will God send judgment on the church?
judge the church? And if so, why? Aren't we promised to be spared
God's wrath in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 5:9? Aren't we told in Romans
8:1 that those who are in Christ Jesus are not subject to condemnation?
Peter, in his first epistle, writes: "For it is time for judgment
to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first,
what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of
God?" (1 Peter 4:17). What can the apostle mean?
passage Peter uses the definite article with judgment, better translated
"the judgment" He is referring to the final judgment of God,
which he states begins with God's people -- the church. This epistle
of Peter is focused on the reasons for the suffering and persecution
that his readers were enduring. He is telling them that one of the
reasons for the trials, is that this is part of God's judgment --
His discipline and purification of the Church.
not confuse God's discipline with His wrath. The Bible teaches that
the church will enter the Seventieth Week of Daniel and, after the
midpoint, the church will face persecution by Antichrist. This time,
which Christ called the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21), will be
Satan's wrath against the church (Rev. 12:12), not God's wrath.
God's wrath does not begin until after the sixth seal is opened
(Rev. 6:12-17), the church has been raptured (Rev. 7:9-14), and
the seventh seal is broken, initiating the trumpet judgments (Rev.
just as God granted Satan permission to afflict Job, so God will
allow Satan to persecute the church. Why? As Robert Van Kampen wrote
in The Sign: "... the church that goes into the last days
will be primarily known for her compromise ... God will permit this
time of testing to purge, purify and refine her before she can be
considered worthy to come into the presence of God, and to become
the bride of Christ." (p. 73).
Tribulation is the time when the wheat (true believers) will be
separated from the tares (look-alike believers) (Matt. 13:30). This
time period will be the "fire" Peter speaks of when he says, "that
the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is
perishable, even though tested by fire may be found to result in
praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ..."
(1 Peter 1:7).
bring discipline upon the church in order to purge, purify, and
refine it. We are promised in God's Word that we will not face God's
wrath, but we are never promised exemption from suffering, persecution,
or trials. Rather, we are promised that God will "discipline us
for our good, that we may share His holiness." (Hebrews 12:10).
God will bring the church through the Great Tribulation so that
we will be presented to Christ as His bride, "in all her glory,
having no spot or wrinkle...that she should be holy and blameless..."
(Eph. 5:27), "... so that when He appears, we may have confidence
and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." (1 John 2:28).
that believers suffer today, and will suffer during the Great Tribulation,
is a sign that we are part of the household of God. He, as a good
father, is purifying His family for our good. We may not enjoy the
experience, but we can rejoice that we are among those facing discipline
now, being purified in preparation for heaven, rather than among
those who will face the full force of divine judgment later.