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Reflecting on the Judgment February 27, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Joe,

As I have had a day to reflect on the issue you raised yesterday regarding the judgment, it has struck me how much there is to say on this. In no way will we exhaust this issue in a few posts! I thought I would try to move us forward a bit by doing three things: 1. Show some Scripture to show that we will be judged by our works; 2. Specifically show the connection between our words and the Judgment, which you mentioned yesterday and was the initial question; 3. Give a practical application for how the doctrine of the Final Judgment ought to affect the way we live.

So first, a little Scripture. I’ll just post two passages of Scripture:

“5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6He will render to each one according to his works: 7to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11For God shows no partiality.” (Romans 2:5-11).

Here is Paul, that great champion and defender of justification by faith alone, saying quite clearly that God will render to each one “according to his works.” And John writes in Revelation 20,

“11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Other verses could be shown, but these are a couple to show that the Day of Judgment will be a day in which people will be judged according to our works. And I thought your succinct summary of how this relates to being justified by faith was so good that I’ll just quote you: “We will ultimately and finally be judged by our works and words because they serve to reveal plainly before God whether or not our faith was real.” Amen, brother! That is well said. And stunningly, you show us that you can be succinct!!

I think your statement leads directly to the second thing I wanted to touch on, which was the connection with the initial question that was asked about giving an account of our words. I’m guessing that the question arose from contemplation of Matthew 12:34ff. And what we see there is, I think, a confirmation that we will be judged by our words in the sense that our words reveal what is in our hearts. Jesus said,

“34You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.””

We cannot consider verses 36-37 without seeing the connection with what has just been said. The mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart. If the heart is good (ie. love for and faith in Christ), then the words coming out of the mouth will reflect that heart transformation, which is wrought by God in the New Birth leading to our receiving of Christ by faith. But if our speech is regularly filthy and corrupt, that is a revelation that our hearts are filled with that same corruption.

I want to stress the word ‘regularly’ in the sentence above, so as to comfort a person who might read this and think that because they snapped one time and had a harsh, bitter word come out of their mouths, that they must have an evil heart and are going to hell. I don’t think that is the conclusion to draw. When Jesus says that a good tree does not bear bad fruit, He does not mean that we will never sin. A good tree might every once in awhile produce a rotten piece of fruit. But if the fruit is constantly rotten, then we really don’t have a good tree, do we?

So the issue with words is, in my humble opinion, a situation of the pattern of our lives. We should not be tolerant of the little outbursts that happen; it should be our aim to crucify those remnants of the old man. But if God has made us new, then Matthew 12 seems to teach that our new nature ought to be manifest in consistently speaking words of life, not death.

Well, that was two of my three points, and this is getting a bit long. I’ll save the application that I was thinking about for later today, or perhaps tomorrow.

Seeking to have the mouth of the righteous, which is a fountain of life,

Larry

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