The Judgments of God
Jul 12, 2008
David wrote in Psalm 19:9 and 10,
"The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."
David personally understood the judgments of God, for God had brought judgment upon him for his sin with Bathsheba. But he also knew that the divine judgments were "true" and "righteous" and even "more desirable than gold." They were even sweeter than honey.
In other words, David knew also the divine purpose in judgment and not merely the letter of the law.
Yet in the past few years I have begun to hear more and more from others that God will judge no one. There are differing opinions on this. Some say that there has been no judgment from the beginning, that Adam did not really sin, that all of us have been just fine from the beginning, and that there is "nothing wrong with us."
Others have a different opinion, saying, "Jesus dealt with all sin at the cross. Since the cross, there is no sin. Therefore, there is no future judgment."
In order to hold either opinion, one must dispense with quite a bit of Scripture. First, the Old Testament is full of statements about divine judgment. They are too numerous to mention. God gave to Israel a set of laws, statutes, and judgments. Those judgments tell the judges what manner of sentence to impose upon a lawbreaker. Without a judgment, the law merely expresses the wishes of God, but such laws would be backed by no law enforcement. There would be no correction to the sinner, nor restitution for the victims of injustice.
The law in Deut. 1:17 instructs God's judges that they are not to be partial in their judgment. There is equal justice for all.
For this reason, I do not hold to the first view mentioned above. I believe that mankind has had a problem since Adam. I believe that sin does exist, and it is not a mere illusion, as they would say. Because it is real, it had to be dealt with. Under Moses it was dealt with through the sacrificial system. Under Christ it is dealt with through the true Sacrifice of Christ. If sin had been a mere illusion since Adam, then Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross for it.
Paul writes in Rom. 6:23, "The wages of sin is death." If sin is an illusion, then the wages of the illusion of sin would be the illusion of death.
Do you see how such a doctrine destroys the cross and its purpose? That is why I oppose this doctrine. It destroys the very foundation of true Christianity. So what about the idea that sin ended at the cross? Does this bring honor to Jesus Christ? It appears to do so, but only at the expense of everything He taught.
In Matt. 10:15, Jesus spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah appearing in "the day of judgment." The same is true for Tyre and Sidon (Matt. 11:22). Peter agrees as well (2 Peter 2:9). When Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit who was yet to come, He said in John 16:8-11,
" (8) And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteous, and judgment; (9) concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; (10) and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; (11) and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged."
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would deal with both sin and judgment, yet the Holy Spirit was not sent until seven weeks after His death and resurrection. So at the very least we must admit that sin existed for at least seven weeks after the cross. To say otherwise is the same as saying that all prophecy was fulfilled at the cross--as some of the speakers at the recent Oklahoma City conference taught. My response, of course, was that Passover was fulfilled at Passover; Pentecost was fulfilled at Pentecost; and Tabernacles will yet be fulfilled at Tabernacles.
If there were no sin after the cross, how could Paul write 25 years later in Rom. 6:12, "do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts." That's like admonishing Jesus not to sin, if indeed there is no more sin. Yet Paul treats sin as if it were real, and his exhortation to Christians shows that even Christians sin--at least the ones that Paul had met. James agrees, saying in James 2:9,
"But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors."
James, of course, is the one book that many do not like, because he upholds the law so clearly. Many, in order to maintain their lawless position, find it necessary to throw his book out of the canon of Scripture or discredit it as a "Jewish gospel" that is not applicable to the rest of us. Well, what about 1 John 1:8-10?
" (8) If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9)If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."
Those who say that sin is just an illusion are making God out to be a liar. Those who say that sin does not exist are deceiving themselves. Do not let them deceive you too. Keep in mind that John wrote these words AFTER the cross. John held no such doctrine that sin itself was abolished at the cross, as if everyone is now already perfect in spite of what they do or think.
The fact is that Jesus took the penalty for sin upon Himself at the cross. Righteousness is now IMPUTED to us. That means God calls what is NOT as though it were (Rom. 4:17). This is not the abolition of sin, but the payment for its penalty (judgment).
We know indeed that Jesus died to expiate the sin of the whole world (1 John 2:2). His death and resurrection established the goal of history as an accomplished fact. That goal is the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). That goal is to set all of creation free (Rom. 8:21). That work on the cross is completed and finished. It never has to be repeated, at least not by Jesus. The OUTWORKING of what He accomplished, however, is an ongoing process that will not end until the great Jubilee.
This ongoing process is bound by time. After all, it proceeds through many generations which live and die in their allotted time on earth. That is the first opportunity that many have to apply the Passover Lamb to their own lives--and Pentecost as well. But most people do not do this in the life time that they are given. In fact, the vast majority never even had an opportunity to hear of Christ. So to accomplish the goal of history, which Jesus secured by His death and resurrection, these people who never heard of Him would have to be saved in one of two ways: (1) saved apart from Christ; or (2) given a revelation of Christ when they are raised from the dead.
The second option is my belief. The fact that Christ bought back (redeemed) the entire estate that was lost in Adam shows the fact of universal reconciliation. (See my book, The Restoration of All Things.) But the TIMING of this reconciliation is another matter, for this reconciliation is accomplished in stages. No one will receive the reward of the feast of Tabernacles without experiencing the feasts of Passover and Pentecost. That is the purpose of the final Age, where all men are raised so they can bow to Christ and confess Him as Lord (Phil. 2:10). This is their Passover experience. Then they must learn obedience through Pentecost in that final baptism of fire before they are set free at the Creation Jubilee.
This is the first part of a series titled "The Judgments of God." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones