Isa. 64:6 π Mt. 7:22-23 π Mt. 12:31 π Mt. 13:41-43 π Mt. 15:6 π Mk. 3:28-30 π Lk. 9:23-24 π Jn. 10:10 π Jn. 14:23 π Jn. 14:26 π Acts 17:24-31 π Rom. 2:6-11 π Rom. 2:11 π Rom. 10:17 π 1 Cor. 13:5 π 2 Cor. 6:14 π Eph. 2:10 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 2 Ths. 2:11-12 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 2 Tim. 2:15 π Heb. 10:30 π Heb. 12:22-23 π Jas. 1:17 π 1 Pet. 4:17 π 1 Jn. 4:8 π Rev. 9:20 π Rev. 19:2 π Rev. 20:7-9 π Rev. 22:14-15
"But you have come...to God the Judge of all..." ( Heb. 12:22-23; top ) No lawyer in his right mind would take a case before a judge without first explaining all the legal risks and ramifications of the case to his client. Yet many a "church" has routinely failed to lay out the spiritual risks and ramifications of going before Him who is the Judge of all. Whole denominations equate eternal salvation with the individual's "sinner's prayer" (which cannot be found anywhere in the Scriptures) and then teach the "once saved, always saved" error or look to the "bema seat" of Christ to exempt them from all judgment whatsoever so as to keep their congregations at ease in their self-centered affluence and self-righteous religiosity. While this extreme is not true of all "churches" (it remains most true of those who cannot see at all any truth whatsoever in this observation about themselves!), nearly every congregation (particularly in this nation) labors under or against this pervasive influence as the "church" has all but lost sight of the standards by which God - who is the Judge of all - will decide whom to reward and whom to punish.
Paul wrote, "[God] 'will render to each one according to his deeds'; eternal life to those who by patient continuation in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness - indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also to the Greek; but glory, honor and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God." ( Rom. 2:6-11 - emphasis added; top)
Let us note carefully that one is judged by his works, his deeds, his actions, his behaviors and that these things are separated into two categories: good and evil. Unlike the "church's" "gospel" - which often requires each attendee to decide for himself what is good and evil (notice the fruit of the wrong tree and notice also that that which the leadership of the institution deems to be good and evil is not to be challenged or questioned!) and which teaches that one's actions toward Christ are the only factor by which "Christians" will be judged - unlike all this error, Paul writes that everyone (Jew or Gentile and now we might add Christian) will be judged according to whether their lives were good or evil.
Whereas good is not fully explained in this passage, it is sufficiently contrasted by the descriptions of evil that we can know what God requires of those who will receive eternal life, glory, honor and peace. Evil in this passage is said to be:
- Disobedient to the truth,
- Obedient to Unrighteousness, and
- Doing evil.
Self-seeking: Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." ( Lk. 9:23-24; top ) Almost the entire "church" world is turned around on this point of the real gospel. "Church" is for most who attend often only a convenient weekend add-on to one's already overly busy, self-centered (me and mine) lifestyle and has almost nothing to do with a life lived in personal, self-sacrificing obedience to the King, Christ Jesus.
Nor is self-seeking limited to the blatant acts and ways of obeying selfish and self-centered desires. Nearly the whole of Christendom is segregated into sects, factions and "theological" camps (commonly called denominations) whereby one is expected to choose which variant of "Christianity" is most compatible with one's own personality type or one's individual, personal tastes in "religion." The Bible calls this doing what is right in one's own eyes lawlessness - and warns us that it has nothing in common with true righteousness (what is right in God's eyes - 2 Cor. 6:14; top )
Disobedient to the truth: To be disobedient infers that one is making a deliberate choice away from the truth. To make a deliberate choice means that, while one may not clearly understand all that one is hearing, the hearer knows that what he is hearing is the truth. One can disobey the truth because it challenges one's half-buried, presupposed paradigms or because obeying the truth would seem to cost too much to "possibly be true." But one cannot disobey what one has not heard - as surely as faith cannot be had unless one hears the truth. ( Rom. 10:17; top )
The "church" behaves as if Christ were the only truth one can disobey and lose any hope of eternal life. In a sense (though this sense is rarely if every brought out) this is true. For the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of truth. Wherever and however the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of truth, touches us, we have the opportunity to obey or disobey Him. Truth is not a list of precepts, doctrines and dogmas that we can intellectually know and agree to. He is a Spirit whom we either obey, ignore, resist or reject. Those who disobey the Spirit of truth are those destined to incur God's wrath and rejection - even if they have been the "pastor" or a faithful "church" member most or even all of their "Christian" life!
