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Judgment Compared to a Trial?

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Judgment Compared to a Trial?

MP3 Audio (14.03 MB)


Judgment Compared to a Trial?

MP3 Audio (14.03 MB)

A look at the analogy of a trial to explain the judgment process to you. In this trial, you are accused of a crime. I’m accused of a crime. You are tried. Evidenced is presented. The evidence is entered. You have a prosecutor. You have a defense attorney. The verdict is handed down. I hope when we finish the sermon today that all of us will have a little more confidence and trust in what God is working out and that God truly is on our side, that God is pulling for us and working for us.


 Let me ask you, when was the last time you went to court? I think one of the scariest things that any human being has to do is go appear before a judge, and it may not even involve you. I mean, you may be there as a witness. But it's just scary going to court.

When I pastored in Virginia, I testified for a man who was in prison. I tried to explain to the judge that the gentleman had really changed. I had spent a lot of time with him. I was really convinced of his sincerity. After it was all over, the judge said this: "I appreciate what you have said, but the Lord may have his soul, but the state of Virginia has his body." Of course, he was making a joke out of it; but, basically, he was saying that he {the man} was going to stay in jail.

There have been many high-profile cases in the U. S. that we're all familiar with recently. The Lacey Peterson case, with Scott Peterson, her husband. Many of you will remember O. J. Simpson. We were all glued to the TV as that unfolded in front of us. What about the Oklahoma City bombing case? I mean, there are a number of those.

In the sixties, I remember a case, one of the first that I can think of. It was the Bradesque case. Some of you may remember that because it was over in the Akron area. Now, we lost the first round of that case; and the reason was our lawyer wasn't very good. That was one major reason. He happened to be a corporate lawyer. The other was a trial lawyer who was on the other side. The trial lawyer got up and talked about and brought religion into the case, talked about this Old Testament religion, blood running in the streets, animal sacrifices. He got off on healing, you know, everything you could think of.

Our lawyer, being more of a corporate lawyer, was very logical but didn't make an impression upon the jury. So the case went against us. Later on in appeal court, it was thrown out. The trial lawyer who was representing Mr. Bradesque got up and, again, started talking about blood running in the streets. He talked about two or three minutes, and finally one of the judges held his hand up and said, "Now, wait a minute. You might get away with that with a jury. All we want are the facts." Well, that shook him up so much he only spoke for about another 15-20 minutes and sat down. Now, this is where our lawyer shined because he was a corporate lawyer. He had everything lined out and he had about 20 reasons why the case ought to be thrown out, and it was. So, those types of things happen.

How many of us really understand the judgment process in this country, and how many of us really understand the judgment process spiritually? When I say spiritually, I'm talking about what you and I are going through right now, what the Church is faced with. How much do you understand about judgment—when it begins, how long it lasts, who's included?

Today I want to use the analogy of a trial to explain the judgment process to you. In this trial, you are accused of a crime. I'm accused of a crime. You are tried. Evidenced is presented.

Evidence is entered. You have a prosecutor. You have a defense attorney. The verdict is handed down.

I hope when we finish the sermon today that all of us will have a little more confidence and trust in what God is working out and that God truly is on our side, that God is pulling for us and working for us.

Now, let's take a look at the accusation phase. You and I are accused. Who is our accuser? Who is it who brings an accusation against us? Who is the prosecuting attorney? Well, let's go back to Revelation, chapter 12, and verse 10, and notice, it says:

Rev. 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down."

So we find that Satan is the accuser. He is the prosecuting attorney. And I want you to notice that Satan doesn't rest. Day and night he appears before God, accusing God's people. Sometimes he accuses us falsely, but other times, do you know what? We give him plenty of ammunition, don't we? We give him plenty that he can bring against us.

In the Greek, the verb and the noun for "accuser" have this meaning...both of these have chiefly to do with the "judicial process as distinct from diabalos, which means ‘to slander.'" Now, Satan is also known as the "slanderer." "It is derived from agora, a place of public speaking, prefixed by "cotta" - against. Hence, it signifies speaking against a person before a public tribunal," is what the word "accused" means. That's taken from Vines' definitions.

