What is the Gospel Part 4: The Believer & Judgemnt

We left off with talking about the reality of forgiveness. We concluded that GOD in His wisdom condemned sin in His Son, that he may grant a pardon to the sinful without denying either His justice or His mercy. But the original question still remains: does this alter the righteous standard of GOD? Are these people whose sins are not imputed unto them giving a bye? Or are they somehow transformed to meet the perfect righteous standard of GOD?

Now it is almost undisputed that the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) teach that GOD will, at the judgement, reward or punish based on the works of the individual. Text like Psalm 62:12 & Proverbs 24:12 explicitly state that GOD gives to every man according their works. Isaiah echoes this point in his warnings to the nation of Israel (3:10-11); for GOD told him to say, to the righteous, that it will be well with them because of their deeds, and  to the wicked he pronounced a woe for the same reason. Like wise,  Ezekiel declares that GOD will judge everyone in Israel according to their deeds (18:30, 33:20). Jeremiah expands this to all men everywhere (32:19). But will GOD judge believers in this same way, or has something changed?

To begin at the end, We see in the 20th chapter of Revelation the throne room scene where judgement is taking place. In the 12th verse of the chapter it said that the dead was judged out of the things written in the books according to their deeds. It says that the “dead” shall be judged according to their deeds and the context implies that the word “dead” is the wicked or unbelievers. So, I say and was taught, only the wicked will be judged according to their deeds; while the Christians will be sought for only in the book of life. Therefore we will only have to account for our deeds (Rom 14:12), and will not be judged by them. Their works will either stand or be burned, but they themselves will be saved (1Cor  3:8-15).

But as I read through to the last chapter of Revelation (22:12), JESUS declares that he will “reward…everyman according as his work shall be.” And I go back to Romans 2:6-11 where Paul says that GOD will give to everyman according to his deeds, but he continue to expound the various rewards as: eternal life, glory, honor, and peace for those that do good; and indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish to them that do evil. Peter echoes this sentiment, after commanding us to “be ye holy” as YHWH is holy, by saying that the Father judges according to every man’s works (1Pet 1:15-17). The Eternal Judge Himself declares that those who have done good shall rise “unto the resurrection of life” and those who “have done evil to the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29). Thus we must reconcile our view of judgement with the view of the Saviour. For He clearly continues the proclamation of the Old Testament prophets, and does not exempt the believers from this judgement. Likewise his apostles are in agreement with the prophets on this position, but they all still have full confidence that the believers will receive the eternal life promised to those that do good.

They can have this confidence because of the gospel. The truth of the gospel is not that the believer is granted a divine exemption, but rather they are transformed by the mercy and grace of GOD to  meet His standard. As it is said in Colossians 1:12 the Father “made us meet to be partakers of the saints in light.” In Ephesians 2:10 Paul says that we are “created in CHRIST JESUS unto good works.” He also says in 2 Cor. 9:8 that the grace of GOD can abound that we may have all-sufficiency to abound to every good work. And in Titus 2:12 he says that this grace teaches us to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts”, so that “we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” He also says a few verse later that (v.14) CHRIST gave himself to purify a people zealous of good works. In Romans 8 after declaring that those who are in CHRIST have no condemnation; he says in verses 3-4 that GOD sent JESUS in the flesh to condemn sin “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us.” Finally, for now, look at Hebrews 13:20-21 where the writer seems to believe that GOD can, through the blood of JESUS, make you perfect in every good work. Thus when we read text like Matthew 25:31-46 we do not have to do exegetical gymnastics; for  works do not brings us salvation, but are the testimony of true saving faith. GOD does not change His method of judgement but rather changes the wicked men who can apart from His grace do nothing good enough to be accepted by Him. So rejoice not that CHRIST has made us exempt, but rather he “has made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph 1:6). For yes our GOD is loving and merciful, but He is also just, holy, wise, and immutable. Thus this is the gospel: that we were born wicked wretched worthless beings; void of hope fit for destruction, but GOD in mercy took upon Himself the form of a human being that He may suffer on our behalf, removing our condemnation, through His sacrifice cleansing us from all our unrighteousness, and by His Spirit regenerated us that we may live as the sons of GOD in holiness abounding in every good work. These are truthZIFollow.

Published in: on April 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Is The Gospel Part 2: The Holy Creator

In the previous post (What Is The Gospel Pt. 1) we considered man’s need of salvation due to his innate wickedness.  We concluded that man’s chief problem is not that he does wrong, but that he is wrong. The cutest infant child is but a bud of wickedness and rebellion ready to blossom into a base sinful being. Which brings us to the subject of this post; does it really matter that we are sinful. To some pious and religious individuals this seems to be an absurd question.  But they, if they honestly inspect their view of the gospel, will see their inconsistency on this issue. For some say that CHRIST’s death on the cross gets us to heaven no matter what we do. Therefore I don’t have to conquer my sin because CHRIST’s blood covers my sin. As one kid’s girlfriend told him when speaking about having sex,”I’m straight now ’cause I got saved.” Or as another student told me, “I know I need to change my life, but I’m still going to heaven.” Both these students, and many across the globe, view their actions  as sin, but they also think these sins could not and does not hinder their relationship with GOD. Which is a very important issue; does GOD judge the sinfulness of man, and if so by what standard? Also are there any conditions under which He alters His standard?     

