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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Final Judgment; A Better Covenant ( A Companion to 'The Inevitable Appointment' )

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things [ done ] in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
II Corinthians 5:10

Some controversy surrounds the doctrine of 'Final Judgment'; if, according to the Principles of Preterism, the judgment is in the past ( Lake of Fire, etc. ). does this mean that there is no more final judgment? When the writer to the Hebrews announced that 'as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment' ( Hebrews 9:27 ); was he giving an eternal, universal principle there, or was he referring to the Coming Judgment, which would be the Final Judgment for that Age? We in Christ have been judged & judged Righteous in Christ, but will those not in Christ face a Final Judgment 'according to what he has done, whether good or bad'?

If there is no more Final Judgment, we might well ask ourselves questions like, 'why, then, do some unbelievers seem to be much better off than some believers? ( why is my body racked with pain while his is not? ) If there is no more Final Judgment ( in other words, if men don't appear before the judgment seat of Christ when their biological clock runs down ), then what advantage do we have over the unbeliever? Why acknowledge your relationship with your Heavenly Father if He's just going to reward you with hardship while you live on this earth in this biology?

All of Scripture is eschatological in nature, and while some may accuse me of being a dispensationalist, or at least of employing dispensational principles, the writer to the Hebrews did say that the New Covenant was 'better' than the old, or 'first' ( Hebrews 9:1 )! 'But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises' ( Hebrews 8:6 ) Is this to say that our Heavenly Father is operating differently in the New Covenant than He did under the old? You could say that, and you well might say that He changed His modus operandi ( mode of operation ), because the 'Savior of all men' was not revealed as such until the fullness of time had appeared!

When The Fullness of Time had come, Jesus the Christ was revealed in order to make the Final Judgment & to consummate The Marriage of Heaven & Earth! He had warned those Pharisees ( and comforted His disciples ) with these words; 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth' ( Matthew 28:18 ( John 5:27 ) By this judgment, He cemented forever the principle of reaping what you sow! Because those false Jews had continually spurned Him & His Righteousness, Yahweh finally judged them for their sin; the rejection of the Holy Spirit!

Is the Lake of Fire, into which death & hell were thrown, still in operation? This is a subject which might warrant further discussion as well! If Yahweh Himself was/is the metaphorical Fire that burned in this metaphorical Lake, is He still in the business of 'consuming' ( Hebrews 12:29 )? He is no doubt still 'a consuming fire', for our Heavenly Father has said, 'I [ am ] the Lord, I do not change' ( Malachi 3:6 )! When a change is spoken of in the Greek Scriptures, it is most often referring to His People; they were the recipients of that change, they were the ones who received that 'better covenant', or, as I put it, the Fullness of the Covenant!

Is there yet, contrary to the Preterist Principle, a yet future ( individual/personal ) judgment upon physical death? If so, I have yet to read about it in any Scripture! 'There must be some sort of Final Judgment for the unbeliever, the one who remains in his denial of the Holy Spirit of God!', one might object, but the Judgment has been made, in finality! One only has to look at the lives of those who reject & spurn the Goodness of God to see that they ARE receiving their reward! The principle of 'reaping what you sow' is now, and always has been in operation; THAT has not changed! Wrong actions have a way, at one point or another, of coming back around to bite you in the ass, but right actions will always, again, at one point or another, bring the Blessings of our Almighty & Heavenly Father!

So what, if we all just 'reap what we sow', is the advantage, if any, in doing righteously, in cultivating our relationship with our Heavenly Father? For one thing, and most obviously, when we do right, we receive the blessed & just reward of righteousness! Yes, it is possible to do right for the wrong reason ( but then, can you really call it 'right'? ), but our Heavenly Father 'knows the heart' ( Acts 15:8 ( Psalm 44:21 ); He knows why a person does what he or she does, and rewards accordingly; IN HIS TIME!

Another reason to acknowledge our relationship with our Heavenly Father & to seek the blessings of Communion is that when we do, we enjoy not only Communion with Him, but with His Blessed Body as well, those who also enjoy that Blessed Communion! If we do wrong, it only goes to figure that only those doing wrong as well will fellowship & commune with us, but when we do right, sooner or later, we will enjoy the fellowship & communion of those who do right. When we live in such a Community of Righteousness, it only encourages us the more to do right!

 So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Hebrews 9:28

Is this a universal and timeless ( ageless ) principle, or did the writer to the Hebrews mean simply to give hope to his ( 1st century ) readers with these words? The context demands a first century fulfillment! Though in some sense Christ yet appears to ALL men for their salvation, these words refer, not to this or some other future event, but to the salvation that Yahweh brought when He appeared in Judgment ( the Parousia ) on the Ministration of Death ( AKA-Israel according to the flesh )! 

Though our Heavenly Father made an end of sin ( for His People-Daniel 9:24 ), there is no denying the fact that His people, believers & unbelievers alike, still transgress His Law! When they ( and we ) do, we, at some point or another, receive the just reward for that transgression! ( 'Be sure your sin will find you out'-Numbers 32:23-now THAT is a timeless principle! ) If, however, that one does right, he or she will, in kind, and at some point or another, receive a just reward for that righteousness!

'Righteous comes from the Lord alone!'

Amen!

Charles Haddon Shank


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