Lesson 4 for January 28, 2012. THE GOD OF GRACE AND JUDGMENT.
THE GOD OF GRACE AND JUDGMENT
“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— 7 saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”” (Revelation, 14: 6-7)
This idea of the divine judgment is part of the final message that the remnant church is called to proclaim.
What does the Bible say about the judgment?
How are the judgment and the grace that God gives us related?
We find the idea of the judgment both in the Old and New Testament (especially in the New one)
It’s a judgment which sentence can be either condemnation or absolution.
“For the Lord will judge His people, and He will have compassion on His servants” (Psalm135: 14)
“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: 10)
“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” (Revelation, 20: 12)
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter, 4: 17)
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”
(Matthew, 12: 36-37)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”(John, 3: 16)
God’s grace is that He sent his Son to pay for our sins when we didn’t deserve it; that’s how He gave us the opportunity to have eternal life.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 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. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John, 3: 17-19)
Two themes appear in these texts, grace and judgment, and they are radically intertwined. Sin and darkness and evil have brought the need for a God of justice to judge and condemn these things. At the same time, God’s grace offers a way out to those who are guilty, and that comes by faith in Jesus Christ.
He who believes in Jesus is not condemned. That’s what the texts say. It’s that simple. Christ’s righteousness covers that person, and that person stands without condemnation, now and in the judgment.
God needed to judge man only after Adam and Eve sinned. That judgment is inevitably condemnatory. Nevertheless, in that very moment, God offered man His grace; a solution for receiving absolution in the judgment.
Man was created as a perfect being. Then, judgment was unnecessary because there was no infraction to be judged.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis, 3: 15)
We can find a clear example of judgment in God judging Adam and Eve:
“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment”
(2 Peter, 2: 4)
“Although the wicked may say, “My way is hid from the Lord,” yet when his interposition is needed, he will show that he beholds all the works of the children of men. In the days of Noah, the wickedness of man became so great that it was necessary for God to assert his authority and punish the transgressors of his law. A crisis had come, and the Lord declared the limits of his forbearance toward that guilty race. He sent his faithful servant with a message of warning, giving them one hundred and twenty years in which to turn from their sins.
They rejected and despised God’s love, and when the measure of their iniquity was full; when the boundaries of divine mercy were passed, the Lord swept that wicked race from the earth by the waters of the flood”
(E.G. W., The Signs of the Times, December 15, 1881)
“did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter, 2: 5)
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
“and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)”
(2 Peter, 2: 6-8)
“then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter, 2: 9)
The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6: 23). We all have sinned and we all deserve death. If justice was the only divine attribute, we all would be condemned to eternal death.
Fortunately, God is a grace God. God offers His grace through the sacrifice of Jesus, that whoever believes in Him (Jn. 3:16) is absolved in the judgment (1 Jn. 2: 1-2) and has eternal salvation.