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Eternal Judgement

I had been teaching about the elementary principles mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-2.

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)

I had gotten to the last principle: eternal judgment and found myself bogged down. I was overwhelmed with all the verses that mention eternal judgment.

So, as I drove home from a ministry trip I was praying about this and as I prayed it became evident to me that I was over-complicating this part of the study. I was on autopilot and was trying to teach about eternal judgment the same way I had taught the earlier five principles.

I had fallen into a pattern of my own choosing instead of listening to the Father about it.

As I prayed, the Lord basically told me, “Simplify it”. I do not believe He told me this because we’re not intelligent enough to understand what I already had in mind. Rather, He said that because this topic is so complex that we could lose sight of a very few aspects of it that I think He would have us see at this time.

My intention, then, is to do this as I go: listening to Him....sharing what I think I am hearing. How could that go wrong? Well, I might not hear well. But, my trust is more in HIS ability to communicate through anyone...than it is in my own ability to hear Him.

It seems to me that the Lord would have me present this topic in four simple points.

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)

The term for “eternal judgment” in the Greek is “aionios krima” and it means “perpetual condemnation or damnation.” The Bible clearly teaches that all people are destined for hell before we are saved.

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

“the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a)

In other words, we have all sinned and the payoff from that sin is eternal death.

Death….this is the “benefit” that comes from sin.

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 - NASB)

The first of the four main points, therefore, is:

  1. Everyone sins.....everyone deserves eternal death in hell...everyone will experience "perpetual condemnation" - "eternal judgment" (everyone, that is, who is not in Jesus.)

The second point is this:

2) God will judge all people.

“...the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth.” (1 Chronicles 16:33)

The Hebrew word translated as “judge” in this verse is “shaphat” and it means “to pronounce sentence (for or against).” The thing about judgment is that it can only happen fairly if there is a standard by which guilt or innocence can be measured.

“He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.” (Psalm 9:8)

It will be by righteousness that God judges the earth.

“For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity.” (Psalm 98:9)

“His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:3-4)

Recently, I was talking with a young woman who had done something very bad. I don’t know what it is; she does and God does. She said she has forgiven others in her life that have done this very thing and that’s a good thing. But, she told me, “I cannot forgive myself for doing it.”

Do you think that is a true statement? Do you think people truly cannot forgive themselves? I think it depends on how you look at it.

Some people do not think they deserve forgiveness. Some are horrified at whatever it was they have done. At any rate, they think they are not able to forgive themselves and, so, they do not.

This person was sure she could not forgive herself.

God says to forgive people of their sins against us and that means ALL people…which includes oneself. God would not command us to do something that is impossible to do, so, in a very real spiritual sense, I don't think it is a true statement for anyone to ever say “I can’t forgive myself.”

However, satan constantly reminds us of what we have done. That’s a fact and when he does that he implants a lie into our minds. In our minds, he puts all sin on some sort of scale. Some sins aren’t (in our minds) as bad as others and some are worse then others. Always desiring to hurt us as much as possible, whatever we have done is often arranged in our minds (by satan - who tempted us to do it!) so that it is on the worst end of the scale.

Haven’t you seen this? Someone will confess something that is devastating to them and to you its bad...but not THAT bad? They think it is the worst thing ever because they are using a subjective standard with which they measure “bad sin” against “really bad sin”.

The truth is that sin is sin.

The truth is that if all I did was steal a paperclip from a convenience store THAT would have put Jesus on the cross.

When God holds up a standard to us and measures our behavior against that standard it will be a true standard because it will be something that never changes: HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

This is why, parenthetically, His goodness is always under question by the world.

Satan fears God’s righteousness. He fears that being used as a standard because satan depends on the lie and that true standard is the polar opposite of his lies. It will be by righteousness that God judges the earth.

So far we have seen that:

  1. Everyone’s behavior falls short of perfection...therefore, we sin and therefore we (if this is all there is) are all doomed to eternal condemnation

  2. God will judge this....using HIS own perfect righteousness... which never the standard by which He determines innocence or guilt.

The third of the four main points about eternal righteousness is that the Father has chosen Jesus to hold the standard and judge.

This is an interesting verse about God and righteousness:

“But to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.’” (Hebrews 1:8)

In this verse we see the Father acknowledging Jesus as God and as the Son. His very scepter is His righteousness.

Webster defines “scepter” as “a staff or baton borne by a sovereign as an emblem of authority.” In other words, His perfect obedience and performance has become the thing that signifies His authority...and will also be the standard that He uses against which to measure us.

