Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


‘Any fully biblical understanding of God must inevitably include a doctrine of judgement’. Evaluate this statement in the light of the biblical statements about character and attributes of God.

NOTE - Statements about God in this essay are looking at God from the biblical viewpoint. This essay does not teach the existence of God.

God’s feelings?
 
We cannot have a dignified or biblical understanding of God as judge unless we see that he is not like a human judge who may be influenced or controlled by the passions.

God is not influenced by anything or anyone for he is simply perfect [Mt 5:48] therefore Christians feel they can be sure that we will all get only pure justice or pure mercy from him when he calls us before his judgment seat.

To my mind, feelings affect us but are to be distinguished from us as living beings. We are not our feelings. If God is perfect in himself then to say he is influenced or compelled by feelings is to deny that he is perfect. You only need influence or are subject to it if you are not all-knowing and all-powerful.

The Bible says God made all things, implying that he made all things not out of a need to but out of pure generosity. Thus God is free from the control of passions and able to be totally impartial in his justice.

These doctrines go with the doctrine of God. Most of the world has been fooled to think they actually want to believe in God. They cannot if they know he is impersonal and emotionless. A person who loves such a God above all things is simply damaged.
 
Sin

Sin is a criminal act in which one acts independently of divine authority [Jensen, P. J., Doctrine 1, (Moore Bible College, 1996), p. 112]. It is disobedience to God.

The Bible God is a God of love and justice and mercy therefore he has to exercise authority. Authority means the right to give commands and to punish if they are not carried out.

A God that is not an authority is not a God so belief in God necessarily goes with the hideous idea of a punishing God.

One of their God’s major attributes is the attribute of holiness. Holy means to separate or set apart [HOLY, Biblical Dictionary and Concordance, New American Bible, page 82]. If God is love, he separates from what is not love and requires us to do the same. Thus God is intolerant of evil. It is a mistake to think that God tolerates us sinning.  He shows us his love and mercy to win us back. But we must co-operate if that is to happen. The Bible says we will be justly cast out into the outer darkness if we do not.

The first five books of the Bible comprise God’s Torah or Law. They make it plain that God has full authority to make laws. Therefore he has the right to judge. God exercises his love and justice and his infinite knowledge through the Law.
 
Responsibility and Judging
 
If we are without responsibility, then we cannot sin. The Bible says we are all sinners without exception [Rom. 5:12]. It says we abused our personal responsibility.
 
The Christians say that if I pretend I do not have this power or to ask others to pretend they don’t have it either, is to put us all on the level of the man who denies the existence of gravity. They say that there will be little spiritual peace in the one who tries to maintain this façade. This is nonsense for there are happy deniers of free will and sin.
 
God gave us the right to conquer and reign over the earth [Gen 1:28]. “If you give your oldest daughter the responsibility to baby-sit your younger children, you must also give her the authority to judge - that is, to apply the rules that determine what behaviour is acceptable and what is not permitted” [Prince, D. Judging When? Why? How?. (Whittaker House, 2001) p. 39]. I like that example for it shows how having responsibility means having the authority to judge. God if he exists has responsibility over us and the universe. And if we are his children and if he has given us the universe, then we have responsibility and have the right to judge as God would judge. But nobody these days wants to think about that!
 
The Bible says God has given us the responsibility to serve him with all our hearts and to care for others as we do ourselves.
 
God supposedly gave us this responsibility not as a burden for us but as an act of love and therefore justice. If so, then we do not appreciate it we do not appreciate his love. If we cannot appreciate his love we cannot appreciate his justice.
 
Divine Mercy

Let us look at the Christian teaching on mercy.

Mercy is not the same as forgiveness though the two are closely related. God possesses the attribute of mercy.

Mercy is not a case of God repudiating his justice to act with love towards the sinner. Mercy and justice work in harmony. Mercy is the just thing to do - if a person is truly repentant then it is unjust to deprive him of the chance to make amends and prove that repentance.

Forgiveness, unlike mercy, need not be linked to justice. You can forgive unjustly.

When God forgives he forgives as our Abba Father.
 
When God has mercy he is doing so as our judge.

God forgives and therefore God judges.

Before we explore the relationship between forgiving and judging, we must ensure that we do not mistake condoning for forgiving.

Forgiveness requires that God judges behaviour as wrong and a relationship as damaged or broken.

Forgiveness requires that God judges the sinner to be repentant as the prophet Ezekiel and Jesus both stress.

Forgiveness is granted as a gift to the sinner - the sinner does not earn forgiveness by repentance [Eph. 2:8-10].

Condoning makes excuses for the behaviour and refuses to admit there is any damage or that it is important. To forgive a person who has not repented is not an act of love. It is basically permitting them to persist in evil - an evil that can destroy them. It is not real forgiveness but a counterfeit. It is really an attempt to put love up against justice with love winning out. But real love and real justice will work together - just as they do in God. Condoning implicitly blasphemes the justice of God - why bother with justice if we should treat sinners and saints alike?

