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Judgment that Begins at the House of God

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
December 12, 2022 1:00 am

Judgment that Begins at the House of God

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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It's satisfying to have chosen a passage of scripture to preach for this occasion this evening and find within the context truth that has applicability even today.

I've been struggling most of the week with whatever has been going around. I wasn't sure I was even going to be able to lead the Wednesday night prayer service and God gave me grace to do that. I was able to teach Sunday school this morning and able to stand here before you this evening. You heard me read, if anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.

Listen to this. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies. It's astounding that we're in our frailty.

We wonder whether we're going to be able to do what we've been assigned to do and tasked to do. And then God supplies and it goes on to say why he does that. That in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.

Amen. So I glorify him tonight in his sustaining grace and his abling grace that allows me to stand here before you because left to my human weakness, I might be at home on the couch or in bed resting. Well, let's give our attention to verse 17 of 1 Peter chapter 4, which says, For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God. And if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Let me read it to you in the authorized version. For the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God. And if it first begin at us, what shall the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?

That is a bit of a puzzling text, I think, at first view. Those of us who are children of God rest in the confidence that judgment was meted out in the person of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. When Jesus satisfied the justice of God, our sin debt was paid in full, and yet we can't escape the text, can we? So what is this judgment that must begin at the house of God? That's what I want us to think about this evening in preparation for the Lord's table. And I want to begin by speaking to you about the context of judgment that begins at the house of God.

The context. This verse is in a context. Peter has been writing to the two Christians and they have been under persecution.

They have been struggling under that oppression. And they're also struggling with remaining sinfulness. And the context I read back beginning at verse 7, where Peter says, But the end of all things is at hand, therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. This is the context that we're considering where judgment must begin in the household of God. The call is not only to persevere in the midst of persecution, but it is to fight against inner corruption.

It is to be decisive about our warfare with the flesh. Back to verse 1, 2, and 3 of chapter 4. Peter says, Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past life in doing the will of the Gentiles when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

In regards to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. So he's talking about, don't forget the life you have been redeemed from. You used to live a certain way. You used to be bound and shackled by your corruption, by your lusts. But God has freed us from that.

We need to be reminded of that. Peter then reminds them that the wicked, the Gentiles, those who are still resisting him, still disobedient to him, still not under his lordship. Verse 5, they will give an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. So there's judgment that they will face if they persist in their state before God. And then he reminds them of God's purifying and sanctifying purpose in suffering and in trials. Verse 12, Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing had happened to you, but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

God has wise and gracious and sanctifying purposes in both sufferings and trials, that he is about purifying us and sanctifying us. So that's the context of judgment that begins at the household of God. So back to our verse that we're looking at. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God. I see secondly, not only the context of judgment, but the urgency of judgment. The urgency of judgment for the time has come. One of the reasons that I read that verse to you in the authorized translation is because it captures this nuance. If our understanding for the time has come, that it's something that just has arrived. But again, listen to the authorized, for the time is come.

It is come, and the emphasis there is ongoing present tense. This is not an afterthought, this is the core of God's sanctifying purposes in the life of those that he has redeemed. And I think at times we can lose sight of that. Listen to a couple of verses that underscore this. Titus chapter 2 and verse 14, he, that is Christ, gave himself for us that he might redeem us from every lawless deed, and then what? And to purify for himself his own special people, zealous for good works. He gave himself to redeem us, but not just to redeem us, but to purify us. Ephesians chapter 1 and verse 4 says he chose us in him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love.

We don't want to lose sight of that. That is part and parcel of God's agenda for us, and that's why there's urgency in this matter. That God, that is his divine agenda for those that he's redeemed. As long as we're on this earth, God is at work to make us holy, to deliver us from the power of sin, to purify us, and to make us more like his son. And if we keep that in our minds, it will sure help us when dark providence comes. We'll be less inclined to be questioning God and wondering what God is doing when God has already revealed what he's doing, that in all things he's working for our good and his own glory, and our good is our being changed from one glory to the other and becoming more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the context of judgment that begins at the household of God, the urgency of judgment that begins at the household of God, for the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.