Now, you find that, as it says here, he's the accuser; and it mentions those who are accused. The word for "accused" means "to be before a judge to make an accusation," and it's describing what happens when you come before a judge. Satan is constantly accusing us before God; and, again, the term implies a legal or judicial accusation. He's bringing charges against us.

Now, let's go back to Romans, chapter 8, and verse 33. We know who the prosecutor is. We know that he brings accusations; but I want you to notice what Jesus Christ's job is, what His responsibility is. In Romans 8, beginning in verse 33, it says:

Rom. 8:33-34 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? Who can accuse God's elect, God's people, the chosen ones? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? Now, the word "condemn" means in the Greek "to give judgment against, to judge worthy of punishment, or to condemn." It says, "Who is it who is going to condemn?" It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

So I want you to notice that Jesus Christ defends us. He's the one who's on our side. If you could say there is a defense attorney, somebody you want to hire to be on your side, it's obviously Jesus Christ.

In I John, chapter 2, and verse 1, notice, a very encouraging scripture. It says:

I John 2:1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. So, we're not supposed to sin, but, if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Very plainly, it says that you and I have an advocate in the court of heaven, and that Advocate who advocates on our behalf is Jesus Christ. The Greek word is "parakletos." It's the same word that's used of the Holy Spirit, that it is a comforter. Thayer's has this to say, one of the definitions of this is, "one who pleads another's case before a judge." Jesus Christ pleads our case before the Father, and He is a Counsel for the defense. Again, that's taken from Thayer's Lexicon.

Christ is a Counsel who defends us, and He pleads our case. He intercedes on our behalf. So we see the sides here. We've got Satan accusing us, and he accuses us day and night. You've got Jesus Christ who is there as our advocate to intercede on our behalf. He is the defense attorney. Now, the question is, what are you and I accused of? What could Satan possibly accuse us of? Well, let's go back to Hebrews, chapter 8 and we'll read in verse 6. This is a section we're all very familiar with, but notice...we'll pick it up in verse 6:

Heb. 8:6-10 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant...Christ has a better ministry than the Old Testament ministry, the Aaronic priesthood, and the Levitical priesthood, it says, which was established, the New Covenant was established, on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah----not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

You and I have entered into a new covenant. A covenant is an agreement. We've been called by God. We've had extended to us an opportunity to partake in the New Covenant. Now, the problem is, we have entered into a contract; and we have not always lived up to that contract. Let me give you an example. If you go out and buy a car, most of us here don't have $20,000 to plunk down on a car, so what happens? Well, you sign a contract. You put X number of dollars down; and you sign a contract for the rest, to pay a certain amount of money for that car every month to the bank. Now, what happens if you default on your loan? Well, the bank doesn't look at it that it's just your car if you default on it. One morning you'll wake up and somebody's come back and repossessed your car. It's gone. And they do that. A bank can repossess your car because you've not kept up your end of the contract.

Now, what we are accused of is not living up to our part of the bargain. We've entered into the contract. We have said that we will obey God. We were baptized, and we had hands laid on us. We received God's Holy Spirit, and we said that we would obey God. You know what happens. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes we fall short. Sometimes we make mistakes. We find that we have things that we struggle with over a period of time, certain habits that we don't overcome immediately. So we entered into a contract to live a new way of life; and, as I said, sometimes we don't live up to that.

In I Peter 4 we find something that the Bible describes here about the Church today, beginning in verse 17. I want you to notice, it says:

I Pet. 4:17-18 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God...the house of God is the Church of God, and we are that Church. It says that judgment begins at the house of God, and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?

So, what we find is that judgment is on the Church now. God is judging all of us. Once we enter into that contract, judgment comes on us. Judgment is not on the world now. What you find is that the vast majority of people who are alive today or who have ever lived had not entered into this judgment process. Only those who have entered into the contract are being judged for eternal life now. Others are not being judged for eternal life.

