When God saves people, He miraculously makes them a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). His work of remaking people, however, is not complete at the initial point of salvation; He renews us on a continuing basis (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18).
Because He has ordained that there be such continual renewing, we must be mindful of potential lingering wrong thinking that biases our doctrine and practice. Biased doctrine and practice is sourced in wisdom that is not from God, but is “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15; cf. 1 John 2:16). Correcting such bias requires wholehearted acceptance of all that God in His wisdom has given us in His word.
Because the primeval account in Scripture of human failure to think properly (Gen. 3:1-13) highlights our first parents’ rejection of divine revelation about the doctrine of judgment (2:17; 3:3), we should not be surprised to find lingering manifestations of such bias in our doctrine and practice. In order to overcome any lingering inherited Edenic bias in our doctrine and practice, we must scrutinize our perspectives concerning the doctrine of judgment.
Beginning with the account of the Fall of man, Scripture provides us with key passages that suggest areas about which we need to examine our thinking concerning many potential manifestations of lingering Edenic bias against the full biblical teaching about the doctrine of judgment:
1. Is God’s punitive judgment to be viewed as a “negative” teaching of Scripture?
- See Deuteronomy 28:63, Psalm 119:119, and Revelation 18:20.
- Should we then have a “negative” perspective about God’s condemnation of unrepentant sinners?
2. Is judgment mainly condemnation that lost people will experience in the future?
- See Genesis 16:5, Psalm 75:6, Ezekiel 22:2, John 12:31, Romans 14:9-10 and 16:20,
1 Corinthians 11:32, and James 4:12.
- Scripture teaches that God/the Lord is the Judge who judges between believers. He is the Judge who presently abases people and exalts others, especially in the realm of civil authority. He sends people to judge others by declaring their sinfulness to them. At the Cross, the world was judged, and the prince of this world was cast out.
- Jesus died and rose again that He might be the Lord, the Judge of the living and the dead, who will judge all believers one day. God will shortly bruise Satan under the feet of believers. The Lord judges believers when He chastens them, and He does so that they will not be condemned.
- Is the doctrine of judgment, therefore, concerned mainly just with the future condemnation of lost people?
3. Why did Jesus come into the world?
- See Genesis 3:15, John 9:39, Hebrews 2:14-15, and 1 John 3:8.
- Both testaments speak of the woman’s Seed who would come to render judgment, especially on the evil one. Is it right, therefore, to focus mainly only on His coming as the One who would save people?
4. Who saves people?
- See Isaiah 33:22 and James 4:12.
- Both testaments explicitly teach that God/Jesus as the Judge is the One who saves people. Is it right, therefore, to say dichotomously that God/Jesus as the Judge is “the bad news,” while Jesus as the Savior is “the good news”?
5. What are we to preach to the world?
- See Psalm 96:10 and Acts 10:42-43.
- Both testaments explicitly teach that God has commanded us to proclaim who the Judge is. Is it right, therefore, to say that what we really have to preach is that God/Jesus is the Savior, but we do not necessarily have to preach that Jesus is the Judge?
These five points are representative of many major aspects of the biblical teaching concerning the doctrine of judgment about which we must allow all the Scripture to renew our minds if we desire to overcome any potential lingering manifestation of our inherited Edenic bias in our doctrine and practice.
(See this post with the full text of all the verses here.)
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