Wednesday, March 9, 2011

IS JESUS A JUDGE?

Here’s today’s question--“WHO performs the WRATH of God?”

The answer is JESUS.

Since this idea MAY seem REPUGNANT to a few, I’ll lay a scriptural FOUNDATION for you to consider. (If there’s a sense of revulsion, it MIGHT stem from a MISUNDERSTANDING of God and His attributes.) Let’s begin.

How can the GENTLE and MILD, the LOVING and FORGIVING Savior of our souls, be a JUDGE Who carries out the WRATH and FURY of a God Who acts in VENGEANCE?  This idea SEEMS in error at best, and APPEARS blasphemous at the worst.  YET the PICTURE is ACCURATE.  God works in conjunction with His Son, Jesus, and has done so since the beginning.

First of all, let’s look briefly of what Jesus said of Himself.  In John 10:30, Jesus declared, “I and My Father are One.”  In John 14:7, Jesus REPEATS that TRUTH for emphasis, “If you had KNOWN Me, you would have known My Father also; and from HENCEFORTH you KNOW Him, and have SEEN Him.”  In John 14:11, Jesus adds, “Believe Me that I am IN the Father, and the Father IN Me:  or else believe Me for the very work’s sake.”

Jesus declares that He and His Father are ONE.  Jesus said He is God, the second PERSON of the Godhead, Who is One with, and the SAME as His Father in heaven.  He told His disciples that since they SAW Jesus, then ALSO, they have SEEN the FATHER. The WORKS which Jesus DOES is ONE and the SAME as the WORKS of God, the Father.  God and Jesus are ONE--ONE GODHEAD--in unity, agreement, character and action!

What is God’s character?  I won’t go into a long teaching on this topic, which is extensive.  Suffice it to say--God is holy, righteous, pure, good, gracious, kind, loving, merciful, compassionate, patient and longsuffering.  God is ALSO a JEALOUS GOD.  He will have NO OTHER gods before Him!  He works in JUDGMENT against those Who REJECT Him.  He performs in ANGER and VENGEANCE upon those who are His ENEMIES.

We think of Jesus in His WORK of the Gospel, in His ministry of love, compassion, forgiveness and mercy.  He reaches out to those who walk in darkness, and draws them in, pleading with them by the Spirit to “COME UNTO ME, ALL WHO LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.”  Yes, Jesus is LOVE and He offers God’s GRACE, especially in the AGE OF THE CHURCH.

But that’s NOT ALL.  There WILL COME a TIME (the TRIBULATION) when Jesus will ACT in the RIGHTEOUS VENGEANCE of a WRATHFUL God, who POURS OUT recompense upon the enemies.  For Jesus to be ONE with God, He will indeed ACT that way in the near future.

But what about the GOSPEL? (we might ask).  What about all those times Jesus said He comes NOT to CONDEMN (or to JUDGE), but instead SAVES?  I’ll mention two scripture passages, John 3:16-21 and Romans 8:1-2.  (I’m NOT quoting them in their entirety, so please take the time to read them.)

In John 3:16-21, we have the most FAMOUS proclamation of the GOSPEL in scripture.  “For God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall NOT perish…”  The message DOESN’T stop there.  It goes on to say “He that believes NOT is CONDEMNED ALREADY, because He has NOT BELIEVED in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Romans 8:1 declares that NOW there in NO CONDEMNATION to them which are IN CHRIST JESUS.  (Yet there’s a CONDITION!)  Those who are NOT CONDEMNED are THOSE who WALK NOT after the FLESH, but according to the SPIRIT.

Further along, in Romans 8:6-8, ANOTHER CONDITION is seen.  On one hand, to be carnally (fleshly) minded is DEATH--and in CONTRAST, those who are SPIRITUALLY-MINDED have LIFE and PEACE.  Those of a CARNAL (fleshly) mind are at ENMITY AGAINST GOD--meaning they make themselves GOD’S ENEMIES.  They that are in the flesh CANNOT please God.  The ONLY WAY to please God is through Jesus.  Any WORKS (done by CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS) must be ACCOMPLISHED by a YIELDING to the Holy Spirit, Who PERFORMS the WORK within and through us.  By GRACE (God’s free gift) we ARE SAVED through FAITH, and THAT is NOT our OWN WORKS, lest any of us should boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-10.)

