21
Jan
09

Being Judged

 

     Questions about being judged have been raised on occasion to some of my posts.  How can we know if we are saved if we haven’t been judged yet? 

     The Bible talks about God’s judgment in two different ways.  The majority of times it describes it, not with a future tense, but with a present tense.  For example, Jesus said:  “He that believeth on him is not condemned:  but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  (John 3:18)  Being condemned or not being condemned obviously is a result of a judgment.  Especially note that these are presents, not futures.  The judgment has already taken place – Jesus doesn’t say they will be condemned or not condemned.

     That is also the case with the whole concept of justification.  Justify was a legal term taken from the courtroom.  It is equivalent to an announcement of an acquittal.  “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”  (Romans 3:28)  Is justified – not will be justified.  Because they have already been formally acquitted in an act of judgment based entirely on what Jesus has done for them, believers can confidently know that they are going to live eternally with Heavenly Father.

     But what about Judgment Day?  The Bible does talk about a future day of judgment.  How then does that mesh with those passages that talk about a present judgment?  On Judgment Day God will make public his verdicts.  It might not be the best analogy, but we have just witnessed the inauguration of our new President.  But nobody was holding their breath on Inauguration Day wondering who our new President would be.  No, that was decided weeks ago in November. Maybe a better analogy would be a person graduating.  Graduates don’t first learn whether or not they are going to graduate on Graduation Day.  No, that judgment had been made and told them earlier.  It is just made public on Graduation Day.  Likewise on Judgment Day God will make public his verdicts to all people. 

    As a believer I can’t wait for Judgment Day.  Because of Jesus, not only do I have an airtight case but God has already announced his verdict.  In Christ I am not condemned!  Therefore I can’t wait to have “my day in court” on Judgment Day so that all will hear that verdict. 

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10 Responses to “Being Judged”


  1. January 21, 2009 at 1:58 am

    My comments are limited to the utility of your analogy between the Day of Judgment and Graduation Day. When a person first enrolls in an undergraduate program or a professional graduate program is it already determined that they will graduate or not? What determines whether they will graduate is whether they have met the requirements of graduation; often this includes earning a passing grade on a certain number of credits. However, until they actually take the courses and meet the requirements for graduation it is not determined that they will graduate. Students may feel confident given their prior history or their confidence in their abilities but the university or college never informs a student they have graduate or will graduate until and only when the student demonstrates to the college that they have met all the requirements. Until then, it is not determined whether a student will graduate. Of course, in some professional programs where it is not a substantial majority who graduate and many students do not graduate the uncertainty increases. Lastly, it is not the case that the dean of the university tells a student they have already met the requirements for graduation in their first year, and then out of that desire or gratitude, the student decides to earn an A grade in their courses for the following years. It is the scholastic performance of the grades which determines whether someone graduates and meets the requirements. It’s unclear whether this is the model of salvation that is being proposed.

    Finally, the question remains as to what this judgment is based on. In the graduation analogy, judgment is based upon student performance. Is this the case with the Day of Judgment? Is this determined by any amount of the human element? Do decisions made through human will play a role in the judgment? Or is this completely God’s decision and the human factor has no bearing in it?

  2. 2 Berean
    January 21, 2009 at 4:28 am

    I think there is a lot of confusion regarding judgements because several are mentioned in the New Testament. The two big ones are:

    First, the judgement for the believers (commonly referred to as the “bema seat” judgment) which is mentioned in 2 Cor 5:10. This is not a judgement of condemnation or a judgement of determining where one is going to spend eternity. These believers already have eternal life. This is a judgement for rewards that were done in the body of Christ AFTER they received the gift of eternal life in Christ based on their faith and belief in Him. They are already in the presence of the Father and they are secure there. I think believers will be shown what they could have done for the Lord and they will weep because of it (Revelation 21:4)

    Second, the other big judgement is the one set aside for unbelievers. This is referred to as the “great white throne” judgement and this is mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15. This is where all the unbelievers will be resurrected and stand before the Son for final judgement. Once again, it’s not a mystery on where they are going. They have been in hell and they don’t have eternal life in Christ. This is the judgement where each and every person that has ever lived will get his/her “day in court”. They will fully know why they are going to the lake of fire and there will be no doubts. Before they go to the lake of fire for all eternity they will all bow their knee and proclaim Jesus as Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

    As a believer, I am thankful that there is no condemnation for me even right at this very moment (Romans 8:1). I have joy in knowing that I have the gift of eternal life in Christ also at this very moment (John 6:47), all my sins have been forgiven (Hebrews 10:17), I have been made perfect through Christ (Hebrews 10:14) and that I am secure in Him until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

  3. 3 royalton
    January 21, 2009 at 4:36 am

    aquinas,

    I would agree with you. This article, to me at least, really seems to strain to pull out some scriptural basis for this idea of judgement not really being a judgement. This is an enormous stretch in my eyes. The bible says we are judged by our works. The word judgement was used, I’m sure, for a reason. Verdicts were not and are not known until judgements are made.

    What is the purpose of life if our works don’t matter, and if God is the one determining whose saved without human will? To glorify God? Doesn’t make sense to me. I think he is bigger, deeper, and more sophisticated than that.

    royalton

  4. 4 markcares
    January 21, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    The trouble with analogies are that they often “lomp”. Forget the analogy. Address the present tenses in both passages. How do you explain them?

