Knowing God, chapter 14: God the judge

God is judge.

Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Gen 18:25)

I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites. (Judges 11:27)

But it is God who judges (Ps 75:7)

Rise up, O God, judge the earth (Ps 82:8)

God, the judge of all men (Heb 12:23)

Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is also judge.

The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:9)

…ready to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5)

…which the Lord, the righteous Judge (2 Tim 4:8)

… he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42)

For he has set a day when he will judge the world … by the man he has appointed (Acts 17:31)

… on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ (Rom 2:16)

…the Father… has entrusted all judgment to the Son… And he has given him authority to judge (John 5:22, 27)

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What is involved in the Father or Son being a judge?

  1. The judge  is a person with authority.  God made us, owns us, and therefore has a right to make laws for us and to reward us according to whether or not we keep them.
  2. The judge is a person identified with what is good and right. The biblical judge loves justice and righteousness, and hates iniquity.
  3. The judge is a person of wisdom, and discerns truth. God is omniscient and all-wise; nothing escapes Him.
  4. The judge is a person of power, who executes a sentence. God legislates, sentences and punishes.

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God’s work as a judge confirms His moral perfections, His righteousness and justice, His wisdom, omniscience and omnipotence. The Bible shows us that God’s justice is retributive in nature, rendering to men what they deserve: rewarding good with good, and evil with evil. Matt 16:27; Rev 20:12; 2 Cor 5:10.

But the picture of God as Judge makes many (both Christians and non-Christians) uncomfortable. The alternative they propose, not to judge the world, makes God out to be morally indifferent. To counter them, Packer asks, “Would a God who did not care about the difference between wrong and right be a good and admirable Being?”

* * *

The main NT authority on final judgment, heaven and hell, is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He constantly affirmed that He Himself will be the Father’s agent in judgment on that day when all appear before God’s throne. The clearest passage on this is Matthew 25:31-46.

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Final judgment will be according to our works, not because they merit an award, but because they provide an index of what is in the heart. The same goes for our words (Matt 12:36-37)—they show what’s inside (Matt 12:33). Whether or not our actions are done in the love that springs from faith will also be judged (Matt 25:34 ff).

The gift of justification doesn’t shield believers from being assessed as Christians (1 Cor 3:12-15), but is does shield us from condemnation and being banished from God’s presence.

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We must all appear before Christ’s judgment seat. On our own, we’re not fit to face Him. The only solution is to “[C]all on the coming Judge to be you present Saviour.” Then, you can look forward to that future meeting with joy, knowing that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).

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