The Certainty of Judgment
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).- 2 Peter 3:8-10
We have seen that there are two sides to God’s judgment in Scripture. On the one hand, when the Lord judges His creation, impenitent sinners receive their just deserts for violating our Creator’s holiness — the fury of His wrath. At the same time, those who believe His promises in Christ Jesus receive the declaration of divine favor, which leads to an incomparable inheritance (Gen. 15; Rom. 4). The prospect of God’s judgment is a joy for believers, for we know our trust in Him will be vindicated before all creation, a creation that will be renewed as the perfect, eternal dwelling place for the redeemed (Ps. 96:10–13; Rev. 21).
This is a wonderful hope indeed, but it is a hope that is as yet unrealized. We know that we have been justified through faith alone in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21) and are guaranteed a place in this new creation, but we are still waiting for the judgment of God to be manifested in its fullness and the “sons of God” to be revealed to the whole world (Rom. 8:19). Waiting for this day, however, can be difficult, and it can be easy to forget that it is coming in the Lord’s appointed timing.
When the first-century church was tempted to believe that the day of judgment would not come, the apostle Peter wrote a letter telling these Christians not to mistake what seemed to be God’s delay as a sign that judgment would never arrive. Reminding believers that the Lord experiences time in a manner far different than His creatures do, Peter’s admonition not to forget the patience of God in bringing about the consummation of all things remains a vitally important word to us two thousand years after his epistle was first read (2 Peter 3:8–9).
Final judgment is surely coming, and nothing can stand in the way of the Father making all things new. But until that final day comes, the Lord is patiently enduring the presence of sin, waiting for those whom He has chosen from the foundation of the world to reveal themselves through faith in Christ. He will one day expose the works that are done on the earth to make way for a new creation (v. 10), but at the present He patiently waits for the elect to come to faith. This patience, however, will not last forever, and so sinners who wait to repent may find, to their eternal damnation, that their time has run out.
It is important that we not manipulate people’s emotions in our churches or when we are sharing the gospel out in the world. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we should not have an urgency in our preaching. The end could come at any time, and those sinners who do not take advantage of the opportunity to repent today could very well never have another chance to turn to Christ.
Passages for Further Study
2 Corinthians 6:2b
1 John 4:13–21