HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

‘Any fully biblical understanding of God must inevitably include a doctrine of judgement’. Evaluate this statement in the light of the biblical statements about character and attributes of God.

 

NOTE - Statements about God in this essay are looking at God from the biblical viewpoint. This essay does not teach the existence of God.

 

Firstly

 

If you see that somebody is doing drugs or having promiscuous sex with strangers, you can see what they are doing as harmful to themselves. That is not judging. It is being concerned.

 

Judging means wanting to see something punished and to see a person get what they deserve. They are given the condemnation they deserve. They are categorised as bad or sinful. Judging necessarily ignores the doctrine: “Force or punishment does not help people to become decent.” It is really a form of revenge for it refuses to consider the wellbeing of the person. The only concern for the wellbeing of the person is in its view that a person has asked for this treatment and thus it is in keeping with her or his dignity to grant her or him the wish. But as hate is warped love we must not be surprised at that. It is still hate. You need some love to make hate.

 

If doing good, means you deserve to receive good in return, then doing evil necessarily means that you deserve to receive evil in return. The Christians tend to believe that you should punish the sinner by condemning his sin and punishing it but they say this does not mean you must hate the sinner. Surely if you hate and its wrong you deserve to be hated too? The Christian answer is that hate is about wanting to hurt somebody for its own sake. It is not about punishing. It is not about justice but about causing suffering. As it is wrong to hate, even if a person hates, two wrongs do not make a right and he cannot be hated back. Hating a person can look like punishment if they have hurt you and you are paying them back. But the problem is the motive, “I am using what you did to me as an excuse for destroying you. I hurt you because I want to and not for the sake of justice or for your own good.”

 

The Bible teaches that God is just and is our judge, not just on the last day but right now and it commands us to hold that divine justice is to be welcomed and celebrated. It is a vindictive load of drivel.

 

Judging a person is only acceptable if the judgers are able to directly stop the person doing serious harm to themselves or to other people. We need judgers in this world but to wish that somebody who did terrible things in life will get their come-uppance in the afterlife is just vindictive. We should not want people to be judged when it is not about stopping evil. Though evil should be punished, it should only be punished when punishing is about revealing that it is evil and trying to stop it. So if murderous John is dying, do not punish. If murderous John is young and healthy and he might stop murdering if he gets caught and dealt with by the law then punish.

 

What the Bible means by God

 

The Bible teaches that God is the creator of all things to whom all worship is due. He is spirit [1] - that is he is real but not a material being. He is almighty and all-good. God reveals himself through the Bible. He is a personal God as shown by his name: Abba Father [2]. Yet he is judge - he is a God of justice. Is God as judge a biblical doctrine and if so, is it an important one?

 

Character and Attributes

 

The doctrine of God says God must judge us. Under the law of the land, we have to be judged. The law cannot function if it lets us judge ourselves. Neither can God’s law.

 

If there is a God, then how does God’s character qualify him to judge us?

 

Let us look at what Christian theology means by God's character. It has to do with the kind of being God is. Character is personal characteristics and qualities. God is very different to us and we may use the word personality to describe his character though God is such a mystery that words are inadequate. The human character is full of contradictions and inconsistencies. The mouth that praises God can savagely rip apart the reputation of a neighbour. God’s character is not complex like ours is. Nevertheless, it needs a bit of explaining. His character does not have the contradictions our nature has. While our characters are a mix of bad and good, his is solely just and good.

 

God has many attributes - his attributes form his character. We will chiefly concern ourselves with his justice - one of his qualitative attributes. The qualitative attributes are concerned about what God is like in terms of his being a personal God.  God is not mere power. He is very different from us but nevertheless he has qualities such as justice (ie righteousness) wisdom, knowledge, honesty, love, and power etc.