  5. January 23, 2009 at 1:23 am

    The problem here, that I’ve tried to highlight, is in your discussions with Latter-day Saints, there is a meta-discussion that needs to take place that hasn’t been taking place. First, it would be extremely beneficial to discuss whether you hold that salvation is completely determined by God, or whether there is some human factor that has a bearing on salvation. Only then does it make sense to move beyond that. It doesn’t make sense to continue when this topic hasn’t been addressed. For example, in the event that you are the kind of Christian who believes that the salvation of man is completely determined by the will of God, and the human element plays absolutely no role in salvation, this is a position that would be very important to disclose so that LDS readers can get a better understanding, especially given the emphasis on libertarian free will among LDS thinkers. If this is the case, and people are categorized as saved and unsaved, then questions follow. For example, how does one know he or she is in the category of saved, but more importantly, how does one tell whether other people are in the category of saved or unsaved? If this has no bearing on human belief or action, then theoretically, salvation has nothing to do with whether a person believes correctly or not, and having a flawed theology is irrelevant to salvation. Furthermore, in such a system there is a serious question as to the role of evangelism. Why evangelize people who God has already predestined for hell or heaven? Indeed, any human effort at reclaiming souls would be meaningless since God has already made his decision.

    On the other hand, in the event that you believe that the human factor does bear on salvation, then this too would be very beneficial to disclose, and then the discussion can proceed on the nature and extent of this human element, regardless of how this human element is depicted (as work, faith, belief, decision, desire, etc.) Various Christians differ as to what they will accept as the human element. For those who believe a human element is required, whether this is obedience, or faith, or belief, then there is always the follow up questions. For example, how does one know she has satisfied the condition. For those who believe they must keep commandments of God, the question becomes how do they know they have kept the commandments enough. Even among those who believe they must be baptized, even after they are baptized they might be concerned about committing sin after baptism. For those who believe they must believe to be saved, the question then becomes, what counts as belief? And how do they know they have met it? Is thinking you are a believer really believing? The scriptures state that not all who say Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven, so what exactly does this entail. Some Christians do not believe a person can fall from grace, but rather believe in once saved always saved. Other Christians, however, believe a person can fall from grace and believe that unless our acceptance of Christ shows up in our daily lives that this would be like simply saying Lord, Lord. In such a case, there is a question of whether a person can know they will not fall from grace, since this is a theological possibility in this view. If they believe they will not fall from grace, is it because they believe God can override their human free will (which moves them back to the first view) or is it some other mechanism? Either way, this is important information that would be beneficial to explain to an LDS audience, especially those who have little experience with Christian views on salvation.

    Suppose that these things are discussed, and then the audience knows they are speaking to someone who believes that there is a human factor which determines salvation, but it is only limited to correct belief, and they hold to once saved always saved, then this is much better position from which to build dialogue. As to judgment, again, one’s view of judgment will flow from other theological positions one takes. Many, if not all, Evangelicals hold there are two judgments: one for believers and one for unbelievers. Not all Christians hold to this view, but it seems Evangelicals do hold this view. Among those who do, however, there is a split of views as to whether one can gain rewards on top of salvation. At any rate, you absolutely do not have to discuss any of these issues if you don’t want. But even if you do not want to have these discussions, that too would be valuable information to explain to readers. I’m suggesting these things because I see these patterns of misunderstanding resulting from not discussing these fundamental ideas. In my opinion, these are the discussions that would lay a foundation upon which significant understanding can proceed.

    Lastly, I’m not saying that by having this discussion that this will mean people will all agree with each other but at least they will know what they are disagreeing about. Suppose an Evangelical tells a Latter-day Saint: “Look, I believe that God has already decided that some people will be saved and that some people will not be saved, and that I’m one of those people who are saved, because saved people just know they are saved, and so I’m completely confident I am saved and I don’t have to wait and see whether I will fall from grace or not, because once saved always saved.” This won’t mean that the Latter-day Saint will agree but at least they know what the other person is thinking and can go from there because now they are fully aware of the various junctures at which they may differ theologically. They also know where discussion would be most fruitful.

  6. January 23, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    “First, it would be extremely beneficial to discuss whether you hold that salvation is completely determined by God, or whether there is some human factor that has a bearing on salvation. Only then does it make sense to move beyond that.”

    Aquinas, I’m not sure Mark wants to do this, or if he feels it would be beneficial.

    If Mark were to be explicit on this question, it opens up the possibility of the whole Calvinist vs. Arminian debate being re-hashed. Which perhaps he feels would be a distraction from the main issue of why Mormons are wrong.

    Basically, I think Mark wants to argue against Mormonism from a united front of Calvinists AND Arminians united in opposition to Mormon heresies. Responding to your question has the potential for causing a rift in that united front. It also muddies the waters, and opens up the possibility that Mormons are rather similar to Arminians in several respects – and I’m not sure that Mark is ready to acknowledge Mormons as being highly Christian in belief – even Arminian Christian.

  7. 7 markcares
    January 23, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Christianity does not consist just of the two camps of Arminians and Calvinists. I’m Lutheran. Lutherans are neither Calvinists or Arminians. They’re Lutherans.

  8. 8 markcares
    January 23, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I would like to return to the point of the post. Forget the analogies. What about the present tenses?

  9. January 27, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Good work! Thank you very much!
    I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your post to my site?
    Of course, I will add backlink?

    Regards, Timur Alhimenkov

  10. 10 markcares
    January 28, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Feel free to use this post or others.
    Blessings,
    Mark


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