You have already been judged

Our pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite, is on vacation, so my son-in-law from Australia, Rev. Adam Hensley, preached the sermon last Sunday.  It was an amazing exposition of the Gospel.  His text was  Romans 8:28–39, focusing on  verse 3:

God for us. It is no overstatement to claim that these three little words make all the difference to everything! They change the very landscape of your life! Indeed, they allow St Paul to say just a few verses before, “for those who love God all things work together for goodFor, because of Christ, God our Father—the Judge and Creator of all–has already judged in our favor!

Already this morning you have heard Him speak his final judgment upon you, when you heard me declare to you in His stead and by His command: “I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” You do not have to wait until Judgment Day to know His verdict—He has already given it: He has forgiven you for Christ’s sake! . . . .

Now a good judge prizes himself or herself on being neutral. A good judge shows no favoritism, but executes justice without regard for status, fame, prestige, wealth, or appearance. A good judge does not regard the face,but is fair and even, rewarding, justifyingthe righteous and punishing the wicked.

Here we may think of Lady Justice, that statue inspired by the Roman goddess Iustitia, as the epitome of this ideal. She stands blindfolded, indicating that she does not judge by appearances or what she sees. In one hand she holds a sword, symbolizing authority, and in the other a balanced scales, symbolizing equity and fairness. Indeed, Lady Justice is the ideal model for the office of judge in the courts; in God’s left hand Kingdom, as we say.

But Lady Justice is no model for our Eternal Judge, who judges us in Christ!

Our Judge is anything but neutral! He acquits the guilty! He cancels debts! He justifies sinners and transgressors!

He shows favoritism! He shows His favor to you for Christ’s sake. . . .

Now some people talk about the justice of God, or about God as Judge and for all intents and purposes leave Christ out of it. They get into discussions about God’s sovereign right to condemn some and save others in general. . . .But God does not deal with us in the abstract. He deals with us in Christ! He always points us to Christ, and says of Him, “Here is my justice for you! Here I justify you! . . .

God loving is still ―God punishing sin with death, but it is God Himself taking on our human flesh and bearing the punishment—our death sentence—for us.

And so justice is done. Sin and guilt are punished. God’s wrath is exhausted.

Not blindly though, but with both eyes open! For the Father knew what He was doing. The Son knew what He would endure and why: the Innocent would die for the guilty.

And yes, this is a miscarriage of justice to our way of thinking: Christ was no blasphemer as He was accused of being. But it is God’s miscarriage of justice. It was God’s plan that Christ, the Son of God, become the Blasphemer, the Murderer, the Adulterer, the Sinner. And we have become the “called,” “justified,” “glorified” children of the Heavenly Father.

And He who was born of a virgin, talking upon Himself our human flesh and all our sin and guilty, who then died and rose again… He now intercedes for you and me! Both His eyes are open, looking upon you with compassion; looking to the Heavenly Father and pleading the perfect plea for our forgiveness: His wounds that testify that all sin has been punished by death; all our debt paid in full.

So, the eternal Judge and the eternal Defense Attorney is for us! And not only that: He is also the one who chose to endure your sentence for you!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Agreed – an excellent presentation of “The Great Exchange”.

  • Pete

    Agreed – an excellent presentation of “The Great Exchange”.

  • fws

    There are actually two judgements of God. There is an earthly judgement and there is a heavenly judgement. “earthly kingdom ” is how the confessions call the kingdom that includes ALL that we can see and do. (side question: Does anyone here know where that “left hand/right hand ” terminology came from?).

    This is because there are two kinds of righeousness that God providences and is the Author of.

    There is the righeousness that God judges according to what we do, and then there is that other Righeousness where God judges us according to who we are apart from what we can do.

    There is a visible kind of righteousness that God gives us, to produce undeserved pure Goodness and Mercy out of Old Adam. He extorts this out of all of us by the Law. This is the only righteousness we can visibly see and do. Here God judges us strictly according to what we do for our neighbor or neglect to do. here justice is blind, with a scale, and… with a sword as well! “Measure up or face the sword!” This justice demands.

