Tag Archives: Judgment

Call to the Unconverted (Winner of Most Questions Asked in a Single Gospel Book)

Introducing the 2/60 best books on the gospel. A 62-week long series.

Baxter’s is a brutal little book. Not brutal in style like Owen.

But brutal in content like Owen.

Baxter’s is an unflinching prosecutor of the wicked. A man who approaches their conversion and condemnation like their life depended on it.

Which it does.

The Quick and Dirty

The book starts off with a bang. The subtitle reads:

To all unsanctified Persons that shall read this Book; especially of my Hearers in the Borough and Parish of Kiaderminster.

Did you catch that? Heathens.

Mr. Baxter is pulling no punches. He’s levelled his scope. And is ready to fire.

That pleased this curmudgeon to no end. I can’t tell–

What’s that? It doesn’t say  heathens? It says hearers? 

Boo hiss.

(This reviewer did think for a long time that is exactly what it said. Did I show my hand? Cooler heads need to prevail.)

A Call to the Unconverted is broken down into an introduction and three sermons.

In my opinion the introduction is crown jewel of the book (which I will explain below), while the sermons are robust. However, they read like transcripts.

Then there are the questions. Four hundred and eighty-three in ninety-one pages. That is only five questions a page, but they are not evenly distributed that way.

They come in packets. Like a jack hammer.

Let’s get started.

Introduction to A Call to the Unconverted

The firs thing that Baxter does is define “the call,” and it is this: warning sinners to repent from their sins and misery and to turn to Jesus who bought them with His blood and is offering them everlasting glory with God.

One reason this section is golden is Baxter’s compassion for the lost comes through in his intensity of language. He suggests that he speaks as someone who has come back from the dead–and knows the awful fate that awaits the wicked.

Note his language. He mentions the “everlasting plagues prepared for the final neglectors of salvation.”  He sees the “dreadful day at hand, when your sorrows will begin, and you must lament all this with fruitless cries in torment and desperation; and then the remembrance of your folly will tear your hearts, if true conversion now prevent it not.”

This section is also golden because of Baxter’s relentless laying on of sinners.

At one point he makes a list of the troubles that wicked people cause and the wreckage they leave behind: family and friends, civil and religious .

This is not a seeker-sensitive sermon. It reminds me of Yochelson’s approach to reforming criminals: never yielding one inch to their self-pity or lame excuses.

All their misery and torment (past, present and future) is all on their head–and their head alone. And Baxter is going to let them know that.

He appeals to them “As a thief, that sits merrily spending the money in an alehouse which he hath stolen, when men are riding in post-haste to apprehend him, so it is with you.”

He continues:

And therefore he high commanded us to call after you, and tell you how you lose your labour, and are about to lose your souls, and to tell you what greater and better things you might certainly have, if you would hearken to his Call.

You will not find an appeal to Francis of Assisi or a suggestion that people don’t care what you know until they know you care.

Baxter cares. For what truly matters. And he speaks as one who cannot sleep until he warns the wicked.

Sermon One

Baxter’s first sermon tackles a tough question. One you know the unconverted are asking: Who sends the wicked to hell?

Baxter points out this is a natural question to ask:

If we saw a man killed and cut in pieces we would presently ask, “Oh! who did this cruel deed?” If the town was wilfully set on fire, you would ask, “what wicked wretch did this?” So when we read that most will be firebrands of hell for ever, we must needs think with ourselves, how comes this to pass? and who is it long of? who is it that is so cruel as to be the cause of such a thing as this?

Our instinct is to blame God. He is sovereign. All powerful. Provident and all-knowing. Should he not catch the blame for sending the wicked to hell?

And is he not merciful? Would he dare “damn men everlastingly for so small a thing as a sinful life?”

Baxter’s response is unequivocal: you will never know how evil sin is until you fully comprehend the excellencies of the God to whom you have sinned.

And does it not seem right to punish the child for foul language, excommunicate the parishioner for blasphemy or the criminal for theft? Thus it is right that the wicked are punished for their sin against God.

But who are the wicked?