 

Some correctly state, “God’s attributes are qualities that are all true of God and do not exist in isolation. In other words, God’s justice exists with God’s love.  One does not exclude the other” [3] I perceive that to say that an all-perfect God will be forced to choose between say his love and his justice is contradictory.  It implies that he is indecisive and therefore not all knowing and all wise. It also denies that love and justice are complimentary and harmonious. The Bible’s most important command is the command to acknowledge that the Lord our God is one Lord and to be loved with all our power and strength [4] - this attests to the harmony in God.

 

If God is loveable he has to be just. An unfair God for example would not be loving to the people hurt by evil people for he is as good as not taking the evil seriously.

 

We have seen that God's justice depends on his love and it is a justice of hate. You cannot hate the unless you love them at least slightly. The doctrine of God implies that we should hate the sinners and the unjust.

 

Biblically then whoever denies that God is judge and punishes does not know God and cannot have a real relationship with him and thus cannot go to Heaven.

 

God’s feelings?

 

We cannot have a dignified or biblical understanding of God as judge unless we see that he is not like a human judge who may be influenced or controlled by the passions.

 

God is not influenced by anything or anyone for he is simply perfect [5] therefore Christians feel they can be sure that we will all get only pure justice or pure mercy from him when he calls us before his judgment seat.
To my mind, feelings affect us but are to be distinguished from us as living beings. We are not our feelings. If God is perfect in himself then to say he is influenced or compelled by feelings is to deny that he is perfect. You only need influence or are subject to it if you are not all-knowing and all-powerful.

 

The Bible says God made all things, implying that he made all things not out of a need to but out of pure generosity. Thus God is free from the control of passions and able to be totally impartial in his justice.

 

These doctrines go with the doctrine of God. Most of the world has been fooled to think they actually want to believe in God. They cannot if they know he is impersonal and emotionless. A person who loves such a God above all things is simply damaged.

 

Sin

 

Sin is a criminal act in which one acts independently of divine authority [8]. It is disobedience to God.

 

The Bible God is a God of love and justice and mercy therefore he has to exercise authority. Authority means the right to give commands and to punish if they are not carried out.

 

A God that is not an authority is not a God so belief in God necessarily goes with the hideous idea of a punishing God.

 

One of their God’s major attributes is the attribute of holiness. Holy means to separate or set apart [9]. If God is love, he separates from what is not love and requires us to do the same. Thus God is intolerant of evil. It is a mistake to think that God tolerates us sinning.  He shows us his love and mercy to win us back. But we must co-operate if that is to happen. The Bible says we will be justly cast out into the outer darkness if we do not.

 

The first five books of the Bible comprise God’s Torah or Law. They make it plain that God has full authority to make laws. Therefore he has the right to judge. God exercises his love and justice and his infinite knowledge through the Law.
 
Responsibility and Judging
 
If we are without responsibility, then we cannot sin. The Bible says we are all sinners without exception [10]. It says we abused our personal responsibility.
 
The Christians say that if I pretend I do not have this power or to ask others to pretend they don’t have it either, is to put us all on the level of the man who denies the existence of gravity. They say that there will be little spiritual peace in the one who tries to maintain this façade. This is nonsense for there are happy deniers of free will and sin.
 
God gave us the right to conquer and reign over the earth [11]. “If you give your oldest daughter the responsibility to baby-sit your younger children, you must also give her the authority to judge - that is, to apply the rules that determine what behaviour is acceptable and what is not permitted” [12]. I like that example for it shows how having responsibility means having the authority to judge. God if he exists has responsibility over us and the universe. And if we are his children and if he has given us the universe, then we have responsibility and have the right to judge as God would judge. But nobody these days wants to think about that!
 
The Bible says God has given us the responsibility to serve him with all our hearts and to care for others as we do ourselves.
 
God supposedly gave us this responsibility not as a burden for us but as an act of love and therefore justice. If so, then we do not appreciate it we do not appreciate his love. If we cannot appreciate his love we cannot appreciate his justice.

 

Divine Mercy

 

Let us look at the Christian teaching on mercy.

