180 – THE TWO JUDGMENTS
When a criminal is judged and condemned to twenty years of prison, after this period he is set free: he cannot be judged and condemned again for the same crime. The death penalty is the highest condemnation, for the culprit loses the right to his life. There are two tribunals and two kinds of judgments: of men and of God. The one of men deals with the things of this life, and of this world; and the one of God deals with the eternal and transcendent matters. Men condemn to death a man whom God might not have condemned. The apostle James, John’s brother, was condemned and killed by king Herod (Acts 12:1-2). The Christian tradition informs us that the apostle Peter was crucified upside down. The same tradition tells us that Paul was beheaded. The history of the Church written by Eusebius of Caesarea narrates the history of many martyrs of the Church. All of these are heirs of God and are going to judge the judges of this world in eternity. The roles will be inverted.
The supreme God has determined a day in which he will judge the world with justice, through Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30-31). When we read that he will judge the world, we understand that it speaks of all men, from the beginning of the world. Paul tells us: “And the gift is not like that which came from the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification” (Rom. 5:16). As the first one to sin was Adam, in the Eden, the text of Paul brings under Jesus not only the Church, but also all men, from Adam. Paul continues to teach: “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned trough the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). And Paul closes the issue by saying, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men” (Rom. 5:18). When John says, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already” (John 3:18), John is referring to the condemnation proclaimed and executed by Jehovah in Genesis, chapter three. Many people think that the work of Christ begins with Noah, for those who lived before the Flood were judged, condemned, and killed by Jehovah in the Flood, but this is not so. Jesus went back there, before the Flood, to preach to those who were condemned by Jehovah, to try and save some of them. Let us read the text of Peter:“For Christ also died for sins once and for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which He also went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark” (1 Pet. 3:18-20).
The judgment of Christ will be over all men, including the ones who lived before the Flood, for he died for them also, and he went there to preach the Gospel. For this reason he said, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds, to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). When Jesus and the apostles speak of judgment of the living and the dead, they refer to the saved ones of Christ and of the condemned one of Jehovah. Now, in Rom. 5:18 we read that all men are condemned; therefore, they are all dead. So, the living ones are those who went from death to life by the faith in Christ, such as the Gospel of John teaches: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). That the Christians will also be judged, we read in 2 Cor. 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
The issue about the condemnation and the death of those who lived before the Flood hits two important points. The first one is the unjust condemnation, for there was no law, and men could not discern between right and wrong. “Where there is no Law, neither is there violation” (Rom. 4:15). “For until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:13).They should not have been killed by the flood, for they were not enlightened by the Law, and so they were not guilty. This is why Job said, “Will you keep to the ancient path which wicked men have trod, who were snatched away before their time, whose foundations were washed away by a river?” (Job 22:15-16). They were taken before their time because it was not time for judgment, for the judgment of God will only take place after the rapture of the Church and the resurrection of the living and the dead.
The second important point about the Flood is that, if Jesus is going to judge them, and in this judgment the evil ones will be condemned, the ones who lived before the Flood will be judged twice, and condemned two times for the same crime, which is not right. No one can be condemned two times for the same crime. The texts in the Bible that speak of the judgment of the living and of the dead are: Acts 10:40-42; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 4:5. The text that deals with the ones who lived before the Flood continues: “For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God” (1 Pet. 4:6). By this text we see that, among the ones who lived before the Flood, not only Abel and Enoch will be saved; there will be others, specially children, of whom Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira