The Righteous Judgment of God

The Bible teaches that God has prepared a day when the “righteous judgment” of the Lord will be revealed (Rom 2:5). But it is important for us to understand what “righteous judgment” means. Some who misunderstand the Word of God teach that God judges some men with mercy and judges others with justice. Calvinism brings the righteous nature of God’s judgment into question.  They seem to misunderstand the fact that God must always act justly and graciously. He can’t decide to forget about his compassion anymore than he can forget his justice. He is always guided by a sweet mixture of the two. All men will stand before the same compassionate and just judge. Each will be judged by the perfect mixture of those righteous attributes of our God. This is why the judgment we will all face is a “righteous judgment.”

But doesn’t the Bible make it clear that some people will suffer eternal wrath and others be given the gift of eternal life? This is unquestionable! Every person will either be cast away from God forever or dwell in the presence of his glory forever. So how can we say that those who are given eternal life received justice and those that perish were judged by mercy? That is the question! It is easy to see why our Calvinist brethren assume that those that receive forgiveness are the only ones that are judged by the law of mercy, and all others only stand before a just judge. But Jesus said, “What God joins together let no man separate.” How much more should we consider it strange to separate the character of God apart which has been joined in perfection from all eternity?

Just Mercy

Justice requires that sin must be punished and never overlooked. But the Bible clearly reveals that those that come to Christ are forgiven of their sin and will not suffer the wrath of God. We even read the bold statement from the tenth verse of the 103rd Psalm, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquity.” The Psalmist might as well had said, “God is unjust!”

The Old Testament is filled with history that raises a lot of questions. When unbelievers read the Old Testament they always come away with the question, “Why is the God of the Bible so vengeful?” When they read about the flood of Noah they don’t understand how a good God could kill everyone in the world except eight people. But it is actually not a mystery why God destroyed the world in the great flood. God is a holy God and man was exceedingly sinful. His wrath was kindled by his holy justice. His wrath was never a mystery.

When we read the history of a holy God interacting with sinful men it should not surprise us that God judges them. But there is something that should shock our sense of justice to the core, namely, that God forgives sinners! If God does not deal justly with all, the integrity of his kingdom could be called into question! We understand why God judged the violent world, but why did he save Noah whose moral weakness was revealed when he got drunk and cursed his son? We understand why God cursed the rebellious king Saul, but why did he forgive the adulterous and murdering king David? The mystery we face in the Old Testament is, “How can God be just if he forgives sinners and doesn’t punish them for their sins?”

Until Christ appeared, there was no discernable reason how God could defend “passing over former sins” (Rom. 3:25). But God revealed the answer in the cross of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:21-26

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

God didn’t forget to judge Noah’s sin. Nor did he allow David’s sin to go unpunished forever. Neither does he overlook the sins of those he receives as his children through Jesus Christ. God has proved that his judgment is “righteous” by punishing the sins of the world on the cross. All of those who embrace the redeeming blood of Jesus through faith are justly and righteously forgiven.

A believer in Christ will not be judged by mercy alone on the Day of Judgment; justice will thoroughly examine him as well. Anyone who does not arrive at that day holding firmly to the atoning cross of Jesus will suffer God’s just wrath for their sins. God will not overlook the sins committed by the former “children of the devil” just because “he decided by his sovereign will” to give them mercy and withhold justice. He will only give them eternal life because it is their just due! Of course, it is not their by their own work, but because Christ purchased it and offered it to them through the Gospel. Since by faith they received it as a gift, it belongs to them as much as if they had paid the full price themselves. And for that reason it is theirs!

Let it be known, God judges his children with justice as well as mercy!

Merciful Justice

Ok, so we can now see that God justly forgives the sins of his people. But what about those who don’t receive the gift of life in Christ, what will become of them? They will pay the penalty for their sins by being eternally banished from God’s kingdom and presence. So how on earth can we say that their judgment has anything to do with mercy? We can understand that God is completely just in punishing sinners to hell. But where is the mercy? If God does not judge all with mercy, the character of his person could be called into question!

