A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, May 29, 1881, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *3/26/2013
But why do you judge your brother? or why do you set at naught your brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 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 every one of us shall give account of himself to God.’ ” [Ro 14:10-12]
1. No doubt there is an error in our version, for where in the tenth verse we read, “The judgment seat of Christ,” it should be “The judgment seat of God.” I suppose the word “Christ” slipped into certain manuscripts because Paul had been speaking of Christ, and it was thought to be natural that he should continue to use the same name. Paul did not say “Christ,” but “God,” but by that word he meant the same person. Paul knew that Christ is God, and when he was speaking of Christ it was no deviation from the subject for him to speak concerning him under the title of “God.” It was necessary here for him to use the word “God,” because he was about to quote from the Old Testament Scripture a passage which speaks concerning the sovereignty of God, which is to be acknowledged and confessed by all mankind. The passage runs, “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God, 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 every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” I ask you to notice how strongly this passage goes to prove the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ; because the whole run of the passage is concerning Christ. “To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, so that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” And then the apostle immediately, without any break in the sense whatever, speaks of God, because he was speaking of the same person, and he quotes a passage which relates to God himself, and uses it as relating to Christ. It does, indeed, relate to our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is “very God of very God,” and God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. In another place Paul most distinctly declares that it is Christ who is to judge the world. Look into the fifth chapter of the second epistle to the Corinthians, “We labour, so that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted by him; for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; so that everyone may receive the things done in his body according to what he has done, whether it is good or bad.” [2Co 5:9,10] Therefore, though the reading should be God, the sense is “Christ.”
2. It would have been a most important point with Paul to draw a distinction between Christ and God if there had been any doubt concerning his divinity. It would have been a most necessary thing to prevent us from idolizing a mere man. But here, so far from taking any pains to make such a distinction between Christ Jesus and God, as would have been necessary if he were not God, he interchanges the two words. He speaks of them in the same breath, for they are one. “The Lord shall judge his people,” and it is “the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” [2Ti 4:1] “Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and those also who pierced him.” [Re 1:7] This judgment by Christ is by our apostle proved from an Old Testament prophecy which certainly refers to Jehovah himself. Read Isa 45:23 and learn from it that our Lord Jesus is Jehovah, and let us joyfully adore him as our Saviour and God, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
3. The doctrine of eternal judgment, upon which I shall speak this morning, is introduced to us for a certain reason. Paul saw among Christians a much too common habit of judging each other. I suppose if Paul were to come among us now he would not see any remarkable difference upon that point. Just then the majority of the converts were Jews, and as such, they brought into the Christian Church their former religious habits; those men who had devoutly kept the ceremonial law felt as if they would violate their consciences if they did not continue to keep its more prominent precepts; and though they gave up certain of its observances which were clearly abolished by the gospel, they kept up others, such as special days for religious fasts and feasts. Many true but weak believers were very scrupulous about what they should eat, thinking to keep up the legal distinction between clean and unclean meats. At the same time the church had in her midst men who said, and said correctly, “The coming of Christ has done away with the old legal economy; these holy days are all types and shadows whose substance is in Christ. Has not the Lord shown to Peter, who is the minister of the circumcision, that henceforth nothing is common or unclean?” The men of strong faith blamed their weaker brethren for being superstitious, and by their superstition bringing a yoke of bondage upon themselves. “No,” replied the weaker kind, “we were not superstitious; we are conscientious, while you go much too far in your liberty, and cause us to stumble.” So while the strong looked down upon the weak, almost doubting whether they could have come into the liberty of Christ at all, the weak condemned the strong, almost charging them with turning their liberty into licence. They were both wrong, for they were judging each other. Paul, who was himself most strongly opposed to the Judaizing party, and in every respect came out clear and straight upon the bold lines of Christian liberty, was, nevertheless, so motivated by the spirit of his Master that he was ready to be all things to all men, and seeing grave peril of dissension where all should be love, he rushed into the breach, and he said, “Do not judge each other: what have you to do with judging? There is a judgment yet to come.” He mentioned the future judgment on purpose so that by its powerful influence upon their minds they might be taken away from the frivolous amusement, for it does not come to much more — the frivolous amusement, the mischievous meddlesomeness of judging each other, when already the Judge is at the door.
