Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Judgment of the Church

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17 KJV

For it is time for judgement to begin with God's household: and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17, NIV

There is a commonly held view or image of "judgement day". After the "general resurrection" of the dead, we all--Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God--are to stand before the throne of God and be judged according to whether we have done more good than bad. Those who have will be permitted to enter the pearly gates by a white-bearded Saint Peter, standing behind a little desk. The bad people will go to hell and be tormented forever by the red-suited devil, with a trident.

This idea has been put into our minds by cartoonists (Tom and Jerry) and pretty much left that way by preachers. Nothing like it in the Bible, of course, but we are an image directed society.

First there is no such thing as a "general resurrection", except that generals will be resurrected as well as privates. The way preachers and some would-be theologians mix separate events makes me think they would be great as bartenders, mixing cocktails in a shaker.

For Peter tells us that the judgement of the church, then and now, is already underway. Further study reveals that the next judgement will be that of Jacob. His time of trouble will be concluded next. Then, after the millennium, the Gentiles have their judgement. These three peoples include all of humanity.

But what of the heavenly judgement spoken of by Paul in 2Corinthians chapter five? Isn't it future? Yes, it is. But it is not a judgement of us, but of our works. It is an awards ceremony, where no one is lost. Only some of their works may be.

For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10, NIV

The whole of chapter 5 really helps make things clear.

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