Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our Only Judge

There is an interesting idea floating around in the non-Orthodox theological world that mankind has been judged and condemned to death by the law of God.

But that is simply not the authentic Christian teaching.

In Christianity, our Judge is not “the law”; it is a Person. A Person is the only qualified judge, and specifically, the God Who knows from experience what being human is like. Listen to the words of Jesus, from St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 5:

22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

And here are some words from the Epistle to the Hebrews (4:14-16) concerning the all-Compassionate One Who sits on the Throne of Grace:

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Only He, Who knows our frailty, Who has been tempted just as we have been, is appointed our Judge as well as High Priest. He, Jesus Christ, and not some impersonal Law, shall judge us. And interestingly enough, this Judge has, as it were, a severe "conflict of interests," as He is also our "defense attorney". (1 John 2:1)

Furthermore, the kind of judgment that issues forth either in eternal blessedness or in eternal woe is reserved until the end of the world, when Christ "shall come again", as the Creed says, “in glory, to judge the living and the dead.”

So do not be worried, do not be frightened, by those who say you stand condemned to death by the law. Ask them to show you where in the law this provision is written. (It isn’t. Even if it were, God in Christ has made a New Covenant with mankind, and it, not the law-based Old Covenant, is the operative one.)

St. Paul specifically tells us the thing to be scared of is not the Law, which is righteous and holy and good, given for our benefit.

Has then what is good [the law] become death to me? God forbid! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful [by being revealed as something that violates God’s will]. (Romans 7:13)

Be frightened of sin. Sin really does kill us. But do not be frightened of God, nor of His Law. God is your all-good Friend and Lover, “holy, harmless, undefiled”. (Hebrews 7:26) Flee to Him. Come boldly to the throne of grace.