The urgency. He's called us to himself that he might make us holy. And I'm thankful for the Lord's table because it is a means of grace.

It's many things. It's a reminder of our Lord. It's an ordinance that he's given. It keeps us Christ-centered. But it brings this emphasis that he not only gave his life to redeem us, but he gave his life that we might be free, not only from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin, and one day, praise God, from the very presence of sin.

So, it's an ongoing work that is being superintended by our kind and gracious God. And I say urgency because this is what God is committed to. That we are to be judging sin. We are to be condemning sin. We are to be confronting sin as we're aided by the Spirit of God in our lives. And again, the New King James doesn't draw this out, but again, listen to the divine must in the verse. For the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God. The divine must. And every divine must that you encounter in scripture will not be frustrated, will not fail to come to fruition. I'm thinking of Jesus saying to his disciples, I must go by Samaria.

Well, did he go by Samaria? Oh, absolutely. Because he must do it. The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God. This will not fall off God's radar. This will not escape his agenda.

This is what he is committed to. Number three, let's think about the priority of judgment. The priority of judgment. And I think that's obvious to us there in verse 17. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God. And if it begins with us first, the priority of judgment. I recalled that verse in Second Corinthians, or not Second Corinthians, but Second Chronicles 7 14, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

There's a priority there. And, you know, it's too easy to rail against the sin we see around us. It's too easy to rail against the ills of our society.

Because it's safe ground. It's not directing anything toward us. But, boy, we need to be careful that we don't excuse ourselves because we're finding fault everywhere else. It's a rebuke, I think, to our tendency, isn't it? So my question very pointedly to you tonight is, are you conscious of sin in your life? Are you wrestling against sin? Are you fighting against sin? Are you asking God for fresh grace to mortify sin in your life?

Or is that something you give up the fight over? There's some dangers with the theology that we understand. Let me explain what I mean by that. To know that if we've been justified, that we've been delivered from the penalty of sin, then it's a guarantee that eventually God is going to deliver us from the very presence of sin. He who began a good work in us will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ.

There is a day of glorification. And there is a tendency to say, you know what? God's got this from A to Z. Jesus is the author and finisher of my faith. And I'm trusting, yes, I'm struggling, yes, I'm fighting against sin to some degree, but I ran the white flag up the pole a long time ago because I know I'll never arrive, I'll never achieve, I'll never be everything I ought to be, but one day I will. You see, that's fatal reasoning. That sets you up for failure. I think it's Dr. Stuart Scott that said that God's intention is not that we be sinless in this life, but God's goal, His sanctifying purpose in us, that we will be sinning less.

Does that make sense? Not sinless, but sinning less as we move on in our Christian life. There should be no sense that we're comfortable with sin. It ought to pain us, it ought to grieve us, it ought to exercise us in the inner man. We ought to be, God, this is not pleasing to you. I'm tired, I'm begging you for grace to fight the good fight of faith. I think that's part of what that means. Not to give in, not to surrender, not to be comfortable with indwelling sin.

It's there, we're aware of it. We're not all we ought to be. I had someone say one time, you know, I've been coming to the church for a while and I hear this emphasis that we're sinners. I don't like that, I was a sinner, I'm not a sinner anymore.

I said, okay, let's talk about that. Because the reality is that we sin in thought, word, and deed. Anything that is not of faith is sin, right? There are the sins of omission, there are the sins of commission.

There's many things I have done that I ought not to have done, are things that I should be doing that I'm not doing. Yes, sin is a present reality in our lives and we must reckon with that. What does it mean to confess our sins? If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But to confess our sins is to agree with God. God, you said that was sin in your word and I acknowledge, I agree with you that what I've said, what I've done, what I've thought is sin. And we must at least be there acknowledging sin as God has instructed us. Proverbs 28, 13 says, He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. What are some of the ways that we are prone to cover our sins?

