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Doctrine of God - Judgment Print E-mail
The Doctrine of God
Sunday, 29 June 2008

I. Introduction:

Tonight we're going to conclude our study of the actions of God.  Last week, we looked at three of the central works, or actions of God in history: creation, providence, and redemption.  One of the things I wanted to communicate was that the goal of all God's actions in history; of all that He has done, all that he is doing, and all that he will do, is His own glory.  It's important for us not only to see that, but to delight in it, to be glad that God does all that He does for His own glory.  And the thing that should fuel our delight is the fact that we've tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and so we know in our hearts that He is infinitely worthy of all glory in all things.  Now, I say all that to say this:  It may be relatively easy for us to rejoice in God's glorious acts of creation and providence and redemption.  But it may not be as easy for us to rejoice in His great and terrible acts of judgment, which is the topic of our study tonight.  But I believe that we should do exactly that.  We need to see clearly that all that God does, including his acts of judgment, are worthy of our praise.

We're going to look mainly at the future aspect of God's judgment tonight, but before we do that, I want to make the obvious point that God's work of judgment also has past and present dimensions.  At some point following creation and before the fall of man, there was an angelic rebellion, and God passed judgment on the angels who sinned (2 Pet. 2:4).  we also know that because of Adam's sin, God pronounced judgment on Adam and Eve, judgment on the serpent, judgment on the ground, and judgment on the whole human race.  The Bible also makes it clear in many places that God is even now actively judging both believers and unbelievers.  (See 1 Cor. 11:29-32) That's just one example of the present aspect of God's judgment (see also 1 Pet. 4:17-18).  There are hundreds of examples of God's judgments in Scripture, and here's the important thing to note--and it struck me as Mike was reading the call to worship this morning that this was exactly what Jesus was saying to his disciples--all of God's judgments throughout history point toward one final and certain day of judgment yet to come.

II. Baptist Faith and Message:

The BF&M has very little to say about God's judgment in the section on God. The only statement in that section falls under the heading of God the Son: "He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission." But there is much more comprehensive statement in the section on Last Things: "God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord."  That's a very good statement.  Let's look at some of the passages that support it.

III. Scripture:

A. Final judgment is certain:
 1. Hebrews 9:27 It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.  There are two absolutely certain and unavoidable appointments that all of us will keep; one with death, and one with judgment.
 2. Acts 17:30-31 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.  There is a predetermined day on which God will bring the world to an end.  We saw it in the passage Mike read this morning.  People will be going about business as usual, self-absorbed and unconcerned about God, and just like that, it's over.  There's already a day fixed on which God will judge the world.

B. Final judgment is all-inclusive:
 1. Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  "No creature" escapes the all-seeing eye of God.  No one is exempt from giving account to God.
 2. Rev. 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.  That is a staggering picture.  All who've ever lived, great or small, are summoned from the dead to stand before God on the day of judgment.

C. Final judgment will be according to our works:
This point may be the hardest one for us to grasp.  We tend to downplay the significance of our works.  I understand there is a legitimate Biblical reason behind that tendency.  But I also believe there's a danger hidden in it, and that is that we would ignore this critical teaching of Scripture.  So I want to spend a little extra time on this point and read several passages.  What I want to ask you to do, as I read these passages, is to just listen to what the Word of God says, and take it at face value.  I'm not even going to comment on the first couple of passages I read, but I do want you to notice that several of them are addressed directly to Christians.  They're not addressed to unbelievers, they're addressed to us as believers.
 1. 1 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
 2. Romans 14:10-12 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 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 will give an account of himself to God.
 3. Matt. 12:36-37 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
 4. Matt. 25:31-46  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 people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by 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, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.  Then he will say to those on his left, ‘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, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.  Those who go away into eternal life are those whose actions were righteous and compassionate.  Those who go away to eternal punishment are those whose actions were unrighteous and indifferent.  The thing that distinguishes one group from the either is their works.
 5. Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.   This passage is about the day of judgment ("that day", v. 22)  Entering the kingdom of God on "that day" is not a matter of saying the right things, but of doing the will of God.
 6. Romans 2:6-11 He will render to each one 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 self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, 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 everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.  Those verses make it clear that our deeds are not being evaluated on the day of judgment simply to determine our rewards.  Our eternal destiny is at stake in this evaluation (7-8).  Since Paul teaches later in Romans that we're justified by faith, that can only mean one thing.  Genuine saving faith is always accompanied by a real transformation of heart that produces a life of compassion and service and obedience.  That's why Paul can say here in Romans 2 that God will give eternal life only to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality.  It's because the transformation in their lives is real--not perfect, not complete, but real.  And on the day of judgment God will put the works of every living creature on display, and those works will serve as a testimony to either the presence or the absence of true saving faith.  I don't think the Word of God could be any clearer.  Everything you do right now, while you're still in the body, has eternal consequences.

