- Romans 2:14-15
“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,  in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 38th session of the ‘Heaven’ series. In the last session, I talked about the crown of life, which is given in the third kingdom of heaven. Also, we looked into the qualifications to go into the third kingdom of heaven.
A person who has the faith to give all his life with his love for the Lord can enter the third kingdom of heaven.
But even among those who do not know the Lord, there are some people who do such righteous acts. Some people give their lives for the king, or for their parents or friends. They have truly sacrificial love. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
But then, because salvation is given only when we accept Jesus as the Savior, does it mean these people did not receive salvation?
God the Father has prepared a way for these people to receive salvation. It is called the ‘Judgment of Conscience’. Some of those who are saved through the judgment of conscience will not just receive salvation, but will go into the third kingdom.
In this session, I will talk to you about the cases where they are saved through the judgment of conscience.
God the Father does not judge anybody unfairly. He will not unfairly judge a single person among all who have been born since creation.
He judges everybody with His perfect justice and love. In this session, I hope you will come to understand more deeply the justice and love of God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” This means we can be saved only by faith in Jesus Christ. He who confesses Jesus as his Savior and believes in heart, he can be saved.
John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Then, how about the people who lived in the Old Testament times, how were they saved? Also, in the New Testament times as well, how are the people who never heard the gospel saved?
Is it that all of them won’t be saved because they did not believe in Jesus Christ? It can’t be like that.
Because God the Father is love, He has given a chance for salvation to everybody.
This chance for them is the ‘Judgment of Conscience’. Romans 2:14-15 talks about this. It says, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,”
The Law was given to the chosen people, Israel. This Law became the standard for salvation.
Those who were right according to the Law were saved, but if they weren’t, they couldn’t be saved. Of course, when they violated the Law, they had a way to be forgiven.
But the Gentiles, who were not Israelites, did not have the Law.
But even the Gentiles, who did not have the Law, could be acknowledged to have kept the Law. It is when they do what is good according to the conscience. The conscience is a standard of each person to discern between what is good and evil. They judge whether something is good or evil according their conscience.
This conscience is different from person to person. It’s because the heart with which each one is born is different, and each one’s living environment is different.
According to what they see and hear to form what is called their ‘self’, the standard of judgment of the conscience becomes different.
If everybody is taught from birth by the Lord, each one’s conscience would consist of the truth and each conscience would have to be similar from person to person.
But for the most part it’s not so. They don’t know the truth very well, because they are brought receiving instruction from people whose own actions are not righteous in the sight of God.
Thus, in the sight of men, one’s conscience may be good and proper, but in the sight of God it’s difficult to find a very clean conscience. Even though one’s conscience is very clean, it cannot reach the standard of God.
Even though everyone’s conscience may not be perfect, it still contains good and evil. Each one has his own standard of judgment.
And the individual’s standard of judgment acts just like the Law. They think something to be good and they follow it. When they think something is evil, they don’t follow it.
That is why today’s passage verse 14 says, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,”
Therefore, for those who lived when there was no Law, if they followed the good, not the evil according to their conscience, it was same as following the Law itself.
If they did what was evil according to their conscience, or if they did not do what was good according to their conscience, it was same as violating the Law.
Their conscience testified to themselves. It was the same with those who never heard the gospel even after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
Those who are good at heart believe in the existence of God just by seeing things which are created in an orderly manner. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
Also, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has also set eternity in men’s heart. Those who are good in their heart instinctively seek God and, though vaguely, they believe the life after death. They also revere the heavenly beings.
They try to live a righteous and good life, and they follow the will of God, the truth, to some extent. If they had heard the gospel, wouldn’t they have definitely accepted the Lord and be saved and enter into heavenly kingdom?
So, God lets them receive salvation. After their lives are over on this earth, they first go to the upper grave.
As they stay in upper grave, they hear about the way of salvation and accept Jesus Christ.
That is why Jesus went to the upper grave after He was crucified. 1 Peter 3:19 says, “…in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison.”
In the Old Testament times, those who were saved through the Law, and those who were saved by the judgment of conscience could all accept Jesus Christ as their Savior in the upper grave.
After that, they went to the waiting place of heaven which is in the outskirts of paradise.
Likewise, those who are saved by the judgment of conscience in the New Testament times hear the gospel and accept Jesus Christ while they stay in the upper grave for three days.
After that, they go to the waiting place of heaven, too. Because Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, those who are saved by judgment of conscience have to go through this kind of process.
On the other hand, those who are not saved by the judgment of conscience will fall down to the lower grave, which is also called ‘Hades’. They will suffer in the Hades until the Great Judgment, and then they will be thrown into eternal fire of hell.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, now, which dwelling place in heaven will be given to those who are saved by the judgment of conscience?
Because they didn’t do anything for the kingdom of God in the name of Jesus Christ, will they all go to paradise?
The fact is each one who is saved by judgment of conscience has a different magnitude of goodness. The level of how righteously each one lived is also different.
Therefore, the dwelling place of heaven for each one of these people is also different, according to what he has done. This is the justice and love of God. Then, what are the standards to decide the dwelling place of those who are saved by judgment of conscience?
Let me first tell you about those who go into the third kingdom of heaven.
For those who know the gospel, to go into the third kingdom of heaven, they must love God to the utmost degree.
The evidence of loving God to the utmost degree is to cast off all kinds of the flesh and become sanctified.
Also, it is to be able to sacrifice one’s life for the Lord.
And among those who did not hear the gospel, there are some people who sacrificed their lives to keep their conscience, righteousness, and goodness.
For example, there are faithful ministers of nations who sacrificed their lives for the country and the king.
Even though the king did not recognize their faithfulness, and suffered unreasonably, they didn’t hate the king or complain against the king. Following the righteousness in their conscience, they were faithful until their death.
This righteousness of conscience of those ministers is consistent with the righteousness in the truth.
This belongs to the 3rd or the 4th level of goodness in the truth.
They had the goodness and righteousness that was in line with the truth, and they gave themselves up to keep that goodness and righteousness.
If they had heard the gospel, what would have done?
They most certainly would have loved God unchangingly, and they would have sacrificed their lives for God, too.
Therefore, God acknowledges the fact that they can go into the third kingdom of heaven.
For example, let us think about the case of Admiral Soonshin Lee in Korea, at the time of Chosun Dynasty. Admiral Lee did not know Jesus Christ but acted in a way that was in agreement with the truth.
For the country, the king, and the people, he worked faithfully, sacrificing his life. He did not want to take any personal fame, authority, or wealth. He only sacrificed and served everybody.
We cannot find any trace of evil in his life.
Even when he was wrongfully accused, he was arrested but was just like a gentle sheep. He did not complain against anybody.
He did not hold any grudges against the king who exiled him, but he showed the utmost thanks to him. He went out to the battle for that king and the country, and he fought with all his life.
Also, from time to time, he prayed towards heaven. It means he recognized the existence of God. Wouldn’t God of justice and love take him into a good dwelling place in heaven?
There are other cases where God takes people who are saved through judgment of conscience into the third kingdom of heaven.
It is those who have precious hearts and sacrifice themselves completely for their parents and neighbors.
For example, let us consider the case of Shimchung and Kongjui who are main characters in Korea’s traditional stories.
Shimchung served her blind father with all her life, with thanks to him for raising her in a difficult situation. Finally, she sacrificed her life to allow for her father to receive his sight.
Also, in case of Kongjwi, with all her heart she served her step-mother who was giving her such a hard time. She never hated her step-mother. She never grumbled even in difficult situations. With all her love, she took care of Patjui, her step-mother’s daughter and now her younger sister. She cared for her just like her own sister.
Even when her step-mother favored her own daughter Patjui to an extreme extent, she only understood her with goodness, not having any grudges.
Now, even in the truth, what level of goodness is the goodness of Kongjui and Shimchung?
It is the 3rd and 4th level of goodness.
If there had actually been people like this, they would surely have gone into the third kingdom of heaven.
Brothers and sisters, then, what kind of people will enter into the 2nd kingdom or the 1st kingdom of heaven by the judgment of conscience?
First, those who lived a personally good life will enter into the 2nd kingdom of heaven.
They didn’t really do anything good for others, but they didn’t do anything evil either.
They lived faithful lives. They followed goodness at their personal level without causing any harm to others. But those who go into the third kingdom of heaven did not just live a good life at personal level.
Following the goodness of their conscience, they sacrificed themselves for the country and their neighbors.
They showed the righteous acts of sacrificing themselves for the benefit of other people. This kind of a person can affect others to follow goodness being touched by that act of goodness.
Goodness has different depths. If they just kept goodness in their personal lives, they could be given only the 2nd kingdom of heaven.
But if they showed perfect goodness of sacrificing themselves for others, they could be given the third kingdom of heaven.
It’s the same with those ministers who kept their faithfulness to the country and the king.
We can see that the righteousness in each minister’s heart was different. Suppose something unrighteous happened.
A righteous minister who can go into the third kingdom will be able to change the unrighteous things to be right. And all the processes will be done in goodness.
Even though he may have to suffer disadvantages, such a person endures with goodness. Even though some others accuse or slander him, he will not pay back evil with evil.
But how would a minister who can go into the 2nd kingdom act? He will not only endure the unrighteousness, but he can endure everything with goodness. But he does not show any active movement to correct what is unrighteous.
Next, a minister who can go into the 1st kingdom will not be able to endure when he sees something unrighteous. He may burst out his anger, and his heart will be discomforted.
Also, he may show some kind of a counteraction within his own righteousness and face damages. This kind of person will be given the first kingdom of heaven.
God takes each one to eternal dwelling place in heaven according to perfect justice and love.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in this session, I talked to you about what the judgment of conscience is.
Also, I talked to you about the standards of the judgment and which dwelling places will be given to those who are saved by the judgment of conscience. We learned that there are people who will go to even the third kingdom of heaven according to the judgment of conscience.
But no one can go into New Jerusalem by the judgment of conscience.
Of course, it doesn’t mean they cannot even visit New Jerusalem.
It means New Jerusalem will not be given as the eternal dwelling place for those who are saved by conscience. New Jerusalem will be given to those who know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, have become sanctified by faith, and have been faithful in all God’s house.
Therefore, we have to realize how blessed we are to have heard the gospel.
Then, does it mean that it is unfair for those who do not go into New Jerusalem only because they never heard the gospel?
It’s not so.
It is such a great grace in itself that they are saved even without having heard the gospel.
Also, God gives them better dwelling places in heaven according to each one’s goodness and righteousness of the heart, so they are given great love.
Our Father God is as faithful as this.
He judges each and everyone with His perfect justice and love, even those who did not have a chance to hear the gospel. Now, what do you who have heard the gospel have to do?
You know the bright way to the heavenly kingdom.
Especially, you clearly know the way to New Jerusalem after hearing this holiness gospel.
Therefore, I hope all of you will believe the faithful God, follow the way of holiness, and go directly into New Jerusalem.
Even though other people may not know, our Father God knows very well the goodness and righteousness in your heart.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will win the victory by faith everyday so that you will be able to dwell before the throne of the Father in New Jerusalem.