How Is Judgment Related to the Gospel? (Fourteen 5)

In the New Testament generally, judgment is closely related to the gospel and it comes in three phases. First of all, judgment occurred at the cross (John 12:31; Rev. 5:5-10). The entire human race was judged in the person of its representative, Jesus Christ. At the cross, human sin was condemned in the suffering and death of Christ (Rom. 8:3). Then at the resurrection, the entire human race was approved in the person of Christ and raised from the dead (Acts 13:32-33). So the Christ event delivers two messages regarding the human race. One, the entire human race is condemned on account of its rebellion and sin. Two, the entire human race is acceptable to God in Jesus Christ. These two messages together are the sum total of the gospel. One without the other is unbalanced and leads to discouragement or licentiousness.

Second, throughout the New Testament judgment language is closely associated with the preaching of the gospel. Whenever the gospel is preached people are called into judgment based on their response to what Christ did on the cross. The preaching of the gospel is judgment hour (John 3:18-21; 5:22-25). People see how impossible it is for humanity on its own to be acceptable to God. At the same time they see how the death and resurrection of Jesus (the essence of the gospel—1 Cor 15:1-4) removes all barriers to full acceptance with God. If both these things are true, the preaching of the gospel is the most decisive moment in anyone’s life. In my view, this is the background to the four horsemen of the seals (Rev. 6:1-8). They portray the going forth of the gospel, the victorious response of those who accept it and the increasing consequences of rejection. The gospel is the supreme reality of the whole Christian era.

Third, there is a judgment at the end which ratifies the judgments we passed on ourselves in response to the hearing of the gospel (John 12:48). This is not double jeopardy. The end-time judgment ratifies the judgments we made on ourselves when the call of the gospel came to us. While the book of Revelation references the first (Rev 5) and second (Rev 6:1-8) phases of judgment in symbolic terms, it reserves the language of judgment for this end-time phase (Rev. 11:18; 14:7; 17:1; 20:4). In Rev. 14:7, the second and third phases of judgment outlined above occur together. The close of probation occurs when the final proclamation of the gospel (Rev 14:6-12) has divided the whole world into two camps (Rev 12:17). The second phase of the judgment (in the preaching of the gospel) is completed at the same time as the third phase. That is what we call the close of probation.

10 thoughts on “How Is Judgment Related to the Gospel? (Fourteen 5)

  1. Zog Has-fallen

    Jon, your article reminds me of the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the plan of redemption, which I affirm:

    “The sanctuary services emphasized three aspects of Christ’s work for us: sacrifice, mediation, and judgment. In general, the three parts of the sanctuary corresponded to these three kinds of ministry. Sacrifice occurred in the court, mediation in the holy place, and judgment in the Most Holy Place.”

    I especially appreciate your abandonment of the outdated “Investigative Judgment” phraseology and recognizing Christ’s emphasis instead, which you embrace: “The end-time judgment ratifies the judgments we made on ourselves.” This requires a new name. I propose that we call this revision to the SDA “Investigative Judgment” doctrine the great, final, awesome settling of destiny.

      1. Zog Has-fallen

        In my mind, the Great, Final, Awesome Settling of Destiny is a good phrase is because it correctly represents the pre-Advent judgment as an extraordinarily solemn event and I dare the enemies of Christ’s doctrine to pronounce its memorable and catchy acronym, the Great FASOD, as the Great Façade.

  2. Robert Whiteman

    Something wrong with the term “investigative judgment”? Why?
    Follow along…

    Something had changed in the garden where all had been called “very good” by the Creator. Adam was nowhere to be found, and the usual excited greetings were replaced with silent absence. Anyone here? When finding man naked, afraid, and hiding, God asked questions, investigating what could have gone wrong.

    The blood cried out from the ground, and God questioned Cain concerning his now dead brother, righteous Abel, investigating the cause of the blood crying out.

    God looked and saw(raah) the wickedness of man, and after His investigation of the wickedness, called righteous Noah to construct a shelter from the coming storm.

    After the flood, God came down to see(raah) the swelling tide of unbelief as man congregated to build a great tower with the concern that God’s promise would fail.

    The rumors were shocking, so God went to see(raah) for Himself, sharing His intentions with righteous Abraham before descending to investigate the cities of the plain.

    See the pattern so far, and we’re just into Genesis? Doesn’t in make sense that God works in an fair, transparent manner, and will do so again before bringing His reward with Him “to give to every man according to His works”? Observe the man without the wedding garment, as the King asks; “friend, how is it that you are here without the garment?”, God gave close investigation, resulting in the binding and casting out of the speechless man. This symbolizes the investigative judgement doesn’t it, as do each of the accounts listed above. God gives to all a choice, making no judgment until the chosen course is made clear by the resulting “works” of either faith or unbelief.

    No judgment at the cross or resurrection. Judgment comes only upon those who have demonstrated their choice which the death and resurrection now afforded sinners to make. We have been given control of our eternal destiny due to the great propitiation Jesus made for our sins according to the scriptures. Daniel tells of a specific time appointed for judgment, which will determine who have demonstrated works of faith, and who have demonstrated works of unbelief. Those found unrepentant in unbelief will be judged later according to their works.

    The eternal sentence will follow. Then, “the meek shall inherit the earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace”.

    Now is the time to “repent and believe the Gospel”, for “the hour of His judgment has come”!
    What type of judgment do you wish to call it?

    p.s. God does not investigate for His own knowledge. This is about all His creation understanding the true nature of sin and the goodness and justice of His law.

    1. Zog Has-fallen

      Those are not investigative judgments. Those are interrogational judgments. Repeatedly, God first interrogates the culpable to clarify for all involved the magnitude of the grievous sins committed and then passes judgment. Clearly, the Interrogational Judgment (Matthew 25:14-30 cf. Luke 19:11-27) has nothing to do with fact-finding or the scrutinizing of life-histories to enable Jesus Christ to judge fairly. Unquestionably, the purpose of this judgment is to ratify judgments already made.

      How then should the New Testament doctrine of The Great, Final, Awesome Settling of Destiny be summarized?

      I propose the following:

      The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son (John 5:22). Christ will not judge believers (John 5:24). He will not even accuse the wicked (John 5:45). Nevertheless, Jesus Christ will confirm the judgment that we have of ourselves. In this judgment, Christ merely listens to all the confessions made and responds accordingly (Matthew 25:14-30).

      John 12:46-48
      I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

      Matthew 7:1-2
      Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

      Luke 6:45
      The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

      Matthew 12:37
      For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

  3. Robert Whiteman

    Doesn’t it depend on how you view the meaning of the phrase in John 12:31? What or who was judged and in what way(more on this below)? Daniel clearly points to a judgment “after 2300 days, then…” doesn’t he? This take place long after the cross, after the ending of the 1260 days, over 1800 years after Jesus’ death. So what judgment is Jesus referring to here in John 12? Could Jesus be referring to the condemnation against sin displayed by the wrath of God being poured out upon Jesus in our stead? His sacrifice proves the law as unchanging and sin is condemned(krisis) in Jesus’ death, proving that the wages of sin is death, and the serpent’s “you will not surely die” is exposed as a lie. So perhaps a general condemnation of sin and those who choose to harbor it? (this seems most likely to me)

    I simply don’t see any judgment upon individuals with eternal outcome as God sets forth Jesus as the great propitiation for sin. That judgment comes later to determine who has received Jesus as Savior when the sanctuary is to be cleansed. The dead(lost) are judged after Jesus comes for His people and returns to “heaven” with the trophies of His grace.

    There is the idea of this demonstrating the nearly finished “transgression” of the Jews by their treatment of their Messiah, completely finished with the stoning of Stephen. Could this apply?

    I don’t really have a concrete answer at this time.

  4. Sandy Eickmann

    I am a bit hesitant to jump into a blog like this when I have no theological training and I have never done anything like this, but I do have a burden about the gospel that I have seen shining through in Scripture when judgment is addressed. Sometimes I think we get busy as Seventh-day Adventists doing apologetics and miss the pure beauty and joy of judgment in Scripture. First I have noticed a pattern of judgment often being about God dealing with Satan and saving His people in judgment scenes. For instance when Jesus promises the Holy Spirit what He says the Holy Spirit will emphasize:

    11 and concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has been judged. (John 16:11 NAU)

    And in Daniel 7 the scenes weave back and forth from the “little horn” hassling, persecuting and overcoming the saints to judgment scenes as (I believe) the solution to the “little horn.” Examples:

    21 “I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them
    22 until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One,
    (Daniel 7:21-22 NAU)
    they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
    26 ‘But the court will sit for judgment, (Daniel 7:25-26 NAU)

    And when God does call His people into judgment look how He treats them and how He makes a case for relationship. I would be terrified if God introduced a judgment prospect like this but look at what He says to the people.

    1Hear now what the LORD is saying, “Arise, plead your case before the mountains, And let the hills hear your voice.
    2 “Listen, you mountains, to the indictment of the LORD, And you enduring foundations of the earth, Because the LORD has a case against His people; Even with Israel He will dispute.
    3 “My people, what have I done to you, And how have I wearied you? Answer Me.
    (Micah 6:1-3 NAU)

    And look at this very favorite passage of many people. It is in the middle of a judgment scene.
    I know so little about chiastic structures and all of that but it seems to be at the mountain top of a lawsuit.

    18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NAU)

    The word “reason” or, “yakah” in the Hebrew, is a judgment word. Here is a comment from Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon regarding the use of “yakah” in this passage:

    … However, the most familiar passage where yakah occurs is in Isa 1:18 which is within a covenant lawsuit. Following a record of rebellion where Yahweh, the plaintiff, condemns Judah for their self-designed religious festivals (Isa 1:10-15), Isaiah issues a call to repentance (Isa 1:16-20). Within this “let us reason together” (KJV, NIV as meaning “Iet us debate our case in court…)”

    I have many more examples but that seems like enough for this kind of post.

    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      This is a great posting. I really resonated with your comment: “Sometimes I think we get busy as Seventh-day Adventists doing apologetics and miss the pure beauty and joy of judgment in Scripture.”


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