Can judgment be righteous if is only based on justice? My Calvinist brethren would argue that it is. But God does not agree. In Jonah 4:11 God argued that he “should” pity those lost in their sins. A judgment that has no mercy in it would be completely contrary to his righteous character.

Exodus 34:6-7

“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…”

Psalm 145:8-9

“The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all and his mercy is over all that he has made.”

God cannot forget to be gracious! He cannot even decide to be unmerciful! In the same way his mercy is always mixed with justice, his justice is always tempered by mercy. So then, how do souls whom God pities and loves end up in hell? Where is the mercy of God in the eternal banishment of sinners from his presence?

To answer these questions we must first note the situation of those lost in sin. Ephesians 2:1-3 paints us a picture.  All men are “dead” in sin, “sons of disobedience” who follow the devil, and are “by nature children of wrath.” They are unspiritual, and “sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). Their minds are “set on the flesh” and “hostile to God,” they “cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8). They are lost! No one could accuse God of injustice if he sent every unbelieving soul to hell today. I say, unbelieving soul, because we already learned that God would be unjust if he sent those who cling to Christ to hell. But those who don’t believe are “condemned already” (John 3:18).

But again, where is the mercy?! It is found in an obscure verse in Second Samuel. God “devises means so that the banished one will not remain and outcast” (2 Sam. 14:14). God’s mercy causes him pity those “living in spiritual darkness,” so he was moved to devise a plan (Jonah 4:11 – NLT). Since he knew creating a world that was free to rebel would eventually be plunged into darkness, in his wisdom he prepared a redeeming sacrifice from the “foundation of the world” for the “sins of the whole world (1 Pet. 1:19-20, 1 John 2:2).

The gracious God swears, “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek. 33:11). But he does not love in word only, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). God was more willing to abandon his Son over to a violent death than he was to destroy the wicked. What a merciful God!

After Christ purchased life for “all men,” God send his Church into the world to proclaim his command that “all men everywhere repent” (Rom. 5:18, Acts 17:29). And since apart from God’s grace no one can see the light of the Gospel, he sends the Holy Spirit to testify alongside the Church (John 15:26). Since God is kind to all men, even the “ungrateful and the wicked,” he does all of this to “lead them to repentance” (Luke 6:35, Rom. 2:4). Jesus “draws all men” to himself because he came to “seek and save the lost,” and “call sinners to repentance” (John 12:32, Luke 19:10, Mark 2:17).

God has done everything needed for everyone to have the eternal life that he longs to give. He accomplished salvation in Christ and then invites people to receive it. Not only does he send out an invitation, but with the invitation comes the grace needed to receive that invitation. The reason God’s righteous judgment of sinners is merciful is because it is HIS LAST RESORT! God sends his people to the lost with the good news that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19). And as the Church brings this message, “God makes his appeal” through them, “imploring” them to be “reconciled to God”!

Let it be known, God judges his enemies with mercy as well as justice!

God’s righteous judgment is not based on divine decree but on the character of a righteous God. God judges men impartially each according to the acceptance or rejection of his generous and gracious provision.

Mark 16:16

“Whoever believes … will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

This is the just and merciful standard of God’s righteous judgment. It is in accordance with justice because those who embrace Christ’s sacrifice receive the gift of his righteousness. And it is merciful because Christ’s love draws all men to himself and God’s kindness leads them to repent. Those that reject it have thrust aside the provision of God’s grace and “judged themselves unworthy of eternal life” (Acts 13:46). They have chosen God’s just wrath over his justifying mercy. And God only pour his wrath on them as his very last resort.

16 thoughts on “The Righteous Judgment of God

  1. The drunkard Noah? Seems a bit harsh.
    One incident of wine drinking vs. Gen 6:9 “Noah was a righteous man and he walked with God”

    Saul sought out Samuel’s spirit through the witch of Endor.

    David admitted he had sinned against God and repented.

    Also I think Jonah 4:11 was referring to the innocents “a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their left hand from their right.” (Children??)

    You seem to be putting words in God’s mouth with your statement…
    “In Jonah 4:11 God argued that he “should” pity those lost in their sins.”

    I don’t find that written in the scripture.