Hebrews chapter 6, just to remind you, talks about one of the fundamental doctrines of the Church. Here it lists six, or seven, according to how you want to count them. Let's notice, beginning in verse 1 of Hebrews, chapter 6. It says:

Heb. 6:1-2 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection...you and I are to progress to maturity. We're to grow up; we're to mature. We're no longer to just stay babies. What if you looked around this room and looked at a lot of the teenagers...what if they just stayed babies? Would it not be a funny thing? Twenty years old, still in diapers, laying on a blanket here on the floor. Well, spiritually speaking, we're not to remain babes. We are to grow up; we are to mature. But notice it says, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

So there is judgment that a person enters into that is eternal judgment. Today the unconverted receive punishment for sins, but they're not being judged for eternal life at this time. Guess who is being judged for eternal life? The house of God. You and I come under that judgment.

When I say that people receive punishment for sins, the Bible is very clear—what you sow, you reap. So people, if they break God's law, then there is a penalty. An individual who smokes and has smoked for forty or fifty years is likely to come down with lung cancer or throat cancer or emphysema, you know, some type of a problem. People who eat a terrible diet will also begin to sometimes have those types of problems. What we sow, we reap.

All people will eventually have a chance to enter into this contract that I'm talking about, but most people will not until the millennium and the White Throne Judgment, and then they will have that opportunity.

Now, what are you and I judged by? When you go into a court of law today in Ohio...I'll give you an illustration. Maybe you're doing 70 in a 50 mile speed zone, and you get pulled over. Somewhere on some law book, there's a law. There's a law that has been passed that says what the speed limit is and gives the authorities the right to enforce it. Well, let's notice what God is going to judge us by and the standard whereby He holds us accountable. James, chapter 2, and verse 8. It says:

James 2:8-10 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well...that's great...but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. Then it goes on to say, For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

We have to keep all of God's law. We can't pick and choose which ones we're going to keep. God has given us the Ten Commandments, the basic principles that we have to keep.

Verse 11 For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.

What are we going to be judged by? We're going to be judged by God's law. That's the standard that we have to measure up to. People may think that the law is done away, but that's not what the Bible says. You and I are going to be judged by it. If you do away with it and you are not even attempting to keep it, you're in deep trouble. So, we all understand that.

The word "judge" here, krino, means "to judge." It means "to pronounce an opinion concerning right or wrong, to be judged, to be summoned to trial that one case may be examined and judgment passed upon it." You and I are being judged, and we are going to be judged and are being judged by God's law. God has one standard that He judges us all by. One standard.

Notice, John, chapter 12, ties in with this. John, chapter 12, and verse 47. It says:

John 12:47-48 "And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world." Christ came at that time as a sin sacrifice, to die and to give His life for the sins of the world. "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." So notice, the words that Christ spoke, these are what will judge us.

Ultimately, it comes down that the word of God is what will judge us—how we live by this word, by the standards that God has given to us.

You'll notice in verse 49, this wasn't just something that Christ dreamed up. This wasn't just His own spouting off, as He says here:

Verse 49 "For I have not spoken on My own authority..." He says, "Don't think that what I am saying to you is by my own authority, but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak." So what Christ said was directly from the Father, and God had inspired it.

Verse 50 "And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

So Christ spoke only what the Father gave Him to speak.

We have established what we're going to be judged by, what we're accused of, who the prosecutor is, who the defense attorney is. Let's come to the trial. You know, there are three basic phases to this: One, there are charges brought against you. You are accused. Then you come to the trial; and after all the evidence is presented, then the verdict is handed down. And so, we're going to take a look at that. We've gone through the first phase so far.

OK, you are on trial. What are you on trial for? You're on trial for your life. This is a matter of life and death because if you're not declared innocent, you have the death penalty. You will die, and it won't be the electric chair. It will be in the lake of fire. So, you know, it gets down to being very serious business here.

