God is love. God is judge. There is no conflict and we can expect him to manifest according to his true nature.
I was first introduced to the concept that God only moves and functions positively when I was planting my first church in Manitou Springs, Colorado. What I was hearing was a strange doctrine that didn’t set well in my spirit, but I endeavored to allow God to change my theology if I was unbalanced or incorrect even slightly. Was it possible that God was more relaxed and carefree than I understood him to be? Was his method of Kingdom advance simply a revelation of how good he his?
I noticed quickly that those who were buying into this philosophy were living without a contending spirit. If the unction for prayer was there it was mostly to enjoy God’s presence (which I highly value, of course) but not to interceded with passion and fire. Desire for experience was there, but fervency in mission was lacking.
The second time I dealt with this fast growing doctrine that exclusively promotes God’s happy nature was in Detroit. After a season of truly amazing encounters in the glory of God I was stricken by the Lord with a severe, weighty message—that season needed to give way to a focus on the blood, the cross, brokenness and repentance. Those who were sold out to a culture of positivity found themselves outside of the “happy sauce” they so enjoyed as they were being called into the depths of God’s heart. Those depths include clearer revelations of God’s mission, of his response to the infection of evil in the land, the cost of his Son’s brutal slaughter on the cross, the horror of Hell and the disease of apathy in the church. The reaction of many was to pull back and dream of the good old days as if God had somehow left the room. He never left. He actually intensified and the way he manifested changed. He was inviting us into the deep realities of the age. He was looking for a remnant army to carry this light but troubling burden.
While I always want to grow in understanding of God’s more positive characteristics, I can’t allow myself to stop my learning at that point. I crave to understand God as he is—in fullness—whether it’s positive, negative, encouraging or troubling. Further, I can’t presume he will only move on the earth in a positive fashion. Honestly, you have to be quite lacking in biblical knowledge to presume that he would be restricted to functioning in that manner. God always has, and still does, move in both revival and judgment. They aren’t competing ideas. They are intentionally intertwined. They go together.
7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. Psalm 9:7-8 (ESV)
WE SHOULD BE PRAYING FOR JUDGMENT
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. 34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:33-34 (ESV)
We should be singing for joy regarding his judgment!
Let me make something clear right up front—judgment isn’t the result of an evil God doing evil things. Judgment is a vehicle used by a loving God to positively impact those who will respond (though the impact will certainly be negative for the rebellious). Judgment is an act of deep love. It has to be as God is love just as he is judge. He doesn’t lay down love when he moves in judgment and he doesn’t forsake justice when he pours out his love.
We as end-time Christians should be ardent supporters of God’s judgment, of his act of love.
In America, we have a justice system. It’s a good one. I can’t imagine anybody reading this wanting to eliminate it in favor of anarchy. When someone murders, that person should be tried and judged—not because we hate that person but because we want them restored and because we love the others who are in harm’s way if they were to go free. We agree with the judge’s verdict of guilty and with the sentence of prison for the sake of both the murderer and the general public.
If we can trust our nation’s justice system, even with all of its inadequacies, we certainly can trust the judgment of a perfect, loving God, right?
People need to know this! It’s critical that we preach about Jesus as the judge. We can’t eliminate that from the gospel message!
42 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. Acts 10:42 (ESV)
I often pray that God will judge me. I actually crave it! I trust him. He loves me and I know that. He’s not evil. He’s not out to destroy me. I need his judgment in my life so any and every issue of my heart is dealt with. I can’t let it fester. It needs to be addressed so I can repent and shift into a life of greater consecration. I know a life that’s compromised by sin can do great damage to me and others. God’s loving judgment in my life will resolve that.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (ESV)
The whole duty of man is to:
- Fear God
- Keep his commandments
Do we understand how critical both fear of the Lord and obedience are?
8 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. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (ESV)
If we don’t obey, judgment will come to us. God will deal with our nation in similar fashion, and we should embrace that—because the judgment that comes after we leave the earth is permanent. Our fate is sealed.
27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, Hebrews 9:27 (ESV)
This should result in the fear of the Lord returning in full force to the church!
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
The Bible tells us that judgment begins in the house of God. This is good, not bad—though the results can be quite terrible if repentance isn’t the result. If we plan on continuing in sin, I can understand why we’d be anti-judgment. That makes sense. However, whether you are opposed to judgment or not makes no difference—it will come to you if you don’t repent.
Those in the church are most definitely at great risk if repentance doesn’t come. Hell is their future.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)
Are you starting to see why judgment now is so glorious? It’s a part of God’s divine plan of redemption. In fact, we as Christians are called to enact judgment in certain situations.
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 (ESV)
For example, if someone continues in sexual sin the church leadership is to turn them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh! When is the last time you saw this happen in a church? Why is such harsh judgment necessary? The Bible tells us its so their spirits might be saved.
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (ESV)
Additionally, we can’t even eat with supposed Christians who are sexually immoral. That type of judgment is mandated. We have no option but to exercise it.
11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 1 Corinthians 5:11-12 (ESV)
Again, the reason we do this is not because we hate people—but because we love them! Judgment now is restorative. The final judgment is not. Judgment now should be celebrated and welcomed as a way to avoid eternal judgment in the end.
49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:49-50 (ESV)
EVIL MUST BE ADDRESSED
When revival comes, that will be the first invitation to the world to surrender their lives fully to Jesus. Those who reject that call will be visited by more direct, negative, persuasive measures—judgment. Again, this is an act of love that will encourage the greatest number of people to respond to God as possible.
Completely different from judgment, however, is God’s wrath. This is what we should be trembling about. When we understand the potential of God’s wrath, and that those who are not in Christ are living under threat of the outpouring of his wrath every second of their lives, judgment will actually be cried out for! We need God’s wise justice to deal with every situation on the planet so his wrath hits as few people as possible.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 (ESV)
12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12 (ESV)
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. 15 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. Matthew 10:14-15 (ESV)
God is much more severe than we often realize! We must address the evil in the land and trusting both revival and God’s judgment are necessary. If judgment doesn’t come, more people will go to hell and evil will overtake the earth. It’s as simple as that.
We can’t fall in love with a God who manifests positively and reject him when he manifests in judgment or wrath.
5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:5 (ESV)
In fact, I believe the rejection of God’s negative traits, of his judgment and wrath, is setting up millions for destruction. How many current Christians will reject God when they see him destroying a fourth and then a third of the earth? How many cursed God when he brought the floods of death to the entire world, save 8?
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:7-8 (ESV)
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. Revelation 9:18 (ESV)
13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:13 (ESV)
How will you react when a holy and just God moves in severe and fearful ways? When God moves negatively, will you presume it’s actually Satan doing it? Or, will fear of the Lord result? This is a critical question!
10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Acts 5:10-11 (ESV)
Will you commit the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit by attributing an act of God to Satan or will true fear of the Lord come upon you?
29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:29-30 (ESV)
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
Christian friend, we should be sober, but we can be at peace!
If we are obedient and serving God in love, the Bible is clear—we are in a very good place!
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:13-20 (ESV)
There is no fear of eternal judgment if we are in the love of God.
However, please take note of the warning that follows in that passage:
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)
Your theology doesn’t save you. Your surrender to Jesus and obedience to him does. We can attempt to rest on the encouragement in the passage shared above in 1 John 4, but actually be unsaved, unprotected from final judgment, if we are haters and liars. If we say we love God but hate another we can’t presume to be exempt from judgment—temporal or eternal.
This is why we must live our lives consecrated and surrendered, fueled by the supernatural grace, the power, of God. If we do, God is well able to keep us.
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
Jesus is coming soon as King and Judge. His Spirit is moving on the earth now. Judgment is here and wrath is coming. Love will win and our eternities hang in the balance. I encourage you to trust God’s judgment in your life. Your eternity hangs in the balance.
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:12-17 (ESV)