Q&A: New Testament Judgment

New Testament Judgment

Question

In the NT era, does God still bring specific judgments (such as he did to Sodom and Gomorrah) upon certain cultures or behaviors (e.g. homosexuality and AIDS) or is he withholding these type of judgements until final judgment?

Answer

In the New Testament era, God does still bring specific judgments upon certain cultures and behaviors. He does not reserve all temporal judgment until the final judgment.

One good proof of this is James instruction regarding prayers and anointing for those who are sick (Jam. 5:14-16). James' argument assumes that the sickness might be caused by sin, or rather given to the person in response to his sin. James also teaches that by intercession and confession the person can be forgiven of the sin and cured of the illness. If this takes place even in the case of believers, who receive more of God's mercy than anyone else receives, it stands to reason that it also applies among unbelievers.

The author of Hebrews confirms this idea when he writes that God disciplines those whom he loves (Heb. 12). Even believers experience temporal discipline, which is a form of judgment. For us, these judgments are only temporal. We will suffer no eternal judgments. However, our discipline can be very painful. Aids and death from the hand of God can strike us as quickly as it strikes others.

Perhaps the most direct example, however, can be found in the death of Herod (Acts 12:23). Herod was punished with death for failing to give glory to God. Likewise, Ananias and Sapphira met immediate deaths in the New Testament church for lying to God (Acts 5:1ff.).

The Bible also threatens corporate judgments against the churches in Revelation 2-3, such as the removal of their lampstands. Beyond this, we can look at church discipline as a form of divine judgment, since it is done with God's authority (1 Cor. 5:3-5). And the same can be said even of civil judgments (Rom. 13:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:13-14).

Then, too, insofar as we believe that God can protect us from those who would harm us, we imply a belief that he can do so forcibly when necessary, and that those who would oppose us have reason to fear (e.g., Acts 5:5,11). In the New Testament just as in the Old Testament, God is our warrior who defends us (e.g., "I am with you" in Acts 18:9-10, which is military language meaning "I will fight for you"). And his is able and willing to use many different means to do this.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.