To begin we must consider the beginner, GOD. We will not delve into the nature and attributes of GOD in any real depth, for that is not the focus of this particular post. Instead we will consider two attributes of GOD that are pertinent to a proper understanding of the Gospel. Namely the truths that GOD  is creator, and He is holy. If we misunderstand any of these truths we shall fail to truly appreciate the goodness of the gospel.    

The scripture plainly teaches that GOD is the creator of everything (Gen 1:1, Isa 42:5). In Colossians 1:16 we read that “…all things were created by Him, and for Him.” In this statement we see the preeminent presupposition of the gospel. For the fact that GOD created us is what gives Him the right to sit as judge over us. Just as the sculptor is the sole determiner of whether the statue is worthy of display or disposal; the Maker of all likewise has the freedom to destroy His mold if he sees fit. But, unlike the sculpture who may be working for another, the scriptures state that GOD created for Himself. So if the thing created is not pleasing to the Creator it has no purpose for existence ( for ex. see Luke 13:6-9). Therefore, in order to truly gage the significance of our existence, we must discover the Maker’s intent for creating. His intent was for man to be the image of GOD (see part 1). Thus, He alone has the right to judge mankind and due to the intent of His creating can judge man against Himself (we will consider this more later). And the Bible clearly teaches that GOD exercises His position as judge. 1 Samuel 2:10 speak of the LORD as the Judge of the ends of the earth, and also Psalms 94:2 refers to the LORD as the Judge of the earth (to name a few).    

So what exactly is the standard by which he judges? The answer to this question is the perfect life of the Son of GOD, JESUS CHRIST. For, as we said before, GOD created man to be the likeness of Himself (Gen 1:26). CHRIST is the fleshly manifestation of GOD (Col 1:15 & Heb 1:3). Therefore all who does not match up to the life of CHRIST are sinners. The greek word translated sinner in most New Testament passages literally means to miss the mark (look here). As in Romans 3:23 where we are charged with fallen short of the glory of GOD. In the minds of most people this is an absurd statement; how can a man be charged with fallen short of the glory of GOD? But, it makes more sense if you keep in mind that we were originally created to be the image (mini icon or representation) of GOD. That’s why He commands us to love and forgive likes he does (Col 3:13), to be perfect as He is (Mat 5:48), and to be holy like He is (1 Pet 1:15). Thus the standard of GOD is GOD Himself.  And as the potter as the freedom to destroy the blemished pot no matter how good it appears to every other eye: the Sovereign LORD and Creator of all sit as judge of all He has created inspecting them to see if they adequately reflect His nature.    

But does GOD really expect us to live like the sinless Son of GOD? Before we can adequately answer this we must look a littler closer at the nature of GOD. The Bible teaches that GOD is holy (see Isa 6:3,Psa 111:9, Rev 4:8). Most people will not dispute this truth. But the reality that is often neglected is that GOD’s holiness makes it impossible for Him to live in union with sin. As Paul Washer so lucidly stated it: “The holiness of God means that He transcends the moral corruption of His creation and is separated from all that is profane and sinful. God cannot sin, cannot take pleasure in sin, and cannot have fellowship with sin.” The Prophet Habakkuk said that GOD cannot look upon evil(1:13). In Isiah 59:1-2 GOD declares that the sin separates between Him and the people. GOD has no intimate connection with sin. Actually the scriptures declare that sin is hated by GOD, for He is holy. Psalms 5:4 declares that GOD hath no pleasure in wickedness. Moses said”…all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy GOD.” Notice that it specifies all that do unrighteously, not all unrighteousness as it is so often stated. Countless are the times I’ve heard it stated that GOD hates the sin, but loves the sinner. Many use this as salve to ease the condemnation of their wicked hearts. But, scripture clearly contradicts this notion. For the scriptures plainly teaches that more than despise the deeds of the wicked(Proverbs 15:8-9) GOD “hatest all workers of iniquity” themselves ( Psa 5:5). GOD is not just a little displeased because we do wrong, but He is ontologically opposed to both the sin and sinner. (see 1 Jhn 1:5).  Therefore He must judge, negatively, all who are involved in sin, by casting them away from Himself (Mat 7:23).  

To sum up what has been stated so far; GOD created all men to be the image of GOD and a  reflection of His glory. But we are, by nature, wicked sinful beings and consistently fall short of the glory of GOD. GOD is too holy to have any relationship with sin. He hates and loathes both sin and sinner. Therefore, in our natural state, we cannot have fellowship with GOD (Rom 8:7).That’s why we are “by nature the children of wrath” (Eph 2:3). How shall we be freed from this condemnation?  









Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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