 

Mercy is not the same as forgiveness though the two are closely related. God possesses the attribute of mercy.

 

Mercy is not a case of God repudiating his justice to act with love towards the sinner. Mercy and justice work in harmony. Mercy is the just thing to do - if a person is truly repentant then it is unjust to deprive him of the chance to make amends and prove that repentance.

 

Forgiveness, unlike mercy, need not be linked to justice. You can forgive unjustly.

 

When God forgives he forgives as our Abba Father.

 

When God has mercy he is doing so as our judge.

 

God forgives and therefore God judges.

 

Before we explore the relationship between forgiving and judging, we must ensure that we do not mistake condoning for forgiving.

 

Forgiveness requires that God judges behaviour as wrong and a relationship as damaged or broken.

 

Forgiveness requires that God judges the sinner to be repentant [13].

 

Forgiveness is granted as a gift to the sinner - the sinner does not earn forgiveness by repentance [14].

 

Condoning makes excuses for the behaviour and refuses to admit there is any damage or that it is important. To forgive a person who has not repented is not an act of love. It is basically permitting them to persist in evil - an evil that can destroy them. It is not real forgiveness but a counterfeit. It is really an attempt to put love up against justice with love winning out. But real love and real justice will work together - just as they do in God. Condoning implicitly blasphemes the justice of God - why bother with justice if we should treat sinners and saints alike?

 

The Bible says that those who die unreconciled to God for their sins will suffer everlasting estrangement from him in the irrevocable and permanent state of Hell. Some say that Hell is about God’s love not his justice. They argue that God loves the people there so much that he lets them get it their own way. But that is divorcing justice and love in God. The people in Hell are also there because God has sentenced them to it as their judge and punisher.

 

Christians say that a correct and healthy view of forgiveness leads to a correct and healthy view of judgement.

 

In Christian teaching, God only forgives when the sinner truly repents [15]. God does not forgive us simply because our sins are all in the past. He forgives them because he judges that we can and intend to try to avoid sin in the future with his help and assistance.

 
The modern claim, "I believe in a forgiving God who never judges", makes no sense. God has to judge to forgive. These people are fans of condoning evil and not fans of mercy and justice. They do not believe in God's forgiveness and if it is necessary for salvation then they are in trouble!

 

Sacrifice and judgement

 

The Bible says much about God’s right to be worshipped by sacrifice - we will examine sacrifice made for the purpose of atonement. Sacrifice presupposes a God who judges and who needs to see justice done. Sacrifice is about making an offering to satisfy divine justice – to make up for the injustice done to God.

 

Leviticus uses the word kipper which means to make atonement. The word may have been derived from “the Akkadian verb kuppuru,’ to cleanse’ or ‘wipe’” [16].  If sacrifice is to wipe sin away, the sin must be acknowledged. It must be judged. God then asks us to judge ourselves and to embrace his judgment of us. Sacrifice was a reminder that one must be ritually and morally and spiritually clean to approach God. For Christians, this insight was promulgated by Jesus who said mercy is what God prefers even to sacrifice [17].  

 

Atonement sacrifice tells us that God requires us to answer for our sins and to make amends for them. As he judges us, he offers us mercy and pardon. In New Testament theology, he provides Jesus as the atonement for our sins out of pure love and mercy.

 

Sacrifice does not entail forcing God to forgive because forgiveness is a free gift from God [18]. Scripture stresses how God forgives voluntarily [19].
 
Israel had to offer and slaughter sacrifices through the priesthood because it had a covenant or peace agreement with God. The sacrifices picture the perpetuation of the agreement.   These sacrifices were set up as a system by God. Christians claim that God provided Jesus’ sacrifice for us. As God is our judge, it is up to him and not us how we get rid of our sins.

 

In summary, sacrifice is a major biblical concept and it attempts to express the divine attributes of justice and mercy and love and how they are to work together.

