God's Tipping Point
Our knowledge of God and accountability to Him depends on which side of God's tipping point we are on.

Susan asks: When will everyone come to the knowledge of God and be held accountable?
Question about A General Question: Character of God
Motivation - Something happened: I heard something said
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 112, Monday, 18-Jun-2012]

Avalanche catastrophe
Catastrophes happen all the time.

Snow falls gently on a mountaintop. Soon blankets of white cover the majestic slopes. But now the snow keeps falling, and the blankets build to deep, heavy drifts. Finally, one critical snowflake touches down and triggers, suddenly, an avalanche that destroys everything in its path.

Catastrophes happen all the time. Thirty years of greasy hamburgers lead to a massive heart attack. A minor incident starts a riot in a city already fraught with social tension. A single piece of straw added to a heavy load breaks the proverbial camel's back.

In modern parlance, catastrophes happen at The Tipping Point, a phrase made popular by Malcolm Gladwell. In the Bible, God-ordained, far-reaching catastrophes are often called THE DAY OF THE LORD. They are often due to a steady build-up of mankind's sinful behavior. We know God is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger [Psalms 103:8], but sometimes He reaches a tipping point and His wrath falls in judgement on many people at once. Other times He reaches a tipping point for no reason apparent to us, and life on earth changes dramatically. Our knowledge of God, and our accountability to Him, depends on which side of the tipping point we are on.

Probably the best example of a divine tipping point is in Genesis 6 and 7, the account of Noah's flood. God warned that He would destroy the Earth unless people turned from their wicked ways. He offered people a grace period of 120 years to give them a chance to live by His statutes and turn away from their disobedience (Genesis 6:3). But people refused to change and, when the grace period expired, judgement fell.

God's grace period
God extends his grace to mankind, but eventually time runs out. The grace period was 120 years long at the time of Noah and the flood.

There are many more examples. The book of Judges, for instance, and again in Kings and Chronicles, records cycles of divine blessing and divine curse correlated to national Israel's turning to or away from God. In the first chapter of Romans in the New Testament the Apostle Paul demonstrates a slow and steady building of God's judgement for those who continually reject His grace period. God is extending grace to you right now. What are you going to do with it?

Yes, God sometimes reaches a tipping point and things on earth become vastly different very quickly. Mathematicians, sociologists, and physicists have developed keen models using a discipline called catastrophe theory to explain tipping points. Such thinkers without faith are simply trying to explain what they see happening in real life. This is a worthwhile endeavor. Those of us who believe in God view catastrophe theory as man's expansion of his own knowledge about God and His amazing creation.

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
- Genesis 6:5ff [KJV]

God has tipping points triggered by the accumulation of mankind's ungodly behavior. But there are also tipping points due to the simple fact that time has run out. This is usually called THE FULLNESS OF TIME.

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
- Galatians 4:4ff [KJV]

The verse from Galatians above states that God was at last ready to change the way to deal with human sinfulness. God took on human flesh and sacrificed Himself on the altar of the Cross to atone for all of mankind's sin. Things before and after the Cross of Christ are vastly different. No longer must bulls and goats be sacrificed to cover sin, now Jesus' blood eradicates sin through simple faith placed therein. The Cross was the most magnificent tipping point in all of history.

The Bible says that there is one more big tipping point yet to come (e.g., Isaiah 13:6). It is called the END OF THE AGE and it is due to the accumulation of sin as well as time running out. Volumes have been written about it, and many different interpretations and theories have arisen over the years because concrete details in the Bible are few. All we really know from the Bible is that it is coming, and things will be vastly different after it than they are now.

Examples of tipping points
Some of God's tipping points. Life on earth is vastly different before and after a tipping point. These appear throughout the Bible; a typical reference in the Old Testament is given.

Two Questions, Two Answers

Susan has asked two questions:

  1. When will everyone come to the knowledge of God?
  2. When will everyone be held accountable?

The answers depend on which side of God's END OF THE AGE tipping point you are on. Since we are all on the side before the END OF THE AGE, we will answer those questions first. Most people do not like our first answers, but they enjoy, concentrate on, or dismiss our second answers.

Which answers do you like? Before or after the tipping point? Read below.