4. Let us linger for a minute over this practical point, and see how Paul rebukes the spirit of judging each other. First, he says in effect that it is unnatural. “Why do you judge your brother? Why do you set at naught your brother? He whom you judge or despise is your brother. You have called the weak one superstitious, but he is your brother: you have called the strong man licentious because he enjoys his liberty; but he is your brother.” If we need to judge, certainly it should not be those who are linked to us by the ties of spiritual relationship. Are not all believers one family in Christ? Wherever the root of the matter is to be found there exists an overwhelming argument for undying unity. Why, then, will you take your brother by the throat and drag him before your judgment seat, and make him answer to you, brother to brother, and then condemn him? Shall a brother condemn a brother? When the outside world censures Christians we understand it, for they hated our Master, and they will hate us; but inside the charmed circle of Christian communion there should be esteem for each other, a defending of each other: we should be anxious rather to apologise for infirmity than to discover imperfection. Far be it from us to find flaws where they do not exist. Oh that it were so, that perfect love cast out all suspicion of each other, and that we had confidence in each other, because Christ our Lord will hold up our brethren, even as he has upheld ourselves.
5. This judging among Christians, then, is, first of all, unnatural; and, next, it is an anticipation of the judgment day. There is to come a day when men shall be judged — strictly judged in a better way than you and I can judge. How dare we, then, usurp God’s great assize by ourselves mounting the throne and pretending to rehearse the solemn transactions of that tremendous hour? Judgment will come soon enough: may the Lord have mercy upon us in that day. My brother, why do you need to hurry it on ascending the throne yourself? Cannot God do his own work? “Vengeance is mine: I will repay,” says the Lord. We need not spend our time in perpetually trying to discern between the tares and the wheat. The tares to which the Saviour referred in that parable were so like the wheat that men could not tell which was which, and his command was, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” At harvest time he will give the reapers directions for separating between the real wheat and what was a mockery of it. As for us, the saints shall judge the world, but for the present the order is “judge nothing before the time.” We can separate between the outwardly vile and the outwardly pure by signs which God has given us, such as these, “By their fruits you shall know them,” and “If any man does not love the Lord Jesus let him be anathema.” As guardians of the church’s honour we are bound to use these rules; but between brother and brother, differing on minor points, between Christian and Christian, each one obeying his conscience, we are not to exercise mutual condemnation. Come here, brethren! Here is work enough for you all in dragging the great net to shore. What are you doing there? Sitting down and trying to put the good into vessels, and cast the bad away? That work may be left until later on; but now let us drag the net to shore. Haul away, brethren, with all your might! Eventually the time shall come for determining the results of our fishery, and separating between the seeming and the true.
