I received the following question:
When the Kingdom comes in will non-believers still have a chance or will they be cut off? I have a sibling who because of the way religion was enforced in our family, doesn’t want to hear about God and Christ. She feels that religion is the same as God. Will she have a chance in the Kingdom? What about if she dies before the Kingdom comes in? Where does the smoking flax fit in?
There is a difference between a non-believer and an unbeliever. A non-believer would be one who has never heard or understood the message in order to believe it. An unbeliever, however, is one who has heard the message, been enlightened to the truth of it by the Holy Spirit, and yet has rejected it. The sin of unbelief will be enough to keep one out of the kingdom. Non-belief because one has never heard or understood, however, is not a sin, and one in that case would be judged on what one did know or understand. If God sees that in their life that pleases Him, He may allow them to live in His kingdom.
As for your sibling, the only one who can really answer her case specifically is God. If she is laboring under an incorrect view of God, this may certainly be mitigating circumstances. However, we do not know how much she really knows or understands, or what she might have rejected. All you can really do is to lovingly share the truth with her. If she still will not hear it, then you just have to trust God with her. I am amazed by how many people seem to think that they are the only ones standing between their unsaved relatives and God, and if they do not manage to help them, that God will get ahold of them and do something terrible. This probably comes out of the terrible teaching of eternal conscious torment that many charge God with. Yet our God is very great, and very good. He is far more loving and righteous than we. He gets no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, and will see people saved, if they can be. But even if not, even if He sends someone to destruction, then in that day we will see the justice of it. People seem to think that they will be crying and thinking how unfair it is as God sends their loved ones off to destruction. But we will not think it unfair. If God does choose that for someone, then it will be because it was right, and there was really nothing else to be done. We can trust Him on this. We really can. There is no reason not to. But there is certainly nothing wrong with trying to bring our loved ones to the truth so we can be confident as to their fate. That certainly would be the best we could hope for.
If your sibling dies before the kingdom comes in, then God would make a determination regarding her when the kingdom does begin. He will review her life to determine whether or not there was that in her life that was worthy for her to live in the kingdom. If He finds her worthy, then she would rise from the dead to live in the kingdom. If He does not find her worthy, then she would remain in the state of death until the final resurrection during the little season. At that time, she would be raised from the dead to be tried out of the books. If her name is found in the book of life, then she will be immune from the lake of fire and the second death. Then, she will be judged out of the other books, which list her works, and will be placed in her proper place according to what is found there, either to shame or to reward. If, however, her name is not found in the book of life, then she will be struck dead, and her body will be cast into the lake of fire for the second death, and that will be the end of her.
The “smoking flax” has to do with the start of the kingdom of God. When God brings in His kingdom, He does not hurt anyone doing it. Normally when one government takes over from another, there is much violence and many deaths. When God’s government takes over, however, there will be no deaths. That is, even the weakest and most easily killed person, like smoking flax that is easily extinguished, will not be killed by the takeover. That is not to say, however, that once the government has taken over, that there will not be some people that it will judge worthy of death, and so will remove them by execution from the kingdom. That certainly will take place. But no one is hurt by the takeover itself.