Plain Papers on the Second Coming of Christ: Part 9, Judgment

Acts 17:31  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 7
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." (Acts 17:30, 3130And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:30‑31).)
Repentance and forgiveness now, or judgment hereafter, such is the unalterable sentence of the word of God. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Yes, God must be faithful to the claims of the atoning value of the death of the Lord Jesus. It is not He may, but in righteousness He will—yea, to be righteous He must forgive us our sins. Is Jesus your Savior, or will He be your Judge? "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." The word of God is most distinct on the question of judgment, as the lot of man, as such. "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
There is only one ground of exemption, and when we think of the everlasting issues, is it not of the utmost moment to ascertain what that ground of exemption from judgment is? Is it not on the sole ground that the Lord Jesus hath once "appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself? And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation." (Heb. 9:26-2826For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:26‑28).) This is in perfect harmony with the blessed statement of the Lord Jesus: "Verily, verily, I say unto you? he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [or judgment], but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24).)
Thus those who hear the word of the Lord Jesus, and believe God that sent Him, shall not come into judgment. He was offered to bear their sins; God sent Him for this very purpose. The offerings of the law could never put sins away. "In those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year." (Heb. 10) But when the blood of bulls and of goats could not possibly take away sins, then the Lord Jesus came, for the very purpose of putting away sin, by the offering of Himself once. And "after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God." "For by one offering he hath perfected forever [that is, in perpetuity] them that are sanctified." The Holy Ghost is a witness of all this. Now mark, this ground of exemption from judgment for sins is wholly of God; the will of God is the very source of it. "Lo, I come to do thy will, Ο God." The One that has accomplished this will is the Eternal Son. The One that bears witness is the Holy Ghost. What a ground this is for the soul to rest upon! Instead of judgment, God says, "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Yes, thus as death and judgment are the common lot of man, so "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Instead of judgment, then, "Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Have you heard the word of Jesus? Do you believe God who sent Him? That it was the will of God that the Son should come into this world for the purpose of bearing the sins of many—that is, of all who believe Him- and therefore of putting away your sins, if you do believe God, by the one sacrifice of Himself? Does your soul rest on the fact that He has offered Himself thus once? and that what the blood of bulls and goats could not do, He has done once forever? What! your sins put away forever? so put away to the glory of God, that He has sat down on the right hand of God? Oh, to think that God cannot in righteousness remember one of our sins and iniquities against us! Justified from all things, so that He says, "and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Can He, then, who died for our sins, and was raised for our justification, after all come again to judge us for those very sins? No, He comes without sin, that is, without a question of sin as against us; it is "unto salvation."
The righteousness of God makes this impossible. He who died for our sins, who finished the work that the Father gave Him to do, claims not only our everlasting justification, but He says, " Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me." He who thus speaks could say, " Ο righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me"
Who shall judge the believer for his sins? God is their Justifier. His righteousness is revealed in justifying them, by the redemption they have freely through Christ Jesus, even through His blood. Shall Jesus judge them, who is coming to judge the world in righteousness? Why, He came the first time for the very purpose of glorifying God in taking our sins away; and He has done it. He is set down forever. We are perfected forever; our sins and iniquities to be remembered no more.
Judicially there is nothing to judge now—"There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:11There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1).) All has been judged, sins, and sin, in and by that one sacrifice for sin. Now, even amongst men, if a man's liabilities have been met by another, discharged, and the receipt given, no righteous judge could bring such a person into court again. Can God, then, be unrighteous, and bring the justified believer in Christ into judgment? Impossible. So that if we look at that terrible day of wrath and fiery indignation, when the Lord Jesus shall come to judge the world, that is, the living nations of this earth; when all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory; we know that, before this awful day of wrath and everlasting punishment on the despisers of the mercy of God, all believers will have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air. They will appear with Him when He comes to judge, and, as His joint-heirs, they will be seated with Him to judge the world. (Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4); 1 Thess. 3:13; 4:1413To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (1 Thessalonians 4:14)
; Jude 1414And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (Jude 14).) Nothing is more clearly taught in holy scripture than this, that instead of the saints being raised to stand in a general judgment at the coming of Christ, they will come with Him to judge the world. (Rev. 19:14; 20:414And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)
4And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
.) Not only will the Lord be on His throne, but John says, "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them." a Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
And the redeemed church, the Lamb's wife, having reigned with Christ in the glory of God a thousand years; then takes place the judgment of the wicked dead. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened," &c. (Rev. 20:1111And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Revelation 20:11)) Yes, it is appointed unto men (not all men) once to die, and after death the judgment. These are they, the rest of the dead, that lived not again until the thousand years were finished. (Heb. 9:2727And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27); Rev. 20:55But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:5).) Oh, how terrible to be raised to stand before the great white throne! There is no deliverance then; no more sacrifice for sins; no escape. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Whilst most assuredly believers, washed in the blood of the Lamb, and for a millennium reigning in glory with Christ, can never stand, after all this, before that terrible throne; yet "the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
Oh, reader, how do you stand with God? Do not dream of deliverance then, if you reject the salvation of God now. Salvation is perfect, it is a great salvation now. Judgment on the rejecters will be great and terrible then.
Have you, then, believed God in sending His beloved Son? and that that Holy One has been made a sacrifice for your sins? Have you repented, that is, have you, and do you, judge yourself your sins, and sin in the presence of such righteousness and divine love? Do you believe the righteousness of God in justifying you from all sins by the atoning death of Jesus? Do you believe God raised Him from the dead for your justification, and to be your everlasting righteousness? Then rest in the absolute certainty of those precious words of Jesus. You hear His word; you believe God that sent Him; then believe what He says, "hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment." Oh, how sweet to say from the heart," Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (Rev. 1:55And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5).)
No, instead of the believer looking for judgment, he looks for the Lord Jesus the second time, without sin unto salvation. Thus even now, can we sing with joyful hearts, " Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness: and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." (Col. 1:1212Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (Colossians 1:12).) Some of our readers may ask. If all believers who have passed from death to life are thus accepted in Christ, all their sins forgiven, and justified from all things; now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus: shall not be brought into judgment for sins put away by the blood of Jesus; then what is the meaning of that scripture, " For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ?" And again, "So everyone of us shall give account of himself to God." (Rom. 14, read 10-13.) And also again, "Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear [or be manifested] before the judgment-seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad " (2 Cor. 5:9-119Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:9‑11).) Now clearly this cannot mean that we shall be judged for our sins, and dealt with according to our sins done in the body, as, in that case, not one could be saved. And besides, this would contradict the scriptures we have been considering, which is impossible. God cannot contradict Himself.
If we carefully read the context of these scriptures, we find it is not a question of our sins, or of our being accepted in Christ; that is all settled for the believer for eternity. His redemption is eternal. In Rom. 14:1212So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12) it is a question of not judging our brethren in matters of eating, observing days, &c. The blessed Lord will make no mistake when we all stand before His Beemah seat of reward. In the latter case, in 2 Cor. 5, it is we should earnestly labor, not to be accepted in Him—that we are now through grace—but to be acceptable to Him. We shall receive, or be rewarded, according to that we have done, whether it be good or bad. As in another scripture, " For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.....If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." Bead the whole of 1 Cor. 3 Thus our bodies being the temples of the Holy Ghost, we may assuredly both know and do the things that are good and acceptable to Christ, and according to His judgment receive the reward. But if we build badly, do the things that are bad in His sight, however highly these things may be spoken of amongst men, we shall suffer loss as to reward, yet be saved so as by fire. The contrast between Abraham and Lot may illustrate this; the one walking with God a pilgrim and stranger, the other dwelling in Sodom—saved from judgment so as by fire.
What a deeply important subject this is! How many believers, like Lot, are earnestly laboring to reform Sodom! Let us sit down in solemn meditation with the word of God before us, not questioning our acceptance in Christ, if believers. Surely this would be unbelief. But let us ask, what are we doing that is pleasing to Him who bought us with His precious blood—what will meet with His approval and reward when we meet Him as Savior in the air? Oh, that we may test everything by this, Is it pleasing to our Lord? To labor for this as the apostle labored. We are persuaded this would have the effect of leading us to abandon very much that is done in the body, as the mere religious fashion of the day; because we know it will not pass for good in that day so near at hand. Neither will that which is pleasing in His sight lose its reward. But let us not commit the fatal mistake of confounding this with judgment of our sins, but "wait for his Son from heaven.... which delivered us from the wrath to come."