These SCRIPTURES (I quoted) are GIVEN to the CHURCH!  If these CONDITIONS and WARNINGS apply to us (the CHURCH), HOW much MORE do they APPLY to the ones who REJECT JESUS?

In fact, that question is asked in 1 Peter 4:17-18.  “For the TIME HAS COME that JUDGMENT must BEGIN at the house of God (the CHURCH):  and if it FIRST begin at us, what shall THE END be of them that OBEY NOT the GOSPEL of God?  And if the RIGHTEOUS scarcely be saved, where shall the UNGODLY and the SINNER appear?”

GIVE that QUESTION ample thought!  How can JUDGMENT happen FIRST at the HOUSE OF GOD (the CHURCH)?

We must decide if we are WALKING after the flesh, or after the SPIRIT.  We must decide if we’re PERFORMING RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS, or whether we’ve been BORN AGAIN.  We must decide whether we’re just CHURCH-GOERS, or whether we have a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with Jesus by ASKING Him into our hearts.  We must decide whether we are doing Christian WORKS in a FLESHLY ATTEMPT to be GOOD ENOUGH to PLEASE GOD (and thus to be ACCEPTED by Him)--or whether we DO GOOD WORKS because the Holy Spirit has PROMPTED us, and we YIELD to Him to HELP us.  There is a difference in all these things!

Those who are CHRISTIAN in NAME only, who TRUST in ceremonies, rituals, doctrines and traditions of a DENOMINATION to SAVE THEM had better place their TOTAL RELIANCE upon Jesus.  Those who SAY they ARE CHRISTIAN, but who do NOT obey Jesus’ words, must REPENT.  The letters to the CHURCHES in Revelation 2 and 3 are full of INSTRUCTIONS for Christians to JUDGE themselves.  Where do we stand in our relationship with Jesus?  Judgment (a CORRECT decision FOR or AGAINST) MUST BEGIN at the HOUSE OF GOD!

The greatest JUDGMENT will come upon the CHURCH (as a denominational whole) in the RAPTURE.  Now, that’s A BOLD and SCARY statement, but it’s the TRUTH.  It’s a STATEMENT which is based upon SCRIPTURE.  It’s a STATEMENT based upon WHERE a person places their FAITH (their TRUST, their RELIANCE, their CONFIDENCE).  Is it upon Jesus?  Or upon SOMETHING ELSE?

Did you really ACCEPT Jesus as SAVIOR and LORD?  Are you truly BORN AGAIN? Do you have CONFIDENCE in Jesus?  Do you TRUST Him?  Do you have TOTAL RELIANCE upon Him?

Or are you trusting IN SOMETHING else?--Church membership in a denomination, rituals, traditions, good works, or the IDEA that God is LOVE, so therefore, He will accept YOU regardless of where you stand?

If YOU do not have TOTAL RELIANCE upon Jesus, if YOU are NOT BORN AGAIN, the RAPTURE will be a JUDGMENT which BEGINS at the HOUSE OF GOD!  If YOU are NOT born again (when the TRUE CHURCH is CAUGHT UP to be with Jesus), you’ll be LEFT BEHIND.  And that’s INDEED a JUDGMENT.

After the RAPTURE of the CHURCH, those who DIDN’T KNOW and ACCEPT JESUS (because of IGNORANCE, or worldly distractions, or outright REJECTION), will find themselves facing “the DAY of VENGEANCE of our God”--that terrible TRIBULATION period.  In THAT time, Jesus will indeed ACT in the POSITION of JUDGE, bringing forth God's punishments upon a world in rebellion.

Can I verify that idea by scripture?  Is Jesus REALLY going to be a JUDGE in the TIME of TRIBULATION which shall come upon the whole world?  Let’s look at Acts 10:40-42.

“HIM God raised up the THIRD DAY, and showed Him openly, NOT to ALL the people, but unto WITNESSES chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.  And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to TESTIFY that IT IS HE which was ORDAINED OF GOD to be THE JUDGE of the QUICK (those ALIVE) and the DEAD.”

THE ONE who ACTS as JUDGE is THE ONE who rose from the dead.  He will JUDGE the QUICK (those who are ALIVE) and the dead.  Of course, JESUS is THE ONE Who rose from the dead!

