Warning to Evolving, Progressive Churches: Judgment Is Coming

I would be derelict in my duty as a teacher not to discuss this very biblical truth.

Don’t rush to be on the platform, speaking before the multitudes. You must count the cost, first.

The NIV is used here, unless otherwise noted. You are encouraged to look at other translations at biblegateway.com.

James warns teachers that they shall incur a stricter judgment.

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. (Jas. 3:1-2)

The one who controls his tongue (speech) is mature, certainly mature enough to teach God’s people. Teachers, watch your words while you teach! Be mature in your words!

Since teachers speak often, I place these two verses here. We will have to give an account of every word we have spoken.

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt. 12:36-37)

The verses in 2 Cor. 5:9-10 may apply to everyone as well, but especially to those who minister the gospel.

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:9-10)

Next, preachers who arrived in Corinth after Paul established a church there tried to push him aside. However, Paul warned them to be careful how they build on his foundation. Their bad “ministry works” may be burned up (v. 15). But those who build rightly–good “ministry works”–will receive a reward (v. 14).

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Cor. 3:10-15)

Paul follows up those sobering verses with this one:

If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Cor. 3:17)

Yes, God will actually destroy bad leaders, when they chip away at his sacred temple (the church). I don’t know how this destruction happens, but I don’t want to find out. So God can also destroy, but only to redeem.

This following verse is clear. Church leaders will have to render an account, as follows.

17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. (Heb. 13:17)

You are not immune from God’s judgment. You will not be judged to determine whether you are destined for heaven or hell, but whether you will get rewards or not.

Mercifully, God judges us now to spare us later. Peter and the author of Hebrews says God’s judgment begins now and is ongoing throughout our lifetimes.

Peter teaches us that when God judges here on earth, he begins with his people.

For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

Judgment begins now, so we can be purified. Then our judgment in the New Messianic Age will not be negative. It can be positive.

This long, long passage–so important!–teaches us that in love God disciplines us now, so we can grow in holiness, righteousness and peace (vv. 10-11). He uses hardship (v. 7). This loving discipline is a form of judgment or evaluation.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[Prov. 3:11, 12] 

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:5-11)

God intends to purify us now, so we can be trained (v. 11). We are being trained for righteous living now and then when we are judged in the New Messianic Age, his judgment won’t be negative–it will be positive!

Application

You simply are not allowed to barge into the church and rewrite the original practices and beliefs, established by Jesus himself and his apostolic community, just to suit your postmodern tastes and for your convenience. This is arrogance of the worst kind.

If you continue down your Progressive path, God will hold you accountable for rewriting the rules of his kingdom and twisting the words of his Son and the apostolic community, some of whom were inspired to write the NT and pass on the teachings they heard from Jesus, two thousand years ago.

Remember: I did not write this post to put you to shame, but to warn you in love (cf. 1 Cor 4:14).

ARTICLES IN SERIES

Warning to Evolving, Progressive Churches: Danger Signs

Warning to Evolving, Progressive Churches: Authority of Scripture

Warning to Evolving, Progressive Churches: Marriage and Sex

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