Obedient to unrighteousness: Righteousness, most simply put, is doing what is right in God's eyes. Obeying unrighteousness then is to do anything not right in God's eyes. Paul gave a stern warning to those who take pleasure in some form of unrighteousness. He wrote, "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." ( 2 Ths. 2:11-12; top ) The way one practices "church" may very well be a factor of judgment against one who has routinely heard the teachings of Christ and just as routinely practiced and took pleasure in playing "church" as was right in their own eyes.
John left an equally severe warning: "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie." ( Rev. 22:14-15 - emphasis added; top) These things all have in common replacing some true part or relation with God with some deception or counterfeit.
Doing evil: To understand this general description, we must know what true good is. All good things come from God. ( Jas. 1:17 ) Anyone doing evil, therefore, is simply doing things that are not from God. Those who truly love Christ and God obey Him ( Jn. 14:23 ) and do the good works that God prepared beforehand for them to do. ( Eph. 2:10; top ) Anyone who does not obey Him and does not do these good works which God prepared for him to do is one who does what is evil in the eyes of God.
The "church" pressures people to participate in some "ministry" (often something that serves the institution men commonly call "church") and this personal-preference choice is based on a list of activities perceived as "good." But the old-folks home visitation program really only demonstrates to the shut-ins that they're really only worth an hour or so a week (that's not agape!) and the juvenile offender counseling program teaches the offender that they're only valued while they're incarcerated - after they're released, most often they don't even have a phone number to reach their "friend" and "brother" who had all that "love" to share while he was in jail. The "ministries" of the "church," when their fruit is seen for what it really is, are not the good thing many suppose them to be. Only those things which God has prepared beforehand are truly good. All else are counterfeit.
Patient continuance in doing good: Let us now examine what Paul says will gain one eternal life, glory, honor and peace - a patient continuance in doing good. Again, let us recall that truly good things come from God. Thus this patient continuance in doing good is a persistent pressing into the very Person and Nature of God. If our "good deeds" are not done continually nor done in connection with the leading of God's Spirit, they simply are not good deeds. They are simply filthy rags in the sight of God. ( Isa. 64:6; top ) Random acts of kindness performed for their own sakes simply is not the good deeds we must patiently continue in to attain to eternal life.
We must also recognize the motive behind our patient continuance in doing good - we seek for glory, honor and immortality. The glory and honor here is reputation or valuation in the eyes of God - it is not self-glory nor the glory of men. It is what Paul writes of to young Timothy: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed..." ( 2 Tim. 2:15 ) And the immortality we seek is not the perpetuation of our own self but rather the immersion of our selves into the eternal, abundant life which Christ came to bring to all who believe in Him. ( Jn. 10:10; top ) If we practice "good deeds" because it makes us feel good about ourselves or even because we perceive our acts as good for those we help, we have not placed ourselves into the category of people who will receive eternal life from God.
Christ, the King, is the very center of the standards by which every man will be judged - but not in the way the "church" quite often presents it. Christ - the Spirit who is truth, selflessness, love and goodness - is so much the center that His name and the historical facts of His crucifixion and resurrection, when truly absent from an individual's life, are simply not a factor in that individual's judgment even as his routine interactions with truth, self-centeredness, evil and goodness will be the basis by which he is judged. In other words, each individual who has ever existed or will exist - whether he ever hears the name or gospel of Christ or not - spends his entire life bumping into the Spirit of life, truth and goodness, that Spirit who is Christ and God. When viewed from this perspective, the name of Christ and the historical facts of His crucifixion and resurrection - when present - are simply milestones and signposts in one's embrasure or rejection of God's Spirit.
