CIRCULAR LETTER, 1869
Written by R. E. Kirtley
Sand Run Baptist Church
Subject: The Divine Procedure in the Administration of the Final Judgment.
The administration of the moral government of God, through a Mediator, has exhibited strange and wonderful phenomena, in which many moral creatures have lost sight of the purity of divine law, and rectitude of divine government.
"As the good which the wicked receive here is not their reward but their trial, and the evil which the good suffer here is not their punishment but their chastening, it is evident that no correct opinion as to the perfect justice of God can be formed from the events of this life alone. The veil which hangs over the works of eternity must be raised before all can be seen; and it will be raised to display perfect justice to an admiring and astonished world, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to the Gospel."
The final judgment will be the last grand scheme in the mediatorial reign of Christ, and will terminate the moral government of God through a mediator. Jesus Christ in winding up his own mediatorial reign will administer the final judgment. "The Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." — John v, 22. "The Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." — 2 Tim. iv, 1.
Jesus Christ in coming to judge the world will appear in his glorified human nature. He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. — Acts xvii, 31. This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. — Acts i, 11. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him. — Rev. i, 7.
The time of the final judgment is not known. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. — Mat. xxiv, 36.
As the earth will be the theater of the final judgment, Christ will come to the earth attended by his saints, and all the holy angels. Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all. — Jude 14. The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. — 2 Thes. i, 7.
He will come in the clouds of heaven. Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. — Mat. xxvi, 64. And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. — Mat. xxiv, 30.
He will come in flaming fire to burn the earth and take vengeance on the ungodly. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise; and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. — 2 Pet. iii, 10.
The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know no God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. — 2 Thes. i, 7, 8.
He will raise the dead and change the living preparatory to judgment. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. — 1 Thes. iv, 16, 17. Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumphet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, incorruptible, and we shall be changed. — 1 Cor. xv, 51, 52.
All who have sinned (both men and devils) will be brought in his presence to be judged. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations. — Mat. xxv, 31. The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. — Jude 6. For we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. — Rom. xiv, 10, 11.
His angels will be employed in collecting both saints and sinners to the judgment. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. — Mat. xxiv, 31. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity. — Mat. xiii, 41.
He will sit upon his throne, and the books will be opened. The judgment was set, and the books were opened. — Dan. vii, 10. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened and another book was opened, which is the book of life. — Rev. xx, 11, 12. These books will be the records of those who are to be judged.
The first book is the record which God has kept of each individual's life. Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness; and will make manifest the councils of the heart. — 1 Cor. iv, 5. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. — Eccle. xii, 14.
The second book is the record which each individual has kept of his own life. For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So, then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God. — Rom. xv, 11, 12. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. — Mat. xii, 36.
The third record is the book of life, in which is written the names of the elect. A book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels. — Mal. iii, 16, 17. My fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life. — Phil. iv, 3. There shall in nowise enter into it (heaven) anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they who are written in the Lamb's book of life. — Rev. xxi, 27.
The book containing the laws by which the judgment will proceed, will not, then, have to be opened; for it is open now, and has been ever since the Bible was completed. The laws by which men are governed are the laws by which they will be judged. The law and the testimony, then, being all recorded and established, without a doubt or a possibility of equivocation, the judgment will proceed, and each one will be judged according to his works. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. — 2 Cor. v, 10. I the Lord, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man, according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. — Jer. xvii, 10. The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. — Mat. xvi, 27. All the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. — Rev. ii, 23. Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. — Rev. xxii, 12.
For the purpose of preserving a sin-ruined race, there was a change in the divine administration at the fall of man. At this juncture, the moral government of God towards man ceased to be administered by *original law; and proceeded on the basis of original law through a mediator. There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. — 1 Tim. ii, 5. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. — 2 Cor. v, 19.
The atonement of Jesus Christ was the foundation of this change in the divine administration. To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. — Rom. xiv, 9. And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. — Col. i, 20. Thus, Christ, in the economy of God, stood as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. — Rev. xiii, 8.
