We know that God will judge the world because He has raised Christ from the dead, and therefore all men should now repent. This is the teaching of Acts 17:30-31. But why does it follow from the resurrection of Christ that God will judge the world?
Life and death go together, as do resurrection and judgment. If a man lives we expect him to die and if a man is raised his judgment is imminent. The pair resurrection/judgment is so intertwined that we may conceive of the time for resurrection and the time for judgment as a single brief period at the consummation of the age. This is also the biblical point of view.
Because Christ has already been raised and judged (He was. acquitted of all charges of evil and pronounced blameless on the basis of His perfectly submissive and obedient life), the era has already come for all men to be raised and judged. The countdown has begun, but only God knows the number. Or, to look from another direction, we may think of God counting men as they are raised and judged. With Jesus He has already said, “Number One.” Creation now waits for Him to continue the count, and, though He has presently paused, there is no reason why He may not resume at any moment.
Because Christ died to bear the sins of many, and entered God’s presence to appear for us — and because His sacrifice was perfect and sufficient for all men and for all time — those who are His people in the new covenant may know that the judgment verdict is already decided in their favor. Who can condemn? It is Christ who died, and is risen again, and is even now at God’s right hand making intercession for His people! His people plan to throw themselves on the mercy of the Judge and plead the blood of Christ alone, but Christ is already in heaven pleading their cause by that same perfect-life blood. Furthermore, God has judged the basis of their plea, and has rendered a favorable decision regarding it.
The determining factor in the judgment of God’s people is already decided before they enter the courtroom — by the reception they gave the Son. All judgment depends on this, and the one who receives the Son in truth and holds fast to Him cannot be condemned. All sins and all good works may be set out of the picture for the moment, and we may state with full biblical assurance that judgment is summed up in the reception given (l) by God, and (2) by man, to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ which occurred once for all in history in the beginning of these last days.
The first question regards God’s acceptance of the sacrifice, and the book of Hebrews answers this question with a resounding affirmation: God has already accepted the perfect offering of Christ and He will receive Christ’s new covenant people on its merits. Only the second question remains, and it involves each man individually. Will he accept this sacrifice by faith as his basis of salvation, then hold fast the confidence in Him who is author of eternal salvation to all who obey? If so, his salvation is guaranteed. But if not, that man will not be a partaker of Christ’s benefits, though all the faithful covenant people surely will.
Salvation has been brought down! The choice is for each man. The perfect sacrifice has been offered and accepted. But each individual must cast away all human pride and claims, throw Himself totally upon the mercy of the Court and plead only the blood of Christ. The man who does this will not hesitate or balk in obedience to anything God has commanded him to do, but will joyfully offer himself — body, soul, and spirit — as a grateful and consecrated thank-offering, eager to do all that is asked by the One who became first his Sin-offering and, because of that, the author of his eternal salvation.
The cross of Christ touches earth and points toward heaven; its two arms are outstretched in invitation. The Lamb of God has died. Judgment has taken place already for One Man. The verdict is in. Only one question remains: Where do YOU stand? Come to the Savior! Put your faith wholly in Him! Turn from sin and self to serve Him! Speak your faith aloud — be led by it to join Christ in burial and resurrection as you obey Him in water baptism! Then serve Him gratefully, joyfully and fully so long as He gives you life! There is no other way.
By Edward Fudge
Next: Appendix V