HOME                            CONTACT

  

 

Jesus, Judge of All

 

By Lambert Dolphin


 

 

Summary of God's Judgments

 

 

1. God is holy and just. He must judge all evil everywhere. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25)

 

2. The Lord prefers mercy to judgment: He is compassionate and longsuffering, He is, "Not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

 

3. Because judgment is often delayed in time (God is longsuffering), many people assume God will never judge us.

 

4. Judgment is God's "strange work"--however when God does move in judgment He is thorough and even ruthless.

 

5. More than one single judgment: Some popular schools of theology suppose that there is a coming single day of judgment for everyone. One finds this view reflected in religious literature and art. However, the Bible indicates that there are eight or more separate judgments of various groups of people recorded in Scripture.

 

6. Judgments at the Cross

 

A. When Jesus died on the cross the sins of all of mankind were judged. Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God, was the substitute who endured the full wrath and punishment of God for all of the sins of everyone who has ever lived. (Rom. 3:21-26, 1 John 2:2) The judgment of all human sin by God through the propitiatory sacrifice of his Son on the cross has made it possible for all men everywhere to be freely forgiven and thus reconciled to God. For instance, Paul pleads with men to accept God good favor towards them now (2 Cor. 5:14-21). "He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (This does not mean that all men are saved, because God can not violate human freedom to refuse his grace).

B. The judgment of the Adamic nature of believers was carried by Christ on the cross. (Rom. 6:1-10) This aspect of the work of Christ on the cross with us (not merely for us) is widely overlooked by Christians today!

C. Satan, the chief of the fallen angels, was judged at the cross. This is a vast subject contained within the short statement "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." (Col. 1:19-20, John 12:31) "For it pleased the Father that in Christ all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Col. 1:19-20)

7. Jesus is Himself the Appointed Judge of all mankind: See John 5:20-30. Jesus raises the dead and He is the final judge of each and every person individually. The Father has ordained that all men shall bow at the feet of Jesus--whether they are his own, or his enemies. "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:11-12 quoting Isaiah 45:23) "...God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

 

8. God judges every man on the basis of what they know about Him, and by their works (including motives). This basis for judgment applies to all mankind. All are without excuse. But men are never saved by their works, [self-effort] but by grace alone, through faith. "...do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey righteousness--indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." (Rom. 2:4-16)

 

9. The Judgment Seat of Christ. This one judgment applies to Christians only. This judgment is not a judgment for the Christian's sin but of his "works." (John 3:18, 5:24, Rom. 8:1-4, 1 Cor. 3:9-15, 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:9-10, Rom. 14:7-12). It is a "job performance evaluation."

 

10. The Judgment of Israel: This event comes after the rapture of the church but before the judgment of the nations. (Matt. 24:1-25:46). This is a vast subject! (For starters see Daniel 12:1-3, Ezek. 20:33-44, Matt. 24:29-31, Zech. 12: 10-14, Joel 3, Malachi 3:1-6, Ezek. 36-37, Isa. 63-66, Hosea 5:13-6:3, Rom. 11:25-36, Rev. 14:14-20, Matt. 25:31-46). Jesus is the Avenger of Blood and Kinsman Redeemer, especially for Israel. Jesus has a special and unique relationship with His own people Israel, and they are a special nation as God's model nation. They are to be judged more strictly than the gentile nations for these two reasons.

 

11. The Judgment of Angels. Christians, working together with their Lord Jesus will judge both angels and the world. (1 Cor. 6:2,3). No details are given.

 

12. The Final Judgment of the Nations: The gentile nations will be judged immediately following the judgment of the nation Israel, just after the Lord Jesus has returned to the Mount of Olives at the Second Advent. The basis for this judgment is how the nations have treated the Jews! (Joel 3:1-8, Matt. 25:31-46)

 

13. The Great White Throne Judgment (sometimes called the "Last Judgment"). (Rev. 20:11-15) All the unbelievers of all time, will be judged by the deeds and banished forever from the presence of God. There are degrees of punishment for the wicked. This judgment comes (in earth-history time) at the end of the Millennium, but before the "New Heavens and New Earth."

 

14. Temporal Judgments: Individuals are also judged during their life-times. For example, some believers leave this life earlier than might have been the case had they been more responsive to God during their lives. Nations rise and fall in the course of history. The fall of any nation is a judgment on that nation. Wars are a judgment from God which applies to both parties . That is, there are no just wars. God is engaged in historical judgments of men and nations all down through the course of history. God's role in these judgments usually escapes the notice of the world, but discerning believers will see God's hand in world affairs. "Acts of God" in legalese are "accidents," such as shipwrecks in a storm, where there is no obvious human cause. Since there are in reality no accidents in a universe where God is in full control of all the details, God allows and even causes shipwrecks, and such, but we don't always know why.