Jesus Christ, in administering the moral government of God on the basis of original law, through his own mediation, has been pleased to give to man a revelation of all his (man's) relations under this administration, and these obligations specified in law. These laws are the laws by which God holds men (who know them, or may know them) responsible to him, and by which he will judge them in the last day. He that rejecteth men, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him in that last day. — John xii, 48. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth. — Ps. xcvi, 13. Those whose names are in the book of life will be the righteous. They will have the imputed righteousness of Christ; and will stand perfect and complete before God, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. — See Rom. iv, 22-24; Eph. v, 27. They have eternal life imparted to them when they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thenceforward were justified in law. See John iii, 36; v, 24; Rom. v, 1; vi, 22. In this new condition, they sustain new relations, and out of these new relations grow new laws of obligation. In these new relations they are the children of God. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. — Gal. iv, 7. If children, then heirs: heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. — Rom. viii, 17.
If children and heirs, they will receive heaven as an inheritance. He shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. — Mat. xxv, 34. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son; and hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. — Col. i, 13,12. An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away reserved in heaven for you , who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. — 1 Peter i, 4.
The laws by which they are governed are the laws by which they will be judged. These laws grow out of the relationship of parent and child; are the laws of liberty; and have no penal sanctions. Ye have been called unto liberty. — Galatians v, 13. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. — James ii, 12. Then the children of God will be judged as children; by the laws that govern children, and rewarded in heaven according to their works. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and peresecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven. — Matthew v, 12. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing and your reward shall be great. — Luke v, 35. When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shall be blessed: for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. — Luke xiv, 13, 14.
The wicked who will have had gospel light and bible privileges, will be judged according to their works, and by the laws that grew out of the relations they sustained in life, to God and men. Wo unto thee, Chorazin! wo unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. — Luke x, 13, 14. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shall be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee. — Matthew xi, 23, 24.
The Jew who only had the light of the Mosaic dispensation, will be judged by that light, according to his works. As many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to the gospel. — Romans ii, 12, 16.
Those who have sinned without the light of revelation, will be judged by the light of nature. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and God-head; so that they are without excuse: because that when they knew God, they glorified him, not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the creator, who is blessed forever. — Rom.i, 20-25. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law. — Romans ii, 12.
As the wicked will be without righteousness, and destitute of every principle that harmonizes with God and holiness, they will be condemned; and according to the Divine purpose, will be shut up in the prison-house of the universe, a world prepared for the devil and his angels. For the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation. — John v, 28, 29.
At the end of the world, the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. — Matthew xiii, 49, 50. Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. — Rev. xx, 15. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. — Psalm ix, 17. There, they shall be rewarded according to their works. Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house, or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for that city. — Mat. x, 14, 15. Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence, make long prayer; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. — Mat. xxiii, 14.
Children dying in infancy, and idiots, are without works and without law. They are the subjects of moral law, and of moral government; but to their knowledge their is no law. Where no law is, there is no transgression. — Romans iv, 15. Sin is not imputed when there is no law. — Romans v, 13. Notwithstanding they inherit a sinful nature, according to the council of peace developed in the economy of salvation, through Jesus Christ, they will be prepared and received into heaven.
As by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." — Rom. v, 18, 19.
This law of restoration applies to all irresponsible persons who do not become personal and actual transgressors of divine law. Jesus said unto them, if ye were blind ye should have no sin. — John ix, 41.
The devils will be judged according to their works, and by original law, or the law of their creation, no remedial system or law ever having been given them.
* Original law is the law of our creation, or that law that specified the obligations of our relations when we came forth from the hand of our creator; and consisted in supreme love to God, and subordinate love to the creature. — Matthew xxii, 37, 39.
[From a copy from a microfilm document of the Northbend Baptist Association Minutes,, pages 10-16. All of the spelling and grammar are unchanged from the original. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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