When I think about all the people who mock Him.....flaunt their sin....proclaim Him (in word and deed) to be inconsequential and I know His perfection will be the measurement by which they are judged – this causes me to tremble and wince on their behalf.

It is by this, His own righteousness, that Jesus will judge everyone and how much of our lives will Jesus see and judge? He will judge EVERY thing we do.

“For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

How has God chosen to judge all the people? He has chosen not to judge through the Father or the Holy Spirit.

“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son…” (John 5:22)

“…and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” (John 5:27)

I like seeing this put so clearly. The Father has “authorized” Jesus, the Son, to execute judgment.

“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (John 5:30)

“And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.” (John 8:16)

“And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.’” (John 9:39)

In this physical world, if Jesus doesn't come back first, we are assured of something:

“…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27)

We will physically die. After our death we have an encounter with Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.

“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)

Among those who do die there are only two groups:

1) The lost

2) The saved

As we know, one who is saved is one who has chosen to receive the salvation that God has chosen to extend to us.

We also know, that the lost have essentially chosen to remain spiritually dead (although most of the lost have no idea that is what their choice really means.)

So far in this study we have seen that:

  1. Everyone's behavior falls short of perfection...therefore, we sin and therefore we (if this is all there is) are all doomed to eternal condemnation.

  2. God will judge this....using HIS own perfect righteousness... which never the standard by which He determines innocence or guilt.

  3. The Father has chosen Jesus to hold the standard and to judge us by His righteousness, as the Father directs Him.

The fourth main points about eternal righteousness is that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross (and us participating in that by receiving Jesus as Lord) has rescued us from what was sure to be a judgment of “guilty.”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)

Everyone will be subject to eternal judgment. When a person “believes” in Jesus – entrusts himself to Jesus – something happens to his prior judgment of “guilty”. It becomes justified.

“And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. (Romans 5:16)

“Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” (Romans 5:18)

This was prophesied in the Old Testament:

“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.’” (Jeremiah 23:5)

“‘But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:24)

Daniel, also speaking of this prophetically, puts it like this:

“…until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.” (Daniel 7:22)

This is our joy and confidence! A judgment has been made in favor of us since all Christians are the saints of the Most High.

You know, many Christians dread that day of judgment. They do not understand the grace of God, nor His overwhelming cleansing and forgiveness.

The second person I ever served as a hospice chaplain was born again but when I asked her if she was going to heaven when she died, she replied shakily, “I hope so.” There was no confidence in that salvation for her. I couldn't help myself - I blurted out, “Baby! That ain’t good enough!”

Jesus didn't die and rise again so we could kind of “hope” with dread that we are heaven bound. That is not hope at all!

He died so we could be confident of that! This is why this verse says what it does:

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)

Something has happened AMONG and IN us! Love was perfected! Why? So that we might have boldness in the Day of Judgment.

When that little hospice patient received that truth, her physical pain abated a great deal because her spiritual pain (in the form of fear) had been addressed.

“For the LORD will judge His people, and He will have compassion on His servants.” (Psalm 135:14)

Now, after we are saved we will still be doing things – good things and bad things. This does not escape the Lord.

His desire is that our behavior matches our new state: holy and pure and righteous in Him. However, the Word is clear that we will still sin. Jesus will still judge the things we do after we are saved.

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work (this IS judgement), of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

This is a judgment of works. It is NOT eternal judgment.

In Christ, our eternal judgment is pronounced and that is, in Christ, “Innocent!”

For those who have chosen to not receive Jesus, their judgment will not be favorable. Their choice causes them to be associated with and identified by their works. In other words, unless they receive Jesus as their Lord before they die, their judgment has already been pronounced. In contrast to us (the saved) who God sees in terms of Himself, God sees the lost in terms of their works.

“God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7:11)

He sees the lost who do wicked things and identifies them as “the wicked.” This is a sad thing and should provoke us in compassion to reach out to the lost.

“And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” (Mark 6:11)

To the lost God says this: “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Romans 2:5)

Having said all this, I would like to ask this question in closing:

“What is God's judgment all about?”

Essentially, since we all have had a chance to know the word and to know what’s right and wrong the purpose of God’s judgment as to give us what we really want. He tells us how to have eternal life, yet many of us choose not to have that.

On Judgment Day, God gives us what we asked for. If we asked for eternal life and the judgment of innocence, we get that. If we chose death in the judgment of guilty, we get that.

The One True God is a fair God.

Pastor Mike McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.

Decatur, Texas

© February 21, 2011

(For use with permission)

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