 

15. Avoiding Judgment: We can avoid being judged by God and we can avoid being disqualified for the Lord's work--if we judge ourselves, (1 Cor. 9:27, 11:31,32).

 

 

Now The Details...........

Actually when one begins to look at all the many ways God evaluates men and angels the discussion of these would easily fill a big book. This article is therefore a short overview only. John's gospel, Chapter 5, is very important to this entire discussion. While in Jerusalem Jesus talks about His close relationship working in partnership with His Father. Then He tells us that raising the dead and the work of judgment has been placed in His hands.

"For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." (John 5: 20-30)

Since God is both holy and just, He must judge evil and vindicate (recompense) those who have been wronged. He does this in accordance with His own time-tables and calendars. In the Lamentations of Jeremiah we learn that God's judgments are undertaken reluctantly after all else fails. God is "slow to anger" and very patient and "longsuffering," but when He does judge He is thorough and even ruthless.

 

Ray C. Stedman writes,

The claim of Jesus is that life belongs to him. He only loans it, for a while, to us. Think of that! It cuts right across the philosophy and the propaganda of our day! Television, radio, newspapers and magazines tell you that your life belongs to you, and you can do with it what you want; it is up to you to make of yourself whatever you desire. That is what is fed to us all the time. But that is a lie! Your life is not yours. You did not invent it, you were handed it, you were given it. One of these days you will have to give it back. Those two great facts underscore all of life, yet how easy it is to forget them.

How frequently the world tries to operate on a basis that is not true, that life belongs to us, and it will go on as long as we want it to. Sooner or later, an exciting, compelling, terrifying reality is going to crash in upon us and we will have to deal with life the way it really is. That is what this claim of Jesus states. He claims not only to possess the power to give physical life, but spiritual life as well.

"Spiritual" life is what the Bible calls "eternal" life. It is a different level of life. It is not merely, as it is frequently translated (especially in the King James version), "everlasting" life. That conveys the idea that this present, earthly life will be extended infinitely. But that is not what the Bible is talking about when it speaks of "spiritual" or "eternal" life. It is rather describing a quality of life. It is true that it goes on forever, but primarily the Bible is talking about the richness, the fullness, the beauty of life. It is a quality of life that is enduring, true, but it is also enriching; it cannot be diminished by circumstances or ended by death. It is a quality of life that is given to us now. It begins here, not in heaven after you die. The claim of Jesus is that he alone has the power to give that kind of life.

Because Jesus gives "to whom he will," that makes him also the arbiter of the destiny of human beings: He is the Judge of all men. It is his knowledge of who is to receive eternal life, and who is to remain without it, that constitutes him an infallible Judge of human destiny. These two ideas blend together; one grows out of the other. If Jesus gives you life you are on your way to heaven. If he gives you eternal life you will never die, you will never taste the emptiness and awful loneliness of death. You will immediately have a fuller experience of life than you have ever had before. But only if Jesus gives it to you. He is the sole possessor of spiritual life.

If he does not give you life then you remain exactly the way you were, on your way to hell, on your way to frustration, torment, hollowness -- all those negative things the Scripture means when it speaks of hell -- life without God, without blessing, without richness, without fullness.

If this claim of Jesus is, real it clearly makes him the most important Person in anybody's life. If your very physical existence has come from him, and your spiritual destiny is in his hands, then he is the most important Person you will ever have to deal with. More than that, he is the most important Person in the whole world, the central figure in all the universe. This is stated all through the Scriptures.

In the last book of the Bible, which was also written by the Apostle John, there is a tremendous scene described in Chapter 5, where John takes us beyond the limits of earth and shows us the throne of God. The creatures of heaven are gathered around the throne, worshiping God, and in the center of the scene John sees a Lamb that has been slain. Here is his description:

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!" And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Rev 5:11-14)

There is Jesus, sitting at the heart of the universe. Because of this, no Christian can ever put Jesus Christ on a par with Mohammed, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, the virgin Mary, Moses, the prophets, or any religious leader of any time. This is why we cannot call a Christian one who only accepts the teachings of Jesus, or who adopts his moral standards, or admires him as a social reformer or religious leader. Jesus himself does not allow us that privilege. He is above all of this. He alone has the right to give the gift of eternal life. In his first letter, John has written of him, "This is the record, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life, but he who does not have the Son of God does not have life," (1 John 5:11-12). The relationship you have to Jesus Christ is the most important relationship of your life. It determines your ultimate destiny.