6. Moreover, we not only anticipate the judgment, but we impudently intrude ourselves into the office and prerogative of Christ when we condemn the saints. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ”: that is the true throne of judgment. How many times I have had to appear before the judgment seat of my fellow men! Sometimes one’s motives are impugned; another time one’s actions, or mode of speech, or way of managing church affairs. Well, it is a little matter for us to appear before men’s judgment seat: we may very well refuse to put in an appearance at all, for man is not our master, and we are not bound to answer to his summons. Why is it that so many brethren seem to think that they are masters, and have a right to judge the Lord’s servants? I know some Christians who not only form judgments, and very severe judgments, upon those who are all around them concerning the facts that come under their notice; but they, also, without any facts whatever, conceive notions concerning people whom they have never seen, and are full of obstinate prejudices against them. Many twist words into meanings which they were never intended to mean by the person who used them; and others, even without so much as the excuse of misunderstanding words, sit down and imagine evil against their brethren. They dream that they are slighted, and then harsh judgments follow. Once imagine that you are badly treated, and then you will think that everything is done out of spite to you, and the next thing is to think spitefully of others. There are people around who are liberally gifted in the line of gossip who by their talk would make you think that you were living in Sodom and Gomorrah, if not in Tophet. You are made to fear that everyone you have trusted is a vile deceiver, that every man who is zealous is mercenary, that every minister is preaching in public what he secretly doubts, that every generous subscriber only gives out of pride; that, in fact, you are living in a place where the race of Judas Iscariot is to be seen, reproduced ten thousand times over. One goes to bed and cannot sleep after talking to these talebearers. The consolation is that there is no truth in their wonderful discoveries. These slanderous statements are a base burlesque of judgment, and nothing more. Why are they thought so much of? After you and I have done our best to hold our mimic court and have summoned this man and that man before us, what is it at its best but child’s play, and at its worst a violent usurpation of the rights of Christ Jesus, who alone reigns as lawgiver in the midst of his church today, and who will sit as judge on the clouds of heaven eventually to judge the world in righteousness?
7. The apostle argues strongly against this evil spirit of censoriousness in the Christian Church; and to give a knock-out blow to it he says, “It is all needless; you need not judge each other, for both your brother and yourself will stand before the judgment seat of God. There is no need of your condemnation, for if any man is worthless the Judge will condemn him: you may not interfere with the business of the great Supreme; he will manage the affairs of men far better than you can.”
8. Yet more, your judgment is unprofitable: you would spend your time much more profitably if you would remember that you also who can be so exact and severe in pointing out this fault here, and the other fault there, will yourselves be examined by an unerring eye. Your own account books have to be sent in, and to be examined item by item; therefore look well to your own matters. If you were watching your own heart, out of which are the issues of life; if you were watching your own tongue and bridling it, and so mastering your whole body; if you were watching your own opportunities for usefulness; if you were observing your Master’s eye as a handmaiden looks to her mistress, you would be doing something that would pay you far better than censuring others, something much more to the glory of God, much more to the gain of the church, much more to the comfort of your own soul. So the apostle winds up by saying, according to the most forcible rendering of the original, “Each one of us must give an account of himself to God.”
9. Brothers, sisters, I bring these truths before you because they are meant for brothers in Christ, and not so much for the outside world. It is to those who have faith, and are in the family of love, that the word of warning is given that we do not judge, and the argument is addressed to us that each one shall give an account of himself to God. I do not know that you especially need a warning against unkind judgments, but I know that you may need it, even as other churches have done. I am very thankful that we have not been much disturbed with this great evil; but, still, it does come up among all Christian people more or less. I read the other day in an interesting pamphlet upon the Apocalypse, [a] a note which furnishes me with an illustration: the writer endeavours to explain why the tribe of Dan is not mentioned in the Book of Revelation as having its chosen twelve thousand. All the other tribes are there, but Dan is missing, and Manasseh is put in his place. The author says it is because Dan means “judgment,” or “one who judges.” He says: “These ‘judges of evil thoughts’ have been sad troublers in Israel in all ages; not fearing to judge their brother and set at naught their brother, they have judged everything and everyone except themselves. All who have not pronounced their Shibboleth, nor seen eye to eye with them, have been judged as heretics, not to be tolerated, but tabooed to the extent of their ability. In vain for them it has been written, ‘Judge nothing before the time until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.’ Like their great ancestor of this tribe, they deal in foxes and firebrands, and too often set on fire their neighbours’ standing grain, an act we have never been able to commend even in Samson. This predilection for foxes and firebrands has unhappily developed in the seed of Dan to this day. And so in the place of Dan, The Judge, we get Manasses, One who forgets, one who, though cast off by his brethren, forgets and forgives their injuries, and we consider it a good exchange; and in the New Jerusalem home, where failure will be no more, Dan, ‘a serpent in the way,’ or ‘a lion’s whelp,’ would be as much out of work as out of place.” If any of the Danites hear or read this let them pray for grace to change their habits and natures.
