Scriptures and Thoughts on “Judgment”

What does the word judgment really mean?

Hebrew:
Shaphat – “to judge, govern, to uphold justice, to enact righteous decisions.” Commonly used in a “judicial” setting.
Mishpat – “judgment, justice.” The aspect of justice as well as the execution of judgment in litigation.
Yom YHWH – “Day of the LORD.” Can refer to impending historical judgments of God on ancient nations, or to the final judgment day. Israel perceived this as the time of their deliverance; ultimately a happy occasion.

Greek:
Eschate Hemera – “last day.” Used to indicate the final judgment day.
Hemera Kyriou – “Day of the Lord.” Day of vindication by the Lord.
Krino – the act of carrying out a judicial process or making a judgment. The noun “Krisis” is closely related.
Bema – “judgment seat, judgment bench.”
Aphorizo – “to exclude, to separate.” Indicates separation of wicked and righteous.

The word is a “legal” term indicating the handing down of a verdict. The path for the future is determined by what the verdict is.

Judgment is typically viewed negatively in our society, but the Day of the LORD can also be seen as a happy occurrence because He comes to set things right and vindicate His people from all harm.

What will the judgment day be like?

(Matthew 24:36) “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

 (2 Peter 3:10) “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. “

(Daniel 7:9-10) “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. “A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened.

 (Revelation 20:11-15) “Then 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. And 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. And 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. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Does the specific wording of this passage teach that only those who are not in the Book of Life are the ones judged by the actions they have done in life?

(Matthew 25:31-43) “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’

(Matthew 13:49) “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,”

(2 Thessalonians 1”6-8) “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

(Romans 12:19) “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

(John 12:31) “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

(2 Timothy 4:8) “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

By what criteria will man be judged?

(Matthew 25) “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’”

(Revelation 20) “the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.”

(Matthew 12:36-37) “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

(Matthew 16:27) “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.”

(Revelation 22:12) “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”

(Romans 2:16)“On that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

(2 Corinthians 5:10) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

 (John 12:48) “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

(Hebrews 10:26-27) “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.”

(John 3:18) “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Does this mean that much of the criteria we have mentioned will not be relevant for believers, because of justification by faith?

(John 3:19) “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

(1 John 1:7) “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

(Matthew 10:32-33) “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

 (Matthew 7:2) “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you”

(James 2:13) “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

(Matthew 6:15) “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

(Romans 3:28) “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”

(Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Who will judge the world? Will it be the saints?

(1 Corinthians 6:1-3) “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”

(Matthew 19:28) “And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

(Matthew 25) “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats

(John 5:22) “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,”

(Acts 10:42) “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.”

(Hebrews 12:23) “to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,”

(Acts 17:31) “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

(1Peter 4:5) “but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

By what standard and in what manner are we to judge each other?

(2 Timothy 3:16) “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”

 (John 7:24) “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

(James 2:12-13) “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

(Matthew 7:2) “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you”

(James 2:13) “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

(Matthew 10:13-14) “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”

Is it appropriate for me to judge my brother?

(James 4:12) “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

 (1 Corinthians 4:5) “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

(Romans 14:1-4) “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

(Romans 14:10-13) “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”

(1 Corinthians 5:9-13) “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

(James 5:20) “let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

(Galatians 6:1) “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

(Matthew 18:15) “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

 Is it appropriate to judge those who are in the world?

(1 Corinthians 5:12-13) “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.”

(Matthew 28:19-20) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Scriptures and Thoughts on “Forgiveness”

What does forgiveness actually mean? What does it look like?
Old Testament –
Celiychah (noun) – abundant forgiveness – NEVER does this word in any of its forms refer to people forgiving each other.
Calach (verb) – to forgive/pardon. The only Old Testament verb with “to forgive” as its primary meaning. Used ONLY of God.
Nasa’ – to lift, to raise, to bear, to carry – refers to both divine and human forgiveness.
Kaphar – to cover, to purge, to make an atonement, to make reconciliation, to cover over with pitch. Kacah – to cove, can also mean “to conceal, hide”

New Testament –
Aphesis (noun) – the act of freeing and liberating from something that confines; release, or the act of freeing from an obligation, guilt, or punishment; pardon, cancellation… “The forgiveness denoted is almost always that of God. It is constantly needed, and is granted when requested so long as there is a readiness to forgive others. Its basis is the saving act of Christ.”
Aphiemi (verb) – to dismiss, release, let go, send away… used for the cancelling of sins and debts.
Charidzomai (verb) – to show one’s self gracious by forgiving wrongdoing; forgive, pardon.”
Apoluo (verb) – to grant acquittal, set free, release, or pardon.

