good) or whether they were our idea and done in our own strength (bad). We’ll be rewarded for the good things, and the bad things will be burned up in the fire. This is a repeat of 1 Cor. 3:10-15 which says even if nothing we did survives the judgment we’ll still be saved.