The Nuremberg Trials took place in 1945-46 in Germany. The Nazi leaders were indicted and put on trial as war criminals. Why did the International Military Tribunal sit and allied nations hold the Nazi’s accountable for their crimes? In one word – justice.
According to the Bible, God because of His holy justice is going to hold men accountable one day for their sins against Him. He is the Creator, this is His world and all sin is against Him because every sin is a challenge to His authority, a transgression of His law and a violation of His holiness. But who cares? Sadly not too many, but God does. If He didn’t He wouldn’t be God.
Here are three Bible based reasons that inform us that God’s judgment is coming upon the world.
1. The Wickedness of Man Tells us that Judgment is Coming. 2. The Ministry of the Spirit Convicts us that Judgment is Coming. 3. The Resurrection of Christ Assures us that Judgment is Coming.
1. The Wickedness of Man Tells us that Judgment is Coming.
Man is a sinner and every day he lives in this world he demonstrates it. If man is essentially good then why all the wickedness, the cruelty, the violence, the immorality, the cheating, the lies and the myriad other things humanity is guilty of?
The book of Ecclesiastics reminds us: ‘Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil’– Ecc 8 v 11. God’s seeming silence and inaction may make us think that He is indifferent to sin, but that would be a fatal mistake. No immediate judgment does not mean there will be no ultimate judgment. The Bible informs us through historical examples and direct warnings that the wickedness of men will ultimately be judged by God.
The Examples of History The Bible shows how the past informs the present. Two events stand out that tell us of God’s righteous judgment; the flood that destroyed the old world and the fire that destroyed the ancient cities on the plain of the river Jordon. We read in the Bible:
‘God… did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly’ – 2 Peter 2 vs 4-6.
The Character of the Last Days The Bible says we are living in the last days. The last days are the days from the First Advent of Christ to His Second Advent or return when He comes to establish His kingdom. These ‘days’ so far comprise two millennia of time and are called such because they define the final era of world history before the kingdom of Christ is established on earth. They are characterized by an increasing spirit of rebellion and based upon what we are seeing in the 21st century, it’s probably safe to say we are living in the last of the last days, the time just before the coming of Christ. We read in 2nd Timothy 3 vs 1-4:
‘But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power’.
And we read in 2nd Peter 3 vs 3-4:
‘Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?”’
The coming they deny and scoff at is the second coming of Christ when He will return to rule and judge the world. It will be the climax to a period when God’s wrath will be known on earth during the final conflict between good and evil, between Christ and Satan.
The reason He hasn’t come yet is explained by Peter:
‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance – 2 Peter 3 v 9.
God is patient because He is merciful. He is merciful because He is love. God, the Bible says, ‘is rich in mercy, because of His great love’ – Eph 2 v 4. The Cross is the evidence of the love of God. He ‘did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all’ – Rom 8 v 32. The message of the Cross is that the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth died for our sins, bore the judgment we deserve and rose again from the dead demonstrating the reality of what He accomplished on the Cross. We can ‘be saved from wrath through Him’ – Rom 5 v 9. The call of the gospel is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” – Acts 16 v 31.
The Warnings of Scripture As already seen from the references considered, Scripture warns us in different ways that judgment is coming. We read in Romans 2 vs 5-6 & 16 of
‘The day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”… in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ’.
Divine judgment will come both by God’s wrath revealed through cataclysmic events, like when He judged the world by the flood and the cities of the plain by fire and brimstone, and then ultimately when all people stand on trial before the Lord Jesus when He sits upon His throne of judgment. This will happen firstly to those alive when He comes to establish His kingdom and at the end of earth’s history when all the dead of all the ages will be brought forth to stand in final judgment. The Lord Jesus spoke of the former:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” – Matt 25 vs 31-32.
And Apostle John describes the latter:
‘I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books’ – Rev 20 vs 11-12.
God’s judgment will be according to works, the things which we have done as we have lived in disobedience to God and in an attitude of unrepentance. How we live does matter. But while what we have done in rebellion against God will bring us into judgment, we must not think that the good works which we do will earn us salvation. We are only saved by grace. The Bible says: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast’ – Eph 2 vs 8-9. God’s judgment will be for deeds done and it will be for secrets concealed. We cannot hide from God. Jesus said: “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops” – Luke 12 vs 2-3.
2. The Ministry of the Spirit Convicts us that Judgment is Coming.
The Lord Jesus said of the ministry of the Holy Spirit:
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” – John 16 vs 8-11.
The means by which the Spirit convicts the world is the gospel and the manner in which He does it is by applying the truth of the gospel to the mind and heart of an individual.
He will convict the world of judgment in this sense. Satan, the ruler of this fallen world order, the one who is the deceiver, inciter and influencer of men in rebellion against God has been judged by Christ through His work on the Cross. The Lord Jesus not only defeated Satan himself by His death, He also demonstrated through the Cross God’s verdict on the world under him; it is deserving of judgment. Christ paid by His great work of redemption the price to take back from Satan what he stole by deceit in the Garden of Eden from man, namely dominion over this world.
The Devil is a judged and defeated foe and that fact is demonstrated every time a soul is saved and it will ultimately be demonstrated when Christ comes in glory to establish His kingdom in this world and claim what He paid for with His precious blood. When that happens the Devil will be evicted and incarcerated in the abyss.
Said the Lord Jesus just before the Cross: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” – John 12 vs 31-32. The Cross that secured salvation also guarantees condemnation. In other words it shows that this world under Satan is doomed. The good news of the gospel is that when Jesus hung on the Cross divine judgment that day fell on Him, not the world. This is why He has been drawing all manner of peoples to Himself ever since. It’s the hope of the Cross and the power of His person that brings them. Sinners come to Him for salvation, forgiveness and the assurance of acceptance with God. But the fact that judgement fell on Christ that day at Calvary pointed forward to the day when God’s judgment will fall again, this time on a Christ rejecting world.
The ship Titanic sailed for North America from England in April 1912. A luxury liner featuring a Grand Staircase and carrying its wealthy patrons and lower class passengers. Fired by its mighty engines and deemed ‘unsinkable’ it made its way on what was sadly an ill-fated maiden voyage. “Iceberg right ahead!” was a warning given too late. The ship collided with that mass of ice and finally on April 15th 1912 sank to the bottom of the icy waters of the North Atlantic with the tragic loss of over 1500 lives.
This world is also on an ill-fated journey and is heading at full speed for a collision with the ‘iceberg’ of divine judgment. You don’t want to be ‘onboard’ when that happens.
3. The Resurrection of Christ Assures us that Judgment is Coming.
Paul began his speech in Athens with the fact that God is the one true Creator and he concluded by informing his audience that being Creator He is also judge. The connection between God as Creator and Judge cannot be divorced. If He is not one, He cannot be the other. Says Paul:
“God… now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” – Acts 17 vs 30-31.
The necessity of repentance is clear from what Paul says. This is God’s mercy to us. He gives us opportunity to repent and believe in Christ. But just as clear is the certainty of righteous judgment on a day appointed by God. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus guarantees it. The world has been put on notice. Men are without excuse.
The Bible is dismissed as untrue and irrelevant by many. That is their choice. This I would say; if the Bible spoke only of unimportant and trivial things then we could afford to dismiss it, but it doesn’t. It speaks about the fundamental issues of life and death, glory and judgment. ‘Is the Bible true?’ is an often asked question and indeed the cause of much debate. But the question I really need to ask myself is, ‘What if the Bible is true?’ The implications are immense.