    And so , God does indeed judge this righteousness on earth. In fact, God promises rewards for who do this and punishment for those who do not. So, knowing this, we should practice doing this Law in fear of God and to avoid earthly punishment. This is what the Small and Large Catechisms teach us.

    Then, far, far above this earthly and visible righeousness, as far as the heaven is above the earth, is another Righeousness that is entirely invisible. This heavenly kingdom Righteousness does not include anything we can see or do. How could it? That is already all fully and completely included in that other earthly kingdom. In this kingdom, men are judged strictly according to who they are, apart from what they can do. Lady Justice is on permanent vacation here. There is only Jesus at the door letting those in who know Him.

    But we can find this heavenly Righeousness here on earth. And it comes “in a way that cannot be seen” (st luke). But we can know where the door to this kingdom is! That part IS visible.

    Where can we find the door to this kingdom ? We can find it only in that earthly kingdom government we call the Holy Catholic Church in the Apostles Creed that consists of wheat and fake wheat, sheep and pretend sheep, look-alike soil that maybe is deep or shallow. We find that heavely portal, ” In with and under” (invisibly!) the word, baptism and supper that is done by Old Adam driven by the Law (ie by Christ’s Command and Ordinance, ie Vocation of Pastor). There faith invisibly sees Promise of Christ. Faith , invisibly , clings to this Promise, and so is brought the Promised Mercy . So Faith, or the New Man that is created by this Promise, becomes a member of the Invisible Communion of Saints. This communion of Saints is alone to be found, in with and under a visible earthly goverment with Laws and rules such as closed communion, maybe rules about fasting and worship or dietary laws or even a rule to circumcise or get a hair cut. This is called the Holy Catholic Church.

    In this government called the Holy Catholic Church, God judges us by the Law. Here we will be judged , on earth, if we do not tend to the support of pastors and good doctrine. And Christians are to judge who is a member of this church by the visible work that is Holy Baptism , alone. We are to separate out those who interfere with good order just as any other government is created to do. But this is a separating out , called ex-communication, that is only from the HC visible church. Only God is to separate wheat from fake wheat at the end of the age.

    Now in with and under this HC Church, faith hears that other judgement that sees alone in faith alone Christ. In this kingdom we are judge according to who we are, apart from anything that we do.

  • fws

    There are actually two judgements of God. There is an earthly judgement and there is a heavenly judgement. “earthly kingdom ” is how the confessions call the kingdom that includes ALL that we can see and do. (side question: Does anyone here know where that “left hand/right hand ” terminology came from?).

    This is because there are two kinds of righeousness that God providences and is the Author of.

    There is the righeousness that God judges according to what we do, and then there is that other Righeousness where God judges us according to who we are apart from what we can do.

    There is a visible kind of righteousness that God gives us, to produce undeserved pure Goodness and Mercy out of Old Adam. He extorts this out of all of us by the Law. This is the only righteousness we can visibly see and do. Here God judges us strictly according to what we do for our neighbor or neglect to do. here justice is blind, with a scale, and… with a sword as well! “Measure up or face the sword!” This justice demands.

    And so , God does indeed judge this righteousness on earth. In fact, God promises rewards for who do this and punishment for those who do not. So, knowing this, we should practice doing this Law in fear of God and to avoid earthly punishment. This is what the Small and Large Catechisms teach us.

    Then, far, far above this earthly and visible righeousness, as far as the heaven is above the earth, is another Righeousness that is entirely invisible. This heavenly kingdom Righteousness does not include anything we can see or do. How could it? That is already all fully and completely included in that other earthly kingdom. In this kingdom, men are judged strictly according to who they are, apart from what they can do. Lady Justice is on permanent vacation here. There is only Jesus at the door letting those in who know Him.

    But we can find this heavenly Righeousness here on earth. And it comes “in a way that cannot be seen” (st luke). But we can know where the door to this kingdom is! That part IS visible.

