I often find myself drawn to the CNN belief blog. I don’t necessarily find a ton of affinity for the particular expressions of Christianity presented, but I’m almost always thankful for the thoughtful dialog. Sometimes folks will raise questions I’ve never thought too much about. One such title is this: Is Judas in heaven or hell?
I, along with Dante, presume the latter, rather than the former. Not that I’m good company, but I think I’m in good company.
But this hip young pastor has some interesting takes. I’ve summarized some and quoted another.
1.) He argues that both Judas and Peter sinned, and made a “mistake.” Both were filled with remorse. Peter just didn’t kill himself, so he lived long enough to see Jesus’ forgiveness.
Was Judas’ sin worse than Peter’s? Well, Jesus does tell Pilate that “he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin (John 19:11).” So I guess Jesus kind of squashes that thinking. And he does say, “it would have been better for Judas, “if he had not been born.” (Matt 14:21; 26:24). Still it doesn’t tell us where Judas is, only that it doesn’t bode well for him. But in my mind, 2 Corinthians 7:10 has always cleared up the difference between Judas and Peter in regards to sin, sorrow, repentance, and salvation: “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
2.) The bible doesn’t speak of Judas’ eternal state, so we shouldn’t speculate. How do even know who’s there and who’s not?
Speculation on who’s in and who’s out is never a good thing. Great point. We’ve simply been given parameters: have the Son=life/No Son=judgment and wrath. But those parameters are such that we shouldn’t throw up our hands and say, “God only knows.” It is true that God only knows, but God does more than just know, He gives us His trustworthy Word. If someone professes faith, displays faith, and perseveres until the end (or professes faith at the end-like the thief on the cross), we ought to have a level of confidence where that person is. The “God only knows” type thinking only celebrates unbiblical uncertainty for the sake of trying to make others more gracious and less dogmatic in gray areas. Noble goals, but there are better ways to reach them.
3.) “It is easier to debate these issues and make speculations about others than it is to actually look at ourselves in the mirror. It is always easier to think someone else is worse off then we are. But maybe as we approach Easter, we can be reminded that for Christians, the cross and the grave should silence all of these debates. We all fall short and deserve death, but because of what Jesus did on the cross 2,000 years ago, we are able to have life. And I believe that where you end up, God only knows.”
I really like this paragraph, minus the last sentence. He draws us away from speculation because it only serves to take our gaze off our own sin and to stare at the sin of others. Beautiful. That is our tendency, to look at others sins’ as worse than ours; we all could make a good living if we got paid for that type of thing. Then the truth of the gospel-that Jesus died for those deserving death. Amen. Nailed it.
I could ask some more speculative questions like “What would repentance have looked like for Judas,” but I’ll take heed of the pastor’s challenge to see my sin and see my Savior. That should take up enough time.