D. Final judgment can have only one of two possible outcomes:
 1. Everyone who stands before God on that day will be sentenced to eternal life, or eternal punishment. Matt 25:46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.  Everyone in this room... everyone in your family... everyone you know...  will spend eternity with Christ, or eternity in Hell.

IV. Practical Implications:

 A. We should diligently seek for glory and honor and immortality.  Don't just drift through life.  Pursue glory and honor and immortality through Christ.  Or we could use the words of Hebrew 12:14 to make the same point.  Strive for...the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  Do you hear the urgency and the intensity in those words?  Strive.  Seek.  Pursue.  Press on.  That's the language of Scripture.  You cannot afford to just float through life.  The stakes are too high.

B. We should live every moment that God has given us in this body in light of the coming day of judgment. That's exactly what Peter says in 2 Peter 3:10-12 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!  Keeping the coming day of God at the forefront of our thoughts will provide us with the incentive we need to live holy and godly lives.

D. We should be passionately evangelistic.  You don't need to turn there, but I want to read 2 Cor. 5:10 again, along with the first part of verse 11: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.  Knowing what it would mean to stand before the judgment seat of Christ motivated Paul to persuade others to be reconciled to God, and it should motivate us.  Hell is real.  Judgment is coming and no one will escape it.  Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  That means, among other things, that we should care about our neighbor's welfare as much as we do our own.  How much do you care about your own salvation?  That's how much you should care about your neighbor's salvation.  If there is an ounce of compassion for others in our hearts, we will share the gospel with them and plead with them to repent and follow Christ.

Charles Spurgeon was passionate about winning souls to Christ.  And in his passion for souls, he once made this statement.  If we would only take this to heart, we would all be more passionately evangelistic.  :  "If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."  I can only say AMEN to that.

That leads to the last, and most important thing I want to consider tonight.

V. Christ and the Cross

God's judgment reveals a number of things to us.  First, it reveals the extent of our guilt.  It shows us how serious sin is, by showing us that rebellion against the eternal God deserves eternal punishment.  We also understand how serious sin is when we realize that nothing less than the blood of God's own Son could atone for it.  But God has graciously revealed one more thing to us in the death of His Son.  He's shown us the depth of His love for us.  Turn to Romans 5:8: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.   How can we escape God's wrath on the day of judgment?   Look at verses 9-10: Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

I pray that we could all see the profound depth of God's love and mercy for us in the unfathomable sacrifice of His own son for our sin.  Those of us who have put our faith in Christ should be the most thankful and joyful people on the planet.  Why?  Because the judgment that should have fallen on us was instead fully absorbed by Christ on the cross.  That doesn't mean that we won't all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account to Him for everything we've said and done, and for everything we've left unsaid and undone.  We will.  But we can look forward to that day with confidence in God's promise in Romans 5:9 that we will be saved by Christ from the wrath of God.

Listen to the words of Jesus in John 5:24 and praise God for His mercy.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever 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.

VI. Conclusion

I want to close as I began, thinking about the goal of all God's actions.  From the beginning of history as we know it in God's spectacular act of creation, through all of God's gracious acts of providence and redemption, to the end of history as we know it in the final judgment, God's goal is His own glory.  And He will be glorified in all that He does.

When Brother William began this series, his main premise was that it is vital for us to know and worship God truly, or we could be found worshiping a god of our own making, an idol.  That means we must see and know and rejoice in God as He really is, not as we want Him to be.  And he really is a holy and just God whose judgments are righteous and perfect, and worthy of our praise.  Turn to Rev. 19:1-2.  Before I read that I want to set the stage.  Chapter 18 describes the furious outpouring of God's wrath on Babylon, which probably symbolized Rome, with all its immorality and rebellion against God and persecution of believers.  But look at what happens in chapter 19 when God's perfect justice is displayed in this unrestrained outpouring of His wrath in judgment.  All of heaven erupts in praise!  After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah!  Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.

All of God's actions, even His judgment, will bring him glory and praise!  Amen.

~ Barry Wallace ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 July 2008 )

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