    1. As for Jonah 4:11 it doesnt say they were children. The point of Jonah is that Jonah doesnt want to give the Ninevites mercy, but God does. God didnt forgive the Ninevites because there were children in Ninevah, but because He “does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked but would rather they turn & live.” They dont know their left from their right hand because they are in spiritual darkness. For this God explains that His pity is the appropriate response for a merciful God & Jonah’s response is wrong.
      Jonah 4:11
      And SHOULD NOT I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (ESV)
      Thanks for the imput. I just changed the “drunkard” exaggeration. Gnu!

  2. Chris

    Yes we are all condemned but that condemnation is a result of Adams sin, we are born into the family of Adam and share in that families inheritance – death. The price of sin is death as stated in Genesis. Paul reaffirms this in Rms 6.23, yes he is speaking to christians but the price of sin is not limited to christians – all humanity has that debt. Once that debt is paid there is no longer any price to pay – show me where God demands a second payment for sin? Rms 6.10 The death Christ died to sin he died once and for all – a complete payment.

    We are to put to death sin in our lives but NOT for salvation, we put sin to death as a fruit of our salvation – it is a sign we have been set free from slavery from sin and that it now has not hold over us in regards to having to pay for our sin we are now under grace (Rms 6.14)

    There is nothing hypothetical in my view of the atonement rather the opposite. All of humanity is destined for Hell, God out of his mercy elects a subset from humanity Eph 1.3-14 for salvation. The Father elects them the Son dies for them the Spirit resurrects them. Nothing hypothetical but ordained and carried out by God.

    It does however become hypothetical if it is up to mankind to appropriate salvation for ourselves by having the sense to decide to believe in God. It comes down to how good the person preaching gospel is at convincing people that they need God.

    Christ hypothetically could have died for only one person or no people if it is up to us to choose God.

    1. Nic

      The death Christ died was as the head of a new race. The first head brought condemnation to all men. Without any choice people were born into that race. The second adam, the head of the new race died and overcame death. So this new race is righteous and has life. So are people born into that race automatically? Are they chosen in their own person to be placed in that new race? No. “Those who believe are given the right to be children of God,” then they will be born of God. After faith we are raised up wth christ. Colossians 2:12-13 “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us”
      We were chosen “in Christ” not in our own person. This means christ was chosen as the head of the race. By choosing him he also chose all those connected to him, his people. The teaching of the entire new testament argues that God that people do not become part of God’s elect people by being born a Jew or thru the works of the law, but one becomes a member of God’s elect people thru faith in Christ. When we believe we are “joined to christ” & “included in him”.
      Just as god chose israel in abraham, God chose “us” (the church”) in Christ. God did not predestine which individuals wud be born jews. In fact people cud be cut off from israel & others cud join. In the same way god did not predestine which individuals wud be born again into gods elect people the church, instead people can enter thru faith and be cut off thru unbelief. (rom11,col1:22-23, heb3:14,rom8:17) “we share in christ only if we continue in faith”
      Ur error is not believing we are chosen in christ, but in our own person. And also u have somehow decided that if we by enabling grace believe in christ then we saved ourselves and can boast, unless that enabling grace was irresistible. That is simply not what the new testament says. Faith is never put in the class of work of the law, but is always the oppisite of it. Rom4. Faith doesnt work but receives gods work. U cant see how one can choose to believe by gods resistible grace and not be saving himself. At this point the monergistic philosophy has become a stronghold that has lifted human reasoning above Gods word. Because the teaching of the NT is plane that we are saved, that is we receive gods saving grace, thru faith. Grace is not received by works but thru faith so that none can boast.
      So inside of christ sin is covered, outside it is not. Rom 11clearly says we partake of this elect status as long as we remain in faith. “u mean we keep ourselves saved?!” again, monergistic philosophy causes that confusion. But the bible says “we are guarded by god’s power THRU faith”. The keeping power is God’s, the receiving power is ours. Who are we to question what God has done. Since God has chosen to give calling grace to all thru the gospel & the testimony of the spirit, and by this grace enable men to have a choice to stay in adam or join christ,who are we to say question him.
      The new race that is free from sin death & condemnation, i.e. The new creation IN christ, is not hypothetical, but very real! Salvation has been accomplised! “It is finished!!!” but our participation of it is conditional. Conditional on entrusting ourselves to christ. “he who believes will be saved” How does one believe? By good preaching? No, by gods enabling grace. Is it not a gift if it can be rejected? Of course not, only philosophy requires that grace is only grace if it is irresistible, the bible does not.