If that is true, the great question before us is, "To whom and on what terms does Jesus give eternal life?" The answer to that is given in one of the greatest verses in Scripture, Verse 24. It is one of my favorite texts, one I have used many, many times. I hope you will memorize these words of Jesus,

Truly, truly, I say to you [remember, that introduction in effect underlines the words that follow, calling attention to the importance of them], he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24 RSV)

That verse makes clear that when Jesus says he gives life "to whom he will," it is not a matter of arbitrary selection on his part. He does not point at people in a capricious way, and say, "You and you and you can have eternal life," and so on. It is clear there is a responsibility we are to fulfill.

To whom does Jesus give eternal life? To the man or woman, boy or girl who "hears his words and believes in Him who sent him," to the one who is willing to listen to his claims, believe his credentials, and act on that basis, to follow him and be his obedient disciple. When one hears his words and obeys what he says, notice what happens: immediately Jesus says he "has eternal life;" not, he "shall have" it some day when he dies. He has it, right then. Immediately also all judgment is past. Such a one has "passed from death to life." Our Lord is making very clear to these Jews and to everyone else who reads his words the terms on which one passes from death to life.

All of us are born headed for death. We do not like to talk about it, we put it away from our thoughts as long as possible, but we are all headed for death. Beyond death lies the second death -- unless we have eternal life. Thus the most important question anybody has to settle is whether he has believed in Jesus and received from his hand the gift of eternal life. In Verse 25 Jesus extends this well into the future:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead [the spiritually dead] will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself..." (John 5:25-26)

What does Jesus mean by the words, "the hour is coming"? This is a clear reference to the Day of Pentecost, to the new thing that would happen when the Spirit of God would come in a new, fresh way and this gift of eternal life would be given to Jews and Gentiles alike all over the world and through all the succeeding periods of time. Already the "hour" of which Jesus speaks is over 1900 years long. During that time whoever hears his word and believes on him who sent him receives eternal life.

But, Jesus also says, "it now is," i.e., it was already happening. By those words he is referring to his own giving to individuals of the gift of life. We have already seen this in John's gospel. Nicodemus, the troubled religious leader, came by night to Jesus in an effort to find peace. Jesus said to him, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up [on a cross], that whoever believes in him may have eternal life," (John 3:15 RSV). Nicodemus believed and received the gift of eternal life. The Samaritan woman at the well, who was living such an empty life, trying to find satisfaction in five husbands, hoping marriage would satisfy her yearnings, came empty, hungry, and thirsty to Jesus. To her he said, "If you knew who is speaking to you, you would have asked of him and he would have given you a well of water springing up to eternal life," (John 4:10 RSV). Thus he gave her eternal life. She went away so excited she could not contain herself, but soon brought the whole town out to hear this One who could give the gift of eternal life.

So it was already happening, "the hour is coming, and now is," when the spiritually dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. Then he adds that as the Son of God, as the One who is eternally with the Father, he has always had this ability to give life to the spiritually dead. He has this life "in Himself." He is the One who has always given eternal life, in the Old Testament as well as the New. But now he adds something else. Verse 27:

"...and [the Father] has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man." (John 5:27)

In other words, because he has now become a man and understands how we live, how we feel and what we face, he has the right to pass judgment on whether we should have the gift of life or remain in death. It is because Jesus came among us that he understands us. He knows the pressures and the problems we face, therefore he knows clearly when we have reached the place where we are ready to give up depending on ourselves and are able to receive the gift of life.

To receive the gift of life is the only way by which a man can be permanently changed, whether he has a black record or not. The only thing that can transform us right at the very heart of our being, and make us new again, is the gift of eternal life. Those who have it can never be the same again. The growth process can sometimes be very painful, as many of us know, but, when the gift of life is there at the heart of our being, we can never go back to what we once were. That life is in God's Son. But all physical life is also in his hands.

Verse 28: "Do not marvel at this” What does that tell you about what they were doing? They were agog with astonishment that he would speak like this. Their mouths dropped open at the daring claims he made  “for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment”.