What is the evidence that is presented in this trial? The evidence is our life, how we live our life, what we do day in and day out, or what we don't do. Because, you see, judgment is a process. Judgment is not just a sentencing. The end result of this process is, a verdict is handed down; but it is a process that you go through. And we've all seen or heard of these cases, maybe sometimes they drag on for weeks, a particular trial. Maybe it can even go on for months that a trial carries on. But at the end, either a jury or a panel of judges has to make a decision, and a sentence is handed down. But you and I, right now, are going through a process. This is where, I think, as far as this world is concerned, they completely miss the mark in understanding what judgment is all about. They believe that judgment is simply a sentencing, either to life or death. As I said, that's the end result. But we realize that it's a process that we do go through.

Now, you and I, then, have a responsibility for the evidence. If the evidence is our life and it's going to be presented in this trial, then we have a hand in what the evidence is.

Romans 4 and verse 6, notice it says:

Rom. 4:6-7 Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven..."

Now, let's back up to verse 6. It talks about imputing righteousness. The word here for "righteousness" and the word for "justification" come from the same basic root; and it's talking about a man being made right with God and being in right standing with God, which is what happens when we're justified. You and I cannot bring this process about. It's through God's grace and forgiveness. We have to repent; but God, then, will bring us into a right relationship. In the past, before we truly were called to repentance, we were in a wrong relationship, so you find how this takes place. Verses 7 and 8 describe it. Verses 7 and 8 clarify verse 6. It says:

Verses 7-8 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven." So, how are we made right with God? Well, we have our sins forgiven, and that's through the sacrifice of Christ. "And whose sins are covered..." So, our sins are covered. You know, the word for "atonement" in the Old Testament means "to cover," and that's exactly what we find. There's an atonement made for our sins. "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin."

So there is a state that an individual comes to where God will not impute sin to that individual. That is, to an individual who repents and who has a repentant attitude. God won't accept accusations against us if we repent and have a repentant attitude. God won't accept an accusation against us if our attitude is right and we're living right and constantly repenting when we do sin. We determine if the evidence is good or bad. You and I have that responsibility.

So, picture the scene. You're on trial. Satan appears before God. He points his finger and says, "You realize so-and-so down there," you know, stick your name in there, "look at what they did." And he'll accuse us of something that we did wrong or breaking our part of the agreement; and God says, "I don't see a thing. Get out of here." Because what's happened, the sacrifice of Christ has covered our sins; and they no longer are there. You see, you and I do repent; and we determine if that evidence is good or bad. It's like Matthew, chapter 6, also says, Matthew 6:14...this is a scripture, again, we're all familiar with; but it talks about the attitude, the frame of mind that you and I must have if we expect that God is going to forgive us. It says:

Matt. 6:14-15 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. So God wants to forgive us, but we have to have a forgiving attitude, also. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

We have to be willing to forgive others if we expect others {God} to forgive us. So, brethren, we can have a responsibility for making sure that the evidence is good that is entered, because when God looks down, He doesn't just look at all of our sins if we've repented of them. He looks at His son, His daughter; and He says, "That's My son and My daughter. How dare you! Get out of here!"

There's something else that you and I can do. You can have damaging evidence removed or it won't even be allowed to be introduced. What if somebody were in a trial and there was an eye witness that he did something wrong; and the judge rules that this individual, this evidence, cannot be entered into the court? And without the evidence, you know, there is no trial. Well, what we need to realize is that damaging evidence against us can be removed. Psalm 103 tells us how that's done. Psalm, chapter 103, we'll begin in verse 8 here. It says:

Ps. 103:8-12 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. So, God is very merciful toward the human race. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, because if He did, we'd all be greasy spots. If God dealt with us according to our mistakes and sins, that's what would happen... nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

God looks down and when we get down on our knees and we repent, God removes our sins as far as the east from the west; and I'm not sure, east and west {pointing}, I think it's that direction, but if not, east and west. We'll cover it one way or the other. But you find that God completely removes it; and in His mind, He looks down and He does not see it. It has been covered. So, what you find, we can remove the evidence against us if we repent of our sins. They can be covered.

