The Judgement of God after death, is a very sensitive issue to people. Yet earthly courts and judges are familiar to us. Most countries have laws and judicial systems to see that the laws are adhered to. Because of this people generally like to be on the right side of the law. A traffic cop standing at a road crossing makes our hearts miss a beat.
God made it possible for us to be judicially justified by Jesus so that we do not have to fear the judgement of God. Our sins have been annulled by the death of Jesus on the cross.
Does that mean we will not face God in judgement? Not at all. Scripture teaches:
- 1 Peter 3:17 - ‘Since we call on a God who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear...’
- Hebrews 12:5 - ‘You have come to God, the judge of all men.’
- Hebrews 10:30b - ‘The Lord will judge His people.’
A few issues regarding God’s judgement are the following:
☛ Deeds demonstrate faith. Faith in our hearts is known to God, but who says it is real faith? In the book of James, God clearly describes the difference between faith and deeds: faith without accompanying deeds, is dead (James 2:14-19). Even the demons believe that God exists - and shudder. Yet they continue to do evil. It does not affect their behavior. So the believer who has faith, yet lives the lifestyle of an unbeliever, demonstrates he doesn’t have faith. It is not enough to love and follow God with your mouth. God will judge the deeds of people.
☛The day of judgement will be a public occasion. All people will appear before God sitting on His throne (Revelation 20:12). On that day God’s righteous judgement will be shown so that everyone can see how fair He is. It is in public that sentence will be pronounced. Verifiable evidence will be needed for all to witness. It would be very difficult to present the evidence of faith without facts (deeds) to the court. That would give people the gap to object that they also had faith in God in their hearts. It means that without deeds (and that is what Revelation 20:12 teaches: ‘The dead were judged according to what they had done’) there can be no effective judicial system. No judge can decide if a person is guilty or innocent on the evidence of the thoughts in his/her heart.
☛For a person to be declared ‘Not guilty!’ at the judgement, it is not enough only to accept Jesus as Savior. Obedience to His commands demonstrate that you love Him (John 7:21). All through the Bible, God’s people are exhorted to live a new lifestyle - ‘But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, “Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:16). Holiness means to get rid of those things that are offensive to God and that will disturb eternal peace, like jealousy, hatred, pride, et cetera. To be born again is important. It is the beginning of the life in Christ, but from then on the believer is guided by the Holy Spirit in preparation for eternity. Accepting Jesus as Saviour is not the end, but the beginning of the journey. The Israelites demonstrate this principle vividly. They were God’s people, saved from Egyptian slavery. Yet when they rebelled against God, they all perished in the desert. Not one of them entered the Holy Land (Numbers 14:20-23). In the book of Hebrews the same example is used to warn us (Hebrews 3:7 - 4:7).
There will come a day when we will stand before the living God. Do not be fooled by people who maintain that there is no need to prepare for judgement day, because your sins have been forgiven. It is true that we have been justified freely by grace through Jesus. Yet sanctification is not optional. It is indispensable to be conformed to the character of Christ by the Holy Spirit and the Word. It cannot be neglected.