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Monday: God’s Mercy and Judgment — 23 Comments

  1. 1. Book of Life

    -Luke 10:20. Name written in heaven.
    -Luke 10:19, 20, To be enrolled in the book of life is the highest honour given mortals.
    -Philippians 4:3. Names of faithful workers recorded.
    -Exodus 32:33. The names of those that cling to sin will be removed.
    -Revelation 3:5. Names of the faithful retained.
    -Revelation 13:8; 7:8. Wicked are not recorded.
    -Revelation 20:15. None will be saved whose names are not recorded in the book of life.

    2. Book of Remembrance
    -Malachi 3:16. Records every word.
    -Matthew 12:36, 37. Idle words.
    -Psalm 56:8 Tears of repentance.
    -Psalm 87:4-6. Birthplace and environments.
    -Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. Every secret act.
    -1 Corinthians 4:5. Counsels of the heart.

    3. Book of Death
    Jeremiah 17:13. Those that forsake God are written in the earth.
    Jeremiah 2:22. Sins all recorded.
    Job 14:17. Sins sealed up.
    Deuteronomy 32:32-36. The sins of the wicked are all “laid up in store” until the day of judgment.
    Hosea 13:12. Sin bound up.

    You can also read The Great Controversy page 480 about those books.

    James says in James 2:24 that “a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” Good works are the evidence that you have been saved by grace through faith. A lack of good works (which results in the presence of sinful works) may be evidence that your faith is not genuine.

    Mercy=kindness that makes you forgive someone, usually someone that you have authority over-Cambridge dictionary.

    God doesn’t punish the sinner without giving him another chance, and at the same time offers him eternal salvation purely by His sovereign grace and mercy.

    • Gift, may I add a story of God giving a chance? The story is found in Mark 15. And the rest of the story is found in The Desire of Ages, page 742. This story is an example that responding with yes, to being compelled to take the Cross of Christ, even if by the sword, will save us for eternity. Now that is the lesson I got out of the story.

  2. We are a little inclined to be rather voyeuristic in our discussion of the judgment. I cannot imagine anything worse than "inspecting the books" to see what others have done, and I sometimes think that we have described our own Seventh-day Adventist purgatory in our picture of the judgment. Perhaps it would do us good to see how Jesus treated the accusers of the woman taken in adultery.

    I have mentioned previously that C S Lewis in Reflections on the Psalms, makes the point that the judgment also has a civil court aspect. We often concentrate on the criminal court scenario and while we should not discard that idea, it is important to expand our view. Judgment in the Psalms includes defending the defenseless, listing to the cry of the widow, helping the meek and so on. It is as much about righting the wrong as a condemnation of the wicked. Satan has cheated us, and the judgment is not just about putting an end to the cheating, but restoration of that which is rightfully ours.

  3. Everyone, at some point, will be judged. None can escape judgment. Perhaps in the past, here, now, or in the future, everyone, at some point, will face some sentence. And even though "the salary of sin is death," God Himself has offered us an insurance policy! Our only safe pass is to sign at the end of the policy, accepting His salvation plan freely! May we not scorn such a bogus negotiation because it is serious GRACE!

  4. I really don't get it… The Bible is very clear in that there is no judgment for the righteous! In almost 300 versus the Bible says judge or judgment of the wicked, and or words to that effect.

    If we do God's will, and stay abreast of what his will is, we have no fear the judgment! Yesterday in his comment, Richard had it right!…

    Mercy and grace be to all my brothers and sisters in Christ; Royce

    • Hello Royce. Some important texts to consider: (2 Cor. 5:10). Paul states, in­cluding himself: "For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ" (Rom. 14:10). "For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Eccl. 12:14).

  5. Maurice, I couldn't agree with you more. We have adopted a very legalistic view of judgment, and I fear, have not presented God and His actions in a very good light. Judgement needs to be seen in light of John 5:24; and Romans 4:8. The latter says: "Yes, what joy for those whose RECORD the Lord has cleared of sin." NLT That is the good news. It's not good news waiting for some future unknown time(Adventist purgatory as you said) when all our deeds will be laid bare.

