for AFBC Bible Class Fall 2002
The scriptures have much to say about God's judgements against sin, perhaps more than they have to say about his love, grace, and mercy.
Table of Contents (Links)
- Some history of God's past judgements
- Judgement in the here and now
- Future Judgements of God
Here are some general comments of the scriptures on God's judgements:
a. The scriptures assert that God both defines the standards for behaviour and that He judges when they are not met.
Isa 33:22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.
Notice that this passage also asserts that God will save a people, his people, even through that judgement. The Psalmist recognizes right and the ability of God to judge rightly:
Ps 7:8 let the LORD judge the peoples. Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.
Ps 7:11 God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.
Likewise the last book of the Bible, which says much on the topic, praises God for His judgements:
Re 16:5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: "You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged;
b. God judges in a different way than we do, not looking at outward appearances but at the heart. Contrast our judgements which do not come from perfect knowledge, and flow from a fallen heart. They are bound to be flawed.
Ga 2:6 As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message.
Though in a different context, the following is also instructive:
Acts 10: 34-35 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
c. The scriptures make it very clear that He may judge morality, even of acts not done in a public way, say, just between two people, and not causing any harm to others, but because they violate his standards.
Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
More generally, we find that our acts have been comprehensively judged by God already, both because we are descended from a sinner
Ro 5:12 ... sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned...
and, as the last verse also implies, because we ourselves each commit acts of sin
Ro 3:23 ... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...
That is, all human beings are by default completely under the condemnation of God because of sin. This judgement has already been passed and recorded for us in the scriptures, though its final execution is stayed during our lifetimes here. Of course, the cross changes all this, as we shall see later.
d. The Scriptures also make it clear that the task of passing final judgement on sin, I.e. of judging for all eternity is reserved for God alone, and that it cannot be usurped.
Jas 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbour?
As we shall see, this does not mean that Christians are not to discern (judge) sin in themselves and in others. But it does mean that the final judgement for eternity is in the hands of God alone, that we cannot say a person is condemned to hell or assured of heaven, and that if we do so we are in error. Moreover, God judges by His standards, not by ours. Some claim that God would not be "fair" if he condemned. But what is "fair" but a human concept. God is not bound by human reasoning in making his judgements; he does so with his own motivations and reasons, and we cannot sit in judgement on Him for doing so. See also Romans 3, cited several times already.
e. God can judge whenever and wherever it suits His own purposes. He may judge sin on the spot as he did with Adam and Eve, with Cain, and with others mentioned in the Old and New Testament, or he may wait until after death to pronounce that judgement.
Ps 75:2 You say, "I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly.
He may judge some things at one time, others at another. There are numerous instances in the Old Testament of God forebearing, sometimes for centuries, before judging sin, but eventually He acted. Likewise, as we shall see, there appear to be several different occasions on which He will yet pronounce judgement, depending on the person or persons to be judged.
Next part: Some history of God's past judgements