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Justice and Judgment

God's judgment is a good thing that will bring healing to the planet—and us.

Introduction

The closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics featured a children's choir singing John Lennon's Imagine while a giant replica of his head was assembled in the middle of the stadium. I wondered if the whole stadium was going to bow down to this image. We were once again urged through the lyrics of the song to imagine that there is no heaven or hell and that we simply live for today.

Trevin Wax, in an article in Christianity Today, suggests that this thinking is not only embraced by our world, but also by many who identify themselves as believers. He writes that Christians seem to talk a lot about justice, but say very little about judgment—and especially about an eternal hell. Wax gave a number of reasons for this:

  • We feel that the concept of hell is offensive to the unbelieving world. If we can remove the obstacle and offense of eternal judgment, perhaps we can make Christianity more palatable to our culture.
  • We feel guilty about our own failure to evangelize. We have unsaved friends and family members. If hell is real, we have an urgent obligation to share the gospel with them. If they have died, the thought of someone we know experiencing eternal judgment is emotionally difficult to accept.
  • We in the West have been shielded from the atrocities that so clearly call for judgment. If we had experienced Cambodia's killing fields, Auschwitz, the Gulags, or the Rwandan genocide, we might be more concerned about judgment.
  • If we admit that judgment is necessary, we open the door for our own sins to be addressed. The net of judgment may be wide enough to catch us. It is too frightening to consider.

We're looking at Paul's two letters to the Thessalonians. Thessalonica ...

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Introduction

I. We can flourish today despite desperate circumstances.

II. The world as we know it will not continue.

III. God's future transformation of us has already begun.

IV. Three observations about the coming judgment

  1. We have a God who sees.
  2. We have a God who experienced our judgment for us.
  3. Because we have a God who judges, we are now able to forgive others