We’re wrapping up our series on the foundational principles of Hebrews 6 today. “Eternal judgement” is the final point the writer of Hebrews lists as a “principle of the doctrine of Christ.”
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. (Heb. 6:1-3)
There’s a good reason why Christians have to live lives of obedience and service to God. We will give account of ourselves at the end, and receive a judgement whether we were good or evil.
The Righteous Judge
God doesn’t ask us to do things for no reason. The commandments and laws are meant to keep us on the right path so we can live lives that will be judged “good and faithful.” We cannot earn salvation — that is a gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord — but once we’ve entered into covenant with God He expects effort and participation from us.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecc. 12:13-14, KJV)
This has been a foundation of faith throughout the Bible, Old and New Covenant. God is righteous, and there will be a judgment day. None of us will escape judgement, but we can by our choices influence the judgement we’ll receive.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10)
We’ve all done things worthy of a bad judgement, but by God’s grace we have opportunity to hear “well done, good and faithful servant” on the final judgement day (Matt. 25:21). We’re expected to do our part, though — to choose life instead of death, to walk in the light instead of darkness, to keep God’s commandments and repent when we fall short.
Seat of Christ
All the foundations we’ve covered are firmly grounded in Jesus Christ, and this one is no exception. When he preached in Athens, Paul’s summary of God’s message included a sentence that shows how “eternal judgement” connects to the other foundational doctrines.
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 7:30-31)
God commands repentance (the first listed foundation) because there will be a judgment and He “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4). The one who whom He’s entrusted this judgement is Jesus Christ — the Foundation of foundations — who is the first one resurrected from the dead (which we covered in last week’s foundation post).
For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son …
For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. (John 5:21-22, 26-27)
After the resurrection of the dead, every one of us is going to “stand before the judgement seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:11). That’s when the final ruling will be delivered, but we’re also being judged now. Peter wrote to the church, “the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). If we’re in God’s household, He’s observing and judging our actions right now.
How Are We Judged?
What we do today determines the judgement we receive in the last day. We build on the foundation of repentance, faith in God, commitment through baptism, laying on of hands to receive power from on high, and hope of eternal life after a resurrection. The foundation of eternal judgement gives us further reason for obedience. We keep God’s laws because we love Him faithfully, and because we have the proper fear and reverence for Him.
For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb. 10:30-31)
Our God is not one who will overlook unrepented sin. When we sin, we have to turn away from it and back to God, asking Him to cover our sin with the blood of the Lamb. We’re not offered a “once saved always saved” deal.
who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good (Rom. 2:6-10)
The key to living a good life in God’s eyes is following Jesus Christ. Jesus told us that we will be judged by the words He spoke, and assured us that the Father’s “command is everlasting life” (John 12:48-50). Our faith must be accompanied by works; our commitment must bear fruit.
We’re judged according to the law of God for our every action and even every idle word (Matt. 12:36). Without grace, none of us would receive a good judgement. Thankfully, our loving God and His son Jesus provided a way to forgiveness, and they love mercy.
So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:12-13)
The merciful shall receive mercy (Matt. 5:7), the forgiving shall be forgiven (Matt 6:14-15). Jesus Christ’s judgement on us is determined by the attitude He sees in our hearts as we walk on this earth. How we treat others and whether or not we obey His commands tells Him if we belong in His family. God won’t give eternal life to those He can’t trust.
This was our last post in the series on foundational principles. I hope you’re been learning as much as I have. Honestly, I was surprised how much I did learn — you’d think having grown up in the faith I’d have heard these foundational doctrines preached more fully, but I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon about the laying on of hands, and we usually only talk about resurrection and judgement around the fall holy days. As we close this study, I just want to leave you with a quote from Matthew Henry, summing up his commentary on these verses in Hebrews 6:
These are the great foundation-principles which ministers should clearly and convincingly unfold, and closely apply. In these the people should be well instructed and established, and from these they must never depart; without these, the other parts of religion have no foundation to support them. — Matthew Henry’s commentary
More posts in this series:
- Part One: Repentance From Dead Works
- Part Two: Faith Toward God
- Part Three: Doctrine of Baptisms
- Part Four: Laying on of Hands
- Part Five: Resurrection of the Dead