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Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Matthew 7:1-2

This passage has been a challenge to many in the church – including myself. Jesus seems to begin with an emphatic statement, only to follow it with a process for doing the very thing He said not to do (vv. 3-5, and our subject for next time). Many have harmed themselves (and the church) by misinterpreting Matthew 7:1 to mean that we are prohibited from identifying the sin in our sister or brother and helping them remove it.

Serious students of the Bible learn that singular verses must be interpreted in the full counsel of Scripture. A more careful reading of this and related passages reveals that Christians are responsible – and obligated by love – to actively weed out sin in our sisters and brothers, and in the church (Ezekiel 3:16-21, Matthew 18:15-17, 1Corinthians 5:1-5, Galatians 6:1, James 5:19-20).

There is a second important thing not being said in this passage (but assumed by many). This passage is not saying – it cannot be saying – that we will not be judged. In the end, many will be surprised to find themselves judged before the White Throne (Revelation 20:11-12), and every Christian will stand before the judgment set of Jesus Christ (Romans 14:10; 2Corinthians 5:10).

Indeed, we discover in Hebrews 6:1-2 that God’s judgment is eternal (meaning, it has no beginning or end). Read the rest of this entry »

Christ on the Throne 2An important reminder: The elementary principles are for the followers of Jesus Christ. They are not for the edification or conviction of non-believers. This is particularly important to keep in mind as we continue to explore the principle of eternal judgment.

In Part 1, we learned two foundational truths about eternal judgment: First, all will be judged, one way or another. Second, while there are two judgment events associated with eternal judgment, eternal judgment is, well, eternal. It has no beginning, nor end.

The Peril of Not Progressing

This is the heading given to Hebrews 6, in the New King James Version. Several other translations title this section “The Peril of Falling Away”. Regardless of your position on Eternal Security (I am intentionally avoiding that debate*), it is clear, from the verses following the elementary principles, that something perilous is at stake.

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection… And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. Hebrew 6:1-6

Like the elementary principles, this warning is for the followers of Jesus Christ. “And this we will do if God permits.” Permission implies judgment. Clearly there is judgment here; and it is not judgment that waits until a future event. Make no mistake about it:

God is judging our response to the elementary principles.

At this point, it might help to remember that there are two types of judgment. There is judgment that includes condemnation; and there is judgment that something doesn’t belong or is missing (e.g., sin and faith, respectively). Here – particular to our progressing – we are dealing with the latter. Read the rest of this entry »

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