    Where can we find the door to this kingdom ? We can find it only in that earthly kingdom government we call the Holy Catholic Church in the Apostles Creed that consists of wheat and fake wheat, sheep and pretend sheep, look-alike soil that maybe is deep or shallow. We find that heavely portal, ” In with and under” (invisibly!) the word, baptism and supper that is done by Old Adam driven by the Law (ie by Christ’s Command and Ordinance, ie Vocation of Pastor). There faith invisibly sees Promise of Christ. Faith , invisibly , clings to this Promise, and so is brought the Promised Mercy . So Faith, or the New Man that is created by this Promise, becomes a member of the Invisible Communion of Saints. This communion of Saints is alone to be found, in with and under a visible earthly goverment with Laws and rules such as closed communion, maybe rules about fasting and worship or dietary laws or even a rule to circumcise or get a hair cut. This is called the Holy Catholic Church.

    In this government called the Holy Catholic Church, God judges us by the Law. Here we will be judged , on earth, if we do not tend to the support of pastors and good doctrine. And Christians are to judge who is a member of this church by the visible work that is Holy Baptism , alone. We are to separate out those who interfere with good order just as any other government is created to do. But this is a separating out , called ex-communication, that is only from the HC visible church. Only God is to separate wheat from fake wheat at the end of the age.

    Now in with and under this HC Church, faith hears that other judgement that sees alone in faith alone Christ. In this kingdom we are judge according to who we are, apart from anything that we do.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    Regards to Adam, Dr Veith.
    We were at seminary together.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    Regards to Adam, Dr Veith.
    We were at seminary together.

  • George A. Marquart

    There are not enough good things I could write about this sermon. It is a blessing and a joy to hear the Gospel proclaimed so clearly. It is not just a matter of a psychological “lift” – our dear Lord does indeed bring comfort, joy, and confidence to his children through the Gospel. Thanks be to God!

    But there is one items I have to take issue with: our Lord’s intercession. There are three passages that speak about this: Romans 8:34. Hebrews 7:25, and 1 John 2:1 and 2. Why is it that we assume our Lord is interceding with the Father? Is it not the Father Who “so loved the world”, and did our Lord not teach us to pray, “Our Father”? Did our Lord Himself not say, (Matthew 28: 18) “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”?
    The fact that He is “at the right hand of God” does not mean He intercedes with the Father. It shows that He has the authority to intercede with whatever powers hinder our life in His Kingdom. The fact that we have “an advocate with the Father” does not mean that He is “advocating with the Father”. It means that He is in a position of authority, just as John 1:1 reads, “and the Word was with God.”

    After we hear the wonderful news of God’s love, mercy, and grace, why do we imply that God the Father is still angry with us and we need the Son’s constant intercession for us? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all have the same will: All intercede together on behalf of the Elect against (Ephesians 6:12), “… the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    There are not enough good things I could write about this sermon. It is a blessing and a joy to hear the Gospel proclaimed so clearly. It is not just a matter of a psychological “lift” – our dear Lord does indeed bring comfort, joy, and confidence to his children through the Gospel. Thanks be to God!

    But there is one items I have to take issue with: our Lord’s intercession. There are three passages that speak about this: Romans 8:34. Hebrews 7:25, and 1 John 2:1 and 2. Why is it that we assume our Lord is interceding with the Father? Is it not the Father Who “so loved the world”, and did our Lord not teach us to pray, “Our Father”? Did our Lord Himself not say, (Matthew 28: 18) “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”?
    The fact that He is “at the right hand of God” does not mean He intercedes with the Father. It shows that He has the authority to intercede with whatever powers hinder our life in His Kingdom. The fact that we have “an advocate with the Father” does not mean that He is “advocating with the Father”. It means that He is in a position of authority, just as John 1:1 reads, “and the Word was with God.”

    After we hear the wonderful news of God’s love, mercy, and grace, why do we imply that God the Father is still angry with us and we need the Son’s constant intercession for us? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all have the same will: All intercede together on behalf of the Elect against (Ephesians 6:12), “… the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart


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