Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fundamental Teachings Part 22

Since we’ve already covered repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, today we will begin our discussion concerning eternal judgment.

Now before we get started, I realize that eternal judgment is not very popular in many of today’s churches, it is given a wide berth by preachers, evangelists, and theologians alike, but it is a biblical doctrine, one that is encapsulated within the elementary principles of Christ, and as such we must be familiar with it, and know it. Yes, I’ve heard the theories just as you have that some have spawned from the depths of their bellies that there is no eternal judgment, that there is no hell, that all men end up in heaven eventually, but such doctrines and theories are not biblical, they go against the fabric and the truth of the gospel, and as such they must be rejected and summarily refuted. If we hope to stand in the truth of God’s word, then we must know the truth of God’s word, and not waver from it no matter the cost.

As previously mentioned, today we will be discussing the doctrine of eternal judgment, the last on Paul’s list of the elementary principles of Christ, and I must forewarn you, we will get a little scripture heavy, but it is necessary since my desire is to Biblically teach you these fundamental. It is of utmost importance that we allow the Word of God to speak to us, and not the doctrines or theories of men.

Before we get into the teaching there is one scripture passage concerning resurrection and the bodies of the translated living that we didn’t have time to cover on the previous post, but a scripture passage that gives great courage and hope to the children of God, one that gives us reason to look with gladness toward the day when our Lord and Savior Jesus will return in the clouds.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

It is the hope of His appearing, it is the hope of hearing that last trumpet sound, wherein the dead will be raised incorruptible and those who are still living, changed in the twinkling of an eye that makes the hardships and trials of this life seem as nothing more than a speed bump on the way to our final destination. Look for His glorious appearing dear friend, keep your eyes upon Jesus, and though trials may come, one day, and one day soon we shall be changed, in that moment, in that instant, at the last trumpet we shall all be changed, and the corruptible will put on the incorruptible, the mortal will put on immortality.

So why is the doctrine of eternal judgment important enough that it warranted being included among Paul’s elementary principles of Christ, or among the foundational principles of the faith? Eternal judgment is an important doctrine to understand precisely because it is real, it is biblical, and it will come to pass.

By way of eternal judgment we understand God’s right, through His sovereignty, to punish the disobedience of men, and rebellious angels alike. When we think of a judgment passed, a court or a tribunal, we think of it in human terms wherein men are able to plead their case, wherein they can claim their innocence, and bring proof thereof. But when it comes to God’s eternal judgment, it will be more of a passing of a sentence, wherein God will pronounce the final judgment, because in His omniscience all the facts are already known to Him, and there is nothing either men or angels will be able to say that will sway Him from His righteous judgments. When it comes to God, He already has all the facts, He already knows the hearts and minds of men, and it will not be so much a court hearing, wherein men present their defense, but rather a reading of a sentence that was already handed down via the prism of God’s righteousness and judgment.

Although the doctrine of eternal judgment is highly contested in today’s modern church, we see it taught and evidenced throughout the word of God, beginning with the Old Testament, and weaving its way throughout the entirety of scripture all the way to the last book of the Bible, the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

What we know of the final judgment is that it will take place in a future time, but in certain cases God has already made his judgment manifest on the earth. Beginning with Noah and his family being placed on the ark then destroying the earth by water, to removing Lot from Sodom then burning it with fire, to the earth opening up and swallowing Korah, To Ananias and Saphira whom God struck down in the midst of the congregation, all these were manifestations of God’s judgment.

The history of the world is nothing more than the judgment of the world! Scripture shows us clearly and without a hint of doubt that after death men will be subject to judgment, because death and judgment are the two appointments none of us can miss. These two, death and judgment are set in stone, and try as men might they cannot avoid them.

From the first pages of scripture we see the notion of judgment as a right which God reserved for Himself.

We see this truth played out within the context of the first conversation God had with His creation, telling them that they could eat of every tree in the garden, but they could not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then God said something to both Adam and Eve, that cements the truth that God has reserved a right to judge His creation for Himself, ‘For in the day that you eat of it, meaning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall surely die.’

‘If you disobey, I will judge you’, God says, ‘and the penalty for your disobedience is death.’

Throughout the Bible we see God as judge of the entire earth, as well as a God of justice. Since time does not permit us to go into all the scripture references pertaining to God as judge over the earth, I will only share three with you so you can see for yourself that indeed, God is judge, and in His righteous judgment He passes sentence on the sons of disobedience.

Deuteronomy 32:4, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.”

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

Ezekiel 7:27, “The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the common people will tremble. I will do to them according to their way, and according to what they deserve I will judge them; Then they shall know that I am the Lord!”

Judgment is the action of God’s mercy, and wrath in history, as well as in individual lives. God is righteous, therefore He must judge unrighteousness, God is holy and as such He judges men according to their way, and according to what they deserve. If not for the blood of Christ that cleansed us, if not for the grace of Christ that clothed us, we would be judged according to what we deserve, and like it or not, we all to the last, deserved death, we all to the last deserved to be removed from before the face of God for all eternity. It is by the sacrifice of Christ, it is by the blood that was shed upon the cross at Calvary that we will not be judged together with the world.

What we must understand is that the judgment of God can bring justice to the righteous, and simultaneously bring the deserved judgments upon the ungodly. It is the same judgment of God, having different attributes depending on whom it is focused upon.

Deuteronomy 10:17-18, “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.”

Isaiah 4:4-5, “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering.”

Yes God exerts His judgment upon the earth, and sometimes He does so through men. Throughout the Bible we see three groups of individuals through whom the judgment of God was exerted, and these three were the elders, kings, and priests.

Exodus 18:13, “And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.”

1 Samuel 8:19-20, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, ‘No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.”

Judgment throughout history, or the judgment of God carried out against an individual or a nation, often takes on very specific forms, such as war, famine, locusts, epidemics, and what we today would term natural disasters. Yes, wars are a judgment of God, as are epidemics, as is famine and as are natural disasters. I realize we don’t want to hear it, I know it’s difficult to process, but these truths are evidenced throughout the Word of God. Yes, God is sovereign, and yes God allows these things upon the earth as a form of judgment.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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