The Judgment of God, part II
October 18 05
Last week, we talked about the judgment of God as evidenced by the recent hurricanes. We said that some people, including Franklin Graham, have said that the storms were not the judgment of God. I read one pastor's article in which he argued that God has never judged the righteous with the unrighteous, so the storms could not be the judgment of God.
I want to continue on that thread this week because it is important that we understand the times in which we live. Our perspective determines how we navigate in the world, how we respond to the lost, and how we respond to God.
Jesus says, "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already..." (John 3:18). As we said last week, the world has already been judged. The bad things that happen in this world every day are the consequences of our sin. Everyone is on the way to hell. Everyone is dead in their sins. Physical and spiritual death is God's judgment. We have been condemned and the world suffers for it.
This is why the Gospel is Good News! The substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross paid for our sins. He was buried for three days and then rose from the dead. His resurrection gives us hope, for if He did not rise, neither could we. Therefore, to all who would believe in Him (put their faith in, follow, trust, and obey), comes life. The apostle Paul says that while we were dead in our sins, Christ died for us, that we may live together with Him (Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 2:1-5).
So then, if Christians are no longer under condemnation, how do they figure into the judgment that is upon the world? Paul says, "But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Corinthians 11:32). In admonishing this carnal group of Christians, the apostle makes it clear that bad things happen to Christians because it is the chastening of the Lord. Remember last week, we said that when bad things happen, it may be judgment for the unrighteous, while at the same time, it may serve the purpose of chastening the carnal Christian. In addition, it can be used by the upright to bring opportunity to share the Gospel.
If you read the book of Acts in the Bible, you will see that lots of bad things happened to the apostles and other missionaries, but in each case, we see how the Lord used those situations to further the Gospel. Christians are not immune from tribulations and tragedies, but we are called to obey God in all circumstances and put our trust in Him.
But what we also need to see is that when God brings judgment, everyone is affected. In Acts, chapter 11, we see a Christian named Agabus who warned that there would be a famine throughout all the world. The disciples then sent relief to Christians in Judea. The famine would affect all the world, righteous and unrighteous alike, but the Christians had knowledge beforehand and helped each other. The famine must have affected Christians, else the Christians in Judea would not have needed help. God was bringing judgment on the world, but He allowed Christians to have a way of escape.
Now let's think back to 70 A.D. when the Romans sacked Jerusalem. God was bringing judgment on an unfaithful Israel, but Christians living in the area were also affected. Many of them had to flee just as the unbelieving Jews did. That time in history was one of the worst bloodsheds ever recorded. There was complete chaos. Yet Christians were caught up in it.
God uses natural disasters and world conflict to bring judgment. How that judgment affects us is determined by our relationship with Christ.