“I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me," (John 5:28-30)

What a marvelous claim! Jesus says there is coming an hour in history when all the dead, all of them -- bad, good, evil, kind, loving, unloving, murderers, rapists -- all, shall come forth from the grave. He is going to empty the cemeteries of the world. Then, even the bodies of men and women will share in their final destiny.

Those who have "done good" shall experience the resurrection of life. What does "done good" mean? Many people extract this verse from the context and make up their own ideas about what it means to "do good." They say if you have been fairly nice to your neighbor, do not beat your wife too often, speak kindly to people now and then, and try your best to obey the Ten Commandments, then perhaps the good you have done will outweigh the evil and God will let you into heaven.

But that is not what this verse is saying. This is just a few verses removed from what Jesus said about the gift of eternal life. To "do good," of course, means to have received eternal life. Only those in whom the life of God is dwelling can "do good" in God's eyes. In the words of an old hymn, "He died that we might be forgiven, He died to make us good; That we might go at last to heaven, Saved by His precious blood." Those who have obeyed his word, walked in fellowship with him and shared his life -- those are the ones who have "done good."

What does "done evil" mean? Obviously this is referring to those who have refused his life, turned their backs on truth, and shut their ears to the offer of grace from God; those who have denied even the witness of nature, the witness of their own inner hearts. Those are the ones who have all their life "done evil" even though there were times when they thought they were doing good. They will come forth to the "resurrection of judgment."

That is clearly the import of the words of Jesus. No wonder he frightened and challenged the people who heard him on that day, as he frightens and challenges us when we hear his words today. But note his assurance in Verse 30:

"I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just..." (John 5:30a)

There will be no argument against his judgment, no one can complain that it is unfair, because it is the work of both the Father and the Son; the Father who gave us life to begin with and who knows all that is in our hearts; the Son who came among us and knows how we feel and is both our Savior

Judgment is based on our Knowledge and by our "Works"

 

It is Jesus who is seated at the judge's bench in God's courtroom. Everyone on earth, everyone who has ever lived, will get a fair trial. All the facts of each case will be brought to light--God's "recording angels" keep perfect accounts. According to Romans Chapter 2, God judges all men on the basis of the truth they have received and their actions (deeds) in life. (The works that count in the life of the Christian are the acts of Christ in and through us--the result of our faith). All men are without excuse. This is established in Romans 1.

"...do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. 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 righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:4-16)

In Chapter one of Romans we learn that the active, ever-present "wrath" of God "is [continuously] revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who repress the truth in unrighteousness." "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36)

In Romans chapter 2 we are introduced to the "stored up" aspect of the wrath of God. When the "stored-up" wrath is unleashed it cannot be stopped. For example, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!' "And as for Me [the Lord] also, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head." (Ezekiel 9:9-10)

When we judge and condemn others we are playing God. We have neither the knowledge nor the right to sit in judgment on others. Therefore our judgmental attitudes are serious sin. (Judging others in order to make ourselves look good is not the same as discernment which we need in order to help and encourage others).

Motives matter. "Man looks upon the outward appearance, God looks upon the heart." At the judgment of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31, men are evaluated, basically, on the basis of loving their neighbor in practical ways. The Sermon on the Mount intensifies the demands of the Law of Moses by showing that the motives of the heart are as important as outward conduct. James says, "Whoever keeps the whole Law and fails in any one point, is guilty of all of it."

 

The standards of God are very high. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." One of the definitions of sin is compared to shooting an arrow at a target and missing the mark. Trying hard is not good enough. Who among us actually lives out the Golden Rule (Mt. 7:12) in our daily lives? The gulf between a holy God and us sinners is an infinite chasm, bridgeable only by God Himself who, in Christ, has made our reconciliation possible.

 

What is the standard for acceptable human conduct? The standard is actually Jesus Himself. Jesus is God's righteousness. In contrast "...we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

The three-fold work of the Holy Spirit in the world during the age we live in includes convicting the world of its unrighteousness:

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I [Jesus] go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."

Life Styles: People who live outwardly moral and decent lives are usually pursuing goals in life that run contrary to the will of God because they are most likely selfish and self-seeking. From whence comes the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or the freedom to have an abortion, or the right to choose one's sexual preferences? Man is a worshiping being by nature and if not serving the true and living God, is automatically serving idols.

Hypocrisy (pretending to be godly when one is not) is actually worse than open immorality.

"These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren." (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Providence and Common Grace: God is kind to all men, "He makes his rain fall on the just and the unjust." His kindness, patience and love to all mankind is for the purpose of bringing us to repentance. The proper response to God's grace is thanksgiving, worship, and commitment.