Knowledge and Accountability Before the End of the Age

... that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 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.
- Romans 1:19ff [NASB]

Our answer is not a popular one, but the Bible says that the answer Susan's questions is right now! Right now all people have knowledge of God, and right now all people are accountable to God based on this knowledge.

This answer is very offensive. People do not like to be held accountable to anything, especially to a power Who holds their life in His hands. To explain our answer more fully and develop biblical references, we look at Susan's two questions separately.

Knowledge of God - Addressing the 'knowledge of God' issue, what precisely does this entail? There are two components:

  1. God's existence
  2. God's character

Psalms 19 says that all people receive divine revelation about the existence of God directly from the creation itself. It is difficult to look at nature and attribute it to random chance; most people see the hand of a Creator. While many people reject God's existence, the biblical account indicates they are doing so based on deliberate, rationale decisions. Indeed, The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands [Psalms 19:1]. Even though the heavens are telling it, the people are not buying it. The Bible says the reason they are not buying it is because they do not like the moral consequences.

The verse from Romans 1 (box at right) states again that all people know about the existence of God from His creation. Theologians call this General Revelation. General revelation is based on seeing God in nature. All people see nature, and all people have general revelation.

Butterfly and the Bible.
God reveals His existence through nature and His character through Scripture. No one has an excuse. Everyone is accountable.

If you expand 'knowledge of God' to include not only His existence, but also His character, i.e., His Law, His grace, His love, His justice, these components do not come from general revelation but from hearing what the Bible says. This type of revelation is known as Special Revelation because it requires people to hear words from the Bible. In America, and more and more in every country around the world, the words of the Bible are easily heard by everyone. Again, deliberate rationale decisions must be made to reject the Bible message.

(Aside: The first part of the book of Romans in the New Testament develops the idea of God's revelation and man's accountability. For further reading, consider Romans 2:14ff which expands general revelation to include our built-in conscience that discerns right from wrong.)

Accountability to God - Susan's second question about accountability points directly to the time of our death

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment
- Hebrews 9:27 [KJV]

If you die without God's forgiveness, His judgement condemns you to Hell immediately.

But, more than accountability for life after death, God holds us accountable for our actions right now. If you sin against God, that is, if you ignore your knowledge of Him and break His Law, you reap trouble in this life. God loves every sinner, and God is gracious and slow to anger, so immediate trouble is not always apparent in a sinner's life. But the Bible documents God-ordained principles at work that eventually catch up with those who have not felt immediate judgement. Check out a few of these principles cited in Proverbs 10:

  • Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death.
  • The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will reject the craving of the wicked.
  • Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
  • He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.
  • Blessings are on the head of the righteous, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
  • The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.

Proverbs 13 has a good summary verse:

the way of the transgressor is hard
- Proverbs 13:15(b) [KJV]

In other words, the Bible says that while you can choose your actions, you cannot choose the consequences of those actions. The consequences have been established by God from the beginning. Please read our article with a section about 'sowing and reaping' on this AFTB page.

Knowledge and Accountability After the End of the Age

In our AFTB article about dinosaurs, we present a controversial and over-simplified diagram that portrays a Bible-based view of the age of the earth: a Bible Timeline of sorts. The upcoming END OF THE AGE occurs on our chart at the transition between the green and orange bars, when Jesus comes to earth for a second time. After the second coming, a thousand year period known as the Millenium occurs (see the first parts of Revelation 10 and Isaiah 11).

Bible timeline
A young earth timeline of biblical history. This shows the earth to be only 6000 years old, a popular view held by creationists and shunned by evolutionists.

Life during the Millenium is very different than life now. After all, a tipping point has been reached.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
- Isaiah 11:6 [KJV]

Knowledge of God - General revelation will be much more persuasive during the Millenium. In fact, God will see to it that all people know Him directly. No one will be left out from a full, deep knowledge of God. This verse from Habakkuk summarizes the state of affairs. There are several similar verses.

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
- Habakkuk 2:14 [KJV]

Accountability to God - Likewise accountability to God will be complete and direct. Our present era of God's grace and long suffering has ended at the tipping point. Speaking of Jesus, the book of Revelation records a time of fierce wrath and justice. You don't want to be there.

And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
- Revelation 19:15 [KJV]

by Paul Richards

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:43:31 GMT, unknown: 642309 ABDeJhiu0Aiy6