10. I. Now I come to the doctrine itself, the solemn doctrine of judgment to come. May God make it impressive to our hearts. Our thoughts are now directed to the future judgment, and we notice concerning it, first, that THE JUDGMENT WILL BE UNIVERSAL: “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘"As I live," says the Lord, "every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."’ ”
11. There will come a judgment, then, for all classes of people; for the strong brother who with his knowledge of Christian liberty went as far as he should, perhaps further than he ought to have gone. He judged himself to be right in the matter, but he must stand before the judgment seat of Christ about it. There will also be a judgment for the weak brother. He who was so scrupulous and precise ought not to be censuring the other man who felt free in his conscience, for he will himself stand before the judgment seat of God. No elevation in piety will exclude us from that last solemn test, and no weakness will serve as an excuse. The man of one and the man of ten talents must equally be dealt with. Weak Christians are exempted from many trials by the gentleness of God, but not from the ultimate trial, for each one of us shall give an account of himself to God: the strong and the weak. The men who bore office in the church will have to answer for it, even as the apostle Paul says, “They watch for your souls, as those who must give an account.” [Heb 13:17] And again “It is required in stewards, that a man is found faithful: he who judges me is the Lord.” [1Co 4:2] I could on bended knees ask for your pity for myself, having to minister to so large a congregation, and with so much larger a congregation outside to whom I weekly minister through the press. Ah me, who is sufficient for these things? Who shall be found faithful in such a position? I think all ministers might with tears in their eyes cry to you, “Brethren, pray for us.” It will be the height of my ambition to be clear of the blood of all men. If, like George Fox, I can say in dying, “I am clear, I am clear,” that would almost be all the heaven I could wish for. Oh to discharge one’s ministry properly, and to be able to render an account like that of Paul, who said, “I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith.” This is my soul’s longing.
12. Yes, but not only will ministers, and deacons, and elders, and people who had high standing in the church have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, but so will the most obscure of the members of the church, and those secret ones who never dared to take up membership at all. You will not be able to hide away for ever. The man with the one talent must be summoned before his Lord as certainly as the man with ten, and of each one a reckoning shall be taken. In our Lord’s parables it is always the King’s own servants who are called before him. “The lord of those servants comes and reckons with them.” Our Master will say to each one of his servants, “Give an account of your stewardship.” “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked,” “for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” I do not have time or space to enter into the differences of that judgment as it regards the righteous and the wicked, but I confine myself to the one fact that all mankind will be judged, according to the word of the Lord in the epistle to the Romans: “The day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but to those who are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man who works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God.” [Ro 2:5-11]
13. What a motley throng will gather at that assize, from all nations and peoples and tongues! People of all ages, too. You boys and girls, and you who have lived through a long life. Kings and princes will be there to turn in their weighty account, and senators and judges to answer to their Judge; and then the multitude of the poor and needy, and those who live neglecting God, and forgetful of their souls, — they must all be there. It is a universal judgment. John says, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” Both sheep and goats shall gather before the great dividing shepherd: the wise and foolish virgins shall both hear the midnight cry; the house on the rock and the house on the sand shall both be tested by the last tremendous storm; tares and wheat alike shall ripen; bad fish and good shall be sorted out from the net, while the multitudes outside, the nations that did not know God, shall all without exception hear with trembling the summons to the dread tribunal.
