John Potter - Lucknow Convention, India - 2000

Hymn 8

John 2:1, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”  We want to speak to you today about the Judge and the Judgment Day - we don't want to dangle you over hell fire to scare you, but many people have a complete misunderstanding of the Judge.  The Judge is to be feared only if we are doing something against God's will.  Judgment is a wonderful picture of our Heavenly Father, for it is a picture of the provision God has made for our salvation, and the provision found in the sacrifice of His own Son. Many people misunderstand that and think that God is the great policeman in the sky who sees all our sins and writes them down and then after we die, we will be judged on what is written.  God is not like that at all.  We should have a proper idea of the Judge.


In Abraham's time, God saw that the iniquity of the earth was so bad that He came down to investigate. He wanted to see if the sin of Sodom was bad and if it was really true, so He went to see His friend Abraham, first to tell him what He thought, because Lot was there.  Abraham pleaded for the place and said to God, “Will God destroy the righteous with the wicked?” Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? This is the Judge we will come before.  In Ezekiel, we are told that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked - this is the kind of Judge we come before, for God takes pleasure in the salvation of the righteous.  Some see God as one that will punish them, One who accuses them on the Judgment Day, but God has no interest in that and does not want to do that.  We should be clear that our Judge is not a prosecutor, for a prosecutor cannot make righteous judgment.  The case against a person must be brought to the presiding judge in the middle, the prosecutor on one side, and the advocate for the defendant on the other, who will speak for him.  The judge then hears the arguments from both sides.  A judge has an interest in condemning the guilty just as much as in releasing the innocent.  If there are false accusations brought to the judge, he will judge that - that is a picture of the last judgment, when the prosecutor brings a charge against us.


Revelation 12:10, “For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”  That is a picture of the old devil bringing a charge against us on the Judgment Day but God is concerned about now, when we can change and become righteous, for God wants us to be right.  The devil wants us to be condemned, to be wrong, and he wants to prosecute us on the Judgment Day when all is recorded.  Why does he do that?  Because the devil tempts people now when he himself is being judged, and he has already been condemned - there is no mercy to be shown.  We can be in the same place, tempted to sin against God and one day will be in the same condemnation - he has no care for the souls of men who are condemned as he is, for one day it will make him look not so bad in the eyes of God.  He will say to God, “Why judge me? Look at all the others!” 

In a large city where there was much stealing, the police department hired a person to go undercover.  He became acquainted with the thieves and bought their stolen goods.  Soon he set up a little shop and brought his friends in.  They didn't know it but they were being video taped.  This continued for over a year and now the police had evidence and rounded all the thieves up.  When they appeared in court, the one who they thought was their friend gave evidence against them.  This is the way the devil works - he appears in many forms and uses many guises and comes close to you and tempts you to do something.  It will be possible for him one day to give evidence against you, and it will be a surprise.  Judas fell into this trap.  The priests and rulers offered him money to betray Jesus, and then what happened? Jesus was sent off to the hall and Judas never thought Jesus would have to submit to this, but it happened and soon Judas realised his position.  The whole Sanhedrin met there and they sent Jesus off to Pilate's Judgment Hall.  Judas burst into the room and said in front of them all, “I have sinned, I have betrayed innocent blood!”  He thought there was still time to get Jesus back but they just said, “You see to that.”  He thought they were the ones who would do something to take away his sin and help him; he thought they were like his religious advisers, but they just said, “What is that to us?”  Many people today come before the same and try to get help but they just say, “What is that to us? See thou to it.” 

The devil tempted Eve and said, “Hath God said? You shall not surely die,” Eve believed him.  We know the devil does not live forever and won't be around to see Eve wouldn't die.  We need to fear today the accuser and not fear the Judge in eternity.  People worry about Judgment Day and a God that is a punishing fearful God, but it is not the right impression.  Our God has made great provision to help us.  On the one side is the prosecutor and on the other side is the advocate.  There is going to be a day when the books will be opened, a lot of books, and all that is written about everyone who ever lived on this earth.  We will be included and will see everything revealed, things we have done, and we won't be very comfortable.  We will be accused on such and such a day because we did something and we will be asked, "Is it true?"  No one else on earth may know about it, and we will just have to bow our heads and say, “It is true.”  Not one person will be able to say it was their righteousness that gained them entrance into heaven.  You and I will be condemned the same as everyone else on earth for we cannot claim we did not sin.

Sinners go to a lost eternity and we will be in the same position as everyone else, but then there is another book.  It is not such a big book, it is the Lamb's Book of Life, and in it are names written there.  When we stand before the Judge, the Judge will find us guilty; we cannot claim our innocence, for the evidence is there in the books that are open.  It is a wonderful thing that our loving Heavenly Father thought of an Advocate, a wonderful God and His Son, who made provision for us in the Advocate.  We know what we will say when God asks of us, "Yes, the evidence is that this man is a sinner" and "Yes, I did that, yes, I am worthy of condemnation," but Jesus our Advocate, will say, “I paid the ransom price for this person while he was on earth. He upheld my name and I would like him to be where I am."  This is our only hope.  It is by that ransom and through the blood of Jesus that we have an entrance to heaven.  None of us can come before God apart from the right that He gives us.  We need to pay attention to the first verse we read for we need grace and works together.  “For these things we write that ye sin not.”  We must make every effort not to sin but if we do through human weakness, we have an Advocate; yet this Advocate can only help us if we make every effort to show Him love and respect.  We are not saved by our works for they are worth nothing when the books are opened, and will not stand before God.  We will then depend on our Advocate and whether we have honoured His name here or not.  How can He plead for us otherwise?  If we have honoured His name here, we will find that the righteous Judge will be gracious to us and allow us to be with His Son in heaven. 


A rich man came to Jesus to ask Him what he should do to inherit eternal life and Jesus gave him the answer.  It says that Jesus looked on him and loved him and was concerned for his soul. He gave him the answer along with some of the commandments, and then there is one special phrase that doesn't appear anywhere else in the other gospels, “To love thy neighbour as thyself.”  This young man was bold enough to say he had kept these things from his youth up.  Jesus then said, “Well go and sell all and follow me.”  I don't believe Jesus meant he should go and preach the gospel but he was trying to show him our position before God.  This young man had kept all the law from his youth up but if he really loved his neighbour, he would go up to the first beggar he saw and give away half of his riches because after all, he had a lot, and if he loved him as himself he would give half to him.  The next day, he would go out again and if he saw another beggar, he would give him half of what was left and only have a quarter left.  It would not be long before he would be on the same level as that beggar--if he really loved his neighbour.  Jesus was telling him, "You say you keep all the law, you love your neighbour, now let me see you go and do it."  This young man could not do it.  Many of His people were Jewish who thought they were righteous because they kept the law.  Jesus loved this young man and wanted to help him think seriously about this, that if he was honest it was impossible for him to keep the law.  He wanted him to see that if I am to be judged according to the law I will be guilty, for not one person is righteous according to the law; everyone will stand before God and be guilty.  Our only judgment will be eternal condemnation.  God does not want us to perish with the wicked for it grieves His soul, so He made provision so we will have an Advocate.  Jesus died on the cross so the ransom has been paid.  We will stand in eternity and be glad to worship that One who has been pleading for us.  We cannot do this for ourselves but it has been done, by our loving, Heavenly Father, who has made this provision for us.  God is not a stern, harsh God who wants to take away our pleasure, but God is a loving caring Father who has provided our salvation and made a way of escape.