The Bible says that those who die unreconciled to God for their sins will suffer everlasting estrangement from him in the irrevocable and permanent state of Hell. Some say that Hell is about God’s love not his justice. They argue that God loves the people there so much that he lets them get it their own way. But that is divorcing justice and love in God. The people in Hell are also there because God has sentenced them to it as their judge and punisher.

Christians say that a correct and healthy view of forgiveness leads to a correct and healthy view of judgement.

In Christian teaching, God only forgives when the sinner truly repents [Lk 13:3, 1 Jn 1:9]. God does not forgive us simply because our sins are all in the past. He forgives them because he judges that we can and intend to try to avoid sin in the future with his help and assistance.

The modern claim, "I believe in a forgiving God who never judges", makes no sense. God has to judge to forgive. These people are fans of condoning evil and not fans of mercy and justice. They do not believe in God's forgiveness and if it is necessary for salvation then they are in trouble!

The Fall and Divine Justice

The Bible and the Christian faith say that the whole human race originated from Adam and he was our representative and so acted in our place before God and he chose to rebel or sin and the result was that the whole human race was estranged from God. So we have supposedly have inherited a sinful nature from Adam. Thus in the sight of divine justice we deserve only wrath [Eph 2:3 - “We were entirely children of [divine] rage, as the rest.” Aramaic Bible in Plain English (2010)]. We sin because we are sinners - we are not sinners because we sin.

Christians teach that they cannot understand the biblical teachings of the love and mercy of God and the salvation won by Jesus Christ without understanding the fall and how serious it was and is.

To deny that God is judge is to deny a foundational teaching of the New Testament - that Jesus saved us from the consequences of Adam’s sin and the divine judgment of that sin.

The severity of the Bible God's judgment of sin shows you would need to be mad and misanthropic to revere him!
 
The Final Judgement
 
“The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgement to the Son … and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man” [John 5:22,27].
 
Here Jesus states that the Father has delegated the role of final judge to him. However we must realise, that though the Father may give Jesus that role, it does not mean that the Father is not judging at all. The Father knows how Jesus will judge and consents to it. This implies that the Father is judging indirectly.
 
If Jesus is not God then the verse means God has given judgment over to a creature. That does not make any sense. A just God would not so something so silly unless God thinks judging is wrong and will not have anything to do with it.
 
If Jesus is not God then the verse contradicts the trinity doctrine which says that as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons but one being no person can act separately from the rest.
 
If the verse means Jesus is God then the verse is saying that in practice the Father is no longer God nor is the Spirit.
 
The verse argues that Jesus has to judge because he is man - thus it is clear that God does not know what it is like to be a man so he delegates judging to Jesus. This error shows that John did not understand that God would necessarily have to know his creation better than itself.
 
Jesus will be a sympathetic judge, according to the Bible. Hebrews 4:1 indicates that the sympathy arises from Jesus’ experience of our temptations for as man he was tempted like we were.
 
The believer warns that we must be careful not to think that Jesus was given the role of human judge so that he might understand our human frailties. That implies that God does not know all things. God does not need to become man to understand us. But it does not say he needed to experience them to be able to understand our trials - only that it was one out of many ways he chose so that we can relate to him better.
 
My thought: Jesus then did not learn about us and what it is like through becoming a man like us at all. He already knew. His condescension was just an act.
 
It is manipulative of Christians to tell us that Jesus understands us as he became man. They use the thought of God becoming man to make us feel rapport with God. Christianity is not the religion a person would truly want to accept so the Christians lie and distort to get us to follow their God.
 
Eternal Punishment
 
The Bible says that we are by nature sinners [Eph 2:5 “we were dead through our trespasses” RSV John 3:3 - we need to change so much that it’s a case of needing to be born again]- we are not sinners because we sin but we sin because we are sinners. The Bible teaches that God in his justice has to punish sin. The wages of sin is everlasting exclusion from the presence of God [Rom. 6:23] for those who do not let God remove the sin nature and forgive their sins.

The God of the Bible offers salvation as a gift to those who have faith in his power to save us by the blood of Jesus. He declares us righteous - that is he judges us as just though we are not. Jesus made up for our sins [2 Cor 5:21 ] and his merits are imputed to us.
 
“Paul states … in Romans 3:25-26 that God put Christ forward to demonstrate his righteousness. God demonstrated his righteousness because passing over sins previously committed could cause his justice to be questioned” [Hamilton, J. M. God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology (Crossway, 2010) p 454]. I rephrase this as follows. Sin is so serious that God cannot overlook it. Jesus took the penalty for our sins. If we accept his work we will be forgiven the punishment we deserve. If we do not, then we choose to pay for our sins ourselves and this means eternal punishment. There is one life for each one of us and a judgement takes place the moment we die [Heb 9:27]. Then we will either go to everlasting salvation or everlasting condemnation [Matt 25:46]. Salvation is impossible for those who die having refused to accept the forgiveness Jesus won for them.
 
