Unfortunately, this is the strategy that millions plan to implore in defense before God Almighty in Judgment. They will hope to be forgiven because they were ignorant of God’s will. They didn’t know what church was the right church. Didn’t know how to be saved. Didn’t know the right way to worship and so forth. Let’s explore that. Will folks be forgiven on Judgment Day because they didn’t know?
First, Judgment Day will not be paralleled to our courts where someone is found guilty or innocent. That will have already been decided by one’s life. The lives of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 had determined their destiny after death. Even though this was before Judgment Day, the same is true of Judgment Day. The Judgment scene of Matthew 25:31-46 displays a gathering of everyone/all nations divided into two groups, the good and the evil, to face one of two eternal sentences, heaven or hell. There will be a grouping and a sentencing, but the ascertaining of guilt and innocence will have already been settled. There will be no evidence presented, no witnesses to call, no lawyers for defense, no motions granted, no explanations why, and no throwing oneself on the mercy of the court. Grace, mercy, and forgiveness are offered on this time side of life and only to the living through the gospel (2 Tim.1:9-10; Tit.2:11-12; 3:5). Our lives and decisions on earth will have decided our fate in eternity.
Second, ignorance is not an excuse. Paul said, had the world rulers/Jews known the wisdom of God they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor.2:8). Yet, they were still guilty of crucifying Jesus even though they were ignorant (Acts 2:22-23,36). Forgiveness was extended then, not later, through the gospel (Acts 2:37-38).
Finally, no one should be ignorant of God’s will. In Acts 3:14-15 Peter preached the Jews had killed Jesus and said, “And now brethren, I wot (I know) that through ignorance, ye did it, as did also your rulers” (3:17). But he explained, how “God had showed them all of those things before through the prophets” (3:18). So, they should have known better and needed to repent/obey for forgiveness (3:19). Just like no one today should transgress/sin in ignorance because God has given us his will in all things (2 Tim.3:15-17; 2 Pet.1:3). But, it is up to us to know it (Eph.5:17; 2 Tim.2:15). “I didn’t know” won’t work on Judgment Day.