Now, you know, God knows that we sin, yes. He knows that we're human. He knows what our weaknesses, our frailties, are because He works with us to help us to overcome. You know, today in our society, if you're a politician, you can't make a mistake. You can't be human and do something wrong because you'll be drummed out of office. So what happens? Most politicians, when they do something wrong, they try to cover it up. I would like to see a politician one day stand up and say, "Let me tell you that I'm guilty of," and he just lays it right out. "I know I made a mistake. I'm sorry. I'll try not to do this again, but please be willing to forgive me." Most politicians don't do that, do they? What about Richard Nixon in Watergate? He knew that the Watergate break-in would do him in; but yet, if he had simply confessed and said, "Yes, this is what we did. We shouldn't have. I will avoid this in the future," I don't think he would have gone through and been drummed out of office like he had been. What about Bill Clinton and Monica Louinsky, that woman. Now, the problem with both of them is, they did not repent, did they? They did not change, but they simply tried to cover it up. And that's the way it is in this world.

Well, you find that God does not want us to cover up our sins. He wants us to admit freely to Him—you don't have to go around proclaiming to everybody else your sins, but you admit freely to God that you have sinned, that I have sinned. Repentance helps to remove the evidence. A repentant attitude will prevent the evidence from even being entered.

Notice back here in I John, chapter 1, verse 10, we read part of this earlier, but I didn't focus on a certain part of this scripture. Let's notice:

I John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar...so what is that saying? We do sin. So, God knows that we're human. God knows that we will fall short, and His word is not in us. But let's notice in chapter 2, verses 1-2, My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. That's the goal all of us have, not to sin, not to break God's law. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, He is that atoning sacrifice that covers our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

So we know that Christ was the perfect sacrifice, God in the flesh; and when He died, He died so that all of mankind's sins could be forgiven.

There is a further definition that Thayer's Lexicon gives of the word "advocate." It is "one who pleads another's cause; an intercessor; and of Christ...," in other words, it talks about Christ, "who pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins." Jesus Christ as our High Priest, as our defense attorney, comes before God; and when Satan brings an accusation, Christ says, "That's been forgiven. That's been covered." And God says, "Get out of here!" He won't even listen to him because it has been covered. So we realize that we have an advocate.

Remember back in Romans, again, Romans, chapter 8, verse 33, I read it earlier. It says:

Rom. 8:33-34 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? OK, Satan does. He brings charges against us. He accuses us, but notice, It is God who justifies. What is the process so that those accusations are not lodged? Well, they may be lodged, but they don't count. It's not evidence that's being entered into the trial. It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died...in other words, God sent His own Son, and Christ was willing to come to this earth and take on the form of a human being, walk in flesh and blood to die for our sins, and so He died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. So Christ has made it possible for us to have our sins forgiven.

Another aspect of this trial that we need to focus on is simply, this trial is not by jury. Not twelve strong men or able men or honest men, but it's by a judge. There's a judge who sits there who's going to make a final determination. Who is that judge? Hebrews 12, verse 22 gives us an inkling into that, and let's notice:

Heb. 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, talking about coming before the very throne of God and what all goes on in heaven. Verse 23, then, says, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all...So, ultimately, God is the judge of all. He's the one who has ultimate responsibility, and then you also come to the spirits of just men made perfect...Now, we know that Christ has a part in this. Even though He is the defense attorney, He also has a part in the judgment process; but here it says clearly that He is the judge of all, and so we have a judge. We're not judged by people or angels. If we fell into the hands of other human beings, we might not receive too much mercy, would we? We might not be forgiven, or you could have somebody who could be the opposite way and just extend...be totally lenient and let you get by with everything. We're not going to be judged by the angels.

The judge happens to be God the Father, but do you know who God the Father is? I just said it. He's our Father! We're His children. Now, how would you like to go into a court of law and the judge sitting up there beaming back at you is your Dad, and you know, he's rooting for you. He holds His thumb up, and He's on your side. He's hoping that this thing will work out. He's friendly. He's pulling for you.

In James 2, again, we find how much He's pulling for you, in verses 12 and 13. It says:

James 2:12-13 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Mercy can triumph over judgment because if we repent—and, see, it's not just a matter of repenting. We've got to stay in a repentant attitude and we've got to seek to walk with God and have a proper walk. But if we do, then mercy, God's forgiveness, God's grace, can be extended to us. So you can have influence with the judge. You can have influence with Him.

