Read Psalm 96:11–13. What is the reason for all creation to rejoice?
Why would anyone cry out “Judge me, O Lord” (Ps. 7:8, NKJV)? The reason is simple. Judgment means salvation: “ Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your power” (Ps. 54:1, NASB). Psalm 26 is a heartbreaking plea for justice and righteousness. David expressed marvelously the idea that God, the Judge, is always on the side of His loyal people and that His judgment is more than desirable (Pss. 26:1, 35:24, 43:1, 54:1). Judgment implies vindication.
So, does the pre-Advent judgment threaten our assurance of salvation? No, because the outcome of this judgment is certain. It is “in favor of the saints” (Dan. 7:22, NKJV). God’s work in the judgment reaffirms our forgiveness and intensifies our assurance by making our sins eternally irrelevant. Judgment is actually another manifestation of the salvation that is ours. The judgment is not the time when God decides to accept or reject us; rather, it is the time when God finalizes our choice of whether or not we have truly accepted Him, a choice revealed by our works.
For the believer, then, judgment increases assurance. To put it more radically, judgment lies at the heart of the doctrine of Christian assurance.
To exempt the righteous from judgment is not what the Bible teaches. Though the righteous are vindicated in the judgment and their sins are forever blotted out, the anticipation of the judgment encourages them to live a life of loyalty and accountability. The assurance of salvation is thus accompanied by the motivational impetus for moral behavior. Because God has done so much for us, we love Him and seek to express that love through being faithful in all that He asks of us.
A fellow believer expresses his or her fear of God and especially of the judgment. How can you help that person to understand the good news about the judgment and to develop a personal sense of assurance regarding salvation?