This recognition that we will be judged by the goodness or evil we produce with our lives almost entirely eliminates the institutional, standardized approach so common at many a "church." One cannot concoct a list of behaviors and call that "holiness" - true holiness is a Spirit, the Spirit of Christ and God. One cannot concoct a list of dogmas and ideas and call that "truth" - truth, real truth, is a Spirit, the Spirit of Christ and God. One cannot concoct a list of activities and call that "ministry" - the attitude of ministry (serving others) is a Spirit, the Spirit of Christ and God who is also called the Helper. ( Jn. 14:26 ) Anyone who concocts such lists and brings others into bondage to such lists will answer to the one Judge for their own departure - and the departure of these others! - from the Spirit of truth, love and goodness! These lists, apart from His Spirit, is precisely how one constructs a tradition of men that wars against the Word of God ( Mt. 15:6 ) or how one comes under the influence of the teachings of demons. ( 1 Tim. 4:1; top )
Make no mistake - the Lord will judge His people ( Heb. 10:30 ) and His judgment will be impartial. ( Rom. 2:11 ) An often overlooked fact is that love is not easily provoked. ( 1 Cor. 13:5 ) God is love. ( 1 Jn. 4:8 ) All manner of sin and blasphemy against God will be forgiven men (except the blasphemy against the Spirit which is most often committed by religious leaders who denounce true preachers of righteousness as possessed of demons so that they can retain their own stranglehold over others - see Mt. 12:31 , Mk. 3:28-30 ) Because God has so patiently and persistently pursued and contacted each and every individual by His Spirit throughout the whole of their life, His judgment of their reactions to Him will be impartial, just and fair. God's patient and persistent love for mankind will be so apparent to all that we will cry out, "Righteous and true are your judgments, O God!" ( Rev. 19:2 ) This is also why the Bible says that God's judgment will start with those who are His own. ( 1 Pet. 4:17; top )
This is the gospel of the kingdom which Paul preached! Hear again Paul's message to the Athenians:
"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hopes that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'
"Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." ( Acts 17:24-31; top )
Let us note with great soberness and clarity the many points that Paul raises here that stand in stark contrast to modern "churchianity":
- Because He is Lord of heaven and earth, He does not dwell in temples made by human efforts. So why do we build all those temples, "sanctuaries," "churches" and dare to call them the "house of God"?
- God's whole structuring of human history is designed to cause men to continually bump into His Spirit of life, truth, love and goodness in the hope that some might actually grope around and find Him! Finding Him is not to be just a personal "spiritual enrichment" class or seminar for the weekends or for one or two days of the week!
- The Divine Nature is not something shaped by man's devising - but "church" theology, and particularly its institutional hierarchies, certainly is!
- The "church" teaches: "Come hear our guy preach and if you like what you hear, you can come and go as you like and do as much or as little as you like." The King still commands all men everywhere to repent and obey only Him!
- We know, as surely as we know the historical fact of His resurrection, that one day He will judge all men.
- Even though God strikes down many with plagues of judgment, those who survive will not repent of insisting on having a "God" they can construct, maintain, manipulate and control with their own hands. ( Rev. 9:20 ) "Church" - by which men practice what is right in their own eyes in the name of Christ - will continue until the day He returns. (see 2 Ths. 2:3 , Mt. 13:41-43; top )
- Satan, after being bound for 1,000 years, will still be able to find people who, having personally experienced firsthand the peace, order and righteousness of Christ's kingdom, will rise up against God in rebellion and disobedience. ( Rev. 20:7-9; top )
No matter how good God is to humankind, there are always those who reject His goodness. It is those who most refuse to admit their own lack of goodness who are the most prone to reject His truth, goodness, light and life when He presents Himself to them by His gentle, soft, subtle spiritual touch.
Jesus said, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" ( Mt. 7:22-23; top )
Even though God has persistently and patiently drawn all men to His Spirit of truth, love and goodness - and made the way plain for all to see in Christ Jesus - judgment day will still hold many surprises for many a deceived soul. The gospel of Christ's kingdom still rings out loudly with the proclamation that the King has come - make straight His way into your heart!
Let he who has ears hear.
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!