 

Trinity and God as Judge

 

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity says that there is only one God and that God is three persons who are united in love [20].  The doctrine does not say that God is three Gods in the same way and at the same time. Nor does it say that God is three beings or natures in one being or nature. It merely says that there is one being who is God and there are three persons in God. The Christian faith says that the three persons are united in love - so we can say that God is a relationship.

 

God is best described then as the perfect relationship. To love requires that one distinguish between what is love and what is not love - it requires that one be a fair judge. And so it is with God.

 

The Christians say that it is a fact that God is a relationship and this relationship sanctifies and sets a model for human relationships. They should be patterned after the divine. God’s nature as a relationship sets a standard against which relationships must be judged and measured.

 

All that sounds marvellous but Christianity says that the three are not three persons and that they have to be called persons for the sake of calling them something. There is no real relationship unless there are real persons. The Church denies that the three are three individuals. Thus how can there be a real relationship? We can only be inspired by the relationship of the trinity if it is a unity of three individual beings and persons. The Christians are inviting us to delude ourselves about their God and how meaningful he is for us. Repeat it. The relationship argument is a trick to make the trinity sound like something we want to believe in. But unless the three are three individuals or three gods there is no real relationship.

 

The Church says it’s a relationship but says its different from the way we imagine relationships. Thus it has no relevance to us at all.

 

The Church says that sin, even if it is secret, damages our emotions and our outlook and tends to make our relationships less genuine, honest and authentic. If God is a relationship, he wants us to be like him and in relationship with one another and with him and so he must judge sin in order to identify the evil so that it may be rooted out. The doctrine then is not such good news for us after all!

 

The believers say that "justice upholds love and makes it possible. Injustice is the enemy of love. It ruins and pollutes the relationship we have with God and with one another. It is fitting that a God of relationship should be a God of justice. It helps us to see his justice not as a cold abstract fact but as something edifying and desirable." If we have to delude ourselves that God is relationship in order to take his justice seriously then we only prove how much we like our enemies to be punished!

 

The notion that God is a relationship implies that God is a God of justice for relationships are based on justice and love. It is bad news for the unjust and for those who think justice is just glorified evil!

 

The Fall and Divine Justice

 

The Bible and the Christian faith say that the whole human race originated from Adam and he was our representative and so acted in our place before God and he chose to rebel or sin and the result was that the whole human race was estranged from God. So we have supposedly have inherited a sinful nature from Adam. Thus in the sight of divine justice we deserve only wrath [21]. We sin because we are sinners - we are not sinners because we sin.

 

Christians teach that they cannot understand the biblical teachings of the love and mercy of God and the salvation won by Jesus Christ without understanding the fall and how serious it was and is.

 

To deny that God is judge is to deny a foundational teaching of the New Testament - that Jesus saved us from the consequences of Adam’s sin and the divine judgment of that sin.

 

The severity of the Bible God's judgment of sin shows you would need to be mad and misanthropic to revere him!
 
The Final Judgement
 
“The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgement to the Son … and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man” [22].
 
Here Jesus states that the Father has delegated the role of final judge to him. However we must realise, that though the Father may give Jesus that role, it does not mean that the Father is not judging at all. The Father knows how Jesus will judge and consents to it. This implies that the Father is judging indirectly.
 
If Jesus is not God then the verse means God has given judgment over to a creature. That does not make any sense. A just God would not so something so silly unless God thinks judging is wrong and will not have anything to do with it.
 
If Jesus is not God then the verse contradicts the trinity doctrine which says that as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons but one being no person can act separately from the rest.
 
If the verse means Jesus is God then the verse is saying that in practice the Father is no longer God nor is the Spirit.
 
The verse argues that Jesus has to judge because he is man - thus it is clear that God does not know what it is like to be a man so he delegates judging to Jesus. This error shows that John did not understand that God would necessarily have to know his creation better than itself.
 
Jesus will be a sympathetic judge, according to the Bible. Hebrews 4:1 indicates that the sympathy arises from Jesus’ experience of our temptations for as man he was tempted like we were.
 
The believer warns that we must be careful not to think that Jesus was given the role of human judge so that he might understand our human frailties. That implies that God does not know all things. God does not need to become man to understand us. But it does not say he needed to experience them to be able to understand our trials - only that it was one out of many ways he chose so that we can relate to him better.
 
My thought: Jesus then did not learn about us and what it is like through becoming a man like us at all. He already knew. His condescension was just an act.
 
It is manipulative of Christians to tell us that Jesus understands us as he became man. They use the thought of God becoming man to make us feel rapport with God. Christianity is not the religion a person would truly want to accept so the Christians lie and distort to get us to follow their God.
 
Eternal Punishment
 
The Bible says that we are by nature sinners [23]- we are not sinners because we sin but we sin because we are sinners. The Bible teaches that God in his justice has to punish sin. The wages of sin is everlasting exclusion from the presence of God [24] for those who do not let God remove the sin nature and forgive their sins.

 

The God of the Bible offers salvation as a gift to those who have faith in his power to save us by the blood of Jesus. He declares us righteous - that is he judges us as just though we are not. Jesus made up for our sins [25] and his merits are imputed to us.
 
“Paul states … in Romans 3:25-26 that God put Christ forward to demonstrate his righteousness. God demonstrated his righteousness because passing over sins previously committed could cause his justice to be questioned” [26]. I rephrase this as follows. Sin is so serious that God cannot overlook it. Jesus took the penalty for our sins. If we accept his work we will be forgiven the punishment we deserve. If we do not, then we choose to pay for our sins ourselves and this means eternal punishment. There is one life for each one of us and a judgement takes place the moment we die [27]. Then we will either go to everlasting salvation or everlasting condemnation [28]. Salvation is impossible for those who die having refused to accept the forgiveness Jesus won for them.
 
That is why we cannot be saved unless our sins are atoned for. Jesus needs to change our nature so that we are no longer sinners by nature.
 
If you teach that we are sinners by nature, that is a denial that you can love the sinner and hate the sin. The teaching is hate-speech. If you harbour vindictiveness towards a sin it is still opening your own heart to evil and you will soon start hating the sinner.
 
All these doctrines, if not the whole New Testament needs to be eliminated, if the doctrine that God is judge is false. They are based on this doctrine. And it is false.
 
God’s Word will judge
 
“He who … does not receive [Jesus’] words, has that which judges him…in the last day” [29].
 
This teaching makes the role of God our Judge and the role of scripture inseparable. If you follow the Bible, you simply cannot neglect the teaching that God is judge. Jesus reveals that the scripture, the Bible by implication, is the tool of judgment, the standard we will have to be weighed against and the basis for the account we have to give of ourselves to God.
 
Jesus spoke of the good and wise and fair character of God. When he made scripture the standard against which we will be measured, he was declaring that it demonstrated and revealed the attributes of God from start to finish. That implies his approval for the brutal Old Testament laws God made. He wanted gay men stoned to death. If Jesus claimed to be God he was claiming to be the murderous entity responsible for the Bible.
 
Neglected Doctrine of God’s Justice
 
Many churches today just ignore the doctrine of judgment and they may even oppose it. Theologians assert that God is judge and that to assert that is to uphold the dignity and worth of the human person and to honour our awesome power of personal responsibility.   They assert that despite most peoples’ feelings today!
 
Failure to understand and honour God as judge leads to softness towards sin and the evil in society. Believers become complacent and soon bored and they soon fall away.
 
Churches that undermine the judgmental God idea obscure the doctrine that divine law tells us what is sin. This law, the Bible says, is written in the human heart [30]  and in the written law of God [31]. This doctrine says that all evil doing is wilful. Thus it is vicious and divisive and sows mistrust.