14. Saints and sinners too, only on what a different footing, are all to be judged out of the books, and out of the Book of Life. Thus says the word of the Lord, — “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; so that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it is good or bad.” To the saints the judgment of the things done shall be according to righteousness, for these things shall be taken in evidence that they were indeed reconciled to God. The Judge will say, “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundations of the world.” And then shall come the evidence: “For I was hungry, and you gave me food; thirsty, and you gave me a drink,” and so on. These fruits shall be the evidence that they were in Christ, the evidence of their being justified by faith; while on the other hand the sour and bitter fruit of the ungodly shall be the evidence that they were not planted by the Lord: “I was hungry, and you gave me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; sick and in prison, and you did not minister to me.” We need have no fear of the judgment to come when we know that we are in Christ, for who fears to enter a just court when he knows that by the highest authority he has already been cleared? How complete is the Christian’s safety! For there will be no accuser. So bright will be the righteousness of a saint through faith that no accuser will appear. Listen, the herald sounds out the challenge! “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” All through the court it rings; and God is there — the faithful and all-seeing God. Does he lay anything to their charge? Far from it. “It is God who justifies.” Outside of the court the voice demands, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” They hear it in heaven, and angels who have watched the race of every believer, and seen how he has been running towards the goal, are silent concerning any accusation. The challenge is heard in hell, where demons hate the godly, but they dare not forge a lie against them. Happy is he who can also say, “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the righteous Judge shall give to me at that day.” Notice, he will give it as Judge, and on that day; how can some among you say that there is no judgment for the saints? Who, then, need fear to enter the court when every accusation is silenced and a reward is expected?
15. But still you say that the believer has sinned. Yes, but that sin has been forgiven, and he has a righteousness with which to answer the law. I will show you before I am finished how the Christian has been judged, condemned, and tried, and in reference to him the essence of the judgment is already past, so that there can be no condemnation. Hence that second challenge, “Who is he who condemns?” The Judge is the only one who can condemn, and we are sure that he will not, for “it is Christ who died, yes rather, who has risen again, who also makes intercession for us.” Do not tremble, therefore, at the doctrine that we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, but pray that, as John puts it, “we may have boldness in the day of judgment,” because as Jude says, the Lord Jesus “is able to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with great joy.”
16. Not a single person shall escape the judgment. There shall be no omission from the calendar; every being of the race of Adam shall answer for himself, “The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the chief captains and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man” must see the face of him who sits upon the throne. We shall have to put in an appearance as men do in court when they are subpoenaed to attend. The word of Jesus is, “Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Ah, how unwillingly will rebels come before that throne! Pharaoh! you must see a greater than Moses. Herod! you must see the young child upon his throne. Judas! you hanged yourself to escape the judgment of your conscience, but by no means can you escape the judgment of your God. Though six thousand years have elapsed since men died, and their bodies may have melted quite away, yet when the trumpet rings out clear and shrill their bodies shall live again, and they must all come out, each one to answer for himself at that grand assize before the Judge of all the earth, who must do right with each of them. Let us, then, bow before the solemn truth that God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained.
17. II. The second truth, which we must make as prominent as we ever can, is that IT WILL BE A PERSONAL JUDGMENT for each one.
18. This is the gist of what the apostle is saying: “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” The judgment will not proceed in a rough, indiscriminate manner, as upon a race or tribe, but each man will have to stand by himself, and the account considered will not be of a family or a band, but of each individually for himself. Note this carefully, oh men: each man shall have to give an account for his own actions, for his own thought, for his own words, for his own intention; indeed, not only of that, but of himself. Each man shall have to give an account of the state of his own heart, of the condition of his mind before God, whether he repented, whether he believed, whether he loved God, whether he was zealous, whether he was truthful, whether he was faithful. If it only dealt with actions, words, and thoughts, the account would be solemn enough, but each one must give an account of himself, of what he was as well as what he did, of what was in his heart as well as of what came out of it in his deeds. Oh, what a trial will this be!