God's judgment is utterly fair and impartial. He judges us on our actual conduct based on what we do know about Him. God judges according to truth and He takes our motives into account. Doing good occasionally is not enough. A consistent good life marks the path of the righteous.

 

The Main Judgments of God

 

1/ The Judgments At the Cross

When Jesus died on the cross the sins of all of mankind were judged. Jesus as the innocent lamb was made to be the substitute who endured the full wrath and punishment of God for all the sins of everyone who ever lived.

"But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed [i.e. under the Old Covenant in all who believed in the promises of God before Jesus came into the world], to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:21-26)

"...And He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." (1 John 2:2)

The judgment of all human sin on the cross makes it possible for all men everywhere to be freely forgiven and reconciled to God. This is the impetus for Paul's urging us in 2 Cor. 5 to plead with men everywhere that they accept God gracious good favor towards them now:

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

2. The judgment of the Adamic nature of believers was carried by Christ on the cross. Romans 6:1-10 outlines this. By taking us out of the family of Adam and "immersing" us "into Christ" we are each identified fully with Christ in His death burial and resurrection. This enables God to make us totally new persons at the core of our being. Galatians 2:20-21 summarizes this. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." Many Christians realize that Christ died for their sins, but do not appreciate the other side of the coin: each of us dies with Christ in order to be raised to a whole new life. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Luke 9:22-25)

3. Satan, the chief of the fallen angels was judged at the cross. Satan's judgment also occurs in stages: 1. When he sinned he was evicted immediately from his high office in the heavens.2. He will be thrown out of heaven and down to earth by the Archangel Michael during the tribulation, Rev. 12. 3. He will be imprisoned in the abyss for 1000 years, Rev. 20:1-3. 4. His final end is in the Lake of Fire, Rev. 20:1-9. At the cross Satan was effectively judged for time and eternity. This is a vast subject included within the short statement "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself."

"It pleased the Father that in Christ all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1:19-20)

"Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out." (John 12:31)

3/ The Judgment of Believers of the Church Age (The Judgment Seat of Christ)

Those who have placed their full trust and faith in Jesus Christ and have entered into a relationship with God and can not come into judgment for their sins since Christ has borne them Himself once for all. "...Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." (Hebrews 9:28)

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18)

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." (John 5:24)

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:1-4)

However, each and every Christian experiences at death what is called the "Judgment Seat of Christ." This is an evaluation of how the Christian has lived his or her life since becoming a Christian.

"For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."
(2 Corinthians 5:9-10)

This issue here is works which result from saving grace which will survive. All we have done in the strength and energy of the flesh will be burned up. Alternately, we can say that only what Christ does through the believer results in lasting works. All else is hay, wood, and stubble. Nevertheless the Bema, the Judgment Seat of Christ will bring each believer God's expressions of approval--commendation not condemnation:

"Therefore do not judge anything before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise (commendation) will come from God." (1 Corinthians 4:5)

"For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:7-12)

"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work." (Revelation 22:12)

If one thinks of this present life as a training program which prepares Christians for life in the world to come, then it is obvious that some Christians care little for long-term or eternal goals, and others care more. "Rewards" would therefore seem to be one's capacity to serve God and to enjoy him. All Christians will be free from sin, fully justified, when they arrive in the next life. Some will be well suited for the Master's highest use, others for lesser tasks. One sees this anticipated in Paul's second letter to Timothy:

"In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

 

The Rapture of the Church will mean that ALL true Christians from the day of Pentecost down to this parousia of Jesus, (the first aspect of His Second Advent), will be raised from the dead, and then be with Him forever in resurrection bodies like His. The total number will surely be a billion or more true Christians? (Given the size of the heavenly city New Jerusalem, the space allotment for a billion people in the heavenly city would average about one cubic mile per person!)

 

4/ The Judgment of Israel

The judgment of Israel takes place after the rapture of the church but precedes the judgment of the gentile nations. This can be seen in the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24:1-25:46). (It is interesting to note that though Israel is judged as a body, as a group, the church is not judged in a similar manner). The judgment of Israel includes all generations of Jews who have lived under the covenants and promises in times past. Believers in Yahweh and his promises who lived before Christ came to live among men, have always hoped for a great Messianic Age on earth. That kingdom age will be ushered in when Jesus Christ returns in power to the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem. A study of the subject reveals that Scripture provides us with many amazing details of this judgment of historic Israel. But there are also some uncertainties.

