The questioner raises some interesting issues, some of which have been cause for controversy for over one hundred years. There are really a number of classes of individuals referred to in the question. There are those first mentioned who have knowledge of gospel truth, but by deliberate choice do not obey the Scripture. They come in that category of individuals our early brethren described as “enlightened rejectors”.

Then there are two other classes of individuals mentioned. Those evil individuals who know not the gospel, cause havoc for humanity, and then die or are killed with no responsibility to judgment. This seems unfair to our correspondent, especially in comparison to the final class, those “good-living people” who may have some exposure to a form of religion, but perhaps not to the extent of being responsible to judgment.

Our Statement of Faith at Clause 24 gives us broad guidance to Scripture teaching on the matters raised by our correspondent:

‘That at the appearing of Christ prior to the establishment of the Kingdom, the responsible (namely, those who know the revealed will of God, and have been called upon to submit to it), dead and living – obedient and disobedient – will be summoned before his judgement seat “to be judged according to their works”; and “receive in body according to what they have done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10; 2 Tim 4:1; Rom 2:5,6,16: 14:10–12; 1 Cor 4:5;Rev 11:18).’

Men and women are not accountable to resurrection and judgment who have no knowledge of God’s principles and live their lives in ignorance of them. The Psalmist speaks of such when he declares bluntly: “Like sheep they are laid in the grave” (Psa 49:14). The Psalm concludes: “Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perisheth” (v20). There is a sense in which all the world as God’s creation lives under the shadow of His laws and moral precepts. Paul notes that “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20 esv). Men should be aware of God. They should seek Him out. Their failure to respond to His obvious existence, and lives lived serving the flesh provide ample justification for God’s judgment in cases such as in the days of Noah, of Sodom, of the Canaanites. It was only God’s intrinsic nature of mercy and longsuffering which held back the hand of judgment (1Pet 3:20; Gen 15:16).

In the case of one such as Hitler, and many like him, we cannot say that there is sufficient lack of knowledge to render him not subject to resurrection and judgment. “The Father … hath committed all judgment unto the Son” and that decision rests with him. Abraham declared, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen 18:25). The statement must surely apply equally to our Lord Jesus Christ. If it be that he is not accounted as responsible at the judgment seat for lack of knowledge, he has had his punishment. Defeat, humiliation and an ignominious death were his lot, and eternal oblivion his destiny.

Those “good-living” people who heeded not the gospel call, and are not responsible to judgment have had their life in the mercy of God. That life has ended and there is no more.

Christ spoke of another class of people, many seemingly pious folk in his day whose focus was not on the things of God but on present fame and praise. They were those who did their alms before men, those who prayed in public to be seen of others, those who fasted in a manner whose display was intended to attract attention. Of all these Christ said: “They have their reward” (Matt 6:1–16). They sought the praise of men. They received it. They will be raised and face the judge to find there is no further reward available. Of this class our Lord declared: “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out” (Luke 13:28). These are set before us as a fearful warning. Let us hearken.

The first group indicated by our correspondent, the “enlightened rejectors” – what of them? Why not, as the question implies, just leave them in the ground? Why go through the process of resurrection, judgment and rejection for those who were enlightened, had sufficient knowledge of the gospel message to make an intelligent decision, and chose to reject it, to live their life on their own terms? The answer lies in God’s very nature. Though “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” yet He “will by no means clear the guilty”. He will not brook blatant defiance. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7). Would God’s justice be served if the Pharisees, (and indeed any called to the gospel, and then failing in service to the point of, sadly, warranting rejection at the judgment seat) should be required to face that process, when others who knowingly reject God’s offer of salvation and live a life of utter defiance, escape the confrontation of the judgment seat? They will face the judgment seat and it is right that they do.

The day is coming “when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ” (Rom 2:16). He will “bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart” (1Cor 4:5). When Christ, the judge, speaks of the issues of judgment he dwells on the matters of our love shown in action by selfless acts for others (Matt 25:34–46). In short, the measure is the degree to which we have observed and followed his ways of love and service. Let these things be our focus, rather than intricate reasoning as to who will or won’t be there and why. Let Christ dwell in our hearts by faith, and we will be there at his right hand filled with joy inexpressible on that awesome day.