What is the Judgment of God?


September, 2002

Dear Ministry Friend,

What is "the judgment of God"? Does God still judge people or nations — such as America? Does "being saved" mean we never experience the judgment of God? These questions are pertinent to our lives and our nation, and they have Biblical answers.

First, let's address the issue of the judgment of God on our personal lives. The King James translation uses the word "judgment" 77 times in the New Testament, so it is a valid topic. Referring to those who get born-again, the Bible says, "he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24). This is referring to being delivered from eternal damnation in Hell. It is not teaching that believers will never be judged, because the scriptures clearly teach that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10, 2nd Cor. 5:10). Jesus actually said, "For judgment I have come into this world" (John 9:39), and 1st Peter 4:17 says, "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God." God and Jesus are actually "judging us" all the time to determine how obedient and faithful we are — resulting in special assignments in God's work, the giving to us of spiritual gifts (given as God "judges" - 1st Cor. 12:11) and the giving of special rewards and blessings (Mark 10:30). God is not up in Heaven killing time working cross-word puzzles, waiting for "judgment day". He is actively observing, evaluating, and working through His faithful servants.

What about those Christians who are "not faithful" — not obeying God on a regular basis? Well, first of all, God does not jerk our salvation back from us. It is His gift of righteousness within us that makes us acceptable to Him, not our works (Titus 3:5, 2nd Cor. 5:21, Eph. 2:8-9). That righteousness is "sealed" in our spirits (2nd Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13 & 4:30), and does not cease to exist because of occasional outside sins. What does happen though, is that sin "gives place to the devil" (Eph. 4:27). This is the primary "judgment of God" on a believer — that we "poke a hole" in God's protection over our lives. And He has pre-determined or "judged" that He will allow us to experience the negative consequences of our disobedience (otherwise He could never allow anything bad to ever happen to anyone — effectively protecting sin). Many believers incorrectly conclude that God is doing the bad things that happen to them — or perhaps they compromise and say that God is "using the devil" to do the bad things that happen to believers. My position is that God has never used the devil as His "employee" to harm His children — the devil is self-employed, and goes about "seeking whom he may devour" (1st Peter 5:8). If there is any "stealing, killing, or destroying" in a believer's life, it is of the devil (John 10:10). Therefore, we should "resist" the works of the devil (James 4:7). Otherwise, if the devil's works were really from God, then we should not resist anything! In that erroneous theology, everything that happens would be embraced as if it were from the hand of God — which is the opposite of the scriptural command to resist the devil and his works.

God also still judges unbelievers. In the book of Acts, "Herod... sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, 'The voice of a god and not of a man!'Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died." (Acts 12:21-23). This also shows that God often uses avenues of His judgment which appear to be more "natural" than "supernatural". But God is relatively patient compared to man, and often gives people years to repent. He gave Old Testament kings like Ahab (1st Kings 21:29) and Hezekiah (Isa. 38:5) many more years because of their repentance. However, eventually God's patience can be provoked as in the case of Israel putting the Lord to the test many times in the wilderness (1st Cor. 10:1-12).

What about the "judgment of God" on a nation? Well, a nation is nothing more than a collection of people. In America, we don't even all speak the same language, or have the same religion. Does God supernaturally protect a "nation" just because there are some believers in it? He never has in all of history. The Old Testament is full of examples of Israel's ups and downs as their level of obedience and sin swayed back and forth. God's unfathomable grace and mercy are always available for those who will "humble themselves, and pray and seek God's face, and turn from their wicked ways" then God will "hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2nd Chron. 7:14). But the big question is "how many righteous does it take?"

In the Old Testament, Abraham had obtained an understanding from God that He would spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were "10 righteous" in the city. I think Americans have glibly sat back on their sofas with their cable remote in their hand thinking they were fine because there had to be "10 righteous" in America. Well, Abraham thought the same thing about Sodom, and was wrong. First of all, we do not know what the true ratio of the "10 righteous" was to the general population of Sodom. Cities were much smaller in those days, and Ron Wyatt made a video I have seen of the original city walls of Sodom by the Dead Sea, and Sodom was not very big. Second, we do not know what really defined a righteous person in that context. Third, we do not know if God was "passing an eternal law" about sparing any city, or if He was just being extra gracious to Abraham, "the friend of God" (James 2:23). Fourth, I am not of the opinion that "God" is the only one we need to be concerned about in this issue of America. Because we have "given place to the devil" through wholesale national sins, the devil may be working at a faster pace, "For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." God is slow to judgment, but the devil is not! For Christians, God is not the problem — the devil is, and the devil is not patient toward America. America has had seasons of significant suffering, disease, wars, economic reversals, and civil upheaval. We need to stop thinking "God won't let anything bad happen" and start increasing our "righteousness"! One minister said that the events of September 11th were a "wake-up" call to America, but many Americans have now hit the "snooze button".

Too many Americans have feared uncertainty, and reacted by "getting all they can, canning all the get, and then sitting on their can" (in the words of a minister I know). Instead, it is time to open our cans, and invest into God's work to turn this nation around! I am reminded of the Y2K computer crisis of 1999. Some people hid a week or a month's worth of food in their garage, but thank goodness there were a bunch of hard-working programmers actually fixing the problem — because all the food on the shelves of America probably would not have fed us as a nation for more than 2 months! Similarly, in this present hour, we need to be Christians who are actively giving and doing something for God's work to turn this nation around — not sitting on our declining 401(k) stock portfolio hoping the bad news will all go away. "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." (John 13:17).

As an individual and as a nation, we need to repent, pray, give, and witness like never before. We are too close to victory, and too close to calamity, to consider just doing nothing. And we need to be concerned about more than just "us 4, and no more". There is a lost and dying world beyond our nation that needs the Gospel. It is time to be serious about our Christianity, and change the world for Jesus Christ.

Diligent about the Father's business,

Dale & Judi Leander


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