      We are freed from sin and death by the spirit as we walk in him. Yes, sanctification is a fruit of the salvation imparted by the spirit. But sanctification is an act of faith. As with justification, sanctification is by grace thru faith. We must “put to death the deeds of the body” (active faith) “by the spirit” (divine grace). Rom8. By grace alone & thru faith alone. Not by grace alone, ALONE.Gods Grace is received thru our faith. Im sorry if that offends ur understanding of salvation, but that is the teaching of the new testament. Faith is not opposed to grace. Romans 4:16″ That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham,”

      I will be away from a computer for a few weeks. Thanks again for ur comments bro.

      1. Your almost there lol. Yes, the Reformers clarion call the five Solas, Sola Gratia, Sola Fida, – by grace alone through faith alone! But… That faith is not a product of our own decision rather a gift from God. We don’t have faith unless it has been given to us
        Eph 2.8 by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your selfves, it is a gift from God.
        Faith, the positive response to God, is a gift given to us. Belief in God as our Saviour is a gift. This gift isnt available to those dead in the sins as they are still slaves to sin. but those who have been purchased by Christ out of slavery to sin and resurrected by the HS are given the gift of faith.

        Rms 11 does not speak of the body of Christ rather the visible church, being grafted in does not speak of salvation – read the first ten verses. therefore those broken off did not lose salvation, they never had it.

      2. if u read the next verse eph2:9, u will understand what is the gift of god. it refers to salvation, not to faith. otherwise paul was saying “faith is the gift of god,u dont get that faith by works or u cud boast” that wud be a strange doctrine indeed, people thinking tgey can obtain faith by works?! but of course we know the thing paul was warning against was boasting that we obtain salvation by works and can boast. as rom 4 makes clear, the reason salvation is thru grace is so that we cant boast as though it was owed to us. verse 9 clarifies that “this” of verse 8 is talking of salvation, not of faith.

        rom 11 is speaking of Gods elects people, the true israel of god. if u start reading from rom9 u will understand paul is arguing that one becomes a member of abrahams people thru faith, not being born a jew or submiting to the law. this is why he explains the jews in generalwere nit connected to the olove tree,though they were the natural branches cause they didnt believe. earlier he had alreay argued that salvation was not a birthright,but was by the gracious plan of god alone. rom 9:30-10:4 clarifies his point and leads up to the conclusion in rom 11.

        important thing in reading the scripture is looking at the historical background of the text and the context ofthe passages. wemust not read man’s philosophy into it,even if they were reformers. we cant allow traditions to overide the scripture. we must stick to sola scriptura, otherwise the reformation will end. to be children of the reformers we must apply their principles, not canonize all their interpretations. that was the error of the papists. we like the reformers have the rally cry”reformed &always reforming”.we r blessed to have better understanding of the historical context that the reformers did. they wud be ashamed if we used their misinterpretations over and above the clear teaching of scripture.
        so, u are almost there to becoming a reformed believer;-) u just need to abandon the canonizing of the reformers interpretations (i.e. traditions of men like the papists) and instead abide by their living principles, especially, sola scriptura. thst means letting context, not human philosphy guide our interpretations.

        gotta get onan airplane tousa now:-)
        gbu bro,ur a fun and able debate partner.

  3. The issue Calvinists have with universal love, that Christ died for all, is that it equates to universal salvation. You are saying that Christ paid for the sins of all yet not all are saved, because we have to accept that salvation?
    Reformed theology states that the payment made was sufficient and does actually save sinners, not just potentially save sinners.

    If the the total cost of my sin, past present and future, was $100 and Christ paid that $100 what is left for me to pay? If I don’t ‘accept’ his payment do I have to pay even though there is no bill left to pay?

