What kind of punishment has our merciful and loving God reserved after death for those who do not believe in Him? In other words, what will happen to atheists after death? What will be the fate of an atheist who lived on earth doing good things and of another one who undermined the statehood of God? What punishment will an atheist take and what is the punishment of a Christian who has raped someone in his life (Christians are wrong too…)?
From the way the question is put, one can notice the mockery of Christians and faith in God. However, I decided to not ignore the question but to respond in the hope that atheists, or those who disclaim God will obey and will repent. Especially in a time when atheists have launched a large campaign to place the message of God on buses from different countries of Europe.
An eternal destruction away from the presence of God
The first biblical text that came to my mind when I first read the question is:
For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed–for our testimony to you was believed. (II Thessalonians 1:6-10)(NASB)
These men will be punished eternally in a flame of fire for having disobeyed the gospel to be saved. Then, the text says that another reason for this punishment will be the persecution they have unleashed against Christians. And history has shown that the most terrible persecutions against Christians have been applied by Communists who were atheists.
There are no good atheists
Just as there are not good enough people to be able to receive eternal life based on personal merit. The Bible says:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)(NASB)
How can one be called good if s/he denies the existence of God and thus tries to spit in the face of his Creator? How can one be called good if s/he denies the foundation of all morality – God?
There is no partiality with God
Those who bear the name of a Christian, but live a pagan lifestyle, will receive the same punishment as the atheists and all others who rejected the love of truth:
There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. (Romans 2:9-13)(NASB)
God does not want death, but our salvation
In the same chapter of Romans 2 is written:
But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. (Romans 2:3-6)(NASB)
Instead of being concerned about the punishment that awaits them, it would be better for all people to raise their eyes to see and recognize the riches of kindness, tolerance and patience of God that urges them to repentance. Moreover, God gave us what was the most expensive, so that this repentance could be achieved:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 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. (John 3:16-18)(NASB)
Do not pass easily over these words. Receive their truth and come to be saved by faith in Jesus to escape everlasting destruction away from the presence of God.
Translated by Felicia Rotaru