Everyone will stand before God in Judgment
Each of us will one day give an account of Himself to God. This thought ought to strike terror into the heart of every unbeliever. Yet, for the believer, the Day of Judgment will be a day of joy.
I can understand the terror that rises whenever the thought of Judgment is mentioned. It is for this reason that so little preaching makes any mention of Judgment and eternal punishment. Yet the Bible is clear.
Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
How can I be just with God?
When a man, like me, mentions Judgment, the initial reaction to the hearer is (at least subconsciously), “Where do you get off thinking you can speak down to us of Judgment?!” Believe me, naturally, I am as terrified of Judgment as you are. My confidence is not in my goodness, not in my intentions, not in my works, not even in works done for good under God's influence. I am a sinner through and through just like you; in fact, because I know myself, I must take my place far lower than you.
However, when Job faced his own questions about why God afflicted him and the accusations of his ‘friends’, and the prospect of facing God in Judgment, he said this about himself and all men,
Job 9:2-3 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
Job had a low opinion of himself because he had a high opinion of God. The two always go hand in hand. How bad is sin? You will see when you look at what God did when He found it on His own Son: He plunged the sword of His justice, the curse of His law, into His bosom. He made Him drink the dregs of damnation dry from the cup of His wrath and indignation (Zechariah 13:7; Isaiah 51:22; Revelation 14:10; John 18:11; Isaiah 53:5).
Job knew that even if before men, even if in his own estimation, he was blameless before God’s law, yet his conscience would say something else; it would condemn him. As Paul found in his own experience, “I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. (Romans 7:9)”
When you think of your obedience, your best works, does your conscience condemn you?
Only one answer
To Job, the big question was, “How can man be just with God?” This is the burning question. The answer to this question is the only acceptable answer to God in the Day of Judgment.
Judgment Day will be the great “final.” We must pass the final to pass the course. If we fail on Judgment Day, we will be sent to hell. According to Matthew 7:22-23, many (not just a few), on that day, will appeal to what they have done. Without exception, even the very best of man’s works, even works done under the influence of God, will not be accepted as the basis for a man to enter life, to enter heaven, to be saved in the end.
Jesus makes it clear (Matthew 7:13-ff; Luke 13:23-ff): the gate of salvation, the gate to life and heaven, is narrow and difficult to find and enter; it is ‘strait.’ It is narrow because few find it. It is narrow because there is only one gate. It is narrow because it condemns all sin in man. And it is narrow especially, because it excludes all works of men, of whatever sort. It is narrow because it allows only one answer to God: the one that will satisfy His justice. In other words, it is narrow because it is a salvation in Christ alone, because of grace alone, through faith alone, according to scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.
What is this defense, this “answer?” Only one is correct. Judgment Day is the final and ultimate test. There is only one question on this test, “How will you stand just before God? How will you give an account of yourself to Him? How will you answer for your obedience and your disobedience?”
The only acceptable answer is the one that God Himself has given. The only acceptable answer is the one that perfectly and completely meets every requirement for obedience. The only acceptable answer is one that satisfies God’s justice against any violation of His law, no matter what that commandment is or where it is given.
Is God too picky? Not at all. God is good. God is not too picky. But we, as men, naturally think so, because we are sinful. God is holy. No man is righteous; no man does good. You might recoil in disbelief at such a harsh assessment, but it is not mine; it is God’s.
Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
It is true, God is holy. He is “a Just God.” He is just and holy beyond our comprehension. But here is the amazing grace of God. He is also “a Savior!”
Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me.
In Isaiah 45:21, God says that from the beginning of time, He has been saying something that no one else has said. It is this, “...there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior.”
Isn't that good and glorious news?! Oh yes, but how, does this help me? How does this answer for me? After all, isn't it before God that I will stand on Judgment Day? Yes! That is actually good news. For you see, men are neither just nor are they saviors. But God is both, and all that God is, He is in Christ, both Just and the Savior, both His justice and His grace are met in Him. And Christ is therefore the confidence and trust of His people. Notice the good news to every helpless, hopeless sinner in the verse that follows, Isaiah 45:22, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else." The Lord Jesus Christ is that God. No other God than God in Christ; no other Savior but He. As Peter said of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Christ, The Answer
Here is the answer, the only correct answer, that will withstand the scrutiny of God’s own Word on the Day of Judgment.
