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Friday, August 15, 2014

 

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CONTENTS | LETTER 22

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Doomsday

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Wrong-doers sometimes go unpunished and good men unrewarded. It is not difficult to think of examples: the pickpocket who disappears in a crowded street with his ill-gotten gains unseen and not overtaken by the arm of the law; the good man who having saved a child from drowning sinks himself into the swirling waters never to rise again.

Can a man deceive God in the same way or similarly find his goodness unrequited? Is there a time and place when men and women will be given the just desserts of their lives? If so, what is the standard by which they will be judged and who will the Judge be and when will he judge? These are important questions and the answers could well have a deep effect in our own lives.

Let us look at the matter step by step and trace the very interesting information which God has given to us. We shall have a clear picture when we have finished our journey and know that with God there are no perversions or miscarriages of justice nor are the righteous unrewarded.

First of all then let us ask the simple question: Is God aware of all that we do and say and think? Here is the answer:

"O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, And art acquainted with all my ways." (Psalm 139:1-3).

And the Psalmist continues by saying:

"For there is not a word in my tongue, But, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether." (Psalm 139:4).

"Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him, saith the Lord? Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?" (Jeremiah 23:23-24).

This then is the truth about God's understanding of us. He knows everything. It is even more wonderful than that: He knows our words before we speak them. His knowledge is perfect and there is no defect in His understanding.

"Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do." (Heb. 4:13).

Such is the comprehension of God. Nothing escapes His eye: neither time nor distance nor light nor darkness is any hindrance to Him. Nothing can hinder His perfect understanding.

This need not make us afraid -- though it could if we were deliberately flying in the face of God's ways of truth and righteousness. In fact of course this complete knowledge of God is intended to be a comfort to us, an assurance that we can never slip through His fingers or be beyond His care. Neither Jonah in the belly of the great fish nor Daniel in the den of lions could be beyond the hearing and rescuing power of the God of the heavens and the earth. Why, said Jesus, even the cheapest sparrow does not breathe its last breath without God knowing it. And, again Jesus told us that the very hairs of our head are all numbered.

God who has computed the great balance of "nature" and the gigantic clock of the universe also knows the minutest parts of His creation and the inner thoughts of all His creatures.

When the Lord Jesus Christ walked the hills of Palestine and passed through the crowded streets of the towns and villages He had a wonderful knowledge of all the people He met. He knew their needs, their secret thoughts and intentions. He told one man what he was thinking as he sat silent, looking at Jesus during dinner: He told a woman the events of her past life: He told a man who walked towards Him that He had seen awhile before as he stood under a fig tree thinking although Jesus was not near to him at that time.

We need have no doubts then about the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord God or of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our next question is: Will there be a doomsday, a day of judgment? This question is as easy as the other one to answer from the pages of the Bible:

"For 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." (2 Corinthians 5:10).

There will be a day of judgment and the judge will be the Lord Jesus Christ. He will judge according to the life we have led here on earth. It will be a day of personal judgment and we shall stand before the Judge himself. He will not need to ask us questions or to have twelve men of the jury with him. No one need give evidence and there can be no hiding of the facts. Our life will be an open book before Him.

The apostle Paul when writing to the Romans talked about the same subject in quite clear terms:

"We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10-12).

We shall be judged by the word of Christ. In other words we shall be compared with the standards which Jesus laid down for us in His words. We shall not be able to plead that we did not know -- all of us, each of us, can find out for himself from the word of God all that is required of us to do. The day of judgment which we have began to understand is the day when "God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel," (said Paul).

Let us probe a little further into this highly interesting matter on which God has given us a great deal of helpful information. Our next question will be this: When will this day of judgment be? Are we each judged individually at death or is there a day when all will be collected together for one great day of judgment?

"I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." (2 Timothy 4:1.)

This is a delightfully compact and clear verse. Jesus will be Judge when he returns to this earth at His second coming. At that time He will judge those who are alive at His coming (the "quick" in the verse above) and those who have died. The judgment takes place therefore at the time which Jesus described as "the resurrection at the last day." Jesus promised to those who believed in Him that the day of reward and blessing would be the day of His return and the day of the resurrection of the dead:

"Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." (Luke 14:14)

"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works." (Matthew 16:27)

From what we have seen so far is it not like watching a flower unfold in its beauty? We began with a bud and now we are beginning to see the full glory of the flower and to catch its fragrance.

The teaching of the Old Testament follows just the same pattern. Let us take one of the powerful declarations from the book of Daniel:

"At that time . . . many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Dan. 12:1-2).

The word "many" in this verse helps us to understand a difficulty. A great many people throughout the ages have died in utter ignorance of Jesus Christ and His ways. Will they come forth to be judged? If so how could they escape condemnation in view of the fact that they have not believed on the name of the One whose name alone is given under heaven among men for salvation? It becomes clear from the word of God that there are three classes of people on earth:

1. Those who live and die not having known the word of God.

2. Those who have known it and have strived to live obediently to it.

3. Those who have known the word of God and have rejected it by not living or wanting to live according to it.

The first of these classes remains asleep in the grave and is not awakened by the call of the resurrection and judgment:

"The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead." (Proverbs 21.16)

"They shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake." (Jeremiah 51:39).

The other two classes will necessarily be judged. Each of them has known the way of God: one of them has been faithful to it, and the other has been unfaithful either by failing to respond to it after understanding it, or by turning back after going but some of the way. All these will be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ, who is a merciful and true Judge. Paul declared at the end of his life:

"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8)

To us who have not yet reached the end of our days the same apostle gives a plain word of warning:

"Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Galatians 6:7-8)

Next time we must look a little further into what happens to the faithful and the unfaithful when they are judged by Jesus Christ.

If you would like to prepare for this please read: 1 Corinthians 15.

 


Questions on Letter 21 (answers)

1 . Is God aware of all that we do and say and think?

2. Is wisdom and knowledge of the Lord Jesus equal with God's?

3. Will there be a judgment?

4. Who will be the judge?

5. Will everyone who ever lived be at the judgment seat?

6. Of the 3 classes of people spoken about in the word of God which one will not be at the judgment seat?

CONTENTS | LETTER 22

 

 

 


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