For the LORD shall judge his people…See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment;” (Deuteronomy 32)
Let’s make sure we understand the context for “the LORD’s people.”
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God:” (I Peter 2:9-10)
“remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now…ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but…of the household of God…ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit…Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” (Ephesians 2:11-22)
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (I Corinthians 3:16-17)
“These things write I unto thee…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (I Timothy 3:14-16)
Can anyone really make an argument against the house of God being the assembly of saints from all time who put their trust in YHVH / Creator and his Promised Deliver?
Crucial to this era’s understanding of the end times, the house of God is defined as a Jewish assembly / church into which Gentiles were added. Paul himself, the Apostle to the Gentiles, defines this without question when he refers to the church prior to the inclusion of Gentiles as “the church of God.”
“I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (I Corinthians 15:9)
“ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion…I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:” (Galatians 1:13)
“ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:” (I Thessalonians 2:13-15)
So what’s this judgment that starts with the Church?
As detailed in multiple posts immediately preceding this one, Moses is the primary source for all things biblical. His take on judgment is where we should start.
“And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up…Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them…
- He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
- And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
- And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
- Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 19:20, 21:1-25)
And so on. We can recognize that judgment is exactly as we understand it in “Law and Order.”
What! That’s completely against Christian doctrine! Jesus paid the price of my sin!
Death for death, yes. But Christians are not immune from obeying human laws against murder, drunk driving, theft, etc. are they? What makes you think that there are no consequences for breaking God’s laws? And in fact, scripture explicitly states that there are.
“Wherefore we / believers labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Corinthians 5:9-10)
The logic that Paul uses to explain that salvation by grace is different from payment for works can only be true if the reverse is also true – we get paid for our work.
“if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Romans 11:6)
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself.” (I Corinthians 3:13-18)
“Awake to righteousness, and sin not.” (I Corinthians 15:34)
“I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
Can we not understand that salvation is not a “get out of jail free card?” Deliverance from the law of sin and death is achieved through being merged with the source of life.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk / live daily life not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law / authority, control of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death…That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:1-6)
It is a privilege to be identified with Creator God. He doesn’t take it lightly when that privilege is abused.
“if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)
Do you really think you can get away with accepting the Son of God’s tortuous death on your behalf just to keep on sinning against God with impunity?
This perspective of salvation from sin is completely at odds with the pervasive belief that saying a prayer absolves one of all sins, including unrepented sins in which one plans to continue engaging. Do you think its OK for a pedophile’s case to be dismissed at court on his witness that “I’m a Christian, I don’t have to account for my sins anymore.”? Do you really think state court standards are higher than God’s?
I don’t think so. I’ve heard of too many cases where harden criminals took the law into their own hands when a pedophile was incarcerated with them. They didn’t think a prison sentence was punishment enough.
Sinners saved by grace still need a good lawyer.
If you’ve ever had occasion to solicit the services of an attorney at law, you understand that the primary service they give is advice. What to do, what not to do, and what to stop doing.
As our advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous doesn’t sweet talk the Father into letting us off the hook. He recounts our change of heart as demonstrated by our change of behavior.
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for…the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know / are united with him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (I John 2:1-6)
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)
The body of Christ is only faithful to her appointed role as Christ’s partner in salvation by enduring chastening, tribulation, suffering and death.
“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness…the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak…his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak…
- I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
- Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord.
- If they have persecuted me, they will so persecute you…
- These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation…
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee…I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
- As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world…
- Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
- And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: “(John 12:46-50, 15:19-20, 16:33, )
“when ye [his disciples] shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh…
- these be the days of [God’s] vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled….
- there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
- And they shall fall by the edge of the sword,
- and shall be led away captive into all nations:
- and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles,
- until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled
- And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
- And when these things [great distress and wrath upon this people] begin to come to pass,
- then look up! and lift up [don’t hang them in despair] our heads! for your redemption draweth nigh!!” (Luke 21:20-24
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…and joint-heirs with Christ; IF so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:16-18)
“be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holdingforth the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-17)
“the end of all things is at hand…think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you…For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? [So get out there to save the ones you love!]” (I Peter 4:7-18)