God’s judgement is not something most Christians want to think about. We don’t put verses with God’s judgment on sticky notes, we don’t try to commit these Scripture verses to memory, and most of us would not choose for our pastor to preach on this subject.
But, as The Gospel Coalition writer Erik Raymond notes in his article “Are You Allergic to God’s Judgment?” the Bible has a lot to say on this subject.
As a pastor, Raymond says he would rather not preach on God’s judgment. He says he, like many Christians, feels a kind of allergic reaction to judgment.
Many people have allergies to various things–nuts, gluten, lactose, bee stings–but many of us feel the same way about the judgment of God. We want to stay as far away from it as possible. And if we do consider it, we tend to quickly pass over it, focusing instead on Christ’s victory on the cross.
But, notes Raymond, in order to understand the depth of what Christ did on our behalf and the atonement he made, reflecting on God’s judgment is necessary.
“Declawing the Bible of its warnings against and judgments upon sin is not good for the church. In other words, being allergic to God’s judgment is unhealthy for both the preacher and the church,” writes Raymond, and then goes on to provide three particular reasons why reflecting on God’s judgement actually is good for us.
First, “Judgment teaches us who God is.”
Important facets of God’s character are revealed through his judgment. In the first chapters of Genesis, we learn that God keeps His word and punishes sin. He does so because he is holy, but he also desires to restore His people to a relationship with Him. We have the first promise of this in Genesis 3:15:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
As the Bible continues, we see God’s judgment for sin on display, but at the same time, we see God’s grace held up in contrast to His judgment: God saves Noah and his family from the flood, God makes a covenant with Abraham, God always preserves a remnant of true believers even while the majority of the world is going their own way and facing His judgement.
“Who is God? He is good, merciful, righteous, gracious, sovereign, immanent, and holy. The mural of God’s character are painted in the landscape of judgment. If we avoid preaching on judgment then we will hiding God from our people,” writes Raymond.
In a previous article for Crosswalk.com titled “Why God’s Judgment is Actually a Blessing,” I note, “God’s judgment can be viewed as being two-faceted. The first side is consequences for sin, but the second side shows us God’s mercy. By showing us our sin, God shows us our need for Him. God’s judgment, then, is a call to return to him in repentance.”
Without dwelling first on God’s judgment, we will not understand the depth of mercy we need–and which He has lavished upon us.
Second, writes Raymond, “Warning against judgement teach[es] us what we should do.”
God’s judgment points us in the right direction. God desires good for us, and He outlines in His Word how we are to walk in His ways and the consequences we will avoid when we follow Him.
Sometimes, notes Raymond, judgement can also be a form of discipline–God waking us up to the fact that we are going down a destructive path.
Third, writes Raymond, “Judgement is at the heart of the Gospel.”
The whole reason Jesus came to earth was to glorify God by taking on Himself the judgment we deserve and thus paying for our sins by the sacrifice of His own life.
This is the gospel.
“God desires that his churches reflect his character. In order to do this we must know who he is. Part of this involves preaching on God’s judgment. If we are allergic to his judgment then we will also be allergic to his glory, for God is glorified, not only through salvation but also judgment,” concludes Raymond.
How can you reflect on God’s judgement today in a way that will draw you closer to Jesus and what He has done for you?