Tuesday, August 26, 2008

God Must Judge

John 5:15-23 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. (16) And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. (17) But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." (18) This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (19) So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (21) For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (22) The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, (23) that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Before I address the specifics of verse 22, I need to address a more base issue. I’ve heard many say that they believe in a God of love rather than a God of judgment, as if they cannot be one in the same God. They consider their sin, but they also see the extended patience of Christ with sinners. They see Him dwelling on love, mercy, & forgiveness & mistake those to be the greater makeup of God’s nature.

The greatest makeup of God’s nature, what actually is His nature- is His complete holiness; which drives His complete righteousness. He is firstly, lastly, & everywhere in between- a completely holy Person- & so is driven towards the fullest extent of utter righteousness. Understand, His holiness is what demands that every trespass is accorded right judgment. For Him to overlook wrongdoing, for God to not accord a right sentence for even the least of sins, would blemish His perfect holiness. For God to allow any sin into His pure presence would cause Him to less than pure Himself. “If the dough offered as first fruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches” demonstrates that the holiness of the greater drives the holiness of the lesser. We can only accede to the measure of holiness that God Himself maintains. The servant cannot rise above his master, so we who are in Christ should be pleased that God maintains the highest of standards, for it is to our benefit as well.

What’s more, God would be establishing precedent for an endless appeal process. All the rightly judged thereafter would counter- “Well you overlooked his sin, why not mine?” All the guilty would have cause to argue their case. He is a righteous judge, & we must admit that any earthly judge who would forgo passing judgment is not worthy of his robes. We would demand his resignation, based the dereliction of his appointed duty. Consider the plight of David as he runs from those who falsely accuse him. He only seeks God’s right judgment-

Psalms 7:6-17 Arise, O LORD, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. (7) Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high. (8) The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. (9) Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous-- you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! (10) My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. (11) God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. (12) If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; (13) he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. (14) Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. (15) He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. (16) His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. (17) I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.

Note in verse 8 that David asks for God to commence judgment; but what is critical to understand is that he realizes that God’s right judgment must include him as well. David knows that when God judges, His judgment must be a sweeping judgment. God will not judge only one party in a situation; no, His judgments are all-inclusive. Thus the meaning of Jesus’ warning: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” We must make judgments concerning others all the time; Jesus is simply warning us to walk circumspectly as we pass judgment, & especially as we pass sentence (as the stone throwing hypocrites of John 8 were want to do), lest we be found to be hypocrites & receive just recompense ourselves. Man also needs to acknowledge that bypassing judgment of others does not avert the day of the his own judgment; in fact, where he fails in his duty to judge, he only adds to the charges. If man judges in hypocrisy, then that only adds to the indictment against him; but if man fails in his God ordained duty to bring about justice in his sphere of influence, he has become derelict in His duty. Romans 13:1 says- “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” A governor who does not govern, a judge who does not judge, or a shepherd who shrinks back from shepherding will all be held accountable at the Bema Seat for the unjust suffering their weakness has caused. So, ironically, those in any measure of power who bypass a right judgment with the intent of receiving a lesser judgment themselves actually receive a greater judgment.

But focus on verse 11 too. God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.Indignation is defined as follows by Noah Webster:

1. Anger or extreme anger, mingled with contempt, disgust or abhorrence.
2. The anger of a superior; extreme anger; particularly, the wrath of God against sinful men for their ingratitude and rebellion. 2 Kings 3.
3. The effects of anger; the dreadful effects of God's wrath; terrible judgments. Isa 26.
4. Holy displeasure at one's self for sin. 2 Cor 7.

Understand the measure of God’s love that He feels this every day, yet He restrains His final judgment. Even greater is the fact that the Father has this indignation, yet He has consigned all judgment to the Son. What a glorious love the Father has in that He denies Himself the satisfaction of recompensing mankind for the hardness of their heart, for the righteous indignation they have brought about within Him.

Romans 11:16-22 "If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. (17) But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, (18) do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. (19) Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." (20) That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. (21) For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. (22) Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off."

Those who see only the kindness of God while ignoring His severity make a fatal error. Their mistake comes as they narrowly judge the preeminent nature of God by the nature His Son expressed during the course of His three year ministry. Yes, the suffering Servant revealed the merciful side of God’s nature better than it had ever been seen before, but that is the point- up to the time of Christ’s appearance, God expressed His terrifying judgment more than His love. He delayed expressing the maximum kindness of God until the Son’s existence became evident, so that only in Christ is God’s immense measure of mercy seen in its fullest. That way, God helps us comprehend that His merciful salvation can only come through Christ alone. It is a confirmation that Jesus alone is the way, the truth, & the life; any attempt to do an end run around Christ to the Father is effectively bypassing the only avenue of mercy that the Father has allowed. What’s even more ironic is the fact that the Son will actually be the end runner’s final stop anyways. As John 5:22 states, Jesus has been given all judgment, so any attempt to run away from Christ is senseless futility- either we freely accept Him as our Savior, or we will be forced to accept Him as our final Judge. As Peter intuitively stated when Jesus asked him if he wanted to leave Him as so many others had done- “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."


Even So... said...

Since it is football season, and you mentioned end around...Christ will either be the blocker (i.e. the tackle), or he will be the tackler...

Zoarean said...

Yeah, tackle or tackler- I wasn't prepared for that punt. Now I'm pinned on the one & I need a miracle... can I run behind your tackle?????

Paul said...

Hey Steve,
Good to see your still posting. I like what you wrote but, I think I'm going to have to back up some and re-read.
See you Sunday.