The Bible is clear that each of us must face judgment at the end of time. Some may feel confident about their prospects in the judgment, others uncertain or fearful. But “feelings” may not be an accurate gauge of what will happen in judgment.
Questions for Discussion:
- Security. What do the following passages say about the reliability of “feelings” with reference to one’s standing in judgment?
- Fear. What is the proper role of fear as we face the prospect of judgment? Note this quote from C. S. Lewis:
Perfect love, we know casteth out fear. But so do several others things Ð ignorance, alcohol, passion, presumption, and stupidity. It is very desirable that we should all advance to that perfection of love in which we shall fear no longer; but it is very undesirable, until we have reached that stage, that we should allow any inferior agent to cast out our fear. (“World’s Last Night,” in World’s Last Night and Other Essays, 109)
- Joy. To what extent is it possible for modern people to appreciate the joyous expectation of judgment as suggested by Psalm 96 and Psalm 98? In the Old Testament the figure of the judge is the one who comes to defend the poor and oppressed, not the one looking for reasons to keep people out of God’s kingdom.
- A Particular God. Is the idea that every single act and thought will be brought into judgment a divinely-inspired and biblical idea or a demonic one? Note these passages:
Ecclesiastes 12:14: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Matthew 12:36: “On the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter…”
- Law as Gospel. From the standpoint of God’s intention, to what extent is it possible to see the law as Gospel (“good news”)? It is never a means of salvation, but always intended as a way of structuring our lives for our good and for the good of others. See Deuteronomy 4:5-8 and Psalm 119. Romans 7:7-25 suggests, however, that the human experience of law may be quite different from God’s original intention in giving law.
- Gospel and Judgment, Hand in Hand. In Revelation 14:6-7, the first angel’s message, judgment and gospel are linked together in the same breath. Does that suggest that judgment should or could be part of the good news?
- Saved by Jesus Christ, Not Condemned. How do passages like John 3:17-18 and Romans 8:1 relate to the Christian’s right to feel “secure” in Jesus Christ?