Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 10, 1963
NUMBER 23, PAGE 1,8-10a

Judgment To Come --- You Will Be There

James R. Cope

....and after this cometh judgment!" (Heb. 9:27)

....He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world...." (Acts 17:31)

....we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ " (2 Cor. 5:10)

"For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.... the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment...." (2 Peter 2:4.9)

"And angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6)

....God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ." (Rom. 2:16)

"....and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." (Matt. 25:32)

Who can read these words and doubt that judgment is coming?

Who can read these words and doubt that judgment is coming to all men and even angels?

Who can read these words and doubt that the God of creation will be the judge? Who can read these words and doubt the righteousness of the judgment rendered?

Who can read these words and doubt that he will be thereindividually and personally — to receive judgment of "the things done in his body, according to that he bath done, whether it be good or bad?"

Yes, dear reader, you will be there! Don't forget that! Don't ever forget it! Never doubt that you will stand before your Maker in judgment!

You have no choice about your appearance before the great tribunal. Whether or not you like the thought has nothing to do either with the judgment of yourself or others. You will appear because the same God who made you has made the appointment for you. You may as well doubt your own spirit being now in a flesh and blood body as to doubt that you will appear apart from this flesh and blood body in the presence of Him who made you. Naked before your Creator you will appear. As certain as you live you will appear. As certain as you die you will appear. As certain as there is a God you will appear. "Inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh the judgment!" (Hob. 9:27) And the judge of all the earth shall judge you!

1. This judgment will not be for the purpose of gathering evidence for or against you. You will not be asked: "Did you commit murder?" "Did you steal?" "Were you an adulterer?" "Did you profane God's name?" "Did you abuse your wife, mistreat your children or neglect your parents?" You will not even be asked, "Did you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction?" No, this judgment will not be to collect evidence for your trial. When the great day arrives all the evidence will have been collected. God will then know even as He now knows the facts regarding your case. The period of collecting evidence is now. It is the age of grace! Before God you are now writing your record. You are presenting facts, only facts, before Him "God is not mocked!" God is not deceived! He sees all. He knows all. All things, even the thoughts and intentions of your heart, are manifest in His sight — now! (Hebrews 4:12) Whatever evidence is collected you are presenting now. At the judgment to come the "righteous Judge" will not be playing the role of a "detective," a "special investigator" seeking out evidence from your past either to justify or condemn you. That day will then be past.

2. The judgment to come will not be an occasion of trial for you. Neither judge nor jury will be present to weigh evidence presented for or against you. No lawyer will be present to plead your case. There will be no jury to be stacked with your friends or swayed by human oratory. No judge will be there to weigh evidence then presented. Neither condemnation nor justification will be the issue for there will be no issue. No argument will occur. All the evidence will then be in. All the pleading shall have been completed. That occasion is not to be one of investigation or one of trial. It shall be exactly what the Bible says it will be — a day of eternal judgment! (Heb. 8:12)

3. The judgment to come will not be an occasion for correcting wrongs earlier committed. Wrongs cannot be righted then. It will be too late to say, "I'm sorry — please forgive me!" and receive pardon either from an offended brother, friend, or enemy, much less from God whose long-suffering has run out, whose mercy has been spurned and rejected. He who at the end of the ages hath "been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. 9:26) shall no longer be serving as priest to offer himself for sin or advocate to intercede. (1 John 2:1; Heb. 4:14-16)

Intercession time has passed. Mercy period has ended. (Jer. 8:20) Justice must be done and its basis announced. Judgment day has come!

4. The judgment to come will not deal with the congregation where you worshipped. That particular local church will not appear in that judgment though every member of that church, whether now dead now living, or yet unborn will appear. Congregations are judged before the last day. This fact is reflected in the history of every local church mentioned in the New Testament. Not one of them exists today! Not any of them continued long after the last apostolic letter was written. Many of the cities where the saints once assembled can yet be identified but no assembly of saints of New Testament note can be found now!

What has happened to all of these churches? Judgment has been pronounced! Their "candlesticks" have been removed? Divine sentence has fallen and the fact that they do not exist proves it. Jesus told the church at Ephesus to "repent, and do thy first works; or else I come to thee and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent." (Rev. 2:5) These churches will not appear at the last day to be judged yet each and every member of each of them shall go before God for sentence. Your attitude toward God's orders to the local church and what you have done in it will receive judgment but you can shift none of your faults or failures as a member of that church to anybody else. You and you alone are responsible for obeying God in the local assembly's work and worship. You cannot participate in a local church's wrongdoing. You cannot blame its elders or other members for doing or not doing God's will. You alone will be judged! If elders corrupt the worship, you cannot rid yourself of blame by saying, "The elders are in charge; I am not responsible." If the elders prostitute the local church's work by committing its funds to the support of human missionary and benevolent societies, this will not clear you. If you can do one wrong which elders endorse, you can do any wrong they endorse and remain guiltless. This is contrary to all God says about your personal responsibility to him. You must give answer for yourself.