In this case, the Old Testament words really help us in our theology! They strongly delineate God’s forgiveness and our own.

So what would this look like, acted out?

How God illustrates forgiveness:
Isaiah 1:18 – like red wool becoming white again – a miracle!
Psalm 103:12 – as far as the east is from the west
Micah 7:19 – You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

When God forgives, does He actually forget?
Isaiah 43:25 – “I will remember your sins no more.”
Hebrews 10:17 – “I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more.”

But remember that the true meaning of “remember” is to call to mind. The terminology allows God to be omniscient, but not to call to mind, emphasize, or “remember” our sins.

But what do you think, does He literally forget them?

Surely He knows that we are sinners, for He planned from the foundation of the world to send Jesus – 1 Peter 1:20, and the cross, which we say is beautiful and worth commemorating, and which is commemorated by the Lord’s Supper – Luke 22:19-20, and Jesus said we will eat the meal with Him in the kingdom!

So it seems that God will not forget that we are or have been sinners, but that He will not call to mind, or put on display, or take into consideration, our sins.

Will God ultimately forgive everyone of their sins?
Matthew 6:15 – “if you do not forgive others…”
Hebrews 10:26-31 – “there no longer remains a sacrifice”
Matthew 7:23 – “I never knew you, depart from me you evildoers”
Matthew 25:41 – “depart from me into the eternal fire.”

How can I get God’s forgiveness?
Acts 2:38 – repent and be baptized!
1 John 1:7,9 – walk in the light, confess your sins

Is there a difference between God’s forgiveness and man’s forgiveness?
See notes in Hebrews words for forgiveness. There is a kind of forgiveness that only God can do.
Psalm 51:4 – “against you only have I sinned” – David’s guilt was ultimately before God.
Mark 2:5-11 – “only God can forgive sins” – only God can actually clear guilt!

Romans 12:19 – humans are never to take vengeance – meaning that humans are never to try and “get even” by making someone suffer in proportion to the suffering they have caused. So human forgiveness then is not simply letting someone off the hook when it comes to divine justice, for we are never the arbiters of that in an ultimate sense.

So what is human forgiveness then? As the Hebrew words indicate, it is a removal of debt, or a covering of error. It could also be an acknowledgement in some sense that we are not the final judge of the person.

Is it ever appropriate to withhold forgiveness?
1 Timothy 1:13 – “Because I acted in ignorance”
Luke 23:34 – “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”
Acts 17:30 – “In previous times God overlooked such ignorance, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.”
Romans 1:18-20 – God’s wrath is against them, they are without excuse because of their knowledge.
James 3:1 – teachers are held to a stricter judgment

Are we forgiven/not forgiven by God based on our knowledge? Think about it. Forgiveness is always offered by God while we are on this earth, but it is not offered unconditionally!
Hebrews 10:26-31 – forgiveness is NOT extended to belligerent, intentional sinners.

But also notice, that as we have said, God’s forgiveness and man’s forgiveness differ. Man can always extend forgiveness (and is required to do so, Matthew 6:15). Whether the individual is actually released from their guilt by God is not our concern.

But what about this idea of human forgiveness being a releasing from debt or a covering of error, surely we are not always obligated to do this? While forgiving a debt can be a powerful way to show someone godly mercy, perhaps the heart of forgiveness is in not standing in moral judgment over someone, as only God can do this.

2 Peter 3:9 – Just as God wants all to come to repentance, so should we!

What aspects of forgiveness are dependent on the recipient?
As indicated above, by the references above, forgiveness of our actual guilt by God is dependent upon our repentance, and that repentance means that we do not willfully sin where we have knowledge of right and wrong.

Consider also Luke 13:5 – unless you repent you will all likewise perish

As far as human forgiveness goes, that kind of forgiveness does not appear to be a release from divine guilt in the first place, but only a release from ultimate personal moral judgment, and potentially of debt or shame, etc. So it does not depend on the recipient at all. Matthew 6:15 is unqualified!