At the Rapture of the true church--which precedes the judgment of Israel--Christ will gather the many millions of Christians from the entire ~2000 year time period from the day of Pentecost to the time of the Rapture. Living Christians will receive their new resurrection bodies at the Rapture also. Thus the church as a completed Body will all be together for the Lord. Most commentators believe that the Old Testament saints will be raised towards the end of the Great tribulation.

 

5/ The Judgment of the Nations

The gentile nations will be judged immediately following the judgment of the nation Israel and after the Lord Jesus has returned to the Mount of Olives. The basis for this judgment is how the nations have treated the Jews! The nation Israel was given a special role as God's model nation. In spite of their past failures as a group, God intends to see them living out their place in future history as the chief of the nations. Jesus, by the way, is called "true Israel" in Isaiah. The nation failed, but their Messiah did not. It is Yeshua who gives Israel her righteous identity in the end.

The prophet Joel prophesied about the final judgment of the gentiles in this way:

'For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and have sold a girl for wine, and have drunk it. 'What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will requite your deed upon your own head swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will requite your deed upon your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far off; for the LORD has spoken.' (Joel 3:1-8)

The "Valley of Jehoshaphat" is probably the Kidron Valley between the Temple Mount and The Mount of Olives. This valley runs through the wilderness of Judea down to the Dead Sea. Joel's words are consistent with the teaching of the Lord Himself in the Olivet Discourse:

When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?"And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." Then he will say to those at his left hand, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then they also will answer, "Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?" Then he will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me." And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:31-46)

The "sheep" at this judgment will be individual believing gentiles from the nations of the world who have survived the tribulation. They will be allowed to enter into the Millennial kingdom. But they will not receive resurrection bodies until after the Millennium. They will marry and raise children each of whom will have every opportunity to be regenerated and to know the Lord Jesus. Those Jews allowed to enter into the Promised Land at the beginning of the Millennium will also all be believers, but apparently will not have their resurrection bodies until after the Millennium. However all Jewish believers down through Israel's history will evidently be part of a great resurrection immediately following the second coming of the Lord to Jerusalem. This means that the "goats" (unbelieving gentiles) and unbelieving Jews who survive the tribulation will be put to death and then face the Judgment of the Great White throne at the end of the Millennium.

Paul in writing to the Church at Corinth reminds them that "the saints will judge the world." This is also suggested in Psalm 149. When the Lord Jesus returns to earth at the Rapture, the true church (that is "the Body of Christ"--with Christ the Head) will engage in a vigorous offensive to retake the planet from earth men and evil angels so that Christ's kingdom can come on earth. Traditionally we think of the work of judgment as being entirely in the hands of the Lord Jesus, but evidently His saints will work with Him.

 

During the tribulation period, the efforts of 144,000 Jewish evangelists will be instrumental in bringing many thousands (millions?) of people into a relationship with God. Most, possibly all, will suffer martyrdom. These "tribulation saints" will evidently be raised from the dead at the beginning of the Millennium.

From Ray C. Stedman,

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Rev 20:4-6 NIV)

We must notice three distinct groups that are mentioned here: First, John sees thrones, and seated on them are those "who had been given authority to judge." Who are they? This ties in with a strange promise that Jesus made to his twelve disciples, found in Matthew 19:28. There Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the restoration of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Clearly he gives them authority to judge! The twelve disciples are specifically to judge the nation of Israel, and they are linked, in this Revelation passage, with restored Israel. "I saw thrones," says John, "on which were seated those given authority to judge." But that phrase includes more than the twelve disciples, because more than they are "given authority to judge" by our Lord. It also includes the "overcomers" of the present age of the church. These are described in the letter to the church at Thyatira, found in Chapter 2:26. Jesus said to them, "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery." Thus, associated with the reign of Jesus over the nations are the believers of the present age, the true, born-again believers in Christ. That is why Paul writes to the church in First Corinthians, Chapter 6, and says, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" (1 Cor 6:2 NIV). And he even goes further, "Do you not know that we will judge angels?" (1 Cor 6:3 NIV). His argument is, "If we are going to do all this judging and we are learning how to do it now, for heaven's sake can't you settle those little disputes in the congregation now!"