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
You see, the answer to God’s justice and the way that God is both a Just God and a Savior is in Christ, and in Him alone. Isaiah 53:7 says that when the Lord Jesus Christ was charged with sin, that He did not open His mouth. He stood guilty in Judgment. Not as the Judge, but as the one judged! He said to the soldiers, and in reality to every accusation and enemy of God’s people,
John 18:8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
Christ is the Lamb of God. He was chosen as the Lamb of God before the foundation of the world. The Lamb was for sacrifice to God. He was for sacrifice to God for the sins of God's people. The Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was the sacrifice to God for the sins of His people, whose names were written in The Lamb's Book of Life, in God's eternal decree, who was slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
God’s people, in themselves, stood guilty before the law of God. The Lord Jesus took their sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He was made under the law (Galatians 4:4). Everyone accused Him of wrong. The chief priest, the rulers of the Jews, the scribes, the Roman law, all those who cried out for His crucifixion, the angry mob, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, slave and free, prisoners and freemen, and most significantly, God Himself. As I once heard Don Fortner say in a sermon, ‘This man, more than any man who ever lived, deserved to die!’
The Lord Jesus, as the Lamb of God, stood silent when the law accused Him. That’s the purpose of the law: “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God. (Romans 3:19)” God’s people stood guilty. Judgment was set. The Judge examined the law. The Judge examined the evidence. Christ stood up for His people. “He was made sin (2 Cor 5:21)” for them. The Judge cried, “Guilty!” Justice cried, “Crucify Him!”
At that point, an answer was given. At that point, The Answer was given for all of God’s people. At that point, Christ did not answer with His words, because He, as guilty, could not defend Himself. He had the sin of His people on Him and He was truly and actually guilty and therefore worthy to die. So He did not speak. He did not answer. But in truth, He did answer! He answered with Himself, with His life! Every statement in scripture about the lamb, the sacrifice, the offering, the transference of sin, the substitute for God’s people was then and there accomplished and perfected and fulfilled.
I have an answer in Judgment! It is the same answer that God gave before the foundation of the world. It is the same answer that was given when the Lord Jesus stood silent before the accusation of the law. It is the same answer spoken in the gospel and applied to me by the Spirit of God in my conscience now, causing me, by faith alone, to seek refuge from Judgment in Christ, my answer. This is the same and only answer that God will accept in the Day of Judgment!
The Lord Jesus Christ did not answer for Himself, because He answered for His people when He stood before the law guilty and justly condemned. He did not answer then that I might have an answer to God now and at all times, even in Judgment. He answered with Himself! “He offered Himself to God. (Hebrews 7:27; 9:26)”
Oh, blessed and great Answerer for my soul! Oh, blessed Advocate for sinners (1 John 2:1-2)! Oh, blessed God, who is both Just and the Savior of His people! Oh the joy I will have and all of God’s people will have in Judgment when they hear the Judge say in their defense, “Who is he that condemneth?!” And then the books will be opened. The Book of Life will be opened, revealing God's immutable choice and purpose of life and glory for His people in Christ. The book of Christ's accomplishments for His people, the book of Scripture. And the Judge will read in triumphant defense for His people, He has already given the text: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died! Yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us! (Romans 8:34)” Who can condemn one whom God justifies (Romans 8:33)?
From before the foundation of the world, God has given and accepted only one answer. He gave this answer for Adam and Eve when He made them coats of skins: The Lamb slain. He gave this answer for Abel when Abel brought an offering from his flock: The Lamb slain. He gave this answer for Noah when He poured out His wrath on the world of the ungodly: The Lamb slain. He gave this answer for Abraham and Isaac on mount Moriah: The Lamb slain. He gave this answer to Moses and to Israel in Egypt in the tenth plague that killed the firstborn: The Lamb slain. He gave this answer to Moses and to Aaron in all of the ceremonies of the law: The Lamb slain. And what more shall I say?! God has only one answer for His people: The Lamb who was slain! Is Christ, the Lamb of God who was slain, your only answer?! Will you stand in Judgment in the Lord Jesus Christ, the righteousness of God? Or will you, like the sinners in Psalm 1, be unable to stand in the judgment of that day?
Job asked, “How shall man be just with God?” We know by revelation of scripture that only the blood and righteousness of the Son of God answers every claim God has on my soul.
How do I know that the Lord Jesus answered for me and will yet answer for me? Very simply. Do you agree with God? Is Christ your only answer? If Christ is your only answer, then He was your answer in eternity; He was your answer at the cross, when He cried, 'It if finished!' He is your only answer now in your conscience. And He who cannot change will answer for you in Judgment, because if He is your only answer, you have the faith of God's elect (Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah 45:21-22).
Lord, answer for me! Answer for me now before God in my conscience with the answer you gave at the cross! Answer for me in that great day with the answer of your blood and righteousness. Oh, that I might be found in you, with no answer but you yourself, slain, risen, reigning and coming again as Judge! By your Spirit, make yourself the only answer in the low-bottom of my heart that I might know that you are my answer in judgment! "Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice (Psalm 51)." Give me the boldness of your people in judgment! Lord, remember me!