    Besides all this, I think we have misunderstood that the judgement is not so much about us as it is about God. The devil has accused God of injustice, and God will be vindicated. God is the creator who has given us everything(Rev 14:7), and for that we need to be eternally thankful. One the other hand, this fallen one-time angel has been doing his best to destroy what God has made. We see this in the seals, trumpets, and bowl sequences in Revelation. He is destroying the earth, the seas, the rivers and fountains of waters, the heavens etc. "The fallen star" is bringing death and destruction, NOT God.

  6. Revelation 20:12 (NKJV): 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

  7. From today's study
    Read Revelation 20:12. How are we judged? What relationship do our good works have to our salvation?

    In response
    This is how I see the relationship between good works and salvation: Anyone can do "good works." If an individual does good works without an employment contact, he has likely wasted his efforts, because he has no claim for wages in the absence of a contract.

    Anyone who proposes to do good works for the Lord must first come under Jesus' Saving Grace Contract - he must report to the Work Site and labour there. Then only, will his works count. And yet, he cannot work hard or long enough to extricate himself from the guilt and wages of sin. That is why Jesus, seeing that he has reported to the Work Site and is labouring sincerely, honestly, diligently, and faithfully, will then step in and confer on him the Gift of Eternal Life for which no labour can suffice.

    Mark you, good works outside of the Work Site would only be wasted, not being spiritually contracted; and being on the Work Site without labouring for the Lord would seem to amount to a false contract (like burying an entrusted talent in the ground instead of investing it to gain more money for the master).

    Summarily, without faith (being on God's Work Site), good works are in vain; but whoever labours under Jesus' Saving Grace Contract is guaranteed the Gift of Eternal Life, just for checking in and labouring faithfully. In other words, the first (being saved) begets the second (good works) but the second cannot purchase the first.

  8. Does the Bible refer to an hierarchical crown system that will allow the number of stars in one's crown to be synonymous with the number of souls one has led to the Lord?

    My late sister Dorothy had a most favourite Hymn that our family made sure to sing at the thanksgiving service for her life: "Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?"

    The contextual implication was that Christians would receive matching starry crowns, in keeping with how well they had laboured for the Lord in the saving of souls.

    How would one reconcile this with the Bible story in Matthew 20:1-16, of the workers in the vineyard, who received equal wages despite their varying hours of labour?

    Since one is not saved by works, but by the Gift from God, of eternal life, why would God take time to reckon the numeric value of good deeds?

    • Good questions, Clyve. I've heard that too -- that the number of stars in one's crown will equal the number of souls led to Christ. I'd like to know the origin of that concept, and whether or not it has any authority.

      Ellen White seems to have approached this from a different angle. In the context of the final judgment, she says:

      "It is love alone which in the sight of Heaven makes any act of value. Whatever is done from love, however small it may appear in the estimation of men, is accepted and rewarded of God." Christ in His Sanctuary, page 183

      As for the workers in the vineyard all being paid the same, I suspect that just going to heaven with the redeemed will seem so wonderful that any other distinctions will fade into insignificance. I seem to recall something about casting our crowns at Jesus' feet.

      • Thanks for responding to my question, Bro. White. I, too, would want to think that just being in God's Everlasting Kingdom is above and beyond any great expectations a human being could heve. The Ellen White reference helps to set the matter at rest.

        In looking at possible answers yesterday, I came upon a rather flawed perspective (outside of the SDA faith), in which the writer stated that stars in crowns represented a resounding truth and that many Christians "will be disappointed" on seeing their lack. Of course, I dismissed the article immediately, because it is impossible that anyone who has made it into God's Kingdom could have any experience but exultation.

    • The stars in one's crown are symbolic of the people won for Christ.
      The greatest joy of course is being with Jesus, but after that the most precious reward is seeing people in heaven, enjoying heaven with us, who are there because of our influence.

      There will be no one saved in heaven with a starless crown. If you enter, there will be some soul in the courts of glory that has found an entrance there through your instrumentality.-- Signs of the Times, June 6, 1892. par.2

      Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

      • Hi, Ulrike

        You have shared yet another insight from Ellen White, this one appearing as a marked contrast to the one quoted by my first respondent.

        What is helpful here, for me, is the scriptural reference (Daniel 12:3), because I prefer to be guided by Biblical truth - and Sister White's writings seek only to shed what she calls "lesser light" on God's already-advanced "Greater Light."

        Here's one more provocative thought: Would internationally-acclaimed evangelists not seem to have a significant "edge" over a poor "Christian hermit" who has never learnt, or gained opportunity, to "colonise the world" for Christ's sake?