19. We shall then have to give an account of our judgments of others. We shall not have to answer for what they did, but for our daring to judge and condemn them. Did you ever think of this, you who judge others, that you are laying down the standard by which you will have to be judged yourselves? I generally find that those who are most severe towards others need and often expect great leniency towards themselves, but it will not be so at the last, for thus it is written, “With what judgment you judge you shall be judged.” How easy it will be to judge the fault-finding at the judgment day. The Judge will only have to say, “They have already condemned themselves: they have condemned their own faults as they saw them in others; they have used the sharpest judgments against lessor faults than their own; out of their own mouth let them take the sentence and depart.” You will have to render no account for other people, but you will have to render an account of yourself and how you judged other people. The last account will be wholly personal, therefore see to it.
20. That account will, according to my text, have connected with it full submission. “ ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee shall bow to me.’ ” You may today say, “I do not care about God”: you will have to care about him. As truly as God lives you will have to bow. You may say, “What does it matter to me what the Scripture says?” It will matter to you, as certainly as God lives, which is putting it on the most solemn certainty that can be. God has taken an oath about it, and declares that you shall acknowledge his authority. You had better bend at once, for you must either break or bow. God intends to have his sovereignty acknowledged by all mankind. Has he not made us? Do we not owe everything to him? He will not have his crown rights denied for ever. He is Lord of all, and he swears by himself that every knee shall bow and acknowledge it. You will have to come to it, my friend.
21. Next, you will have to confess; so the text says. By this I understand that you will have to acknowledge that God is your Lord and Master, and had a right to your services; that you ought to have kept his law; that in sinning you have done unrighteously and acted as you ought not to have acted. You will not be able to withhold that confession. Oh how the wicked will bite their tongues when they have to acknowledge their folly and wrong-doing; but it will have to come out of every man’s mouth. When God pronounces sentence, and the ungodly are sent down to hell, they will give their own assent to his righteousness in condemning and punishing them. The verdict of the castaways in hell is that they deserve it; and this is, indeed, the hell of hell, that they cannot deny the justice of those pains which come upon them as the result of their disobedience. God will see to it that we shall justify him either in life or in death, by confessing that he is righteous.
22. I appeal to you, my dear hearers, whether you are ready with your account which you will have to render to God: have you kept one at all? Sometimes when men appear before a court they plead that they have no books, and it is always a bad sign. You know what the judge thinks of him. Can you dare to examine yourself, and answer questions? Can you give an account of your stewardship? Have you kept it correctly, or have you credited yourself with large things where you ought to have debited yourself? Your fraud will be discovered, for the great Accountant will read it through, and will detect an error in a single moment. Is your account kept correctly, and are you ready to render it in at this moment? Christian brother, you and I might hold back a little before we could say “Yes” to that, and yet I trust we could say it, for we know ourselves to be accepted with God. As for those who have scarcely thought of their God, their Maker, what will they do? What can they do, when each one of them must give an account before God, and they have no account except what will condemn them for having wasted their Master’s goods, for having defrauded the eternal God of what was justly his due, and having spent upon their lusts what ought to have been dedicated to their God? This judgment, then, will be personal. You cannot put your godly mother into the scale with yourself; you cannot associate your dear old father with yourself in judgment. Oh children, you cannot be judged by your ancestry, but by your acts; for it is written: “the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Oh, see to it: may God help you to do so.
23. III. Thirdly, THIS JUDGMENT WILL BE DIVINE. “We shall stand before the judgment seat of God.”
24. The judgment will be universal, personal, divine; and because it is the judgment seat of God, it will be a judgment according to truth. God will make no mistakes: he will not impute any wrong to us undeservedly, and he will not give us credit for right because we bore the appearance of it. He will search to the very core and essence of the matter. Are you ready to be tried as by fire? Trial by fire is only a weak metaphor for trial by the searching eye of the Most High God.
25. He will test us by the supreme standard of perfect justice. We judge according to each other’s behaviour, and if we are as liberal, or as prayerful, or as gracious as others we consider that it is all right. But the balances of the sanctuary are far more exact. It will not be you in one scale and I in another; and if I am as gracious as you, we shall both be accepted. Ah, no; there is another standard than that, the standard of truth and grace in the heart, and real love for God, and conformity to the image of Christ. Judge whether you can stand that test.