Does that mean that I do not allow them to be prosecuted in a court of law? No, for that is allowing a power ordained by God to act for the protection of society. But it does mean that I let go of my personal sense of authority to ultimately judge.

What if I am supposed to forgive, but I just cannot bring myself to do so?
Understand what forgiveness really is, see discussion of forgiveness of God vs. man.
Romans 12:19, 13:1-4 Hand the right to judge or take revenge over to God and the governing powers that He has established
Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13 – Remember that Jesus has offered forgiveness to YOU
Matthew 18:23-35 – Consider just how great the forgiveness is that God has offered you

How can I forgive myself?
(Page 52)
Luke 22:60-62 – Peter felt guilty about his sin
Matthew 27:3-10 – Judas felt guilty about his sin. Judas hanged himself.
John 21:15-19, Acts 1:15-2:40 – Peter went on to be a leader in the church

2 Corinthians 7:9-10 speaks of worldly sorrow which leads to death, and godly sorrow which leads to “repentance without regret” and salvation.

What do you think? How can one choose to have, or come to experience, godly sorrow rather than worldly sorrow?

Matthew 18:23-35 – understand that forgiveness is NOT about what people deserve. It is given freely, and we are expected to give it others as well.

Isaiah 43:25-26 – God forgives us for His own name’s sake, He has His own reasons for being pleased to do so!
John 19:30 – Jesus said “it is finished.” He has already paid the price. The gift of forgiveness is yours to accept or deny, but He has already paid for it either way.

“It Isn’t Fair.”

The English term “scapegoat” comes from the principle of “Azazel” which originates from the Bible in Leviticus chapter 16.

Azazel literally means “complete removal” in Hebrew, and the unlucky goat that was selected by “the lot for Azazel” had all of the iniquities and transgressions of the people of Israel placed on its head, that it might completely remove them from their midst. It appears that in this way the righteous indignation of God that would have fallen on the Israelites fell on the scapegoat instead. By means of the scapegoat Israel received pardon.

Of course, in contemporary times, the idea of making a scapegoat out of someone is frowned upon. Quite frankly, it is just not fair for one individual to pay the price for that for which an entire group is actually to blame.

We may not know whether God struck down the scapegoat, or simply allowed it to wander around in the wilderness to die on its own, but one thing is certain: that poor goat got the bad end of the deal, and the people of Israel got off easy.

The incredible truth of the gospel is that rather than an unlucky goat, Jesus Christ is now the propitiation for God’s people once for all.

2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The only sinless man to walk the face of the earth was made to be sin so that we could go free? It sounds like a good deal for us, but it certainly does not sound “fair.”

Realizing this has the power to transform the way we look at the world. Now, instead of demanding that everyone who sins receive the punishment that they deserve so that life can be fair, we can extend to others the undeserved grace that God has extended to us.

It may also be a comfort to us in times of injustice to look at the example Jesus set. Jesus Himself knows how it feels to suffer unjustly what is rightfully deserved by others. In fact, as 1 Peter 2:19 says, “this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.”

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The Man in the Mirror

man in the mirror

Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” is one of the most popular songs of all time. Why?  Maybe because there is just something undeniably admirable about taking a look at yourself before you start to judge someone else.  It is so much easier to point out what is wrong with the sins that we don’t struggle with, than to be honest about the one’s that we are personally guilty of.

By contrast, the beloved apostle Paul, who we often esteem as an incredible man of God, said “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all (1 Timothy 1:15).”

Similarly, Christian author G.K. Chesterton, when asked by The Times magazine in 1910 to respond to the question “What’s wrong with the world today?” is famously said to have responded:

“Dear Sirs,
I am.
Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”

The idea is not that we never speak up about what is wrong with the world, or that we automatically take personal blame for anything and everything that goes on.  The idea is that, as Jesus Himself said: first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5).”

You and I can start by taking this very message, and applying it to ourselves before we apply it to others.  How ironic would it be to read Jesus’ words about examining ourselves first, and to turn around and say “yes, so and so really needs to examine themselves first,” when we have unaddressed sins of our own?

Let us be looking out for each other, but let us keep an eye on ourselves as well.  Ever since Adam cast the blame for his sins onto “The woman whom You gave to be with me,” In Genesis 3, human nature has been to see the faults in everyone but ourselves.  Neither you nor I are immune to that pitfall.