The Bible alone gives information about the judgment to come. Though various peoples of earth have their traditional notions that there may be some form of rewards and punishments hereafter, only the God in whose image man is made has given information regarding the nature of that grim and awful, as well as that pleasant and profitable day. We urge consideration of certain realities of that day and occasion.

1. Old Testament believers understood that God would bring the sons and daughters of Adam's race to judgment.

"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or whether evil." (EccI. 12:14)

2. New Testament readers understand that man shall meet God in judgment.

....but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent; inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." (Acts 17:30, 31)

The following points are obvious from this text:

a. Judgment to come is a motive for a man to repent of his sins. This emphasizes man's responsibility to his Maker "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23) Judgment is coming to you. You have sinned; therefore, you must repent or perish for "except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish!" (Luke 13:3)

b. The day of judgment is appointed. It is set. God who made man, gave him responsibility and calls him to judgment, has an appointment for man to meet Him. It is called "a day" of judgment (Acts 17:31), "the day of judgment" (2 Pet. 2:9; 3:7; 1 John 4:17), and "the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6) All men will meet this appointment. You will be there.

c. The judgment will be righteous. He will judge the world "in righteousness" for the Lord is "the righteous judge." (Acts 17:31; Isa. 11:3,4) No bribes will be accepted. It will be too late even to offer bribes for favors. He of whom Abraham asked, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25) shall judge without mistake and without respect of persons. You will receive no special favors because of your wealth, political power or social prestige. You will be judged in righteousness!

d. The judge will be every man's peer. It will be "that man" whom God has ordained. He who was "made in the likeness of men" and was "found in fashion as a man" (Phil 2'7 8) shall be the judge of His fellow-man! Because He became man He could serve as a high priest who could "be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." (Heb. 4:15) This, then, is another reason for the justice of His judgment. Having been "in all points tempted like as we are" (Heb. 4:15), He knows man's problems with evil and can therefore face such as man understands it. Though equal with God, Jesus became equal with man. (Phil.2:6) " behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God." (Heb. 2:17) At the last day the one who was man, who now functions as priest, shall be the one who judges in righteousness! You are man. He will judge you!

e. The evidence that God will judge through Christ is also the proof of your resurrection. This text (Acts 17:31) says so. To believe in the resurrection of Jesus is to believe in judgment to come. To accept one is to accept the other. If you believe you will be raised from the dead because Jesus was raised, you believe in the day of judgment with Christ as the judge for the same reason. Evidences of the former are evidences of the latter.

f. Christ will be the Judge in the final day. The "man" who judges is identified as the same one that God "hath raised from the dead." (1 Cor. 15:20; Mk. 16:6) Jesus Christ is that person. Of "Jesus of Nazareth" Peter said, "This Jesus did Gad raise up." (Acts 2:23) This same apostle declared that "God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified." (Acts 2:36) This same Peter said that this same Jesus "charged us to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is he who is ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead." (Acts 10:42) "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son ....and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." (John 5:22,27) Jesus, who wants to be your Savior now, will be your Judge then — at the last day!

3. Judgment then will be on the basis of deeds now, known and unknown by man. "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 bath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10)

"But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds.... for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." (Rom. 2:5,6,13,16)

4. This judgment shall be both universal and individual.

...for 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 shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Rom. 14:10-12)

5 This judgment shag be unannounced and unexpected by many.

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Pet. 3:10)

6. This judgment should serve as a motive to holy living and godliness by Christians.

"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness." (2 Pet. 3:11)

7. This judgment shall be an occasion of separation between the righteous and the wicked.

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory' and before him shall be gathered all nations' and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left." (Matt. 25:31-33)

8. This judgment shall identify the blessed and the basis of their reward.

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked and ye clothed mp: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:34-40)

9. This judgment shall identify the cursed and the basis of their condemnation.

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." (Matt. 25:41-45)

10. At this judgment shall be announced the condition of both the blessed and cursed following the end of time.

"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." (Matt. 25:46)

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day." (2 Thess. 1:7-10)

"Marvel not at this for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28, 29)

"And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am In anguish in this flame." (Luke 16:23, 24)

The standard by which judgment shall be rendered on that great and last day is before you now. It has been within your grasp all your life.

You cannot say, "I had no occasion to know the basis of my judgment — what I should do and what I should not do." No, you will not be able to plead ignorance because God has brought knowledge of His will within your perspective. You can know it if you will.

"For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.... in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." (Rom. 2:11, 12, 16)

— Tampa, Florida