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Lesson 2: Judgment Must Begin *

Introduction: "Judgment." Here is a word on which opinions differ. If we are talking about someone else who has done something to harm us, well, judgment is a very good thing. On the other hand, if we are talking about our own judgment, we shrink from that. Many people who want to be sure wicked people are judged here, deny that God will have a final judgment. Our fear of judgment arises from our fear that we will not "pass" whatever standard is imposed. If God has a judgment, what is His standard for "passing?" Let's jump into the Bible to see what it has to say about this most important topic!

  1. Judgment Time

    1. Last week we learned about the controversy between Satan and God. We learned that Satan accuses us and Jesus stands up for us and makes a way for us to have eternal life with God. What good does it do for Satan to accuse us?

      1. If Satan is right, what does it get him?

      2. If Satan is right about us, where would it get us?

      3. Why would Satan even take the time to accuse us?

    2. Read Daniel 12:1-3. What does Daniel say about our options for the future?

      1. How attractive do you find "shame and everlasting contempt?"

    3. Read Matthew 8:10-12. What alternatives for the future does Jesus mention? (Feasting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in heaven or being tossed outside into darkness.)

      1. What are those who are rejected doing? (Weeping and gnashing their teeth.)

    4. What do you notice about the way Daniel 12:2 and Matthew 8:12 describe those who are judged unfit for heaven? (Both describe the mental attitude of the lost. They feel shame and contempt. They are exceedingly sad and regretful.)

      1. What does that suggest about our decision-making in regard to judgment? (It suggests that this is an important decision about which we do not want to make a mistake!)

    5. Why would Satan want to collect a bunch of people who were shamed, contemptible, extremely sad and feeling remorse? (Perhaps because that is how he feels. It is the old, "You think you're so good, well, you are one [fill in the blank] too." Perhaps it is because Satan is a "spoiler." Perhaps it is because he wants to embarrass God. Perhaps all three.)

    6. Read John 3:16. In addition to the mental distress felt by those who are rejected, what else happens to them? (They "perish.")

    7. Read Matthew 13:49-50. How do the lost perish? (By fire.)

    8. Read Genesis 3:1-4. On what important point did Satan lie to Eve? (The first lie made by Satan to humans was that they would not die.)

      1. Is death still the penalty for distrusting and disobeying God?

    9. Read Matthew 8:28-29. Who do you think was speaking through these men? (Demons - evil angels serving Satan.)

      1. What understanding did these demons have of judgment? (That there was an "appointed time" for it.)

  2. Judgment Preparation

    1. As a lawyer, I spend a great deal of time thinking about "judgment." In every case I have, I ask myself, "What must I prove to win?" Everyone does something similar. Whatever your line of work, you consider, "What must I create to have an acceptable product?" What would be the point of learning that God has a judgment if we did not also learn the basis on which God will judge us?

    2. Let's look at a couple of extended discussions about the judgment which Jesus has shared with us. Read Matthew 7:13-14. What are the odds that we will put together the right preparation for judgment? (This is serious business, most people are going to fail "to pass" the judgment. The odds are against being saved.)

    3. Read Matthew 7:15-20. How does Jesus say that we should decide when we are looking for someone to give us help in understanding God? (By their "fruit." What comes out of their life. What results from their life.)

      1. Do these false prophets know they are not saved? (The text says, "inwardly they are ferocious wolves." You would think that they would know since they try to pass themselves off to others as being saved.)

      2. What do these false prophets have to do with the wide and narrow gates? (The Bible Exposition Commentary points out "There are false prophets at the gate that leads to the broad way, making it easy for people to enter." Just because you have a spiritual advisor or a prophet, does not mean you are going to make the correct choice.)

    4. Read Matthew 7:21-23. Do these people know they are lost? (No. These people believe they are saved. Notice a point we considered above. They tell God that they prophesied "in [His] name." Thus, at least some prophets are deceived about whether they are saved.)

      1. Do you think these are "false" prophets?

    5. Consider this a moment. Few are saved and you can believe you are saved and be wrong. This is worrisome!

    6. Let's look at Matthew 7:21-23 very closely. What does Jesus say is not sufficient to be saved? (Calling on Him as Lord.)

      1. Does this mean that simply believing in Jesus is not enough to meet the standards of the judgment?

      2. What does Jesus say IS sufficient to meet the standards of the judgment? (Doing "the will of my Father.")

        1. Does this mean we should throw out our "righteousness by faith" belief because works are what Jesus is specifically seeking?

      3. What argument do these lost people make? Why do they argue they are entitled to a favorable judgment? (Works! Not just works, but very high level works that appear to be in partnership with God.)

        1. Do you think these people are lying about what they have done? (No. Otherwise, I would expect Jesus to say, "That is not true.")

      4. Where does that leave us? Neither acknowledging God, nor works are sufficient to meet the standards of the judgment? No wonder so many miss the mark!

    7. Let's look at this text again. Read Matthew 7:23. Jesus tells them they failed in the judgment because "I never knew you." Is this the key to salvation?

      1. Can a person have "works" and not know Jesus?

      2. Can a person believe and have faith in Jesus without knowing Him?

      3. If knowing Jesus is so important to the judgment, how can we know Jesus?

    8. Read Matthew 7:24-26. We have two men. Tell me what they have in common? (They are both motivated to build a house. They both built a house.)

      1. Do you think the houses looked similar?

      2. What was the practical difference? (Read Luke 6:47-48. The foundation. The one man "dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.")

    9. Read Matthew 7:27. What is the result of not having a solid foundation?

      1. What does the storm represent? (Ultimately, God's judgment.)

    10. Read Matthew 7:24 and Luke 6:47. What makes all the difference in the judgment? Why does one person "pass" and another does not? (The standard for the judgment is whether we submit to God's authority.)

    11. Read Matthew 22:8-14. Is this a story about judgment? (Yes.)

      1. What makes the difference in the judgment here? (Whether you are wearing a wedding robe.)

      2. Does this wedding-judgment story conflict with the storm-judgment story? (No. Everyone is invited. The father of the bride provides acceptable garments to everyone - whether or not they can "afford" them. We often say that this wedding garment is Jesus' righteousness. But, as the New Bible Commentary says, "there is no place for those who will not take their privilege seriously.")

    12. Friend, how about you? Are you merely listening to God's word? Or, are you taking His words seriously, getting to know His words and obeying them? Are you digging that deep foundation on the rock of knowing God's word?

  3. Next week: Daniel 2.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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