That is why we cannot be saved unless our sins are atoned for. Jesus needs to change our nature so that we are no longer sinners by nature.
 
If you teach that we are sinners by nature, that is a denial that you can love the sinner and hate the sin. The teaching is hate-speech. If you harbour vindictiveness towards a sin it is still opening your own heart to evil and you will soon start hating the sinner.
 
All these doctrines, if not the whole New Testament needs to be eliminated, if the doctrine that God is judge is false. They are based on this doctrine. And it is false.
 
God’s Word will judge
 
“He who … does not receive [Jesus’] words, has that which judges him…in the last day” [29].
 
This teaching makes the role of God our Judge and the role of scripture inseparable. If you follow the Bible, you simply cannot neglect the teaching that God is judge. Jesus reveals that the scripture, the Bible by implication, is the tool of judgment, the standard we will have to be weighed against and the basis for the account we have to give of ourselves to God.
 
Jesus spoke of the good and wise and fair character of God. When he made scripture the standard against which we will be measured, he was declaring that it demonstrated and revealed the attributes of God from start to finish. That implies his approval for the brutal Old Testament laws God made. He wanted gay men stoned to death. If Jesus claimed to be God he was claiming to be the murderous entity responsible for the Bible.

Neglected Doctrine of God’s Justice
 
Many churches today just ignore the doctrine of judgment and they may even oppose it. Theologians assert that God is judge and that to assert that is to uphold the dignity and worth of the human person and to honour our awesome power of personal responsibility.   They assert that despite most peoples’ feelings today!
 
Failure to understand and honour God as judge leads to softness towards sin and the evil in society. Believers become complacent and soon bored and they soon fall away.
 
Churches that undermine the judgmental God idea obscure the doctrine that divine law tells us what is sin. This law, the Bible says, is written in the human heart [Romans 2:15]  and in the written law of God [Rom 2:12,13]. This doctrine says that all evil doing is wilful. Thus it is vicious and divisive and sows mistrust.

The Bible says that I hate being judged, and I hate it because I am a slave to sin. I do not want to be alerted to the harm I do to myself or the bad example I give to others. I become a hypocrite if I tell others not to judge. I am judging them if they do. I am like the person who is intolerant to the intolerant. Is my intolerance really better than theirs?

The Christians wonder that if I cannot be judged as sinful, then how can I expect praise for the loving things I do? How can I see that praise as sincere? But you can see a person as good or bad without seeing them as moral or immoral. We do that all the time.
 
You alone are your own ultimate judge - not others, not God, not the priest in confession. Even God’s judgment of you is worthless unless you agree with it. And if you do, you are really only judging yourself and using him as a guide. He is not your judge. A judging God is a bullying God. 

What you think of you is what matters. Only you know your life situations well enough to be able to judge.

The doctrine of love the sinner and hate the sin forgets that sins do not exist apart from the sinful persons. The fuels the human tendency to pretend that our sins are not part of what we are and to detest God who sees through us. As atheists we regard sin as nonsense. But let us pretend it is not. It is not our sinful choices that make us sinners. It is our commitment to the choices. Sin is not an act but what we become. A marriage is not an act but the becoming of a wife or husband.

The doctrine of love the sinner and hate the sin denies the divine right to judge the sinner. It wants the sin judged instead. It is like, “Johnny’s essay is bad but this has nothing to do with Johnny. He is a wonderful essay writer. We must judge the essay not the essay writer. We must separate the two”. 

Sin cannot be separated from the person. A sin is more than just an action. It is an indication of what kind of person the sinner is. The scripture makes a distinction between sinner and sin but not a separation. God called the sinner an abomination.
 
God then judges the sinner. This doctrine is unjust for when we cannot be sure enough that the Christian judgemental God exists, it is wrong to praise and accept that sinners should be judged by him. That is essentially putting faith before people.
 
Conclusion
 
Without the doctrine of God as judge, one cannot understand God in biblical terms at all. One may adore a similar God but as this God cannot be said to be righteous, it is not the God of Jesus Christ.
 
The notion of God as judge is vindictive.
 
Bibliography
 
Berkhof, L, A Summary of Christian Doctrine (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971)
Bolt, P. G. The Cross from a Distance (IVP, 2004)
Davies, B. The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil (Continuum, 2006)
Edwards, D. and Stott, J. Essentials (Hodder & Stoughton, 1990)
Hamilton, J. M. God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology (Crossway, 2010)
Jensen, P. J., Doctrine 1, (Moore Bible College, 1996)