In case we THINK God meant that Jesus will JUDGE those ALIVE and DEAD at THE FINAL JUDGMENT just PRIOR to ETERNITY when the NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH are revealed, let’s look at another scripture, Acts 17:30-31.

“And THE TIMES of this IGNORANCE God winked at (speaking of the Gentile heathens who THOUGHT OF GOD as gold, silver, stone and graven idols); but NOW (God) commands ALL men EVERY WHERE to REPENT.  Because He HAS APPOINTED A DAY, in the which He WILL JUDGE the world in RIGHTEOUSNESS by THAT MAN whom He has ORDAINED; whereof He has GIVEN ASSURANCE unto ALL men, in that HE HAS RAISED HIM from the dead.”

Who is to be THE JUDGE in the TRIBULATION?  Jesus!  JESUS is THE ONE Who rose from the dead.  JESUS is God in the flesh of A MAN, in a resurrected and glorified BODY, Who sits at the right hand of God, the Father, in heaven.  God DECLARES that JESUS is THAT MAN (Who God Himself HAS ORDAINED).  JESUS will JUDGE the world in RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Jesus will PERFORM this JUDGMENT in a special DAY, a TIME that God HAS APPOINTED.  What is THAT APPOINTED DAY?  The TRIBULATION!

[In a future blog on this subject, I’ll ADD some insight from Revelation 5, where we see Jesus as God (in the resurrected and glorified BODY of A MAN)!  This MAN (Jesus) is found WORTHY to take the SEVEN-SEALED SCROLL from His Father, and OPEN IT. That’s ANOTHER PICTURE of Jesus PERFORMING a RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT upon a world which IGNORED or REJECTED Him.]

In 2 Timothy 4:8, in the middle of scripture which shows CROWNS being given to THE CHURCH, Jesus is CLEARLY CALLED “the RIGHTEOUS JUDGE.”  Let’s look at it.

“Henceforth, there is laid up for me a CROWN (the STEPHANOS) of RIGHTEOUSNESS, which the Lord (Jesus), THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE, shall give me at THAT DAY; and NOT to me ONLY, but unto ALL them who LOVE HIS APPEARING.”

The FACT I want to FOCUS UPON is that JESUS is CLEARLY called “A RIGHTEOUS JUDGE.”  In this EXAMPLE of Jesus JUDGING a RAPTURED CHURCH, He GIVES REWARDS to ALL those who LOVE His APPEARING (to those who EAGERLY LOOK FORWARD to the RAPTURE).

Why is Jesus, in this EXAMPLE (for the CHURCH), said to be JUDGING?

In the original Greek, the word for JUDGMENT is DEFINED as the ACT of deciding, determining, distinguishing (mentally or judiciously) concerning a SENTENCE or a REWARD.

The ACT of JUDGING can be for THE GOOD (as in THE REASONS for giving a RAPTURED Church CROWNS).  The ACT of JUDGING can also have BAD consequences--such as DECIDING what PUNISHMENTS the ENEMIES deserve.  In ALL the scriptures I’ve cited, we see JESUS as THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE.  He will give FAIR REWARDS to THE CHURCH.  But also, He will bring the PROPER PUNISHMENTS upon those who have IGNORED or REJECTED Him.  It can go either way.

Which SIDE are you on?  THE GOOD SIDE--getting your reward of a CROWN?  Or THE BAD SIDE, being reserved for PUNISHMENT in THAT DAY of the TRIBULATION?

If you’re on the WRONG SIDE of JESUS, as He comes with JUDGMENT, don’t delay! Ask Him to forgive you and invite Him into your heart!

There’s so much more to cover, but I must end this blog for today. In the next installment, I’ll develop another ASPECT of JESUS as He PERFORMS the ACTIONS of “THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE.”

Let’s receive that CROWN for LOVING His APPEARING (which is the BLESSED HOPE of the RAPTURE)!

EVEN SO, COME QUICKLY, LORD JESUS. BECAUSE WE ARE YOURS, WE HAVE NO FEAR OF YOUR RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS.


TRUE CHURCH--We will NEVER fall under the RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS performed by the SAVIOR OF OUR SOULS.  We’re SAVED by placing our TRUST in the EXTREMELY HIGH COST of His SHED BLOOD!

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