Understanding the Judgment to Come

Intro: We have considered our call to evangelize – to spread the good news of Jesus. I hope that you have been encouraged to answer that call and speak to your neighbor, friend, or even loved one about eternal salvation.

If you do, there is an event that you cannot leave out of the discussion. You MUST tell others about this day. In fact, this day is WHY we must spread the good news, and do it now.

I. He has appointed a day…When the apostle Paul arrived in Athens, Greece, his spirit was stirred within him when he saw the numerous idols and elements of idol worship. This was a place for the gospel message (like USA)! Given that these folks had little or no knowledge of OT scriptures or the true God, what did Paul talk about?

A. Acts 17:24-31. You might notice that Paul referenced two specific events as essential elements of the gospel message.

1. day of creationGod made the world and all things…. (v. 24)

2. day of judgmentBecause he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world (v. 31)

B. The good news of the gospel is based on the FACT of the coming judgment of God. (Those who deny the coming judgment, such as the preterists, or those who advocate the 70 AD doctrine, rob the gospel of its urgent purpose and subsequent joy. I will face God in judgment on a day that HE has “FIXED” (KJV)

C. What can we know for certain about the judgment to come?

II. The Judgment to Come is Unpredictable: Someone breaks into your house as steals your fishing poles, new camera, your wife’s jewelry and good silverware. You call the police and when they arrive, the officer asks, “why didn’t you call us before all this happened?” What is your response? “I didn’t know the thief was going to break into my home last night.” Why not? Because thieves come unannounced.

A. Jesus typified the time of His return this way; Matt 24:43-44But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Peter wrote…But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night… (2 Peter 3:10)

B. Many in religion have not heeded to the clear teaching of the scriptures and have attempted to do what cannot be done – predict when Jesus will return. Almost every generation since the time of Christ has witnessed these predictions; from Adventist William Miller (in 1843 & 1844); to Charles Russell (Jehovah’s Witnesses) set 1914; 1925; 1975; to Harold Camping (May of 2011)

C. Despite the constant attempts to predict when the Lord will return and identify the “last days”, the Bible clearly announces that no one can know when it will happen. Matthew 24:35-3635 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. vs. :44 – 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

III. The Judgment to Come will be Comprehensive: The Judgment Shall Include Everyone. I am, and probably always will be a Pete Rose fan. One of greatest players of all time. I was greatly troubled by his baseball demise. I remember one question that often asked when he was being accused of betting on baseball games, and maybe still is being asked; Why would he do that when he knew the severity of the punishment? He did not think he would get caught, or be held accountable. He was, after all, Pete Rose. It is very prevalent for us to think that we are the exception. Especially if it involves an accountability. That might apply to someone else but not to me.

A. Hebrews 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

B. Romans 14:10-1210 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.11 For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

1. Paul affirmed that same fact in his epistle to the Corinthian disciples. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).

2. How extensive is the judgment of Christ? To Timothy, Paul declared that the Lord is the judge of both the living and the dead (1 Tim. 4:1), indicating that those who have passed from this life will be included in the judgment as well as those who are still alive today.

3. When Jesus foretold of that day, he said, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (Matt. 25:31-32).

IV. The Judgment Will Be Compassionate. – During his earthly ministry, Jesus informed us that the Father has committed all judgment unto the Son. John 5:22 – 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, John 5:27 – 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.

A. Notice that Jesus states the reason why He is qualified to execute judgment – because He is the Son of man.

1. The Hebrew writer connects this thought to the High Priesthood of Jesus in Hebrews 4:14-16Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Jesus has experienced the human dilemma.

2. Having lived as a man and having been “in all points tempted like as we are” (vs. 15), we can be confident that Jesus will have compassion and mercy in his judgment upon us. Having been “tempted like as we are yet without sin” makes him the perfect one to stand in judgment against sinful man.

3. Every person is personally responsible to Jesus alone. Jesus is the one who will execute judgment. It is the foolishness of being overly concerned about what man thinks of us. We would do well to remember the words of the apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 4:4For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.

V. The Judgment Shall Be Done in Righteousness. Go back again to Acts 17:30-31. In verse 31 Paul assures us that Jesus will judge the world in righteousness. This points to both the final outcome of the judgment and the character of the judge.

A. Not all judges are alike. Some judge with partiality and can be bought with money. Some do not understand or care about the circumstances of the event they are judging or the motives of the person they are judging. What kind of Judge is Jesus?

• Psalm 9:7-10 – 7 But the LORD shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. 8 He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. 9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. 10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

• Rom 2:2 – 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.

• 2 Timothy 4:8 – 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

B. We can be sure that the judgment will be done correctly. God will not make any mistakes. Note three biblical reasons why this is true.

1. All the judgments of the Lord are “true and righteous” Revelation 16:7“…Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”

2. There will be no respect of persons.

3. Nothing is hidden from the Lord –We read earlier in Hebrews 4:13 – And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to His eyes. Even the secret things, so often concealed from man, will be brought into judgment –Romans 2:16 – in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

VI. The Judgment Shall Be Executed According to the Word of God – If you are going to held accountable, don’t you want to be sure about the standard?

  • We shall not be judged by what we “think” or what we “feel”
  • We will not be judged according to what our parents believed.
  • We will not be judged by other Christian friends, nor by our enemies.

A. The words of Jesus make it emphatically clear what the standard of judgment shall be. John 12:48 – He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. This is the basis of God’s fair and equitable judgment because God’s word treats everyone alike. It condemns the King as well as the slave.

B. At the judgment, there will be only two groups of people – the righteous and the unrighteous, the saved and the lost! In which group will you be? In which group are you right now?

C. One of the great scenes recorded in the Bible is the description John gave of the great white throne and the judgment of the last day…

• Revelation 20:10-15 – 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.12 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.13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

1. In light of the popularity of relativism, let us remember that the standard of judgment will be the absolute truth of the Bible-the Word of God.

VII. The Christian Can Have Boldness in the Judgment – One of the sweetest thoughts the faithful Christian can have is that of standing before the Lord in judgment. 1 John 4:17 17 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. Do you have this confidence?

A. Two important elements (forever linked) – both can be seen in the writings of 1 John.

1. Through faith (trust) in the power of Jesus’ atonement (blood). The blood of Jesus is the only currency the spends in heaven. Without it I do not want to stand before God. 1 John 2:1-2 – 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 5:12- He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

2. By knowing what the Will of God is and knowing I faithfully kept that Will 1 John 2:3-5 – Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

Conclusion: When was the last time you spoke with someone about the judgment to come? There is an intriguing record in Acts24. The apostle Paul had been arrested and taken to Caesarea, to appear before Felix, a Roman procurator. Felix was living in adultery with his wife, Drusilla, and Tacitus, a noted Roman historian, as­serted that Felix ruled with every kind of cruelty and lust. Before this sinful Roman official, the apostle Paul was brought. In that setting, the Bible says that Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” and that Felix trembled (Acts 24:25). The New American Standard Version says that he “discussed” those things. Is this what you would have discussed with Felix. What would have been more important? What did he need to hear?

We have considered this sometimes, uncomfortable subject today because it is what everyone need to hear. Are you ready for the judgment to come?