There is also a second group here -- the martyrs of the tribulation -- those "who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and ... had not worshiped the beast or his image or received his mark ... on their hands." This is the same group we saw in Chapters 6 and 7 who were put to death because of their faith in Christ. They refused to bow before the authority of the Antichrist or to worship him. They will live again, we are told, and reign with Christ a thousand years. But there is still a third group. They are only mentioned here but are not dealt with, and we will see why in a moment. In a parenthesis, in Verse 5, John says, "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended." That is a reference to the unbelieving dead, who will appear before the Great White Throne which is described at the end of this chapter. We will look at that before we are through. Leaving out the parenthetical expression, John is saying that all those who reign with Christ are included in what he calls "the first resurrection."

I do not have time to develop this at length, but there is a passage in First Corinthians 15 that speaks of the order of resurrection and it says of Jesus that he was "the first fruits from the dead." So the first resurrection here reaches back to include the resurrection of Jesus and those raised with him. Matthew 27:52-53 tells us that at the time our Lord was raised "many of the bodies of the saints came out of the tombs." Many people do not seem to know that, although the Scriptures plainly state it. They, too, were part of that sheaf of the first fruits which was offered to God as the initial installment of the first resurrection.

Then the verse in First Corinthians says, "then, when he comes, those who belong to him will be raised," (1 Cor 15:23 NIV). When Christ appears, to catch the church to himself, that is the next segment of the first resurrection. Over 2000 years lie between, but time is no factor in an eternal event. Then the verse says, "then the end will come," i.e., the end resurrection, which would be the final one before the Great White Throne. So there are clearly two resurrections taught in Scripture. Jesus himself referred to a "resurrection of life" and a "resurrection of judgment" (cf, John 5:29 KJV), and in several other passages this is made very clear. Resurrection of individuals will be "each in his own order" (1 Cor 15:23), as Paul says, but the "first resurrection" touches only those who believe in Christ. Thus John says, "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."

6/ The Great White Throne Judgment

God can not accommodate His nature to our likings and our tastes. He is who He is. Most of us fear his holiness and His just nature when we become aware of these attributes of God. But God must act justly in the long run. Ray Stedman says,

"All through the Bible we see God's love is manifest to men and women everywhere in urging them to escape this judgment. God in love pleads with people, 'Do not go on to this end!' But ultimately he must judge those who refuse his offer of grace. He says, in effect, 'I love you and I can provide all you need. Therefore love me, and you will find the fulfillment your heart is looking for. ' But many men and women say, 'No, I do not want that. I will take your gifts, I will take all the good things you provide, but I do not want you! Let me run my own life. Let me serve my own ends. Let me have my own kingdom.' To such, God ultimately says, 'All right, have it your way!' "God has three choices: first, he can let rebellion go on forever and never judge it. In that case the terrible things that are happening on earth, all these distressing injustices, the cruelty, the anger, the hate, the malice, the sorrow, the hurt, the pain, the death that now prevails, must go on forever. God does not want that, and neither does man. Second, God can force men to obey him and control them as robots. But he will never do that because that means they cannot truly love him. Love cannot be forced. Therefore, third, the only choice God really has is that he must withdraw ultimately from those who refuse his love. He must let them have their own way forever. That results in the terrible torment of godlessness. If God is necessary to us, then to take him out of our lives is to plunge us into the most terrible sense of loneliness and abandonment that mankind can know. We have all experienced it to some small degree when we get what we want and then discover we do not want what we got! For that sense of bored emptiness to go on forever, is unspeakable torment." (Ray C. Stedman, The Time of Harvest,

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to a judge who is God of all men, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

In a few words the Apostle John tells us about he judgment of unbelievers from the nations which will occur after the Millennium. In popular literature this judgment is often called "the Last Judgment."

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:4-15)

In his commentary on this passage Ray Stedman says,

We must notice three distinct groups that are mentioned here: First, John sees thrones, and seated on them are those "who had been given authority to judge." Who are they? This ties in with a strange promise that Jesus made to his twelve disciples, found in Matthew 19:28. There Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the restoration of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Clearly he gives them authority to judge! The twelve disciples are specifically to judge the nation of Israel, and they are linked, in this Revelation passage, with restored Israel. "I saw thrones," says John, "on which were seated those given authority to judge." But that phrase includes more than the twelve disciples, because more than they are "given authority to judge" by our Lord. It also includes the "overcomers" of the present age of the church. These are described in the letter to the church at Thyatira, found in Chapter 2:26. Jesus said to them, "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery." Thus, associated with the reign of Jesus over the nations are the believers of the present age, the true, born-again believers in Christ. That is why Paul writes to the church in First Corinthians, Chapter 6, and says, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" (1 Cor 6:2 NIV). And he even goes further, "Do you not know that we will judge angels?" (1 Cor 6:3 NIV). His argument is, "If we are going to do all this judging and we are learning how to do it now, for heaven's sake can't you settle those little disputes in the congregation now!"