Now, if the evidence presented is unfavorable, you know, the accuser is accusing you and what he is saying is right and you've done things that are wrong, do you know what the judge will do? The judge will give you time to remove the evidence. Here's all this bad evidence that's being brought before God. God will give you time to alter it, to change it. If you won't alter it, in other words, if you won't take the steps necessary to see that this unfavorable, damaging evidence is removed...in other words, to alter...God gives us time to repent. God doesn't just strike us down like that every time we sin. God gives us time to change. God understands that we are human and that we struggle with problems and difficulties. If we don't alter it, do you know what God will do? He will intervene Himself and try to get us to change it.

In I Corinthians 11, let me show you what I mean here in verse 28. We read this around the Passover time every year. In verse 28, it says:

I Cor. 11:28-32 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner, not in the proper way or the proper manner, eats and drinks judgment to himself, or damnation, not discerning the Lord's body. So you and I, when we take the Passover and we take those symbols, the bread and the wine, we are properly discerning Christ's body in that He died for us; and we renew that covenant every year. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. Some had died because they were not doing this properly. For if we would judge ourselves, in other words, if we will correct ourselves, if we will straighten ourselves out...As we hear sermons, study the Bible, read articles, and we see where we're doing something wrong, we judge ourselves. We correct ourselves. Then we would not be judged. Then we don't have to be corrected. But when we are judged, when God has to intervene or when God has to take a hand and maybe bring something to help us come to our senses—it could be a trial or a testing or whatever—we are chastened by the Lord, God is the one who chastens us. Why? that we may not be condemned with the world.

God doesn't want us thrown in the lake of fire. He wants us to change, so we're told to examine ourselves and then we're told to change; and God doesn't want us to just remain in the same way. You see, a lawyer has to discern if His client is telling the truth. What if you're trying to defend somebody, what if Christ is defending you and you're not really repenting and you're not really telling the truth? The problem, you see, with us—I won't say it's a problem, but it's a good thing—our attorney, our defense attorney, reads our mind. He knows our thoughts. He can see attitudes, He can see approaches. He knows what's going on. You and I can't pull the wool over Him. He knows if we truly repent. He knows if we're really sorry. He knows if we're putting forth effort. Hebrews 4, verse 14, and not only that, we find that He feels for us. When I say He feels for us, He knows what we're going through. He knows what it's like to be human, and He's there rooting for us. He's there on our side. He wants to see us succeed.

Do you know what? Our defense attorney has another position that the Bible describes. He is our older Brother. So you've got your older Brother defending you; you've got your Father as the judge. They're both pulling for you and They want to see you in Their Kingdom. That's where They want you to be. So notice here, beginning in verse 14:
Heb. 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses...He can have sympathy for us. Why? Well, because He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. He was tempted, He was tried, but He never sinned. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

So when we have need, we boldly go before God's throne and seek help; and Jesus Christ is there and He can say, "Father, do you know what? I know what this person is going through. I know what it's like to go through a trial, to be tempted with this, to have pain, to go through suffering, to be ridiculed, to have to make a decision," and He can explain that because not only has He lived and lives presently on the glorified God level, but He also became God in the flesh and walked on this earth. So He understands.

One of the worst things that could happen to you would be to be in the middle of a trial and find your lawyer dies. Well, Christ never dies. He's the Eternal. He always lives. So He will always be there. He will be there with you from the beginning to the end, and He will be there to strengthen you.

As Hebrews, chapter 2, says, just back up here, Hebrews, chapter 2, beginning in verse 11. He understands what we're going through. As I said, He is our older Brother. We read here beginning in verse 11:

Heb. 2:11-18 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren...so Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers, sisters...saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You." And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me." Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same...He came and shared in the same...that through death He might destroy, or annul, him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. So, you see, you and I don't have to be afraid of death, of dying in the lake of fire, if we do what we're supposed to do. For indeed He does not give aid to angels...the margin says, "He does not take on the nature of angels." Christ didn't come as an angel, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. He took on the nature of the seed of Abraham, of human beings. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren...so, again, we are His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people, for our sins. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. So He is able to give us help and strength on two fronts. He gives us help to be able to go through the trials and the tests we're going through, and then He appears on our behalf before God.

