Judgment Begins with the Household of God

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by David A. DePra

Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.  For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?  (I Peter 4:16-17)

Often we limit the meaning of, “judgment,” to, “punishment.”   We imagine the judgment of God to be some sort of vindictive punishment wherein He metes out justice.  But his is never what the Bible means by, “the judgment of God.”  We find the real meaning by looking at the Greek words usually translated, “judge,” or, “judgment.”  The word most often translated, “judge,” is, “krino.”  This root word, and those that come from it means, “to separate, select, choose;" hence, "to determine."   It means, "to examine, investigate, question; to separate throughout; discriminate, discern." 


It may seem strange that this would be the meaning of a word translated, “judge,” but it is not strange at all.  These words mean JUDGE – in the sense of determining the Truth about something – and then exposing that Truth – and then taking action.  Once we examine the words behind the English translation JUDGE we can see that the, “judgment of God,” is a matter of Him clearly and openly stating the Truth about something or someone, exposing that Truth in a way that cannot be honestly denied, and then taking righteous action in accordance with the Truth. 


Now, there is one other important issue involved when God judges.  It is whether those being judged, or whether those sitting in the presence of His judgment, AGREE with His judgment.  In other words, when God brings light upon a person or situation – when God exposes the Truth – do people open themselves and embrace the Truth?  We can apply this personally.  What do we do when God exposes us before Him?  Do we embrace the Truth?  This principle can be applied to everything.


There is one other form of the Greek word KRINO that has a negative meaning.  “Katakrino,” denotes a, “judgment AGAINST.”  But God does not pronounce a KATAKRINO unless He has first brought a KRINO – in other words, God exposes the Truth, allows people to choose to either embrace it  or reject it, but for those who reject it, He must pronounce a KATAKRINO – God must judge those who reject the Truth.


Understanding these word meanings helps us to understand how God judges His own people.  The first thing God does is bring light and Truth.  God will come into a person’s life, or into the life of a congregation, or into the life of the Body of Christ – with a revelation of the Truth, which is to say, He will reveal His Son, Jesus Christ, in a manner that will begin to, and continue to, expose all for exactly what they are in His eyes.

You will note that the bringing of the Truth in Christ is as a two-edged sword.  First, there is the revelation of Christ Himself – the unfolding of the Person of Christ.  People will begin to see Him, know Him, and begin to come into an inward realization of Him.  But there is a second side to this:  The bringing of Truth will expose all that is NOT the Truth.  If there is to be a building up in Christ, there must be a tearing down and discarding of that which is not of Christ.


Now, we must be clear that what is NOT of Christ is not necessarily limited to that which we would consider to be sinful or evil.  No.  The presence of Christ will likewise expose all of the religious things that are NOT of Christ.  Christ will expose what natural man has built for exactly what it is.  The spirit of Truth will expose all that is fake, an imitation, and a substitute for Jesus Christ.  It has been said that the greatest enemy of God’s best is a supposed good that is second best – and these things will be exposed.  For those who want to embrace the Truth in Christ many such things – religious things; the ministry of natural man of the things of God – must be discarded.


Can we see that the JUDGMENT OF GOD is a positive move of God on our behalf?  His judgment begins by bringing the light of Christ in a way that will enable us to discern and see what He sees.  Judgment always begins with the positive LIGHT.  But the end or outcome of judgment can go one of two ways – either unto the freedom that Truth in Christ brings, or unto KATAKRINO – a judgment of God AGAINST that which is AGAINST Christ.


Peter says that, “judgment must begin with the household of God.”  Gather all these things up and it seems certain that before God brings judgment upon this world, or upon any nation, that God promises to bring judgment upon the church.  God promises that He will first bring a clear revelation of Jesus Christ to His people – so that those who want the Truth will embrace it, and so that those who reject it will have no excuse.  His judgment of light and Truth in Christ will DIVIDE and SEPARATE.  And for those who reject the Truth there will be KATAKRINO.


The greatest KATAKRINO that God can pronounce is not some physical calamity – although that could be included if God wills it.  But the greatest judgment against those who reject the light is to give them darkness.  They receive exactly what they have chosen.  This is absolutely just – for those who receive darkness have chosen it.


So the real question in this day and age is this:  Has the church received a clear revelation of Jesus Christ?  An ultimate revelation that will constitute a, “point of no return?”  No.  The church has not.  Oh, there has been the on-going and ever-present light of the Truth in the Bible.  There have been pockets of Truth here and there; there have been persons and groups that have witnessed to Christ.  But generally speaking, the church has rejected even that – and so what we have today is more darkness and more confusion than ever before.  Error and heresy dominate the airwaves.  Despite some exceptions, many local churches are spiritually dead.  Most churches are about the business of members and money – not even realizing what they are doing.  So many professing believers have no frame of reference for true life in Christ.


The time is coming when God is going to judge the body of Christ with Truth.  That Truth is going to absolutely SHAKE the heavenlies.  It is going to expose everything for what it is – it is going to expose us all.  Nothing but what is of Christ will stand.  But all of this FOR US – intended by God to bring spiritual freedom to those who really want Him no matter what it takes.


This judgment is not merely doctrinal.  It is a matter of the heart.  It is a matter of the inward man.  It is a matter of whether people will lose their lives in order to find Christ.  It is going to expose our faith, and our relationship with God for what it is – all unto the purpose of redemption and freedom.


If you read scripture, God has always done this – He has brought great Truth to His people in order to judge all that is NOT of the Truth.  But this has always been followed by a KATAKRINO.  How all of this will happen in practical details it is not possible to say.  But the NT guarantees an end-time apostasy, which, by definition, must be preceded by a revelation of light and Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ.  

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