Does God Judge People?

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Some people think that if there is an after-life, they’ll be able to face whatever happens when they get there just as they’ve faced, and survived, the many unpredictable challenges of this life. Are you like the loosing gambler sure their luck has to change? Do you hope that since life is hard and certainly isn’t always fair, you’re due a break in the next? Do you think that if there is evaluation of your life, like Christians say, the judge or judges will certainly be understanding. If so, you’re certainly not alone. I find people who think like this often presume that their judgement might be something like a courtroom where each person’s good and bad deeds, and certainly their good intentions, will be weighed and if the good outweighs the bad, even just a little bit, then everything will work out in their favor. Have you ever thought that way? If so, you may be in for a surprise.

It’s true that Bible says we will all be judged:

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…” Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. …. we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:9-12 (ESV) “And he [God] commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he [Jesus] is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:42 (ESV) “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” Revelation 20:12 (ESV)

Heaven’s Courtroom Scene

Just for the sake of illustration, let me ask you to imagine that the process does look something like a court trial and you are the defendant. You arrive and are allowed to give whatever evidence you choose. You strategize that since the prosecutor will list all your bad deeds and thoughts, perhaps even putting an evil slant on actions you think should receive leniency because your motives weren’t that evil, your plan is to present all your good deeds with a favorable spin because you intended to do good. To be fair, God has a very objective transcript of all your actions and thoughts made available – after all, it would be tragic if you forgot just one good deed that would have tipped the scales in your favor. Le’ts also suppose, to be fair, you are given all the time you want so you can find every thought and action you are sure was good. Finally, after you’ve rehearsed all your good deeds and thoughts, you take your seat, certain that these are more impressive than any litany of unfavorable ones the court is about to hear. Like many of us, the famous Apostle Paul had once planned such a defense based on his upbringing and accomplishments. Listen to his words:
“If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:4b-7a (ESV)

A Devastating Blow

The prosecutor stands, gives a short summary and sits down. Perhaps the summary will be something like this:
“Your honor, all that the defendant has just presented is precisely the case against them. Their own testimony proves that they would rather stand on their own merit than live humbly dependent on you. They have defined “good” and even you, in their own terms, rejecting your instruction and your Spirit’s work in and through their lives. They have never accepted that your character defines good and your perfection demands that acting unlike you even once, has earned their destruction just as you explained to the first human. They have never accepted your offer of reconciliation through the sacrifice that paid for their sins so they could come to know you. They stand on their own merit as if they are their own God. Their own testimony shows that they cannot share an intimate union with you, fully depending on your just and righteous being. They cannot partake of eternal life, for you are eternal life.”
It must have been a devastating blow to Paul when the resurrected Jesus appeared to him one day on the road to Damascus to announce that all Paul was doing thinking it would earn God’s acceptance was a waste of time. Paul was so mortified that it was still fresh in his mind decades later when  he wrote this:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—” Philippians 3:7-9 (ESV)
Rubbish? That translation is a euphemism. The word in the original language is closer to dung (and that’s still a polite translation!). Paul jettisoned every single bit of hope that any accomplishment could make up for his sin and earn God’s acceptance. But more importantly, he found that eternal life came only through a living relationship with Jesus Christ based on trust. In another letter he put it this way:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Galatians 2:20-21 (ESV)

God Keeps Two Kinds of Books

You see God keeps two kinds of books, one of deeds and one of names. If, in the final accounting you want God to look in the books of deeds for your name, fine. But if you parade your deeds you will find yourself in a place of no hope, none, – ever again. [1] Matt. 8:12, 22:13, 25:30 Jesus repeatedly described this place. It is a place of darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth. Thankfully there is another kind of book. It’s much smaller because it only has names, no deeds. The folks listed in that book have told God to ignore their entry in the other books, and decided to rely only upon Christ’s sacrifice in their place instead. They don’t want even one of their deeds brought up. They have come to know that His death on the cross grants anyone the forgiveness they need to be reconciled with God and share in eternal life. Perhaps you still find life an uncertain struggle. Perhaps you’re living as if something you can do will help earn eternal life and lasting peace. If so, you are acting on a lie. God is eternal life, so you have to have a relationship with Him to have His life and peace. You can only come into that relationship through His loving sacrifice for the eternal death we all deserve for our rebellion. Jesus was sent by the Father to die as a human on Earth in the place of all humans so reconciliation with the Father is available to anyone. [2] Rom 5:12-21; 1John 2:2; 1John 4:14; Gal. 3:10-11; Eph. 2:8-9 There is nothing stopping your name from being in the book of life except your pride.

Which Book Do You Want Jesus To Judge You From?

Which book do you want God to get your name from in the end, the book of deeds or the Lamb’s Book of Life? Your choice. But you have to make it before your current body dies. That’s it. No second chances. That’s God’s statement, not mine.
“He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5-6 (NASB)

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