Judgment Has Begun in God’s Family
I am a Christian. When I first started believing in God, I frequently heard sermons where people said, “The Lordis our Redeemer. He was nailed to the cross for our sins. Jesus is merciful and loving. As long as we frequently come before the Lord and confess our sins through , our sins will be forgiven and when the Lord returns, we will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Afterward, I noticed, when I read , many parts where the word “ ” is mentioned. For example: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1Pe 4:17). “Because he has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained” (Act 17:31). At the time, I did not understand what judgment meant. So, I went to ask the preacher. The preacher told me, “When the Lord returns, He will do the work of judgment to determine man’s sins. Since Jesus is the sacrifice for our atonement, our sins will be forgiven and we will not be convicted. Furthermore, those who spend and toil for the Lord will receive crowns in accordance with their contributions. There will be large and small crowns….” I did not quite understand what the preacher told me. I felt that this “crown” idea was very similar to the idea that seniority must be given priority in the secular world. My heart could not accept it.
Afterward, I found a secretary position working for aorganization. My boss was also a preacher and she naturally became one of my spiritual elders. She explained many spiritual perspectives to me. The one I remembered most clearly was: As a person, one not only must have wisdom, he must also be clever when it comes to the secular world. What she meant by wisdom referred to doing more work for the Lord. Since the results of people’s work are not the same, the crowns are also not the same. If the results of the work are big, the crown would also be big. She used her own experiences as an example. In order to spread the gospel, she suffered a lot and paid a great price. Locally, she had established a church and had guided many people into believing in the Lord. She has also been to many countries to spread the gospel and she had also been imprisoned for believing in the Lord. Each time she talked about these experiences, I thought back to the words, “The crowns will be given in accordance with the work.” Unconsciously, I felt that she was a person that the Lord liked. After all, she had done a lot of work for the Lord and she had suffered a lot. As a result, I started to worship her more and more.
Just as I was passionately worshiping this preacher, I discovered that she had unexpectedly embezzled some funds from. This was not a small amount either. No wonder she would spend ostentatiously every day. She would frequently take her family to the restaurant to eat, pay for me to study theology with her own name and even bought a big house in the States with cash. Previously, I was very puzzled, “When her husband came to the States, he did not have a job. Her family was completely dependent on her financially. How did she have so much money?” I did not understand the inside story until I discovered that she had embezzled money from the church. I could not comprehend it. She was a preacher, yet she was able to openly violate the Lord’s teachings and steal His offerings. Could it be that she was not afraid of being punished? The Bible says: “For he comes, for he comes to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth” (Psm 96:13). God is righteous and trustworthy. What this preacher did had already violated the Lord’s demands. Could it be that when the Lord comes, He will not judge her? Externally, she looked perfect, but in reality, she was someone that did not have any reverence or fear for the Lord. Is this someone that truly believes in the Lord? Could it be that a Christian who has worked and suffered for the Lord will not be convicted regardless of how great a sin she commits? These successive problems made me want to understand just what judgment is all about. When the Lord returns, how will He judge people? However, in the end, I was unable to find the answer in the Bible.
Due to this preacher, I came to know many Christian leaders. Through my interactions with them, I could see that a great many of them lived within sin and were unable to extricate themselves from it. They sinned during the day and asked for forgiveness at night. They brandished God’s name to collect money and afterward took it for themselves so that they and their families could live a lavish lifestyle. Some even had extramarital affairs which hollowed out their marriages. Some even had divorces…. Verbally, they claimed to obey the Lord’s way and that their priorities were God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. However, in practice, they were the same as worldly people. They lusted after wealth, status and fame and they lived despicable, dirty and evil lives. I was disgusted with what they did and my heart was unable to approve of it.
Afterward, full of hope, I went to a few other churches. However, the circumstances of these churches and the believers in these churches were pretty much the same as what I had seen in the past. I was very disappointed. In addition, I was unable to live out the Lord’s teachings. When interacting with my family members and friends, I always got angry and got into arguments with them over small matters. I would even judge others behind their backs. Basically, I was unable to put patience and acceptance into practice. I could see that I myself was living in sin and I had no way of extricating myself from it. I felt very perplexed and I frequently thought, “If we continue down this path of faith, this endless cycle of committing sins and then asking forgiveness for them, when the Lord comes to judge people, would we really be forgiven for our sins because of Jesus’ atonement and be able to enter the kingdom of heaven?” I felt this may not be possible since I remember that the Bible said, “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:45). “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). If man is not pure and holy, he is not qualified to even see the Lord. Would the Lord let him into the kingdom of heaven? This is like believing one’s own lies! Nobody was able to answer my questions and it seemed that nobody was concerned about them either. Furthermore, since I was continuously committing sins and asking forgiveness for them, I felt ashamed to come before the Lord. Gradually, I no longer wanted to go to church.