Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Many people have the idea that God is a vengeful Deity just waiting for a chance to strike them with His lightning bolts of retribution for their sins. And if God is indeed like this, a judgment with Him on the bench would certainly be a fearful prospect. The Bible, however, describes a God and a judgment that differs startling from this common misconception.
God is not looking for an excuse to punish us. We sometimes picture a loving Jesus who stands between us and a harsh Father. But according to the Bible, the Father loves us and is just as anxious for our eternal salvation as is the Son: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16); "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not [counting] their trespasses [against] them" (2 Cor. 5:19).
Jesus declared that the condemnation of the judgment--"eternal fire"--was specifically "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41). If any human being finds himself sharing Satan's fate, it will not be because God has willed it. Those who are destroyed along with the devil and his angels will have spurned and beaten back repeated efforts by God to save them.
The Father has turned over to Christ the task of judging men: "The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son," "and has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man" (John 5:22, 27). Our judge, then, is Jesus Himself. No one more friendly to us could be found! The Son of Man will do for us what no earthly friend can do when we are in trouble. John says, "I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He Himself is the [atoning sacrifice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world!" (1 John 2:1, 2).
How can Jesus be our Advocate in a law case if He is also our Judge? God puts all the odds in our favor. Jesus is both Judge and Defense Attorney. He can defend us because He has already suffered the condemnation we deserve in the judgment. The death that Jesus died on the cross was the condemnation sin requires carried to its ultimate degree. "[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus died as the eternally lost sinner will die--"forsaken" by His Father--because He "Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed" (1 Peter 2:24). Since He is the second Adam, we are "in Him" corporately if we choose to believe it. The idea is that when Jesus died, we also died. "I have been crucified with Christ," said Paul (Gal. 2:20). Any lightning bolts of hot wrath that should fall on sinners already fell on Christ at the cross.
By accepting Jesus as our Savior by faith, we are identified with Him. There is not the slightest reason why anyone should have to duplicate Jesus' experience of dying for sin unless that person rejects his identity with Christ. What Jesus did on the cross is far more than a legal maneuver to satisfy the statutory claims of the broken law. It does that, of course, but it involves more--our personal identification with Him and His death. By faith the believing sinner accepts that he is "in Christ," accepts the divine judgment on his sins, but actually suffers it "in Christ." Justice makes no further claims against him. This is why he "does not come up for judgment." And everyone can have this advantage if they will accept it!
--Robert J. Wieland
From: Signs of the Times, March 1985.
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