There is also a second group here -- the martyrs of the tribulation -- those "who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and ... had not worshiped the beast or his image or received his mark ... on their hands." This is the same group we saw in Chapters 6 and-7 who were put to death because of their faith in Christ. They refused to bow before the authority of the Antichrist or to worship him. They will live again, we are told, and reign with Christ a thousand years. But there is still a third group. They are only mentioned here but are not dealt with, and we will see why in a moment. In a parenthesis, in Verse-5, John says, "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended." That is a reference to the unbelieving dead, who will appear before the Great White Throne which is described at the end of this chapter. We will look at that before we are through. Leaving out the parenthetical expression, John is saying that all those who reign with Christ are included in what he calls "the first resurrection."

Would you not think that this would clearly establish the fact that there is more than one resurrection? If you have a first, surely there must be a second. But our amill friends believe there is only one. It comes at the final end of history and therefore must be associated with the Great White Throne judgment, yet to come. They say it will be a judgment of both the righteous and the wicked dead -- raised at the same time and judged in one judgment. Of course, if that were the case, and since Verse-5 says "the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended," they are driven to say that this "first resurrection" here is not a resurrection of the body, but something which happens to the spirit or soul. They say that this refers to spiritual rebirth, or possibly, to the survival of the spirit after death. But that is an extremely weak position because the word "resurrection" literally means "to stand up again." The Dutch have a wonderful word for resurrection: oopstanding, they call it. That word captures the meaning exactly. A spirit cannot stand up; it is immaterial. Neither can a soul. But a body can, and this word "resurrection" is never used in Scripture except for bodies. Therefore, it is indeed a raising of the bodies of the dead that is meant by "the first resurrection."

I do not have time to develop this at length, but there is a passage in First Corinthians-15 that speaks of the order of resurrection and it says of Jesus that he was "the first fruits from the dead." So the first resurrection here reaches back to include the resurrection of Jesus and those raised with him. Matthew 27:52-53 tells us that at the time our Lord was raised "many of the bodies of the saints came out of the tombs." Many people do not seem to know that, although the Scriptures plainly state it. They, too, were part of that sheaf of the first fruits which was offered to God as the initial installment of the first resurrection.

Then the verse in First Corinthians says, "then, when he comes, those who belong to him [will be raised]," (1 Cor 15:23 NIV). When Christ appears, to catch the church to himself, that is the next segment of the first resurrection. Over 2000 years lie between, but time is no factor in an eternal event. Then the verse says, "then the end will come," i.e., the end resurrection, which would be the final one before the Great White Throne. So there are clearly two resurrections taught in Scripture. Jesus himself referred to a "resurrection of life" and a "resurrection of judgment" (cf, John 5:29 KJV), and in several other passages this is made very clear. Resurrection of individuals will be "each in his own order" (1 Cor 15:23), as Paul says, but the "first resurrection" touches only those who believe in Christ. Thus John says, "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."

 

Other Judgments

God also judges nations down through history. Nations ruse and nations fall. Points in time when God judges an individual or a nation are illustrative of greater judgments which will come later in time. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the Plain is an example of this point-in-time judgment. Jude says, "And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 6,7) The latter event was a judgment by God at a certain point in time past, about 2000 BC, (Genesis 18-19).

The judgment of the Canaanites whom God ordered Joshua and the incoming Israelites to "utterly destroy" is often criticized by non-Christians as an indication that Yahweh is cruel and arbitrary.

 

Individuals are also judged. Some believers leave this life earlier than might have been the case had they been more responsive to God during their lives.

 

Escaping Judgment

The Apostle Paul suggests he was all too aware of the possibility he might fail to finish the task he was called to--that he might be disqualified. He says,

"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (1 Cor. 9:27)

He also says,

"For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged." (1 Cor. 11:31)

and further adds that every follower of Christ can expect corrective discipline from God.

"But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." (1 Cor. 11:32)

The discipline of God for the believer is not punitive but corrective. This is discussed in Hebrews 12:

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.' If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (12:1-17)

 

God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream, and something else -- something it never entered your head to conceive -- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us, and so terrible to others, that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.

It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we have really chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it. (C.S. Lewis)

 

 

Share This Article