The wicked man is someone who “places his chief content on earth, and loveth the creature more than God, his fleshly prosperity above the heavenly felicity.”

The wicked man believes his purpose on life is to maximize his present pleasure and to neglect the sweet gift of redemption.

Contrast this to the converted: “the drift and bent of his life is for God.” If he sins, he laments. He loves God more than the world.

Sermon Two

In this chapter Baxter attempts to reason with the unconverted, answering objections and bringing arguments. This section is loaded with questions. And he reasons from the Bible.

But, for a man to forsake the Lord that made Him, and to run into the fire of hell, when he is told of it, and intreated to turn that he may be saved; this is a thing that can have no reason in the world, that is reason indeed, to justify or excuse it. For heaven will pay for the loss of any thing that we can lose to get it; but nothing can pay for the loss of heaven.

In his reasoning with the wicked, Baxter realizes the madness in their rejection of redemption. Why do they run toward evil when they are warned of the consequences. The rapid-fire questions only intensify his concern:

Mark the Lord’s question, “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?” Is eternal death a thing to be desired? Are you in love with hell? What reason have you wilfully to perish? If you think you have reason to sin, should you not remember that “death is the wages of sin,” Rom. vi. 23.

So, in the end, it is their refusal of redemption that send so many to hell:

But yet, for all that, it is most true which God here teacheth us, that the cause, why the wicked die and are damned, is, because, they will die and be damned. And this is true in several respects.

It is just as if you would say, “I will drink this poison, but you I will not die. I will cast myself headlong from the top of a steeple, but yet I will not kill myself.—100I will thrust this knife into my heart, but yet I will not take away my life. I will put this fire into the thatch of my house, but yet I will not burn it.”—Just so it is with wicked men; they will be wicked, and they will live after the flesh and the world, and yet they would not be damned.

The wicked, and their wicked acts, say, “We will be damned.” Yet the preacher still pleads with them.

Sermon Three

Sermon three can be summed up in this line:

O wilful miserable sinners! It is not God that is cruel to you; it is you that are cruel to yourselves.

Baxter attempts to persuade the wicked to turn and repent by indicating the ways in which repentance will bring happiness, namely the promise of living in a with Christ forever in an incorruptible body free of pain and sorrow.

And the clincher: in spite of your degree of wickedness, God has offered a free pardon of all your sins: “he hath written this in his word, and sealed it by his Spirit, and sent it by his ministers; they have made the offer to you, (many a time) and called you to accept it, and to turn to God.”

The preacher is simply fulfilling that role.


Baxter’s Introduction is written to be read. His sermons, to be heard. But that doesn’t explain why they lack the concrete and creative language seen in the Introduction.

I could re-read the Introduction every day. The sermons once a year (that’s still pretty good).

And Compared to Chandler’s Explicit Gospel, Baxter’s is not fully informed. It is focused upon the sinner repenting in the face of impending doom. Creation doesn’t come into play nor does consummation.

It is simply an unapologetic declaration of the consequences of sin. One that should not be ignored.

Have you read Call to the Unconverted? Am I on or off target? Do you want to read it now? Any other suggestions? I’m listening.

The Dead Stage a Welcome Party for This Pagan King

This is one of the reasons I find the Bible so fascinating.

It’s also one of the reasons that thousands of people consider the Bible good literature–in spite of its claims to being redemptive history.

I’ll take redemptive history any day over good literature, but fortunately I’m not forced to decide.

The text in question at the moment is :

Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.

All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’

Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers.

In Hebrew thought, Sheol is the place of the dead. Sheol is the grave–and .

An underground region where disembodied souls have a dull and gloomy existence. It’s the place where the good and the bad go. The good receive reward and the bad receive punishment.

Yet Psalm 139:8 tells us that God is there. He is in the depths. And it is an open book to him where the wicked never escape his judgement and the righteous remain under his constant care. , “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.”

The Ugly Carnival

The Isaiah text tells us that Sheol is also the fate of those who try to be like God, a habit earthly kings are prone to develop, the Babylon king being no exception.

He said he would ascend to heaven and raise his throne above God’s. He would sit on the highest mountain above the clouds. He would make himself like the most High.