    • When you're in heaven, Clyve, there will be at least one star in your crown, a star representing your surrender to Christ. Well, we hope others, which you have at least sown a seed for, and someone else watered the seed of God's love you planted, and when we get to heaven you'll maybe be shocked to see them there, because you left town before the seed grew into a strong relationship with Christ.

      • Hi, John. I can very much resonate with your ideas on this. While I do not doubt the statement that Ulrike has quoted from the Signs of the Times, as I'm pretty sure it was penned by Ellen White, I shudder to think of people interpreting it to mean that they had better persuade at least one person to join the church in order to secure a place for themselves in heaven.

        We know -- and Ellen White wrote -- that it is all of grace. I like the thought that just getting to know Jesus, and making myself available to let Him use me to be helpful to others, as I may find opportunity, will not only assure me of continued access to His grace, but it will inevitably result in helping someone find his or her way into heaven, who otherwise wouldn't have come to saving faith.

        In Matthew 25, the "sheep" are surprised to hear that they ever did anything for Jesus. Those in the judgment, whose faith in Jesus is found to be genuine, will doubtless be very surprised to learn that their characters were also found to be in harmony with God's law. Like you, I get the feeling that stars in crowns will likely come as a wonderful surprise to many!

        There's no other friend like Jesus!

      • Hi, John

        That potentially lone star in my crown would more likely, based on these conversations, belong to someone else - the one responsible for leading me to Christ.

        I appreciate your contribution and thank you for the encouragement and solace it brings. We will not know all the wonders of salvation until we receive our final reward.

  9. Jesus has opened wide the door to salvation. He has provided everything we need to be saved.
    Yet, He also demands something of us besides an intellectual knowledge of His saving power.

    Notice the key word repeated in each of sayings of Jesus:

    From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

    I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)

    The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:41)

    Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3, 5)

    What is repentance?
    It's more than just sorrow that we have sinned. For there is a repentance unto salvation and a repentance that is not unto salvation. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

    Repentance is a turning, a change in direction not merely outwardly, but a change in our thinking; in our minds that leads to fruits of righteousness. It's the opposite of thinking we are righteous because we belong to some group. We sense our great need for a Savior to cleanse us. (Luke 3:8)

    The Holy Spirit convicts of sin to lead us to repentance, but we can either push that out of our minds, or we can repent and follow His leading. (Romans 8:13-14) He will lead us to Jesus.
    It is sin repented of that is covered by the blood of Christ and will not be accounted against us in the judgment. (Romans 4:7) Sins not repented of and clung to will stand against us in the judgment.

    In the earthly sanctuary, it was the sins that were confessed upon the sacrificial animal that were carried into the sanctuary either by the blood or by the priest in the daily services. It was the sins that had been brought into the sanctuary that were blotted out on the day of atonement, covered by the blood on the mercy seat, carried out and sent into the wilderness. Signifying that there is a searching of our hearts and a need for earnest repentance, seeking cleansing, that needs to be experienced in having our sins all covered on judgment day.

    After His resurrection, Jesus commanded the apostles to preach repentance:

    He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations..Luke 24:46-47

  10. In the earthly sanctuary, when a sinner brought his Lamb, confessed his sins upon it, and the Lamb was slain, yes, the blood of the substitute cleansed the sinner of his guilt; he was forgiven.

    But I see Scripture does not view sin as as something that just disappears; it views sin in a rather tangible manner. It's something that can fill a "cup of iniquity" (Gen. 15:6), something that can be transferred (Leviticus 3 and 4 confessing people lay their hands on the head of the sacrificial animal), something that Christ could bear in His own body, even though He Himself never sinned (1 Peter 2:24) -- something that priests could bear for the Israelites. (Numbers 18:1,23, Lev. 10:17)

    Yes, confessed sins are carried into the sanctuary.

    The Day of Atonement is the day of the cleansing of the sanctuary/temple. How is it that the sanctuary/ temple was defiled? This is not dealing with mere hygienic issues; this is dealing with the principle of cleanness and purity in opposition to contamination/defilement.

    Leviticus 16:16 states that this atonement for the holy place must be made

    because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins. So he must do for the tabernacle of the congregation.