Well, to justify them, to ignore them, to blame others for them, to make excuses for them, to put a psychological label on them. He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. As blood-bought children, that's what we want. We want mercy. We want God to deal with us in mercy. And we don't want to frustrate the purposes of God. And we will prosper if we do what God tells us to do. Don't cover your sin, but confess it and forsake it.

We're not alone in this fight. Sometimes we act like we are. Sometimes we act as though God has saved us and then just kind of let us figure out how to muddle our way through life.

No, He wants us to live a life that honors Him, that glorifies Him, that reflects that we are His child. So what have we considered? We've considered, number one, the context of the judgment that begins at the house of God, the urgency of that judgment, the priority of that judgment. Number four, the contrast of that judgment. And it's obvious that there are two different aspects of judgment that are being spoken of in this verse. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.

And if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? I think two different kinds of judgment are being spoken of there. There is a judgment that awaits and is reserved for the wicked, the unbelieving, and as Peter states it here, the disobedient. We don't often think about the proper response to the gospel. We tend to believe is to believe, to believe the gospel. But Peter says, no, it's to obey the gospel.

What will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Well, was he just chose a bad terminology? Is that just a unique nuance to Peter?

No. Listen to 2 Thessalonians where Paul is writing to the church there. 2 Thessalonians 1, he's talking about the final judgment. He says, I'll break in at verse 6, Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. So what are the commands of the gospel if they are ignored and not obeyed, bring judgment? Well, it's not a suggestion.

It's not an invitation. It's believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That's a command. It's to be obeyed. There's too much wishy-washy, weak talk as it relates to man's responsibility to the gospel. This idea that Jesus invites you.

What is that? No, Jesus commands you to bow the knee, to surrender your life, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to the saving of your soul. But again, there's two kinds of judgments being referred to. What is this judgment that must begin at the household of God? Well, I think it's a fatherly judgment.

It's a chastening judgment. It's a loving judgment, and it's reserved for the children of God. A loving father does not discipline the kids of the neighbor down the street because they're not his, but a father disciplines his own children.

And likewise, the discipline of our Heavenly Father begins at his own household with his own children, the church. And he is reserving for the wicked an ultimate final judgment that his children will never experience. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. No condemnation.

Don't ever forget that. So scripture makes a distinction between God's purifying discipline of his children and the ultimate condemnation of the wicked. Now, let me draw one last point as we're thinking about this subject tonight and tie this into our instructions as it relates to observing the Lord's table. My fifth point is the active participation in judgment.

The active participation in judgment. Because what Peter is talking about there in chapter 4, I think, is what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. Maybe this will help you in your understanding of what he's saying. It's in the context of examining ourselves in preparation for the Lord's table. This is 1 Corinthians 11. Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

For this reason, many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. Now, listen to verse 31 and 32. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. My last point is the active participation in judgment. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord that we may not be condemned with the world.

There's those two aspects. There is a judgment that we enter into as the Spirit of God exercises us, illuminates our minds, helps us to understand those things that we're doing, our entertaining and attitudes that we are holding onto that are dishonoring to God, that are categorically called sin, we recognize those. We judge ourselves to be guilty of those things, and if we will do that, if we will actively participate, that's what we're called to do. Now we say, well, when I say actively participate, we are cooperating with the Spirit of God.

That's why we ask you to bow your head and examine yourself, and who's going to help you with that? Well, you've heard the Word of God preached. You have a working knowledge of the Scriptures. The Spirit of God has been given to convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment.

He's actively involved. So when the Spirit of God helps you to discern that there's something in your life that He's putting His finger on, that He's displeased with, that He wants you to deal with, you're actively participating in this judgment. It's a gracious judgment. It's a fatherly judgment. It's a chastening judgment. It's a kind God that deals with His children in this way.

What do we say about a father who doesn't discipline his children, doesn't chasten his children? Well, what's the Scripture say? The absence of that calls into question that father's love, that parent's love. Listen to what Hebrews 11 says, or not Hebrews 11, Hebrews 12. And again, I think one of the single most errors that is committed in trying to understand rightly the Word of God is failing to adhere to the hermeneutical principle of context. I've turned you to Hebrews 12. In verse 7, he says, well, verse 5, And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons. My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him. For whom the Lord loves, He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives.

And I want to stop there at verse 6 because I wanted to read that verse. What's he talking about? He's talking about God's chastening of His children. And He chastens all of His children without exception. Well, what's the context? The context is chapter 12, verse 1, Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that set before us.

That's a command. That's something we're to do. But again, are we left on our own? No, we've got a Father that loves us, who's going to chasten us to help us put besetting sins behind us and to make progress in our pursuit of Jesus Christ. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. Well, how can you become weary and discouraged in your souls in the midst of your fighting with sin when you know that there's a Heavenly Father that's superintending what's going on in love? He's trying to help you, to purify you, to make you holy.

Now back to the passage. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. I don't think it's because a person is necessarily looking for the silver lining in the cloud.

I think it's thinking biblically. I've heard people say, you know what, this has been a difficult time in my life. God's dealing with me, but the most encouraging thing in the midst of it all, as painful as it's been, I know that there's a chastening God behind it. And because I'm being chastened by God, I'm His child. My assurance has been strengthened in this.

Well, that's not a small thing, is it? To have an assurance in the midst of difficult times because God's at work. So the active participation in judgment, we're to be actively involved. So what have we considered this evening? The context of household judgment, the urgency of household judgment, the priority of household judgment, the contrast in household judgment, and the active participation in household judgment.

Let's let this linger in our minds. God's desire is that His people learn to walk in holiness and fellowship with Him. And as any loving parent would do, God will bring unpleasant consequences upon His children for rebellion. He expects the ones that He's redeemed by the blood of His own Son to set an example for the rest of the world. And if the church is not in pursuit of holiness, the world sees no need to change its allegiance. So judgment begins in the household of God with His own children as He teaches us to live like Jesus.

That's what this is about. We represent Him. We bear His name. We are to reflect His character.

Those who profess to know Him are under biblical obligation to live a certain way, to live a life that honors and glorifies God, that reflects the work of the Spirit of God. I've been meaning to preach on this verse for some time, but I thought tonight would be an appropriate time. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God. It begins with us first. What will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God?

Let's pray. Father, we thank You for Your Word, for its sanctifying influence in our lives, for loving us enough to exhort us and to correct us and to convict us and to bring us under the preaching of the Word of God that makes us uncomfortable. How we thank You for the illuminating work of the Spirit of God that no doubt has been at work even as this message has been preached this evening. Lord, we thank You for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has come to redeem a people unto Himself. And His purpose is not only to redeem us, but to make us holy.

And Father, You are about preparing a bride for Your Son, a bride that will be spotless, a bride that is fitting for the glories of Your Son, the Lord Jesus. Help us to know that. Help us to value that. Help us to find our place as an active participant in this process that You have clearly revealed in Your Word. And help us to interpret life and its providences and the difficult times and the sufferings and the uncomfortableness and the convicting power of the Spirit of God.

Help us to understand those things in this broader context, that we are being exercised by a loving Father. We are being chastened by a God who loves us. We are being made more and more into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, that we've been chosen before the foundations of the world, that we might live holy lives and to be blameless before Him in love. Oh, what a day.

What a day that will be. To be made holy and blameless before Him in love. And Lord, You're not content to wait until that day that we're glorified. You are at work even now, exercising us in the inner man to make us holy, to make us like Your Son. And for this, we're thankful. Help us as we gather our thoughts around the table and participate with these elements, as we think upon Him who left the glories of heaven on a rescue mission to redeem us. And the price that He paid to secure our salvation. And not only just our salvation, but to secure our presence with You forever and ever and ever. Again, thank You for the Church. Thank You for the people of God. Thank You for the household of God. Thank You for the family of God that You've made us a part of. Deepen our appreciation for it and what You have committed Yourself to do in our midst, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-13 12:28:00 / 2022-12-13 12:39:25 / 11

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