Another "MUCH MORE" Scripture: Are Christians to judge?
First of all we need to realize there are two words that relate to judgment. The first one means "to cast a sentence," like a judge would do in court. Only God the Father has the right to cast a sentence about our eternal destiny.
The second word for judging is "to evaluate or examine." Our Lord Jesus Christ told us that we would know them by their fruit. This requires a judgment or evaluation according to Scripture. The Word also tells us that we don't judge those outside the church but we are to judge those within the church. We have a responsibility to evaluate one another and hold one another to the faith that is in us.
Gal 6:1(ESV) Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
The righteous judgment released by the believers: However, in the end God will use the saints to judge all things.
1Co 6:2-4(ESV) Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?
The balance between the Judgment of God versus the Love of God is hard for many to reconcile. Many have a hard time seeing both as possible with God. There are those who only see God as the great judge and a cosmic kill-joy ready to wipe out mankind for the least little word or deed. Some see God as the great white-bearded loving grandpa ready to throw His arms around us, bounce us on His knee, and give us all a candy bar no matter how we have behaved.
Let's look at the word Bethesda in light of the loving and judging God. The word "Bethesda" is Hebrew and we read about it in the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. In the Hebrew it comes from the word "khesed" which means the mercy or "loving-kindness" of God. The word "Beth" would be "the house of." Therefore, "Bethesda" means the house of God's mercy or the place of His loving-kindness.
It is God's nature or His character to be loving, merciful and kind. So He can BE loving, merciful, and kind because He IS loving, merciful and kind as His nature. It is not just what God does, it is WHO He is.
Yet, line upon line, precept upon precept, all Scriptures together declares that God hates sin and must judge sin and rebellion. If this were not true He would never have allowed His precious Son leave the glory of heaven and die on a cruel cross for our sins and our redemption.
Therefore, even though His nature, essence and heart is love, mercy and kindness, His judgment is necessary. Out of His love for mankind, He is the one calling people to repent and be saved and yet out of His judgment, He is the one who created hell and declared that all mankind is guilty. The God who cannot NOT love us the same God who cannot NOT judge sin and the sinner.
It is a double-sided sword. One edge of the sword is God's love and the other side is God's judgment. After all, we are quick to quote the verse that says "God is love", but He is also a consuming fire. God's justice and judgment is just as just as His love is loving. They can never be out of balance.
1 John 4:7-8 ESV Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (8) Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, (29) for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
God's Justice is as holy as His love and His righteousness.
The world and the church have corrupted a lot of truths when it comes to the Scriptures and the character of God, but none greater than His love and His justice. Because of His character God must love us. He is compelled to do so because God is love and he cannot operate outside of His character.
The same is true about His justice. As much as God loves us, He hates sin equally and must judge it. Just because He must judge sin and the sinners does not mean that His love stops. Remember that He tells us to love our enemies. This has two truths tied to it.
#1 is that we will have enemies. Our enemies are not those whom we have a falling out with or someone who did us wrongly. The Biblical enemies God is speaking about is anyone who is lost. Lost people are attackers of the cross and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore enemies to the cross and enemies to God. Therefore, they are our enemies. But we are to love them.
Genesis 18:25-26 ESV Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" (26) And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
Closely related to the Holiness of God are His RIGHTEOUSNESS and JUSTICE. To simplify, it might be said that:
God's Righteousness is His Holiness in action.
God’s Justice is His Righteousness in rule and government.
God is a Righteous God, because He acts at all times in complete conformity with His Holy Nature and Will.
God's Righteousness is Immutable, He is a Rock. God is referred to as a Rock five times in Deut.32. His Righteousness never changes, His Justice is unfailing; He is faithful in dealing with His people according to His Nature and His revealed Law and Covenants.
He will punish in awful judgment as well as reward bountifully, but always according to His promises and covenants. He is completely above any unjust or deceitful treatment, all His ways are "upright."
Our Righteous and Holy God is also a God of Mercy and Forbearance, but He will not act inconsistent with His Holiness.
In His Righteousness He made a way to justify the sinner, by sending His Infinite Son to be, once for all, the Perfect Sacrifice for sin.
Since the last Adam, (Jesus Christ), lived in perfect obedience to the Holy will of the Father, God could bestow upon the believer Christ's Righteousness without Him ceasing to be Righteous in judgment. The believing sinner becomes righteous in Christ, at the same time God's Righteousness has not been compromised.
I AM saved...I AM BEING saved...I WILL BE saved.
John 15:1-2 ESV “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (2) Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
The teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles focused on three things: (1) Justification: How do we gain eternal life, which requires receiving Christ. I AM SAVED in my spirit-man; (2) Sanctification: Continually walking in righteous behavior with a life of faith and growing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. I AM BEING SAVED in my soulish man, (how I think, how I feel, and how I choose). (3) Glorification: The final act of salvation and rewards in the Day of the Lord, in the day when our Lord Jesus returns to earth. I WILL BE SAVED in my physical man as I put off the mortal and put on the new immortal body. I put off that which is corrupted and put on that which is incorruptible.
Although there are some Scriptures giving limited revelation on the subject about what happens to us when we die, most Scriptures are about how we should live here now. There are ample Scriptures with the emphasis on what happens to us when the Lord Jesus returns and the world as we know it ends and the new heaven and earth is established.
However, the majority of both the Old and New Testaments cover the subject of us living a life of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God in this present world. This is learning to abide in God's Word and to abide in Christ. When the Apostles of the Lamb preached salvation they were speaking of not being destroyed in the Day of the Lord. The message of salvation was not meant to be a "feel-good" message. The reason that the gospel is "good-news" is because if we receive it we miss the "bad news" which is the judgment of God.
Acts 24:24-25 ESV After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. (25) And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”
The reason for Felix trembling was due to the conviction of the Holy Spirit about judgment. Felix would not have trembled at the salvation message preached in many places today which is only about the love of God. The salvation message must also include the judgment of God for those who reject God's grace.
Romans 2:4-5 ESV Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (5) But because of 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.
We would not stress this point except that it has a direct, practical bearing on how we live in the world. If we think of the Christian redemption as just being a plan for escaping Hell and having admission into Heaven when we die we do not understand the absolute necessity for abiding in Christ in our present life.
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSIM USA.