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Confidence on the Day of Judgment

What does love have to with judgment?

“that we may have boldness in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17, NKJV) 

John again highlights the love God has for us. “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Hearing these words, we cannot help but rejoice in so great a salvation. We borrow from John’s own earlier astonishment and exclamation of how great is the Father’s love for us (see 3:1). 

Throughout John’s epistle he has gone on to describe that love that is beyond our comprehension. God is love and somehow through the Spirit in our union with Christ we find ourselves immersed in this love, in eternal communion with the triune God. Though we give ourselves over to a lifetime of study, meditation, and pursuit we will never fully grasp the love of God for us in Jesus. 

But then John throws us a bit of a curveball when he goes on to say, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). What does love have to with judgment? 

Such is the wonder of God’s love. Not only does it establish us in the arms of our God, it is the basis for which we escape condemnation from that very God. 

In his Gospel account, John records these words of our Lord: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). How can that be? Doesn’t the Bible teach that it is appointed for each of us to die once and to face judgment (Heb. 9:27)? How can we have already been judged and already passed from death to life? 

The answer is love. Think of John 3:16. God’s love in Christ is manifested against the backdrop of our perishing in judgment for our sins. Our confidence on the day of judgment is found in the love of God that gave His Son for us, a love that satisfied God’s justice, a love that will not let us go (cf. Rom. 8:37-39). 

It’s no wonder that John writes, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). We need not fear the judgment to come because Jesus paid it all. The debt of our sin is paid in full by the finished work of Christ in our place. We can and will come before our God without fear and with great joy. 

Christian, let all your fears be answered by the One who came for you, died for you, and ever lives for you. 

How is the love of God substance over sentiment?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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