    1. nic,
      i appreciate ur honesty in denying God’s universal love. many Calvinists try to say God “loves” everyone,& even wants to save everyone,he just doesnt. i appreciate ur consistency.

      as for ur view on the atonement i believe it is fundamentally flawed. The bibliical view isnt that died for the sins of all people or particular people, that that he became “sin” so that “in him” we cud become “righteousnes”. Christ died for the sin of the world, that is the sin of Adam’s race, not the sinS of particular people. Those that are “in him” are dead to sin and alive to god because they share in his death & resurection. any from the old man, adams race, are invited to enter the new man, christ. we are joined to him and share his life & righteousness thru faith. those that are still in adam are still under god’s condemnation. We dont have salvation in ouselves, it is still hid in christ with god. this is why we were saved in hope. life is in the son,not in us. as lonh as we remain in christ thru faith we remain holu in gods sight & share his inheritance. col1:22-23 & heb3:12-14.
      Salvation is in christ,not in adam. in adam there is condemnation, in christ there is righteousness.
      U shud look at salvation from a viewpoint of covenant instead of a transaction in order to understand the biblical paradigm. like a bride sharing his husbands name & inheritance thru union wth him, instead of like a transaction.
      The biblical view is not that Jeaus died for *all men, or for *some men, but that he died for *any man. romans 5.

      thx for ur thoughts.

      1. We know that not all are saved, therefore only some are.
        What sends people to Hell? Their unpaid debt of sin, right? If Christ died for all sins of all people then there is only one conclusion – universalism. How do we know this? Christ came to save sinners – not try to save sinnners, Christ came to redeem sinners unto himself – not try to redeem people, he came to reconcile – not try to reconcile.

        The atonement is both transactional and covenantal, The WAGES of sin is death… this debt needs to be paid – a transaction has to be made, and it was, in the New Covenant. Christ paid the price for his bride so that she could enter into covenant with him.

        I appreciate your replies Christ, they are always thought provoking.

      2. nic,
        people go to hell cause they are “already condemned”. they are born and live in adam. adam has no life to give. Those that join themselves to Christ,the new adam, share his life.
        it is not so much that he “paid for their sins” as that he “tasted death for every man” and by joining to him we share both his death and his life.
        The thing that makes the difference is whether or not we are “in christ” thru faith, or “in adam” thru birth.

        just a note, if u look at the context of “the wages of sin is death,” u will note that is written as a warning to christians. rom 6-8 tells us that if we do not “put sin to death by the spirit” we will die”. since we are “in christ” we must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to god.and we must walk in accordance wth that or we will die.
        but of course with the paradigm thru which u are looking at the atonement,all of that must be only hypothetical. that reveals that the paradigm does not fit the facts of scripture.

        I also appreciate ur comments my brother. u share with conviction but also wth respect. thx for that bro.

        gbu bro,

      3. Hey, are you using the Owen’s Trilemma? Ben Henshaw refuted it some years ago… Pushing the payment abnalogy too far is not intelectually honest here, because the payment of sin is not like payment of a FINANCIAL debt, but a CRIMINAL debt.

        And I think the Limited Atonement as defined by you negates the definition of Grace.

  4. “No one could accuse God of injustice if he sent every unbelieving soul to hell today. ”
    >I would if by hell you mean eternal, conscious torment. The traditional view of hell maligns the character of God.

    ” God was more willing to abandon his Son over to a violent death than he was to destroy the wicked. What a merciful God!”
    >>Well, I see what you’re seeing here, but the terminology of “abandon” here is kind of misleading. God never abandoned Christ.

    1. Juan,
      By hell i dont mean a place where God tortures people forever like Islam & “Dante’s Inferno” portray, but i do mean a place God created for demons. The place he exiles men and angels to who dont wish to be with him. But the nature of that part of creation is a subject that is over my head at this point in my journey:)
      But my point was more a defense of my acceptance of God’s rights over his creation than a defense of the doctrine of hell, since Calvinists often accuse non-calvinists of denying God’s sovereign rights as creator. I wanted to emphasize that this is not what we have against calvinism. Our problem has to do with their denial of his universal love which the scripture clearly bears witness to.

      As for “abandon”, i did get a little flowery (not a good poet;) wth my languange;-) i just meant to express that God wud rather send his son to die for us than punish us for our sin.


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