OK, if the trial is your presenting the evidence of your life, you have an opportunity to appear before the judge, who is your Father; and how you live your life is what's going to be entered into that trial. Now, finally, at the end of your life, the verdict is handed down. The judge is going to give the sentence. The trial could end at any time. If judgment is on the house of God, then this trial could end at any time, depending on how long you live; and none of us knows if that's another minute, five minutes, an hour, a day, a week, 10-15 years, or if Christ returns first. We are judged—very important—by the evidence submitted up to that point, the point when Christ comes back or your life is over, when you die. Not by what we HOPE to do. We may hope to pray more, we may hope to study more, we may hope to overcome more, we may hope to serve more, we may have the "hopes," but that's not what counts. It's what we DO. It shows the importance of staying in a repentant attitude before God so that we have daily forgiveness, that we are willing to change; and it's not just forgiveness, as I mentioned, because God is looking at, are we growing in godly character? Are we taking on the divine nature? We have to be growing in that aspect as we go through this process. God gives us time. We have experience that we live in the flesh. Why? So that we might develop the very character of God. We take on the very nature of God; and when we sin, when we fall or make mistakes, then those can be forgiven.

II Corinthians 5 and verses 9-10 explain that eventually all of us will appear before the very throne of God. It says:
II Cor. 5:9-10 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all, everybody, appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

We will be judged according to whether it was good or bad. So we all appear before the judgment seat, and the judge will hand down the verdict; and once you enter into this contract, do you know what the verdict is? There are only two options: life (you're innocent); death (you're guilty). It's one or the other. You're innocent or you are guilty.

II Timothy explains this also. II Timothy, chapter 4, verse 1. It says:

II Tim. 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing...so those who are a part of the household of God, when Christ comes back, are going to be judged at His appearing...and His kingdom...

Verse 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day...on what day? On the day of His appearing, at Christ's second coming...and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

What you find is, our reward will be given to us when Christ returns. Whether we receive the gift of eternal life or not is, you know, that's up to God. That's a free gift that God gives to us. That's by His grace; but what position, what responsibility, how many duties, how many cities we rule over, that is determined by our works, as Revelation, chapter 22, verse 12 clearly states. Christ says:

Rev. 22:12 And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

So we're going to be rewarded according to our works. So what we find is that the vast majority of people have not entered into this judgment process yet. All human beings will be given an opportunity to enter into it. All will, eventually. We know that there is going to come a time in the millennium when God will extend salvation to every man, woman, and child who will live at that time. And then comes the Great White Throne Judgment when God will resurrect all of the vast billions who have ever lived who have never had an opportunity for salvation. They will be resurrected, their minds will be opened, and they will be given an opportunity to repent, change, enter into this process, come under judgment, enter into the New Covenant, receive God's Holy Spirit, grow in grace and knowledge, develop character and have a chance to become a part of the family of God. So, brethren, there is going to come a time when God will extend this mercy to all human beings, so all human beings will eventually have this opportunity.

Let's read one final scripture here in Romans 14 and verse 10. It says:

Rom. 14:10-12 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. You see, He, not other human beings, is our ultimate judge. For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

All human beings are going to eventually have to do that and will have this opportunity. So, brethren, stop and think about the tremendous hope we have. If we have received God's Holy Spirit, we are the children of God. God is our Father. We're on trial for our lives now because judgment is on the household of God. You and I have the responsibility of determining what the evidence is going to be in this trial by our life, how we live our lives. And, again, we can have incriminating evidence removed through repentance. The judge is our Father. The defense attorney is our elder Brother. Our part is to walk humbly before God and to repent. When the verdict is handed down, you and I want to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter you into the glory of your Lord. You are innocent." And so, brethren, that's what we're striving for; and God is doing everything He can do to make it possible. You and I just need to make sure we do our part.