By Irven Lee
“For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). In speaking of Christ it was said, “He needeth not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:25). There are some soul searching questions one might consider because God is not mocked. He knows our thoughts and motives, and He judges according to what He sees inside.
It is better that man not be left to handle this matter of trying to settle the question as to each man’s destiny. He would make many mistakes. Two older men were talking about whether it was best to withdraw from a certain man. They did not agree as to the guilt of the man in question. One said, “I would hate for one who was considered a member in good standing with this church to die and go to hell.” The other said, “I would hate for one who dies and goes to heaven to be one from whom we had just withdrawn.” Men should be very careful in obeying the command to withdraw from the disorderly (2 Thess. 3:6; Rom. 16:17, 18). Patience, love, and wisdom should be there to help us when we seek to use righteous judgment (John 7:24).
The hypocritical Pharisees and the unbelieving Sadducees did condemn the Christ and many saints to harsh persecution and death. When Stephen and other such people were condemned, their eternal destiny was not endangered. Heaven’s court is the supreme court and makes the final decisions. In our generation many of the supporters of institutionalism and church support of recreation have considered those who walked in the safe way to be unworthy of fellowship. I am glad that these bitter digressive preachers are not the ones to determine our final destiny.
For what will Christ, the great Judge, be looking when He separates the sheep from the goats? He will be looking for genuine love for God and men. The two greatest commandments are evidently very important * He will look for the love that will bring about obedience (read John 14:15, 21, 23; 1 John 2:4; 5:3). He will also look for the love that will properly regulate man’s behavior to his fellow man (Rom. 13:10; James 2). A little touch of emotionalism will not suffice as a substitute for loving obedience.
The Judge will be looking for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. (See Matt. 5:6; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:15, 16; Heb. 5: 12-14.) People perish through lack of knowledge. We speak as the oracles of God and we walk by faith. It is very important for us to be able to discern between good and evil. We are to be able to give a reason for the hope within us. We are to be apt to teach and to stop the mouths of gainsayers. Is the lack of knowledge and the lack of desire to learn about the greatest dangers facing us now? It is a noble spirit that searches the Scriptures daily to see what is true.
The Judge looks for those who grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. We never learn all there is to know, but we can grow in this precious knowledge. We are to go on unto perfection. We are to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling (2 Pet. 3:18; Heb. 6: 1; Phil. 3:14).
All men everywhere are commanded to repent. If we ever decide that we have graduated with the class that knows everything and has added all the faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love that can be added we are unprepared for judgment. We all will need to find mercy even when we have done our best.
That man who works out his salvation with fear and trembling and gives diligence to make his calling and election sure is the best man I can picture in my mind. That devout person who is in his Father’s kingdom contending for the faith needs to study and press on toward perfection, confessing his sins and his need of mercy along the way. This servant will make it to heaven, but only by grace. Christ died that people like this may enter in through the gate into the city. Now, at this time, if we truly set our affections on things above we may lay hold of the hope set before us.
The Philippian jailer and his family were babes in Christ the morning after they were baptized as penitent believers, but their sins had been washed away. If they lived for years but never walked in newness of life they would surely be lost. The Lord handles the final judgment as one who knows what is in man and He knows His Father’s will. Each will be judged fairly according to the deeds done in his body.
A first grade pupil at school may have high marks on his report card even though his big brother knows more than he does. The graduate student should know much more than that one in the first grade. The assignments given the graduate student will be much more difficult than that which is expected of the beginner. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 10, p. 299
May 21, 1987