Judging


The Eng. words “judging” and “judgment” have a variety of meanings. In logic, “to judge” is no more than to establish a mental relation between two or more terms, and a “judgment” is simply a proposition which affirms or denies a connection between concepts. In psychology “judgment” is but another name for perspicacity or sagacity, a quality which is ascribed to one who has the gift of discernment and a capacity for sound appraisal (Ps 119:66; Phil 1:9). In the OT the word “judgment,” generally in the pl., is sometimes used to designate the Torah—instruction, law—i.e. the sum of God’s testimonies and ordinances (Deut 4:1; Neh 1:7; Ps 119). The central context of the term is in jurisprudence, where “to judge” means “to test or try,” and where a “judgment” is a “judicial decision.” This is the context—the context of justice—in which the words are chiefly employed in the Bible.

Back of this, however, and providing the ultimate context of the words, is, on the one hand, the righteousness of God (a blend of justice and love), and, on the other, the moral and spiritual posture and behavior of men and societies residing in a fallen world. In this ethico-judicial context the framework of judging and judgment is the divinely established moral order; the central concepts are those of good and evil, right and wrong; and the operative principle is that what a man sows that he also shall reap (Gal 6:7). The standard of judgment, however, is not the bare law, but the law and the Gospel. What ultimately decides a man’s eternal destiny is his attitude to the Savior Jesus Christ (Rom 8:1). By faith in him a man is justified and acquitted (Rom 3:24-26); by disbelief in or rejection of Him a man remains under law and is by that law found guilty and condemned (Rom 2:12; Gal 2:16).

The Judge

In the Scriptures God and Christ are presented as judges who, in terms of Gospel and law, pass a verdict on men, their sentiments, and their actions; and who in history and at the end of it either vindicate or condemn them.

God.

According to the Scriptures God is the Judge of all the earth (Gen 18:25; Ps 96:10; Isa 33:22; Heb 12:23; Jas 4:12; 1 Pet 1:17). He is the Judge, and fitted to be this, because with Him is ultimate authority, unlimited knowledge, supreme righteousness, ineffable love, and unrestricted power.

Authority.

God, as the Scriptures witness (Gen 1:1), is the creator of heaven and earth. He is thus Lord of the universe. His jurisdiction knows no bounds, and His authority is absolute. Because He is God He is the very standard of justice and equity, to His judgments all men are obliged to conform, and from His decisions there is no appeal (1 Sam 2:10; Pss 9:8; 58:11; 99:4; Prov 8:15).

Knowledge.


Righteousness.


Love.

God’s justice most clearly coalesces with His love in the act by which He delivered His only begotten Son into condemnation and death in order that through His sacrifice and merits men may have pardon and life (Rom 8:32; Gal 1:4). The OT saint knew that God saved by His righteousness (Ps 31:1), but in Christ it is made unmistakably clear that mercy and forgiveness flow to men through the judicial sentence passed by God on the son of His love (John 11:51, 52; Rom 5:8; 1 Cor 15:3; 1 Thess 5:10).

Power.

The power of God to execute the sentences He imposes and to protect those whom He vindicates is limitless. Those whom He judges are veritably judged, being gripped or upborne by His omnipotence. No one is strong enough to snatch the lambs from His bosom or to withstand the vigor of His wrath and the force of His sentence (1 Sam 2:10; Pss 54:1; 110:5, 6; Rev 18:8).

Christ.


Others.

Although the men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment and condemn the evil generation which sought a sign from Jesus (Matt 12:41), and although Christ gives His Church the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16:19) and declares that His enthroned disciples will judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19:26), and although Paul says that the saints will judge the world and angels (1 Cor 6:2, 3), God in Christ will not therefore vacate the judgment seat. Repentant Gentiles will no doubt shame the unbelieving Jews on the Day of the Lord, and the lives and testimonies of the redeemed will be to those who are not in Christ like the accusations of their conscience, but, with the saints concurring in His verdicts, Christ alone will be the Judge.

The judgments

Although the great day of judgment is still in the offing, divine judgments have long been upon the earth, and judgment is being passed daily.

In the past it was by the judgment of God that the antediluvian civilization was washed away by the Flood (Gen 6:5-7), that Israel was sent into exile (Jer 20:4), and that the several nations mentioned in the prophecies of Amos were scourged or destroyed. Chief and most fateful of all such judgments was, of course, that which brought condemnation and death to all mankind on account of Adam’s trespass (Gal 5:15, 16).

In the present, because God maintains the moral order, His judgments still fall upon men and nations. More importantly, just as during His life on earth, so yet today Christ is set for the rise and fall of men, and the judgment that is implicit in His person is even now separating men into two camps. It is by virtue of this fact that believers can in the present, before the final judgment, know and rejoice that for them there is and will be no condemnation (Rom 8:1, 38).


Christian judging

Not only are judges in human courts of law authorized to make judgments in civil and criminal cases, but all men everywhere are permitted and even obliged to assess human claims upon truth, beauty, or goodness, and to appraise the character, conduct, and teaching both of themselves and of their fellows. This is a fortiori true of Christians (Lev 19:15; Matt 7:15-19; Luke 12:57; John 7:24; 1 Cor 2:15; 1 Thess 5:21).