On earth he may have approached the epitome of military might. He may have scaled to the top of political authority. He may have sat upon the highest altar of worship.

His death changed all that.

The other kings who were brought low by death waited for him. We are not sure how they knew, but they knew he was coming. And wanted to welcome him.

Each king in Sheol no doubt had been in his position. Great earthly power. Monstrous pride. Ruthless conquest. But all that bravado wilted before death. In an instant they were brought low.

They were wise to knowledge he was not: human distinctions are meaningless among the dead, and pride vanishes from a corpse.

You don’t get the sense that this will be a fun reunion. It won’t be like a hero returning from war.

More in line with the French treatment of : heads shaved, swastikas burned on their faces and barefoot as they were forced to parade through the streets.

It will be an ugly carnival for the Babylonian king.

Your Turn

Death is not the only means which God can level a man’s pride. He can devastate arrogance with mental illness as he did with Nebuchadnezzar.

More than likely you won’t experience mental illness on that scale. Death, on the other hand, is your certain fate.

Are you ready to die?

When David said, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption,” he could not know what he was predicting.

Peter took it to me the resurrection of Jesus Christ, an event that forced Paul to proclaim in yet another elegant section of the Bible: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

Thank God for redemptive history.

Van der Weyden’s Last Judgement Spooked Atheist Peter Hitchens in Broad Daylight


Scoffing, he said, ‘Couldn’t these people think of anything else to paint?’

If there ever was a case of art in the cause for Christ then this anecdote will certainly qualify.

In fact, as Peter Hitchens put it in his book , 500 years after his death Van der Weyden was still earning his fee.

Stumbling across The Last Judgement

The story starts with Hitchens and his girlfriend visiting the u in Beaune in search of fine foods and wines. Being seasoned travellers they strayed off the beaten path to explore the ancient hospital.

According to their Green Michelin guide, Roger Van der Weyden’s fifteenth century polyptych  , was a must see. So he and his girlfriend hoofed it to find it.

Upon coming across the apocalyptic altar piece Hitchens’ instinct was to scoff. He then leaned in to peer at the details of the painting–and gaped.

What struck Hitchens was the naked people in the painting didn’t appear to be from the fifteenth century A.D. Nor did they appear to be tribesman from the Neolithic Age. Nor any remote age for that matter.

They appeared to be his contemporaries. And “one of them is actually vomiting with shock and fear at the sound of the last trumpet.”

How The Last Judgement Changed Hitchens

Hitchens points out that this didn’t lead to a mystical experience. No vision or swoon. Just a sense that religion was real. It was current. Not distant or remote. But something just as important as the study of economics or psychology.

If not more important.

The other effect that Van der Weyden’s altarpiece had on Hitchens was that it gave him a sense that he was among the damned. If there were any damned. And like the feeling any good horror novel would give, Hitchens was scared.

Unlike a good horror novel, however, Hitchens couldn’t close the altarpiece and sink into the comfort of a bed or couch with the horror gone. This time his conscience had been spooked, and the fear remained. Yet he began to think very clearly.

Hitchensexplains that fear is a gift. It puts us on high alert when physical danger is near. It could be during a motorcycle accident, in a car surrounded by an angry mob or when a soldier is shooting into the crowd you are in. Whatever the situation, fear keeps us sober and calm so that we make wise decisions.

People who are blind to fear miss the danger. In this case, their rebellion towards a gracious God.

Hitchens walked away from Van der Weyden’s altarpiece chastened. And a little embarrassed. Embarrassed that it was fear that motivated him to seek God and atone for his sins. But he regards that the lesser of two evils.

Well said, Mr. Hitchens.

Your Turn

Has a piece of art–a painting, a novel, a play–ever scared your conscience? Did it play a part in driving you back to God?

Please comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Judging Others Is Smart, Biblical and (Absolutely) Vital

Does the Bible really teach that judging others is smart and vital? Indeed, it does. Here’s my case.

One of the most common objections I get to my critique of Jason Westerfield is this: Do not judge.

The preferred text to back up their objection is :

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.

True, this text forbids hypocrisy and a condemning spirit rising from self-righteousness…

And I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of self-righteousness. Wicked self-absorption. Fierce condemnation.

But not so in this case.

Condemning Someone Is Different from Judging

In my critique of Jason Westerfield [or any book or doctrine or ministry for that matter] I’m not condemning him…

I’m simply evaluating his book and ministry the same way I’d evaluate any book or ministry: how it measures up to the Bible.

There’s nothing bizarre or unbiblical about that. It’s plain, garden-variety discernment. This is how John MacArthur puts it:

There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise with careful discernment []. Censorious, hypocritical, self-righteous or other kinds of unfair judgements are forbidden.

MacArthur goes on to explain “in order to fulfill the commandments that follow it is necessary to discern dogs and swine [] from one’s own brethren.”

In other words, how are we supposed to tell the true believers from the false if we don’t discern and evaluate their deeds and doctrine?

The deal is, we can’t.

And if we can’t we are in opposition to God and his church because the Bible makes it abundantly clear that mature Christians must discern truth from error…

Even if that puts the unity of the church at risk. Which brings me to my next point.

The Mis-Guided Emphasis on Unity over Purity

Another accusation that usually gets thrown out their [and relevant to our discussion] is this:

Unity needs to happen in the body.

The implication is that I’m causing dissension when I critique Jason’s book.

Funny thing is, isn’t it just as reasonable to suggest that Jason is actually the one who’s causing dissension? Couldn’t his doctrine be cause of confusion and contention in the church?

But using the unity card concerns me for another reason. It suggests people are willing to look over sin for the sake of church unity.

Yes, having a unified church is important. But I don’t get that impression from reading my Bible that we strive for unity at the expense of purity.

Judging Others in the Old Testament

In fact, span the nearly 2,000 pages of Holy Scripture and it’s clear that God places a high-premium on purity–and it’s when purity is protected that unity prevails.

Let’s look at some examples. First in the Old Testament.

1. The Holiness Code found in  levels devastating sentences [capital punishment by stoning] on those who strayed from doctrinal purity.

2. God disintegrated priests who put unholy fire on the altar.

3. He executed a man for the hubris of believing that his hand was more clean than dirt.

4. He destroyed an entire generation of Israelites for their repeated disobedience–banning them from entering the promised land.

5. God finally drove the Israelite’s into exile and slavery for their chronic unfaithfulness, which usually took the form of wholesale worship of idols and pagan ideas.

And that’s just the Old Testament.  In the New, we see the same intense concern for purity.

Judging Others in the New Testament

Paul scolded the Corinthians for harboring a sexual misfit in their church. He  for deserting the gospel for a “different gospel, which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”

Peter even condemned a husband and wife for lying about their assets–and ordained their deaths by the hand of God.

And  from one of exhortation to one of correction:

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God int licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In every single one of these cases someone could argue “Did Uzziah have to die for his hubris? Nadab and Abihu for their deviation from God’s sacrifice prescription? Annias and Sappharia for tucking away a little cash for a rainy day? Do we have to chastise a few brothers because they snuck in a little gospel corruption?”

Obviously God answers “Yes, it’s absolutely necessary” because the purity of the church is important. In fact, when we get the purity down, unity naturally emerges.

Mature Christians Can Judge–and Handle Judgment

In , “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

In other words, a mature Christian with a mature mind established by the word of God can spot spiritual truth and error.

So a call for “more unity and less purity” is actually an unbiblical suggestion that spiritual error is not important.

That should concern us.

We want brothers and sisters in Christ to discern truth and error–using the Bible as template.  says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

But what does being judgmental look like? Here’s  again: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

That is a clear example of being hypocritical. And exactly the sense that Jesus was talking about in  when he said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

And this reproof would apply to me if I ducked away at night to indulge in the rituals of New Mystics like Jason.

But I’m not.

Final Thoughts

In the end, we all need to be acutely aware of the state of our spiritual condition–especially me.

And that I’ve got a disposition to hypocrisy and self-righteousness…trust me when I say that working out my salvation is an activity loaded with fear and trembling.

The same feeling extends to brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yes, I have deep concerns that Jason is being led away by his stomach–and in the long run is leading others away. Thus this is not a witch hunt. Rather it’s one Christian brother telling another to be careful–you could be out of line.

I know I was glad when someone pointed out error in my life. When someone corrected me. Rebuked me. It’s healthy. Smart for proper Christian growth. And vital for the church.

, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

This is true for every single one of us. Not just for Jason. Or his fans. Or me. But for you. All of us. The church body proper.

So if I got this judging thing all wrong, let me know. Evaluate. Criticize. Reprove me. It’s biblical. And healthy.

Final Judgement: Do Not Take Lightly

There is no getting around it–the Bible speaks of a coming day of ultimate and final judgement.

A day when Jesus will proclaim the eternal destinies of all people:

“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.” 

This will be the event where God determines everyone’s spiritual condition–alive or dead.

It will be the ultimate separation of good and evil at the end of history. The Christian does not need to fear this moment. The unbeliever should.

The Biblical Fact of the Final Judgment

The Bible does not shy from the topic of a final judgment. Among all the details given on the final judgment, Jesus gives us one of the most vivid.

On the Mount of Olives he concludes his sermon with an explanation of the former parables [ and ]:

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. 

This is the scene of the final judgment. An event that will occur at the end of history, after the millennium. All individuals and nations will be judged. John :

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.

All the dead and the living–from the beginning of time to the end of time–will be judged.

Who and What Will Be Judged?

No man is excused from this judgment. Each of us will . Believer and unbeliever alike will stand before the his judgment seat.

For the unbeliever, their deepest  and  on the table–whether good or evil. Based on these deeds, Jesus will measure out .

But the most condemning piece of evidence against the unbeliever will be their persistent rejection of God’s salvation.

Believers, on the other hand, will be judged out of The Book of Life–a list of all who accepted God’s mercy through Christ.

Indeed, all their deeds will also be judged. But they will be judged to bestow degrees of reward–not on their justification. For those who trust in the Lord, repent of sin and walk in his ways will : ”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Who Will Judge?

The Bible is quite clear: the judge will be Jesus.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom. 

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 

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. 

God gave the son this right to judge:

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 

Jesus’ death is a unique judgment where God paid the price justice demands for mankind’s sin. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the foundations on which sinners are saved. So it is significant that he is chosen to be the judge.

The Necessity of the Final Judgement

The final and ultimate judgment at the end of history is simply the culmination of redemptive history and God’s frequent judgment on his people. From the earliest of time, .

In the Old Testament God brought abundant blessing on mankind but he also visited judgment on them, too, for their constant rebellion and unfaithfulness.

Think the Flood, the tower of Babel and Sodom and Gomorrah. And to this day  and idolatry and unfaithfulness.

Judgments throughout history serve as warnings for the consequences of unbelief, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”

In this way God’s historical judgment and the future, final judgment reflect his character. It reveals his holinessjustice and wrath.

Yet, if believers pass from death into presence with God and unbelievers into a state of separation from God, why does God have a time of final judgment at all?

Simple. It serves the purpose of displaying before all rational creatures the declarative glory of God in a formal, forensic act.

Final Judgement Should Not Be Taken Lightly

The Bible’s message of God’s grace is set against the backdrop of a just God before whom we live. A just God who demands the satisfaction that crimes against him [for that is what sin is] be paid in full.

Crime demands justice. God’s judgment of unrepentant criminals naturally flows from this. On the other hand, his justification of repentant criminals flows from his grace. And this accomplishes one, very important thing…

In the end, all human history–from creation to the final judgment to heaven and hell–glorifies Jesus.  He will be glorified through both grace and judgement.

For the believer, falling down before God’s throne to worship him will be a privilege. It will be all misery and torment for the unbeliever.

Let’s do what we can to make sure we bring as many believers with us.

Abandonment of Christianity: 2 Things That Occur

**Part of the 10 Hard Truths about Being Born Again series**

A funny thing seems to happen on the way to becoming an atheist…

You become a better person.

At least that’s the perennial refrain I hear from those who’ve made the transition from Christian to atheist.

[Of course it’s debatable whether they were even Christians to begin with.]

But there’s just one problem…

Two things essentially rise from an abandonment of Christianity. Your sense of morality. And your bitterness towards God.

Naturally, when you lower the barrier for goodness, you’ll appear more moral. You really don’t have to exert yourself…just lower the bar, and BAM…

You’re a pretty decent guy. [Or gal.]

Yet, when anyone brings up God as the true standard for goodness, you stiff-arm what you imagine to be excessive demands.

Who knew you could be so ? And why? This hatred comes from a mind that’s conscious of it’s guilt.

If your own personal moral standard is in danger, the best thing to do is fight back. Tooth and claw. Guard your right to think, say or do what you want.

Of course, the ultimate insult to an atheist is that unbelief should be punished with eternal death. :

All think it harsh that they who do not believe in Christ should be devoted to destruction. That no man may ascribe his condemnation to Christ, he shows that every man ought to impute the blame to himself. The reason is, that unbelief is a testimony of a bad conscience; and hence it is evident that it is their own wickedness which hinders unbelievers from approaching to Christ.

And this is precisely why new birth is essential: Not only are you dead…but you also live in the dark. And hate the light. The light that exposes your sin.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. 

Jesus’ purpose was never to condemn the world. We do that ourselves when we reject Christ. Jesus’ purpose was to save the world.

He came to bring the gift of new birth. He came to invite you to join God’s family–to go from being a child of wrath to a child of God–initiated by repentance.

In the end, new birth brings about a conviction of moral poverty. It opens our eyes to see we are miserable and destitute of all power of doing good. And it brings about a rushing to the grace of God.

So, since we live in and love the dark, let’s learn that we can’t judge our works by any other standard than the light of the gospel. There’s just no other way.

4 Characteristics of the Impeccable Author of Justice

Part of The Nature of God series.

During his New York gubernatorial campaign, –the square-jawed crusader and former prosecutor who chased corruption on Wall Street so ferociously that people nicknamed him –promised to bring ethics to Albany, New York, home of the state capital.

And because of his previous track record, many people believed he could.

But every ounce of credibility he acquired during his career evaporated the moment he was caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel.

As the :

The idea that Gov. Eliot Spitzer…was somehow involved in a prostitution scandal was too much. New Yorkers who thought they had heard everything were, for a change, dumbfounded.

For a man who cemented his reputation with aggressive prosecution of wrong doing…who once seemed to stand above the tawdry universe of politics…who drug a whole lot of people through the mud…the hypocrisy is incredible that he’d fallen from grace in such a low-rent kind of way.

“I feel betrayed” was a common sentiment among New Yorkers. And it did not take long for Spitzer’s opponents to call for his resignation.

God: Perfectly Positioned to Be Our Judge

God, on the other hand, will never be called to resign. Because, even as a human, he’s never fallen from grace. Indeed, he was perfectly sinless as Jesus.

Thus, perfectly positioned to be our judge.

The biblical judge is expected to love justice and fair play. He’s expected to loath all ill treatment of one person by another.

Think about it: A corrupt judge who has no interest in seeing right triumph over wrong is, by biblical standards, a monstrosity.

Moreover, a judge who is found to be living a double life–one condemning criminals and one condoning his own crimes–deserves no such respect, honor or admiration.

He SHOULD resign.

However, the judge of the Bible displays 4 characteristics that make Him an impeccable author of justice–and a being far above any charges of corruption or grounds of impeachment:

1. The judge is a person with authority. 

He is both the Lawgiver and the Judge. That’s God’s nature.

2. The judge is a person identified with what is good and right. 

The Bible leaves us in no doubt that God loves righteousness and hates iniquity and that the ideal of a judge wholly identified with what is good and right is perfectly fulfilled in Jesus.

3. The judge is a person of wisdom, to discern truth. 

There is no jury: it his responsibility alone to question, and cross examine. When the Bible pictures God judging it pictures him as a searcher of men’s hearts and the finder of facts. Nothing can escape him.  We may fool men, but we cannot fool God. He knows us, and judges us, as we are.

4. Finally, the judge is a person of power to execute sentence. 

God is his own executioner. Always potent. Always mighty. As he legislates and sentences, so he punishes. All judicial functions pour into him.

But why even have a judge to begin with? Can’t God just overlook our sins? We’ll explore that next week in a post on retribution and grace.

A Portrait of God as Judge

Where the picture of God as a righteous, good, omnipotent Judge couldn’t be more clear.

When Ben Stein asked Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins what he’d say to God if given the opportunity–as seen in the movie –Dawkins, quoting 20th Century philosopher Bertrand Russell, replied: “I’ll ask why did he hide so well.”

At some other time and place atheist  said: “If I face God on Judgment Day, I will tell Him to go to hell.”

More common objections to God…but no less accusatory…sound like this: “You have not done enough” or “One way to salvation is not enough.”

These objections accuse God of being narrow minded. Exclusive. Harsh.

Or, as in Barker’s case, make him out to be a laughable caricature: God as a puny man leaning away from his fury.

Finally, some people will simply plead by saying, “If I’m found guilty before God, I’ll ask him to forgive me. He’s a loving, forgiving God.”

The Problem with Statements Like These

Implicit in all these comments is the idea that God would somehow standby and allow someone to speak. Furthermore, that when in the face of God they’d EVEN be able to speak.

See, the Bible unmistakably describes God as a judge. A judge who is to be respected and feared.

In the Old Testament, God judged Adam and Eve, the corrupt world of Noah’s day, Sodom and Gomorrah, Israel’s Egyptian taskmasters and those who worshiped the golden calf.

God also judged Nadab and Abihu for illegal fire, Korah, Dathan and Abiram for rising up against Moses, Acah for sacrilegious thieving and Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar for their impiety.

Judgement Not Isolated to Old Testament

In the New Testament, judgment falls on the Jews for , on Ananias and Sapphira for lying to God, on , on Elymas the magician for his .

God even brought  at Corinth.

The thought throughout all these Scriptures is that the Mosaic Law is handed down by a just judge who will not hesitate to swiftly, supernaturally and sovereignly punish people who break his law.

The picture of God as an incorruptiblerighteousomnipotent judge couldn’t be more clear.

So, if that’s the case, then why do so many believers and non believers fight the thought of God as a judge to be feared? Good question.

Martin Luther said:

God is called a fire because he utterly destroys the godless and leaves them nothing; nor is there anything that can resist his wrath….The wrath of God is real, not fictitious, not a jest. If it were false, then mercy would be fictitious; for as the wrath, so the mercy which forgives…Christ most assuredly took upon Himself the wrath of God and bore it for us….God punishes in a two-fold manner. In the first place, he does so in grace, as a benevolent father; and the chastisement is temporal. In the second place, He punishes in wrath as a strict judge; and this punishment is eternal.

, “The entire New Testament is overshadowed by the certainty of a coming day of universal judgement and by the problem thence arising: How may sinners get right with God while there is yet time.”

In other words, the Christian view of judgment means that history moves to a goal.

The Essence of Jesus as the Judge

Not only does the New Testament look on to the Day of judgment, the day of wrath, the wrath to come, but it also proclaims Jesus, the divine Savior, as the divinely appointed Judge.

Therefore, the New Testament main authority of final judgment is Jesus Christ.

And He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

Jesus constantly affirmed that in the day when all appear before God’s throne to receive the abiding and eternal consequences of the life they have lived, he himself will be the father’s agent in judgement and his  will be decisive.

In fact, the Gospels of Jesus Christ spend a good deal more space preaching judgment than they do predicting the Messiah and his kingdom.

Consider :

And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

This is a spiritual statement. A moral statement. A statement not to be confused with physical healing.

It’s only appropriate that these are spiritual and moral statements, because the Jesus of the New Testament, who is the wold’s judge, is indeed, the world’s Savior, someone who will come to heal our lawlessness.

Think about it: Who could be a better Savior other than the judge and the executioner?

**Part of The Nature of God series.**