There are lots of fashionable or popular teachings of Jesus Christ in our culture and community. These are sayings which everyone agrees are good, even if we don’t manage to do them perfectly. Love your neighbour. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Do not judge. You can probably think of more.
There are also unfashionable or unpopular teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus explains clearly that we will be judged for how well we have loved our neighbour, or whether we have treated others as we have treated ourselves. And if we have judged others, Jesus says he will judge us. Jesus said “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:44-46)
Jesus speaks clearly and plainly about where you and I might spend eternity. We all know what to expect on that day. I want to give you seven reasons why this teaching is good and why we should be confident as we speak to people about judgement to come.
1. Knowledge of judgement puts us all in the same boat. We could ask, who do you know who does not deserve God’s judgement? The answer is no one.
2. Knowledge of judgement draws people to Christ as Saviour. Some people today have a tatoo which says “Only God can Judge me.” We all need another line which says “Only Christ can Save me.” John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” What we really need is not a tatoo but belief in Christ as our Saviour.
3. Knowledge of judgement satisfies our internal sense of the need for justice. When we know that evil people will be judged, it brings us peace. Psalm 36:12 “See how the evildoers lie fallen– thrown down, not able to rise!”
4. Knowledge of judgement restrains evil. Everyone who knows that judgement is coming thinks twice about doing something naughty. We don’t need CCTV cameras when a society knows that God sees everything and God is our judge. Jeremiah 12:3 Yet you know me, O LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you.”
5. Knowledge of judgement stops us retaliating or fighting back, as God tells us to leave judgement to him. Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
6. Knowledge of judgement gives power and authority to the meek. Jesus said, the meek shall inherit the earth. Wild and ruthless governments are tamed by the gospel. The armies of America and Britain have been shown to be powerless in Iraq but the gospel of the Lord is his power. This is why Paul was frequently imprisoned and why many Christians are persecuted. However, once the gospel spreads to the hearts and minds of government officials then they rule their people with meekness.
7. Knowledge of judgement motivates our mission and evangelism. If we truly love our neighbour and want to see meek governments, then evangelism is the obvious thing to do. If you know someone is in danger and do not warn them, then in what way do you love them? If you know that those who have been humbled by Christ make good leaders of the nations but don’t tell them that Christ is king and judge, then how do you expect the peace of the Lord to rule?
Psalm 2:10-12 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
As we speak plainly about God’s judgement it might be unpopular but I hope now that you can see that it is good teaching. I hope by reading this letter that your fear of the Lord is increased, your love for the Lord Jesus swells in your heart like a balloon about to pop, and your confidence in Christ grows so that you can speak about the goodness of God’s judgement, which is lovingly turned from us by Christ on the cross.