Summary: The Great White Throne judgment will be: 1. Fair 2. Full 3. Final
The past couple of weeks we have been embroiled in controversy over accusations of bad or biased judging in the Olympics. It began with the International Skating Union’s suspension of French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne. This Olympic pairs figure skating judge admitted she experienced “a certain pressure,” which she described as “tremendous” to vote a certain way before the games began. And though she is now denying it, she initially stated that her federation pressured her to vote for the Russian skaters Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, leaving the Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier with a silver medal. One media account stated: “The controversy renewed complaints over the subjectivity of judging and brought to mind the Cold War era, when many competitors suspected that medals were sometimes awarded on the basis of politics.” If you are going to be judged, you don’t want a judge who is subjective, bends to pressure, responds to bribes or is motivated by politics.
It is interesting that there has been a proliferation of “Judge” shows on television — and they all seem to be alike. It stared with “The People’s Court” and Judge Wapner. Spinoffs with tough judges who belittle people and tell them off like Judge Judy, Judge Mathis, Judge Hatchett, Judge James Curtis, Judge Mills Lane, and on and on the list goes. You can tune into Court TV and watch people being judged any time you want. We are fascinated with someone getting their just dues — as long as it isn’t us. Let’s hope that we never have to stand in front of a TV judge.
But there is a judgement coming in which all of us will take part, for the Bible says, “He has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). We will be on trial for how we have used our lives and whether our relationship with Jesus Christ was real or hypocrisy. We will not be standing before an earthly judge who is subjective, biased, yields to pressure, or is ill-tempered, but the Judge of all the universe who “judges with justice” (Revelation 19:11). Yet, all the more reason to take the final judgment seriously, because this is a sobering truth. The Apostle’s Creed states that we believe Jesus Christ: “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” The Bible says, “For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30-31).
There is so much to say about this important topic, but let me begin by saying, first of all, that: The judgment will be fair. Here is a judge who does not take bribes and is not influenced by anyone. He is not subjective, but judges solely on the truth. But the truth, the real truth, can be terrible, because there is no denying it or getting away from it. At the final judgement it will be totally fair, which means that there will be no excuses or justifications. There will be no influencing the judge or giving bribes on any side. Only the truth will be taken into consideration. The final judgment will not be a media circus event like the O. J. Simpson trial. Justice will not be mocked, mangled or maligned — it will be carried out in absolute impartial fairness and equity. The Bible says, “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” (Acts 10:34-35). It also says that, “God does not judge by external appearance” (Galatians 2:6). His judgment is absolutely fair.
In one of Michelangelo’s powerful paintings, which are so rich with emotion, there is a man at the last Judgment who is being dragged down to hell by demons. He has a hand over one eye and in the other eye there is a look of alarmed awareness of personal failure and exposure. Looking at the painting, you see that he understood, but too late. In fact, he knew the truth all along, but ignored it, denied it, postponed it. William Sloane Coffin says, “Hell is truth seen too late.” I believe that at the judgment there will be the kind of alarming comprehension which will fully recognize the truth and the fairness of God’s judgment. We will agree with the truth and fairness of God’s evaluation of our lives.
The judgment, for many, will bring one great regret: they ignored and refused the grace of God and lived their lives for themselves. Karl Barth, the great Danish theologian says, “Whether the achievement of a man’s life is great or small, significant or insignificant, he will one day stand before his eternal judge, and everything that he has done and performed will be no more than a mole hill, and then he will have nothing better to do than hope for something he has not earned: not for a crown, but quite simply for gracious judgment which he has not deserved. That is the only thing that will count then, achievement or not.”