JUSTIFIED AT THE JUDGMENT (Heaven: Where Few…Are Many!)
We closed our last chapter with a reference to Romans 5:1 which reads: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Justified means just-as-if-I’d never sinned. That means every evil word as if I had never said it, every evil thought as if I had never thought it, every evil deed as if I had never done it, and every thing that I should have done and did not do as if I had done it. Now that is “justified.” That is exactly the state of those in Christ now, and that is exactly how we will be at the Judgment. Since we are going to be justified, Judgment Day is something that we look forward to, and not something we dread. The Bible clearly teaches that Christians will be completely justified because Christ was willing to be crucified. When we trust in His dying and not in our trying, then there will be no season of sighing and no reason for crying when we think about the Day of Judgment. For example:
1. Justified at the Judgment means that we will glorify and admire Jesus because He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. The Bible says that “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels” it will be “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:7-8). That will take place “when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe” (2 Thess. 1:10). Don’t miss it: the time “when” He comes to punish unbelievers will also be “when” He comes to be glorified in His saints and be admired by believers. It is either face the fire or race to admire. It is not some of both. Those who are punished will not admire, and those who admire will not be punished. We are either “in” or “out.” There is no middle ground. When it comes to those in Christ, He is going to reward us, not rebuke us. He is going to save us, not scold us. He is going to welcome us in, not wear us out!
2. Justified at the Judgment means that we will be presented faultless in His presence because of what Jesus has done for us. Now we all have faults. (If you say you don’t have any, then I know what one of your faults is.) But, because we are in Christ, all of our faults are forgiven. Jude verse 24 says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…” The New International Version says that we will be presented before His presence “without fault.” We must understand that those of us who are in Christ are not actually faultless, but we are forgiven. We are not sinless, but we are saved. We are not perfect in our practice, but we are pardoned in His presence. He will present us faultless because He paid the price, and therefore He provides the pardon.
3. Justified at the Judgment means that we are without spot or blemish in God’s sight because Jesus gave Himself for us. I ask you to read it for yourself: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Consider that the church (those in Christ) will be presented as a glorious church, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” but “holy and without blemish.” But someone asks, “How could that be, as sinful as we are?” The answer is because God treated Christ “as if” He were a sinner, so that He could treat us “as if” we were absolutely righteous (2 Cor. 5:21).
Now Christ was not a sinner in any sense (1 Pet. 2:22). We certainly are not absolutely righteous even on our best days. But God treats us as if we are because we are in Christ. We do not have “wrinkles” because of His wounds. We do not have “spots” because of His stripes. We are “without blemish” because we are washed in His blood. (Read Isaiah chapter 53.) If we abide in Him, then “when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28). When we realize that believers will be “Justified at the Judgment,” then we know that we will have confidence and not be ashamed before Him. (1 Jn. 2:28). Therefore, when Jesus comes back, He will be “admired among all those who believe” (2 Thess. 1:10). Who, may I ask, in his right mind would not “admire” Him, considering all that He has done, is doing, and will do for us?
We sing about it sometimes:
O how sweet ‘twill be to meet the Lord,
When He comes in glory, by and by.
What a song of praise will be outpoured,
When He comes in glory by and by!
I am longing for that happy day
When He comes in glory by and by!
(When He Comes In Glory By And By, A. A. Westbrook, 1911)
If we were to trust in our pathetic attempt at obedience to save us, then we would certainly not be longing for that happy day. But when we have an obedient faith in His sacrifice for us, then Jesus will make all the difference in this world—and in the next one. Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).