Home

Jesus Christ: Savior and Judge

August 15, 2016

I think that we preachers try very hard to avoid associating Jesus and Christianity with judgment.  We carefully phrase our words to make sure people do not think we are judging them or trying to make them feel badly about themselves.  We emphasize truths about Jesus that proclaim his love, grace, mercy, goodness and compassion.  Jesus possesses and expresses all of these qualities.  Jesus also highlights himself as judge and warns of coming judgment.  When the apostles Peter and Paul preach the gospel, judgment is an integral element.  The gospel message of heaven itself includes the blatant presentation of judgment.  To preach the gospel according to the New Testament must include presenting Jesus as Savior, Lord and Judge who will judge all people.  The gospel does in fact warn of a coming judgment that has eternal consequences.  I believe the failure to rightly incorporate this judgment in our preaching produces an incomplete and potentially damning message.

If we were hosting Jesus at a gathering at our home or church, how would we promote this gathering?  We would be inclined to invite people to come and experience his healing, wisdom, teaching, deliverance, blessing and goodness.  Maybe people coming would come with dreams and imaginations of what Jesus would do for them.  Jesus does all of those good works among us today.  There is no doubt about it.  There is more.

Jesus also describes his coming another way: “I came to cast fire!” and “I have come to give division!” Fire and division! (Luke 12:49-53) These are what Jesus brings, too.  The author of Hebrews lets us know that “Our God is a consuming fire!” (Hebrews 12:29)  God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah and tells us “My word is like fire.” (Jeremiah 23:29) Jesus brings the fire of God’s presence and the fire of God’s word.  When John the baptizer pointed to Jesus, he described him as the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

What about division?  In Jesus, the kingdom of God has come, and it comes against the kingdom of darkness.  When God spoke through Jeremiah, he was indicting the false prophets and his people who taught and followed lies about God.  They fabricated images of God, made up explanations about God and led people to follow Baal, a demonic spirit that led God’s people astray into evil.  God warns them that they can make up all they want to about God and truth, but God’s word is like fire and “like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.” (Jer 23:29)  There is ongoing division between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of evil.  Division exists between lies and truth.  Jesus comes to establish the division between those who belong to God and those who do not.  He is drawing people into God’s kingdom and salvation.  Those who receive salvation will be divided from those who do not.  Think about the sheep and the goats.  This division becomes eternal.

Jesus then warns the people with the following analogy of eternal judgement:

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?  As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison.  I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”  (Luke 12:57-59)

What is Jesus saying here?  Who is our “accuser?” Is it Satan? His name means “accuser.” He is our adversary.  I don’t think Jesus is encouraging us to reconcile with Satan.  He is and will be our enemy.  Rather, I think that in this case Jesus is describing the law and commandments of God as our accuser.  The commandments of God will accuse us before the judge, and if we face the accusations of the law and commandments of God, we will without a doubt be found guilty and condemned.  As Jesus states, we will not get out of that prison, because we will never pay the last penny.  We owe too much due to our guilt: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23a)  If we go before God as our judge and are measured against the accusations of the law, we will be condemned into eternal division from God and into eternal fire of judgement.  This is why Jesus warns us to reconcile with our accuser before judgement.

How do we avoid judgment of God based on the law?  Can we become good enough to get by? Can we meet the law’s demands and follow all of the commandments of God?  The answer is “No!”  If you don’t believe me, just try it the rest of the week.

We are reconciled with the law through Jesus who fulfills every iota, every jot and tittle of the law for our sake.  Earlier in chapter 23 of Jeremiah,  the Lord is described as “The Lord our Righteousness.”  (Jer 23:6)  We have sinned and deserve condemnation; however, we become innocent and acceptable by the free gift of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, we have peace with God and do not face judgment and exile.

Jesus encourages us: “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)  The opposite is also conveyed in the New Testament by Jesus others that if we do not believe him and accept his salvation we will come into judgement and remain in death. We must accept the free gift of Jesus’ gift of fulfilling the law, lest we find ourselves being judged according to our own works.  That is a judgment we will fail every time.

Jesus-the-Judge

The eternal gospel of heaven includes the reality of the hour of judgment coming on the earth.  This may surprise us today in the church that the gospel includes the message of judgment to the unsaved.  We tend to set judgment over and against what we call “the gospel” or “good news;” however, Scripture sees them as conjoined. For example, when Peter preaches the gospel to Cornelius’ household he proclaims the following: “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.  To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:42-43)  Peter preaches judgment and forgiveness of sins, but not one without the other.

Similarly, Paul includes the coming judgment in his gospel message to the Greeks in Athens: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)

Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment: “Concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:9-11)  As the ruler of the world is judged, so his followers will be judged if they do not repent.  It is God’s hope that the Spirit’s conviction will lead to sorrow, repentance and salvation.

This eternal gospel that includes judgment goes into all the world warning people to repent and believe in Jesus.  The judgment of God draws the praise and worship of heaven rather than the moans and groans that it meets on earth.  John testifies to the praise of heaven regarding God’s judgment, “”Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just.” (Revelation 19:1-2)  Jesus himself will come in righteousness to judge and to make war! (Rev 19:11)  He comes to bring fire and division.

We are on the way to the judge.  We will see him face to face.  We will have various reactions to seeing the face of our Savior and judge.  Some will cry to the mountains and rocks “”Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.’” (Revelation 6:16)  Can you imagine anyone hiding from the face of the Jesus that has been caricatured by our culture? He is soft and cushy and cartoonish in his passivity.  This is not the image of Jesus of the New Testament.  He is the holy God.

Many others will weep and wail at the face of Jesus. (Rev 1:7)  They will mourn in regret and tragedy of neglecting and rejecting the Savior who is the Judge.  Who would ever be sad in the light of the Jesus of our cultural imagination? Doesn’t he bless everyone?  There will be that day when time ends and lack of decision for Jesus’ salvation results in eternal division.  The New Testament tells us that Jesus tell people to depart from him into eternal exile into the fires of judgment.

For those who have received Jesus’ forgiveness of sins and salvation, they will rejoice at his coming and bypass judgement to enter into the paradise of eternal life:  “But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7) These receive the fire of God’s holiness now and are saved from all that is not from God.  These receive the fire of God’s word into their hearts and lives now recognizing that today is the day of God’s salvation.  Let the fire come to us today and burn away our sinfulness and death.

The gospel confronts us with the reality of Jesus as righteous judge and the reality of a final and eternal judgement.  The gospel shows us our guilt and offers us Jesus as our innocence and freedom from condemnation.  We will face and accept Jesus as our savior, or we will face him in our guilt as judge and the law as our accuser.  Our works will not be able to save us.  So let us repent and receive the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of Jesus.  If you invite the Lord’s fire into your life today, it will burn what separates you from him and facilitate abundant life.  If you wait for the time of judgment, fire will consume you and separate you from abundant life forever

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: