4.25.2007

The Point of Judgment

I was riding in the car with Noah and Brooks on Saturday, and, interrupting my musings about the lesson I was teaching on Monday about God's judgment of sin, heard "Mom, when we're in the new heavens and new earth and have our new bodies, will we get to do what we want and still not sin, or will we just have to do what God wants?"

Me to myself: "Oh, boy . . ."

Then, to Noah, who asked the question, I explained: "When we're in our resurrected bodies in the new earth, we'll be able to do what we want and still be pleasing to God. He didn't want puppets in the first place when He created everything, and that's the whole point of it all. He wanted real people that could do what they want to do, that loved Him and that He could love."

Noah was silent for the rest of the ride. I expect the next question to come out of the blue soon. Maybe today, as I have a lot of "windshield time' with him today and tomorrow.

But that question was perfect. What is God after? What was He after? And how does it all work?

I think we need to answer all our questions about the law, grace, mercy, judgment, free will, and God's sovereignty in the light of those questions.

And I think we need to keep in mind that He doesn't give us a nice, neatly wrapped theology with all the answers to our questions. He gives us stories and letters -- to tell us about our REAL GOD, how He acted in the lives of REAL PEOPLE, and His explanations for some of it. And then He does give us all we need to know how to be in relationship with Him again and to know what He requires of us at any given point. And He poured His Spirit out on His people to let them also have the power to be in relationship with Him and to do what He requires of us at any given point. We have all we need. And we need holes in our theology.

We need holes in our theology because a relationship with Him requires a continuing process of getting to know Him better, and because He is God, and we are not capable of encompassing all the aspects of knowing Him fully. But, just think! He made us in His image! So in growing in Him and in knowing each other and in knowing ourselves, we get to know Him better as we see Him reflected in each of our faces.

Revelation tells us that there will be a day of judgment when all that we have done -- good and bad -- will be exposed and known. Then it tells us that those found in the Lamb's book of life will enter into eternal life, and that those not found in the Lamb's book of life will be cast into the eternal fire. Then it goes on to describe the new heavens and new earth, and the new Jerusalem.

So we have salvation through Christ alone -- but everything we have done will be shown for what it is and what it isn't. Those who rejected Christ's atoning work will not inhabit the new heavens and new earth. The new Jerusalem will be a place of joy and peace and freedom. We won't be puppets, and we will no longer fight our sinful nature.

God has no sinful nature to fight. We do, and will until we and all creation see that day of freedom, and we are in our resurrected bodies. But after judgment, all those who keep wanting to use their free will to cultivate their passion for things other than God's best will be out of the picture. Those who have a new nature through Christ's work for us will be free of their sinful nature, but still be creatures created with free will. And in our freedom we will authentically serve Him, and fulfill His purposes in creation.

So the point of judgment -- post-Christ's-atoning-work -- is the point of creation in the first place.

These are mysteries.

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