Judgement Refs
God has set some rules and commanded us to obey them. It should be no surprise, then, that he cares about whether we obey them. We will each be judged on our obedience when Jesus returns to earth. In this chapter, we consider judgement and how we should feel about facing Jesus.

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus describes what it will be like to appear before him in judgement.

1. What is the reward for the “sheep” and the punishment for the “goats”?
2. Is the fire in v41 literal?
3. Why don’t those being judged know what they have done?
4. Who are the “brothers” of Jesus (v40)?
5. The judgement described here is based on what people have done to help others. Are there any other require­ments to be part of God’s kingdom?

At the judgement, we will either be with the sheep or with the goats-there is no other group. To the faithful and obedient, God has promised eternal life so we can glorify him forever. Those who choose not to follow God’s way can only look forward to misery and destruction. Paul described it like this:

God “will give to each person according to what he has done”. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:6-8)

Who will be judged when Christ returns?
Once, after Jesus had taught the people, he said

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. (John 15:22)

So before he taught them, they were not responsible. Once they were aware of the simple message of God’s salvation, they were responsible. From this, we can conclude that knowledge of the gospel makes a person responsible, and therefore subject to judgement.

But exactly who will be judged and who won’t be is not clear. In fact, there is little value in trying to work out who will be judged-only God knows who is responsible for their sins and who is not. For

the LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

Should you be afraid of the judgement?
Read 2 Timothy 4:7-8 and 1 John 2:28.

Paul was confident that he would be saved, and so can we. When we think of the future judgement, we must be confident that our forgiven sins are forgotten. Hebrews 10:17,35 God promises to save us if we “keep the faith”, as Paul did, and ask for our sins to be forgiven. Doubting God’s ability to cover our sins is like saying, “God, I don’t believe your promises”.

Sometimes it is hard to stop doubt creeping in, especially when we sin. Guilt is powerful, often making us feel that we are not good enough for God-why would God save such a pathetic, useless person? Remember, Christ came to save the pathetic, unwanted, hated and sinful persons. Instead of doubting, praise God for his unlimited love and understanding. God knows we feel bad, so tell him. That’s what forgiveness is all about.

Christ will be the judge
Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 2:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2 Timothy 4:1; Romans 2:16.
Giving account
Matthew 12:36.
John 15:22; Romans 4:15.
Romans 8:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Hebrews 10:17,35; 1 John 2:28.
God is merciful
Luke 6:36; James 2:12-13.
Judging ourselves
Galatians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 13:5-6.
Judging others
Matthew 6:14-15; 7:1-5; Luke 6:37-38; Romans 2:1-4; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; 5:12-13; 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 5:20.

Paul was confident because he knew God’s grace was sufficient. See Chapter 38. Grace. Paul said he was the “worst of sinners”, yet he knew that he would be saved because his sins were as “white as snow”. 1 Timothy 1:15 , Isaiah 1:18

True believers should look forward to the judgement-to meet Christ, to be a part of God’s kingdom and have eternal life.
Consider this verse.

. . . there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

Of course, if you have chosen not to obey God, then the judgement is something to fear.

What will the judgement be like?
The judgement is a time when the faithful will be rewarded and the wicked will be condemned. The Scriptures contain very little about what the judgement will be like. How the judgement will be conducted is unimportant for believers today. What is important is making sure that you are ready for it.

Some people imagine they will have to prove their worthiness at the judgement. This is not scriptural. We will have to give an account for our actions.
Matthew 12:36 But, it is by God’s grace that we are saved, not by how many times we have sinned or how many times we have asked for forgiveness. Besides, forgiven sins are forgotten sins, never to be remembered.
It is a very different story for unforgiven sinners. God is a righteous judge and the guilty will be punished-the punishment is in knowing that they chose the wrong way and as a result will die a lonely, anguished death.

Some people feel that God should not destroy “good” people. But none of us are good enough, we all sin. Being a good person is not good enough for God-being a loving, faithful person is.

1. Read Matthew 12:36. At the judgement, we must give an account. What do you think this account is if our sins are forgiven?
2. Read James 2:12-13. Is God always merciful?
3. Read 1 Corinthians 6:1-3. When will we judge angels and who will they be?
4. How do you reconcile Matthew 7:1 and 1 Timothy 5:20?
(Hint: consider the difference between discerning and condemning; they are both forms of judging.)
5. Romans 4:15 says “where there is no law there is no trans­gression”. This suggests that people who are unaware of God’s laws are not responsible for disobeying them. Discuss if this is true. Who might not be judged?
6. Was Paul always confident he would be saved? See 1 Corinthians 9:27

1. Write a list of ideas of what you think the judgement will be like. Compare this list with someone else and discuss any differences.
2. God shows mercy to people who are merciful. Can you see Matthew 6:14-15; think of a time when you were too quick to condemn? Luke 6:37-3 How can you be more merciful? Think of two practical ways and try to put them into practice this week.

• The Christadelphians: what they believe and preach by Harry Tennant (published by The Christadelphian, 1986), Chapter 19: “Resurrection and judgement”. 16 pages.
• BB Studies 4.6 and 4.8
• Balancing the book by Len Richardson (published by the author, 1990). Sections on judgement, sinning, fear and love of God.
• Great news for the world by Alan Hayward (published by Christadelphians Worldwide, 1976). Chapters 6 & 7 deal with belief, repentance, forgiveness and judgement.
• Thine is the kingdom by Peter Southgate (published by the Dawn Book Supply, 2nd ed., 1997). Chapter 12, 17 pages.

17. Sin
29. Forgiving one another
38. Grace
43. Resurrection