 

The Bible says that I hate being judged, and I hate it because I am a slave to sin. I do not want to be alerted to the harm I do to myself or the bad example I give to others. I become a hypocrite if I tell others not to judge. I am judging them if they do. I am like the person who is intolerant to the intolerant. Is my intolerance really better than theirs?

 

The Christians wonder that if I cannot be judged as sinful, then how can I expect praise for the loving things I do? How can I see that praise as sincere? But you can see a person as good or bad without seeing them as moral or immoral. We do that all the time.
 
You alone are your own ultimate judge - not others, not God, not the priest in confession. Even God’s judgment of you is worthless unless you agree with it. And if you do, you are really only judging yourself and using him as a guide. He is not your judge. A judging God is a bullying God. 

 

What you think of you is what matters. Only you know your life situations well enough to be able to judge.

 

The doctrine of love the sinner and hate the sin forgets that sins do not exist apart from the sinful persons. The fuels the human tendency to pretend that our sins are not part of what we are and to detest God who sees through us. As atheists we regard sin as nonsense. But let us pretend it is not. It is not our sinful choices that make us sinners. It is our commitment to the choices. Sin is not an act but what we become. A marriage is not an act but the becoming of a wife or husband.

 

The doctrine of love the sinner and hate the sin denies the divine right to judge the sinner. It wants the sin judged instead. It is like, “Johnny’s essay is bad but this has nothing to do with Johnny. He is a wonderful essay writer. We must judge the essay not the essay writer. We must separate the two”. 

 

Sin cannot be separated from the person. A sin is more than just an action. It is an indication of what kind of person the sinner is. The scripture makes a distinction between sinner and sin but not a separation. God called the sinner an abomination.
 
God then judges the sinner. This doctrine is unjust for when we cannot be sure enough that the Christian judgemental God exists, it is wrong to praise and accept that sinners should be judged by him. That is essentially putting faith before people.
 
Conclusion
 
Without the doctrine of God as judge, one cannot understand God in biblical terms at all. One may adore a similar God but as this God cannot be said to be righteous, it is not the God of Jesus Christ.
 
The notion of God as judge is vindictive.
 
Bibliography
 
Berkhof, L, A Summary of Christian Doctrine (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971)
Bolt, P. G. The Cross from a Distance (IVP, 2004)
Davies, B. The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil (Continuum, 2006)
Edwards, D. and Stott, J. Essentials (Hodder & Stoughton, 1990)
Hamilton, J. M. God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology (Crossway, 2010)
Jensen, P. J., Doctrine 1, (Moore Bible College, 1996)
 [1] Jn 4:24
[2] Rom. 8:15
[3] Mc Dowell, J & Stewart, D., Understanding the Cults, (Campus Crusade for Christ, 1982) p. 44
[4] Mark 12:29,30
[5] Mt 5:48
[8] Jensen, P. J., Doctrine 1, (Moore Bible College, 1996), p. 112
[9] HOLY, Biblical Dictionary and Concordance, New American Bible, page 82
[10] Rom. 5:12
[11] Gen 1:28
[12] Prince, D. Judging When? Why? How?. (Whittaker House, 2001) p. 39
[13] Ezekiel
[14] Eph. 2:8-10
[15] Lk 13:3, 1 Jn 1:9
[16] Wenham, G J, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Leviticus, (Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1979) p. 28
[17] Mt 9:13
[18] Is 55:7
[19] Tit 3:5
[20] Jn 5:20
[21] Eph 2:3 - “We were entirely children of [divine] rage, as the rest.” Aramaic Bible in Plain English (2010)
[22] John 5:22,27
[23] Eph 2:5 “we were dead through our trespasses” RSV John 3:3 - we need to change so much that it’s a case of needing to be born again.
[24] Rom. 6:23,
[25] 2 Cor 5:21
[26] Hamilton, J. M. God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology (Crossway, 2010) p 454
[27] Heb 9:27
[28] Matt 25:46
[29] John 12:48
[30] Romans 2:15
[31] Rom 2:12,13