26. That judgment will be most searching. “The Lord ponders the hearts.” He will not judge according to the sight of the eyes, but search out our secrets. Then the foundations shall be tested, then all that the man rested on and sustained himself upon shall be tried, whether it is the Rock of Ages or whether it is the mere sand of presumption. There will be no such trial day before or after like that day of the assize of God. “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.”
27. That judgment will be impartial. You and I are always partial in weighing ourselves. We generally give the most lenient verdict except when we happen to be despondent in spirit, and then we are morbidly sensitive. But God will judge us without partiality. Rich friend, that diamond ring will serve no purpose in that day: my ladies, those fine garments will make no impression in that court. My learned friend, that degree after your name will be of no avail; and you, fine sir, with your knighthood, earldom, or dukedom, will be none the better off; for coronets, and even imperial crowns all go for nothing before the throne of God, who is no respecter of people.
28. This judgment will be final. The sentence of the Supreme Court will settle all. Does he say, “Depart you cursed?” They cannot do otherwise. Does he say, “Come you blessed?” Oh, how blessed to enter into the eternal home. May none of you ever hear him say, “Depart”; for he will never reverse the sentence: you will have to depart, and keep on departing, going farther, farther, and farther away from him who is hope and life and joy. There is no hope held out that he shall ever say, “Come back again, you cursed”; but no, “Depart into everlasting fire in hell.” May God save us from such an ultimatum as that.
29. At the last judgment certain sins will prove to be of heavy weight. I will do no more than mention a few of them. There is one that is never treated leniently by any judge; it is contempt of court. God will speedily condemn those who have despised his authority. Are there any such here who have despised the Lord their God, and set at naught his counsel? They seldom or never think of God or his law, or even regard his day; but they say, “Who is the Lord that we should obey his voice?” Beware, you despisers, and wonder and perish, for the Lord our God is jealous of his great name, and he hears the voices of those who scoff at him.
30. Rejection of mercy is also a high crime and misdemeanour. The Judge who shall sit upon the throne has already presented mercy to all of you, and the unconverted among you have refused it. Surely they deserve the deepest hell who slight eternal love. If the Judge can say, “The prisoner at the bar has had the glad tidings of forgiveness presented to him, but has refused to listen to the gracious message, or having listened, and being almost persuaded, he nevertheless put it off to a more convenient time, and here he stands a trampler on the blood of Christ.” This will be the fiercest heat of the eternal burnings. You refused mercy; you put from you eternal life, and considered yourselves unworthy of salvation. This sin will be a millstone around the soul for ever.
31. Then there is the crime of wilful, deliberate sinning, with intent to do so. Have any of you been guilty of this fact, and have you not fled to Christ? Did you choose sin, knowing it to be sin? Are you still choosing sin, and living in it against the voice of conscience? Ah, believe me, sin repeated, sin continued in will bring swift and sure destruction. These sins go beforehand to judgment, and there lodge solemn complaints against the guilty.
I cannot close amid these clouds. Break forth, oh sun! Turn to the
passage from which Paul quoted; for there you shall hear a sweet
gospel word which may appropriately end my discourse. Paul’s mind was
at Isa 45:23. He did not quote the words literally, but he gave
the sense. Here is the passage: “I have sworn by myself, the word is
gone out of my month in righteousness, and shall not return, that to
me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” Now, what words
do you think come before these? You shall look for yourselves. I will
wait while you open your Bibles. Do you see the blessed lines? God
declares that every man shall bow before him, and confess his
authority; but what word of exhortation stands before that oath of
his? I wish I could make it flash out at this moment in letters of
light all around the building, — “Look to me, and be saved, all the
ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is no one else.” That
message of mercy stands side by side with the judgment prophecy.
