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THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY GHOST (Part 3)
By Robert Wurtz II
Convincing the World of Judgment to Come
John 16:8 tells us that when the Holy Spirit is come He will reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. In our first lesson we looked at the Holy Spirit working to bring Holy Ghost conviction. In the second lesson we looked at how the Holy Spirit convinces us of righteousness. In this lesson we will look at how the Holy Spirit convinces us of judgment. Nelson defines judgment as discernment or separation between good and evil. God judges among people and their actions according to the standards of His eternal Law. Judgment refers to the examination of persons and their works and the reward or punishment meted out to those who have done well or those who fall under His wrath and condemnation (John 5:24). Romans 2:7-13 explains it like this, To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified). The born again live out the righteous requirements of the Law, not by the letter, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is summed up with this passage, Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:7-8)
The Final Judgment
The most important judgment is the final judgment, the ultimate separation of good and evil at the end of history. This is the judgment that Paul the Apostle would warn the people of when he preached (Acts 24:25). The precise timing of this judgment is appointed by God (Acts 17:31), but it remains unknown to man (Matthew 24:36). The return of the Lord to earth, the resurrection of the dead, and the final judgment, are the main eschatological (end time) judgments. This does not include a host of various judgments that will rain down upon the earth during the great tribulation.
The final judgment will be comprehensive in scope; it will include all people and nations from the beginning of the world to the end of history (Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 14:10-12), as well as fallen angels (II Peter 2:4). Those who trust in the Lord, repent of sin, and walk in His ways will not be condemned but will enter into eternal life (Psalm 1). The purpose of the final judgment is the glory of God through the salvation of the elect and the condemnation of the ungodly (II Thessalonians 1:3-10). The final judgment has been anticipated throughout history in a series of judgments brought by God upon the wicked. The world today is willingly ignorant of Gods judgments, especially that of the great flood (II Peter 3:5). The pagan nations, such as the Egyptians and Canaanites, also experienced God's judgments, just as God's people, the Jews, when they persisted in rebellion. These judgments serve as a continual warning of the consequences of unbelief. The judgments of the Old Testament are a continual reminder of Gods judgment upon the whole of His creation (I Corinthians 10:11).
Sin is Not Free
Every sin that has ever been committed has to be atoned for (paid for). Sin is a debt that is owed to God. God is a righteous God that demands that the scales of His perfect justice balance. For each sin committed there has to be a perfect penalty exacted. Every sin has a perfect price tag. The greater the sin, the greater the price tag. The more light that existed in a persons life when they committed the sin the greater the sin is also. In other words, the more we know about God and His truth the greater our responsibility before God and the greater our sin when we commit them. The amount of knowledge (light) increases our responsibility. Therefor the severity of sin and the amount of light in which it was committed determine the level of our unrighteousness. Jesus explained it like this, That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47, 48) This is the sobering danger that society is in today, especially in America. There is so great a sin in the midst of so great of light. This is a sorely volatile combination for inviting Gods judgment.
The Legal Limit on Sin
Many people do not realize that God has placed a limit upon the amount of sin that He will allow a person or a nation to commit without repenting. The strength of this iniquity is based upon the amount of light that the person or nation had in order to know to do right. The more about God that you know, the faster the cup fills up. Both individual people and this nation are sinning as though there was no legal limit on sin. But every person and nation has been allotted a measure of sin. In Genesis 15:16 we read
But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. The implication of this verse is that God was still patiently waiting for the Amorites to repent and that they were filling their cup (as it were) to some level of fullness that God knows and has apparently set. Matthew Henry comments on this saying there is a time when people in their wickedness are ripe for judgment.
The sins of Sodom were great before the Lord and they were brought to ruin quickly as was also the Jews when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE. The Amorites took a while for their sin to fill up because they did not have the Law of God (a Bible); they only had the light of conscience and the light of creation. Therefore Abraham was not able to go in and possess the land until they had filled their cup with iniquity and God drove them out of the place. Another example of this is when the Lord told the Pharisees
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? The Pharisees were sinning in the great light of the incarnate word of God. Christ was the Light of the world and they were sinning in spite of that great light.
Paul also used this illustration in I Thessalonians 2:14-16
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
Individuals, peoples, and nations that refuse to repent are filling up their sins. In the case of the Jews to whom this passage was directed the wrath of God came upon them to the UTTERMOST. Jonathan Edwards in May 1735 commented on this passage saying, God hath set bounds to every mans wickedness. He suffers men to live, and to go on in sin, till they have filled up their measure, and then cuts them off. God says to man as He does to the boundaries of the sea, hitherto shalt thou come and no farther.
Men and women who refuse to repent may change their business from one occupation to the other, but they never cease to fill up the measure of their sins. Whatever they put their hands to they are still employed in this work. They are all the while treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.
The Agent of Remembrance
The Holy Spirit has come to convince man that there is going to be sore judgment for sin. The conscience of man is likewise continually warning them of such. Romans 1:19-32 spells out the condition of people who find themselves utterly bent towards sin. They know about Gods Law and his judgment, yet they continue in sin and are pleased to add other peoples sins to theirs. For this cause God leveled upon them the sorest judgment of all and it is that when He ceases to strive with man (Genesis 6). There were physical judgments that came upon the pagan nations, but the most brutal judgments are those spiritual judgments, of giving them up to the most brutish and unnatural of lusts (reprobate mind). He gave them up; it is thrice repeated here (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). Spiritual judgments are indeed of all judgments the sorest, and to be most dreaded. To be judged in this way is to have a foretaste of the eternal separation from God that is sure to follow physical death.
Christ Bore the Judgment of Sin
The death of Jesus Christ is unique among the judgments of history. Through His death He paid the judgment price demanded by mankind's sin. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the foundations on which sinners are saved (Isaiah 53:5) through their trust in Him as Lord and Savior. Through Christ, God has offered to pardon man if they will turn from their sin and follow Him. This is the greatest offer in the history of mankind. Yet, many openly reject this covenant with God and assure themselves of impending judgment and doom. The Holy Spirit is an ever-present reminder of this fact. We read in Hebrews 10:26-31, For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Gospel hardening is the direct result of hearing the warnings and pleadings of scripture and yet refusing to repent. Today if you hear His voice harden not your heart. This is the repeated warning to the Hebrews. The writer continues, See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first (Hebrews 3:12-14). The Greek word in this passage for encourage is generally translated in the KJV as beseech. It carries the meaning of begging or imploring a person to hearken to God- and that daily. This speaks to our associations and relationships. We should consciously surround ourselves with people who provoke us to want to seek God and not those who would deceive us with sin. This is how a person is hardened. They hear and respond to the calling of God and the imploring of a minister on Sunday and then listen all week to other voices that use sin to lure them away from God again. This process keeps up each week until the person cant feel conviction or hear God calling. They are hardened. Soon it becomes futile to reach a person. This is why the ministers in the 1700s and 1800s would suggest to people that if they had no intention of serving God that they leave the meeting or classrooms in which they taught. And that, because to continue to hear a message with no intention to repent would only harden them. It was not that they were not welcome in their meetings, but they would always be fearful of hardening a person with their messages if they thought they would not repent or if they thought they could not minister the message with the help of the Spirit of God. Granted their messages were exceedingly strong, the point we can gather from this today is that exposure to Gods word and Holy Ghost conviction is not something to be played around with. Today if you hear- you must respond. You may be too hardened next time to hear.