When Will My Name Come Up In Judgement?

Jan 3, 2010 1645

—Ritchie Way

The New Testament teaches us that there are two judgements. The first began with the cross and the second will start with the Second Coming of Jesus.

THE FIRST JUDGEMENT

The first judgement took place at the cross; it was there that Jesus was judged and condemned for my sins; it was there that he took my place and punishment.

The wages of my sin is death—the second death. Jesus died that death for me on the cross. When Jesus died, he experienced the same kind of death that I would ultimately experience, had he not died for me.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:5-6: ‘Jesus Christ … gave himself as a ransom for all men.’ When Christ died on the cross he didn’t loan himself for three days and three nights, he ‘gave’ himself totally. When I give a gift I don’t expect to get it back again; when Jesus gave himself for my sins, he didn’t expect to get his life back again.

Yes, it is true that Jesus had predicted he would rise from the dead on the third day. That was one reality. But there was another reality which impacted upon him in Gethsemane with an even greater force, that was the reality of sin and its disposal. Sin is contrary to the nature of God and there would be no place for it in Paradise restored. It is God’s intention to annihilate sin forever (2 Thes. 1:8-9). Sin, however, is not an abstract thing; it has no existence outside of moral beings. Therefore, if God is to eliminate sin, it must be destroyed either in Jesus, or in unrepentant sinners. Because Jesus chose to be my substitute, my sin would be destroyed in him. From that perspective there appeared to be no future for him beyond his death on the cross.

WHO DID JESUS DIE FOR?

Who did Jesus die for? According to 1 John 2:1-2 Jesus died for everyone; not just for Christians but for everyone. He died for Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot and for every drug-lord and member of the Mafia. Jesus gave his life for everyone.

But God does not force his free grace upon anyone. He will not make anyone accept it against their will. There is no excuse, however, for anyone to reject it, because it is free; there is no cost. The Bible finishes with these words: ‘Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take of the free gift of the water of life’ (Rev. 22:17). This offer reveals that eternal life is a matter of choice.

But most people turn their backs on God’s gift of eternal life, because they can’t accept Jesus as their Saviour unless they also accept him as their Lord, and most people don’t want Christ to rule over them. They love sin more than they love righteousness.

When Jesus died, his death split the entire spiritual world into two camps. On one side, like the repentant thief, are all who accept Jesus and his sacrifice. On the other side, like the unrepentant thief, are those who reject Christ and his sacrifice. Jesus died for both, but only one accepted him.

Now our God is a God of mercy; he wants to save us, not punish us. Jesus has already been judged and condemned for our sins; he has fully paid for our iniquities and God does not require payment twice. The apostle Paul wrote: ‘God did not appoint us to suffer wrath [in the Final Judgement] but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ [who suffered wrath, in our place, in the First Judgement]’ (1 Thes. 5:9).

God’s wrath fell on Jesus in the First Judgement at the cross, so that it would not fall on us in the Last Judgement at the end of time (1 Thes. 1:10). Jesus crossed over from life to death, so that we could cross over from death to life (John 5:24). In all the history of the world have you ever read of another god who sacrificed himself for his people? There is no God like our God, who revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ (John 12:44-45; 14:8-10).

But if Jesus died the second death—a death from which there is no resurrection—how could he rise from the dead on the third day? The death that Jesus died was truly the same death that unrepentant sinners will die, but he was able to rise from the dead because our sins were on him, but not in him. Even though he died for our sins, his character had not been marred by our iniquities and remained unblemished, so the Father raised him from the dead, but our sins were left behind in the tomb.

THE JUDGE-KING

The way Jesus judged the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:2-11) gives us a beautiful picture of our own Judgement. The religious leaders intended to use this woman as bait to judge and condemn Jesus, but before they realised what was happening, Jesus had turned the tables on them and he was judging them. When faced with their own sins the shame was so great they were unable to remain in his presence. They had two choices, either to ask Jesus to forgive them—which he would have readily done—or to leave the presence of the Judge. They chose to depart.

That left only Jesus and the woman who had been caught committing adultery. Her heart was overflowing with gratitude to Jesus who had saved her from the religious vampires, but she was still unsure as to what Jesus intended to do with her. He was the Judge; what would his judgement upon her be?

Jesus brought down judgement upon her in the words: ‘Neither do I condemn you’.

Jesus did not condemn her, because he himself would be condemned and judged for her sin on the cross, and God doesn’t require payment twice.

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son’ (John 3:17-18). When I accept Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for my sins, this is the Final Verdict on my case.

How can I really be sure this is the Final Verdict in regard to my destiny? I can be sure because, firstly, I cross over from death to life the very moment I put my faith in the Lord, not after the Second Coming. Jesus said, ‘Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life [now] and will not be condemned [by the Judgement]; he has [already] crossed over from death to life’ (John 5:24). ‘God has given [present tense] us eternal life’ (1 John 5:11).

The Judgement following the Second Coming of Jesus will not take place to determine whether or not I will receive eternal life, because eternal life is given me the very moment I put my faith in Jesus. ‘Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). ‘Whoever believes in him is not condemned’ (John 3:18).

I can also be sure that my destiny was sealed when I accepted Jesus’ death on my behalf because, when Jesus comes I will not be raised from the grave to face a Judgement that will determine whether or not I shall be given immortality; I will be raised from my grave already having immortality. Read it for yourself in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17. So if I am raised from the dead as a child of God, that means my judgement took place before Jesus came.

The moment I accept Jesus into my life I receive eternal life. That, for me, is the verdict of the Final Judgement.

WHY, THEN, WILL I BE JUDGED AGAIN AFTER THE SECOND COMING?

If my destiny is decided before Jesus comes, what is the purpose of the Judgement after he comes? According to Jesus the Last Judgement, which will take place at the end of this Age, will separate the wheat from the weeds, the good fish from the bad and the sheep from the goats (Matt. 13:36-43; 47-50; 25:31-46). This aspect of the judgement at the Second Coming of Jesus will not be to determine my destiny; it will be a judgement to reveal my destiny. In other words, the Judgement at the coming of Jesus will not be determinative, rather it will be revelatory.

THE LAST JUDGEMENT IS ABOUT REWARDS

Another key function of the Last Judgement is to decide my rewards. While the First Judgement is based on the gift of God, the Last Judgement will be based on my works. Jesus said, ‘The Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done’ (Matt. 16:27). And in the Revelation given to John, Jesus said, ‘Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done’ (22:12).

WHO WILL BE JUDGED IN THE LAST JUDGEMENT?

We know, for certain that Christians will be judged in the Last Judgement, for the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth: ‘We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad’ (2 Cor. 5:10). To the believers in Rome he said, ‘Each one of us will give an account of himself to God’ (Rom. 14:12). Try to imagine giving an account of your life to the One before whom all secrets are laid bare? (Heb. 4:13). There will be many things that you will be proud of and many things that you will, no doubt, be embarrassed about.

But if Jesus has forgiven all my sins why is it necessary for me to be judged by my works? There are many reasons, but here are two examples: Christians, who have committed themselves to the Lord Jesus, have often treated each other with ignorance and prejudice. Denominations have made war on each other, over-zealous and misguided administrators have evicted many fine Christians and pastors from their churches and ministry. In many cases, the persecutors of Christians have been committed Christians themselves. The Last Judgement will sort out all these things so that God’s people can move forward into eternity without any ‘hang-ups’ or ‘baggage’ to handicap them.

Also, many workers in the Lord’s vineyard have been lauded and praised for their efforts, but little recognition has been given to their devoted and supportive mothers, wives and helpers, without whom they would never have achieved so much. The Judgement will reward these unrecognised servants. On that Day, those things that were done in secret will be rewarded openly.

WHO SHALL JUDGE GOD’S PEOPLE?

The Bible makes it quite clear that Jesus himself is the supreme Judge. The Lord said, ‘The Father judges no-one, but has entrusted all judgement to the Son’ for ‘ … he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead’ (John 5:22; Acts 10:42).

While Jesus is the Supreme Judge (Acts 17:31; Rom 2:16; 2 Tim 4:1), he will have many to help him. Jesus said to the twelve apostles: ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel’ (Matt. 19:28).

In Old Testament times the king himself was the Supreme Court Judge; his throne was the judgment throne (Prov. 20:8). The Hebrew word shaphat has the double meaning of ‘to rule’ or ‘to judge.’ In other words, to reign is to judge. This is the concept that is taught in the New Testament (Matt. 19:28; 25:31-32; Luke 22:29-30). John the Revelator said, ‘I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge’ (Rev. 20:4). Yes, Jesus has chosen us to work with him as judges (Rev. 3:21).

HOW SHALL I BE JUDGED?

If I have been merciful, I shall be judged with mercy (Matt. 5:7); if I have been harsh in my judgements, I shall be judged harshly (Matt. 18:33). Jesus said, ‘In the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ (Matt. 7:2). James says, ‘Judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful’ (James. 2:12-13).

WHO WILL JUDGE THE WICKED?

God’s people will also judge the lost, both men and angels: ‘Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? … Do you not know that we will judge angels?’ (1 Cor. 6:2-3).

IN CONCLUSION

There are two divine Judgements: the First Judgement (John 12:31) and the Last Judgement (Heb. 9:27). The First Judgement has two phases: 1. God’s judgement of Jesus because of the load of my sins which he took upon himself, and, 2. God’s judgement of me as a result of my acceptance or rejection of the sacrifice of Jesus. When I accept Jesus, I receive the gift of eternal life immediately, but if I reject Jesus, I also reject life (John 3:36; 1 John 5:11-12). When Jesus returns the results of this First Judgement will be revealed when I am resurrected to eternal life (1 Thes. 5:16-17).

After the return of Jesus the Last Judgement will take place (Luke 11:31; 14:14). This Judgement will also have two phases. In this judgement I will be judged by my works. The saints will be judged first, then, after the second resurrection, the wicked will be judged. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot will obviously not get the same rewards as the Apostle Paul, John Wesley or Mother Theresa. Each will be rewarded according to their works (Matt. 10:42; Eph. 6:8; Heb. 11:26).

And after the wicked have been rewarded according to their works (Luke 12:47-48), they will experience the same death Jesus experienced (Rev. 20:12-15), but, for them, there will be no resurrection from the dead because their sin is in them and not on them. Their character was stained by sin and they refused to come to Jesus so his blood could wash them as white as snow. They will die the second death, because they rejected the free gift of eternal life from Jesus, who died that death for them.


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