You are loved. God loves you. Jesus loves you. Holy Spirit loves you.
You were created out of love and for love. God is love, and you were made in God’s image.
I think that should be the end of the story. The Bible should be only two chapters long. After Genesis 2:25 – “the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame” – it should say, ‘And then they lived happily ever after.’ Instead we have Genesis 3:1 – “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made.” Maybe it could go to Genesis 3:5 where the serpent tempts the woman, and then I’d love to read how she ignored him and turned to God. But that’s not how the story goes.
Instead we are in this situation. We can rejoice that God loves us, but we have to admit that there is a difficulty.
The difficulty is that the perfect world of love that God created for us would stop being perfect if we were allowed in. Were are sinful creatures. If our sin were allowed into heaven, it would instantly cease to be heaven. God loves us and wants us to live in the perfect world of love he created for us. But he cannot allow sin in.
God has a plan. The design of his plan is based upon love. God’s plan is the way it is because of his overwhelming love for his children. It is important to remember this when we read in the Bible about judgement day. Judgement exists because first and foremost, God loves you.
This is where for a long time I got confused. A lot of people get confused. Let’s try to remove some of the confusion.
In his letter to the Romans Paul says in 6:10: “Because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
This and other verses like it leads some of us to emphasise an angry God who on that fearsome day will be handing out terrible punishment. It’s a really scary picture. Judgement begins to feel like standing in front of someone who is extremely angry and has the power and the desire to do nasty things to you. I thought God was like my headmaster at secondary school.
And in Romans 2:10 Paul says: “But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.”
Paul writes to the Ephesians in 2:8: “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 says: “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.”
In John 5:24 Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”
So here is a confusion that needs clearing up. We are already saved (Ephesians 2:8). We will never be condemned for our sins (John 5:24). At the same time, we are going to stand before Christ to be judged (2 Corinthians 5:10).
We have been saved. We will still be judged on judgement day.
What does this mean? Are we really saved? If we are saved, why will we be judged?
On Judgement Day we will stand before a loving God. We will stand in front of a God who loves us so much it kills him. We will stand in front of Jesus.
Jesus knows how much punishment we deserve. He knows that we are so bad we deserve to be tied up and tortured. And then we to be nailed to a tree while we slowly die. He knows because it was done to him instead of us when he took our place and our penalty.
In a law court an honest judge listens to all of the evidence with an open mind. When it is time for judgement, the judge lays out all the facts without emotion.
This is not your mother shouting, ‘Why did you break my vase? It was precious.’
God knows exactly who did what. Why they did it. What the consequences were. God knows it all. Judgement is the moment when God explains it all to you. In front of everyone. Including your mother.
It is not so much that we were judged as ‘good’ or ‘evil’ but instead we were simply rewarded in the next life based on our choice in this life. Therefore, if we choose to accept the salvation that Jesus offers we are rewarded by being in his presence (heaven) and if we choose to reject this salvation we are separated from God (hell). This is wholly fair and right – after all it is exactly what we chose.
Romans 3:23 tells us that all men have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. We are bad. Jesus has offered us a free gift that allows us to overcome this. This is the free gift of salvation and through him we will be perfected and repaired to the good state from which we fell.
When you stand in front of the judgement seat, Jesus will be smiling at you. He will greet you warmly by name. He will explain to you the rewards that are waiting for you.
This is the moment when you will really understand how much God loves you. You will see clearly just how much you have been forgiven. You will see clearly how much grace and mercy he has showered upon you.
Jesus will reveal the true nature of a believer’s heart to him or her. As Mark 7 says, It is the vile things that come from within that defile you. He’ll uncover it all. Every rebellious act, wrong attitude, and cutting word will be reviewed.
When Isaiah 25:8 says that Jesus will wipe the tears from our eyes, it is referring to this time. We’ll be standing in the holy Saviour’s presence, grieving over how undeserving we are of his sacrifice. The sorrow will last only a moment. On its heels comes the tremendous joy of having received forgiveness and lived a life pleasing to him. Christ’s judgement is not a punishment; it is a reminder that we are pardoned. At last, we will fully realize the depth and breadth of his grace.
Believers need not cower or hang their heads during the judgement. Nor are we to repent – the time for that is past. We will stand before the Lord, clothed in Christ’s righteousness and forgiven of every single sin. And we will at last comprehend how great is the love of our God for us.
Colossians 2:13 says, “God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.”
This is why we don’t need to fear God’s judgement once we have committed our lives to Christ, for now we’ve been cleansed of all our sins. We deserved God’s punishment, for we were guilty of breaking his law — but Christ took all our sins upon himself, and he endured the punishment that we deserved. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
Why, then, must we still stand before God some day, even as believers? The reason is so God can reward us for what we have done for him. The Bible doesn’t explain in detail what those rewards may be – but it reminds us that we are still accountable to him for how we live. Our greatest reward, however, will be to hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. … Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:23)
Is your goal to serve yourself — or to serve Christ? Make sure of your commitment to him, and then put him first in everything you do.
He judges you because he loves you and wants to celebrate together!