    Obviously, the tabernacle has been defiled by the sins of the people, and on the day of atonement, the Scriptures clearly state an atonement must be made for the tabernacle itself.

    Also notice: During the daily ministrations, the blood carried into the sanctuary came from animals upon which the hands of the sinner were laid, signifying they transferred their sin upon the victim. It symbolized Christ bearing our sins at the cross. The sinner who confesses his sin is forgiven, pardoned!

    But no hands were laid upon the Lord's goat on the day of atonement. It carried no sin -- It symbolized Christ's righteousness. It cleansed the sanctuary and had authority to rid everyone and everything of sin!!

    Then notice what happens at the end of the rituals on the day of atonement. Remember the sacrifice was already made; the priest had already entered the holy and most holy place with the blood, where he makes an atonement for the holy place, because of the sins of the people. It is when he returns from making an atonement that he lays both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confesses over it "all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgression in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat." (Lev. 16:21)

    Here we see a clear representation of sin being transferred by the laying on of hands. Where did this sin come from? Was not the sin forgiven at the sacrifice? Was not the presenting of the blood in the Most Holy Place enough? Did this not blot out the sins already? Where did these sins come from, which the priest placed upon the head of the scape goat after making an end of atoning?

    Here we see something so obvious that it amazes me that people refuse to see it. The sanctuary needed to be cleansed because of the sins of the people which had been transferred from the confessing sinners upon the sacrificial animals throughout the year, and then transferred into the sanctuary, either by the priest sprinkling the blood, or eating the flesh of the sacrifice. (Lev. 6:26; 10:17)

    This is the final blotting out of all sin. This is the final cleansing in the “salvation year," pointing forward to Christ's work in the heavenly sanctuary.

    Hebrews 9:22-23
    “Almost all things are by the law purged (#2511) with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It is therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified (#2511) with these: but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

    The hour of his judgment has come -- the urgent message, is that we still have a short space of time to allow the Holy Spirit to help us send all our sins to the sanctuary to be covered by Christ's precious blood. He is inviting us to do so, before the High Priest comes forth from the sanctuary.

    I know people don't like that message -- but it's there in Scripture.

    • Thank you for the analysis, Ulrike. I understand it to be a message of mercy, yet you have stated that people refuse to see the main point, that people don't like this message. Do you mean most people, some people, or a particular class of people? Would you mind sharing what, in your experience, has led you to this conclusion, and what you perceive as the cause of the problem? It would be great to resolve it, as far as possible!

    • The nice thing is, He removes iniquity from us. He throws our sins to the bottom of the ocean, removing them from us, because we asked Him to. Thus, the blood of the Lamb of God always cleanses, or removes if you prefer. We asked Him to forgive us, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

      Zachariah 3:5.
      1 John 1:9.

  11. R.G. -- to answer your question.

    First, there was a response to my previous post, that blood always cleanses, never defiles. That is a very common response when we express the view that sin was transferred into the sanctuary by the priest bringing either the blood from the sacrificial animal or by eating the flesh within the holy place.

    Also, yes, the main Christian response and many even in Adventism will quite forcefully speak against seeing this in Scripture. They want everything to do with sin finished at the cross.

    Yet, Passover takes place at the beginning of salvation and symbolizes the cross, the door of salvation being thrown open for all to come, while the Day of Atonement comes at the end of the salvation year, a time when the people searched their hearts to be sure they weren't clinging to sin and had surrendered them all to Christ.

    Those records, in heaven, reveal which sins are sent into the sanctuary to be covered/pardoned by the blood of Christ, and which ones the person chose to hang unto and carry them upon themselves. When Christ leaves the sanctuary, all sin will be destroyed, including those hanging onto cherished sin.

    When Jesus is within the sanctuary above, when we have an Advocate in the courts of heaven, how earnestly should the corresponding work of intercession be going on upon the earth! While we may see and should sense the guilt of sin, we are to appreciate the mercy of God through the atonement. The Lord has promised that because of the propitiatory sacrifice He will, if we repent, certainly forgive our iniquities. Now, while Christ is pleading in our behalf, while the Father accepts the merits of the atoning Sacrifice, let us ask and we shall receive. Let all confess their sins and let them go beforehand to judgment that they may be forgiven for Christ's sake, and that pardon may be written against their names. {The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, page 868, paragraph 1}


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