Come, then, dear hearts, you who are guilty, come and bow before your
God before he ascends the throne of judgment. Come and do willingly
what you will have to do eventually unwillingly. Come now, and
confess that he is judge and ought to be honoured; confess that he is
King and ought to be obeyed; confess that you are his subject and are
bound to serve him; confess that you have done wrong, grievous wrong,
in having broken his law; come and make out your own indictment; come
and be your own accuser; come and condemn yourself; come and bow your
head when God’s law condemns you; come and admit that you deserve
divine wrath, and submit yourself to the Lord’s justice. Then give
another look to your God and Saviour and say, “My Lord, I know you
are my Judge; but you are also my Redeemer: I accept the place of
condemnation, but I see that you stood there on my behalf, the just
for the unjust, my substitute, bearing my sin and punishment. Blessed
Lord, I accept you as my substitute; I yield myself up to you; I
stand now tried, condemned, punished, dead, raised again in you, and
therefore pardoned, acquitted, justified, beloved, accepted for
Jesus’ sake.” Oh, is this not a blessed ending to a solemn sermon?
Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
While through thy blood absolved I am
From sin’s tremendous curse and shame.
May God bless you. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ro 14:1-15:7]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — Holy, Holy, Holy” 190]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Second Advent — Lo! He Cometh!” 363]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Second Advent — He Cometh” 341]
[a] Fulfilment of the Apocalypse. By the author “Things which must shortly come to pass.” Eliot Stock.
God the Father, Attributes of God
190 — Holy, Holy, Holy <7s.>
1 Holy, holy, holy, Lord!
Be thy glorious name adored:
Lord, thy mercies never fail;
Hail, celestial Goodness, hail!
2 Though unworthy, Lord, thine ear,
Deign our humble songs to hear;
Purer praise we hope to bring,
When around thy throne we sing.
3 There no tongue shall silent be,
All shall join in harmony;
That through heaven’s capacious round
Praise to thee may ever sound.
4 Lord, thy mercies never fail:
Hail, celestial Goodness, hail!
Holy, holy, holy, Lord!
Be thy glorious name adored.
Benjamin Williams, 1778, a.
Jesus Christ, Second Advent
363 — Lo! He Cometh! <8.7.4.>
1 Lo! He cometh! countless trumpets
Blow to raise the sleeping dead!
‘Mid ten thousand saints and angels,
See the great exalted Head!
Welcome, welcome, Son of God.
2 Now his merit, by the harpers,
Through the eternal deep resounds;
Now resplendent shine his nail prints,
Every eye shall see his wounds:
They who pierced him
Shall at his appearance wail.
3 Full of joyful expectation,
Saints, behold the Judge appear;
Truth and justice go before him,
Now the joyful sentence hear!
Welcome, welcome to the skies.
4 “Come, ye blessed of my Father,
Enter into life and joy!
Banish all your fears and sorrows,
Endless praise be your employ!”
Welcome, welcome to the skies.
5 Now at once they rise to glory,
Jesus brings them to the King;
There, with all the hosts of heaven,
They eternal anthems sing:
Boundless glory to the Lamb.
John Cennick, 1752;
Caleb Evans’ Collection, 1769.
Jesus Christ, Second Advent
341 — He Cometh <8.7.>
1 Hark! the cry, “Behold, he cometh,”
Hark! the cry, “The Bridegroom’s near,”
These are accents falling sweetly
On the ransom’d sinner’s ear.
2 Man may disbelieve the tidings,
Or in anger turn away;
‘Tis foretold there shall be scoffers
Rising in the latter day:
3 But he’ll come, the Lord from heaven,
Not to suffer or to die;
But to take his waiting people
To their glorious rest on high.
4 Happy they who stand expecting
Christ, the Saviour, to appear:
Sad for those who do not love him,
Those who do not with him here.
5 But in mercy still he lingers,
Lengthening out the day of grace;
Till he comes, inviting sinners
To his welcome, fond embrace.
Albert Midlane, 1864.