Howard S. McCrutcheon
The day of judgment is one day when we will all be present. Those who have done His will, those who have ignored His will and gone beyond what is written and those who have never submitted to His will in any respect. No excuses will be offered then, and none will be accepted. We can make a thousand puny excuses for our absence from duty and the gathering of the saints now, but none can be given then. If everyone could realize that this is true and that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that every one may receive the things done in his body according to that which he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10), and that “God will bring every work into the judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:14), it might have a wholesome influence on us. Even the secret things will be made manifest in that day, and there is no respect of persons with the judge of the living and the dead. It will be an impartial sentence passed upon all alike. That is, according to each man’s life. From this, therefore, we should learn that even the judgment that we shall receive in that day is in our hand now and not another. If brethren could only be made to realize the impartiality of judgment, it would no doubt serve as a deterrent from certain things brethren are doing in trying to direct their own steps and devise paths in which they insist they want to walk.
Paul in his matchless address to the Athenians said: God “hath appointed a day, in 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 17:31). This all grows out of one declaration, “At the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now he commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). It is easy to be observed, then, that our relation to what God commands shall decide the judgment we shall receive in that day. Peter also shows the same point when he asks, “What will be the end of them who obey not the gospel?” (1 Pet. 4:17). Our obedience to the gospel in one passage and obeying the commandments in another are the same, and both show that if we would stand in the judgment, obedience from the heart must be rendered to the Almighty. This obedience must be rendered before we die. It cannot be done afterwards. For “as it is appointed unto men once to die and after that the judgment” (Heb. 9:27) is conclusive evidence that it must be done now. No wonder, then, that the exhortation is so often found, “today is the day of salvation” and “now is the accepted time.” I have often said that if there is anything we are going to do for others, we must do that while they live. It is too late to bring the flowers when they are dead. We influence people while they live to be better men and women and as a result go to the judgment better prepared to stand. I think we should clearly understand that if we fail it isn’t because God wills it so. For he plainly says he is “not willing that any perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). So, then, if we perish, the blame must be upon us. We must repent of our sins or else we perish. No one can doubt this in the light of the passage already quoted. But there is another: “The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them who know not God and obey not the gospel” (2 Thess. 1:7-8). This shows clearly when it will be and also the nature of the punishment as well as the cause for such banishment. We have warnings all through the New Testament against that day. For an instance, “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb 10:27) and:
…of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace. (Heb. 10:29.)
When people fail to obey the gospel and keep the commandments of the Lord, they have done this very thing as described in the above quotation. Presumably there is no punishment too severe, for one who would abuse the holy commands of the Lord that have been delivered unto him in the New Testament. The gospel brings increased responsibility, and we must meet it or be destroyed in the end. The gospel means life to some and death to others. Because some obey it and live, others disobey it and die. The gospel is a powerful instrument. It can save one from death and hell when believed and obeyed completely in its fulness, but to the disobedient it is just as destructive.
These passages plainly show that there is a judgment day to come and that our standing then will depend upon our relation to the gospel now. Everyone should know that there is to be an end to our earthly affairs. What shall it be? That depends on how we treat the word of the Lord. I firmly believe that in proportion to the number there will be more preachers in hell than any other class of people—their preaching on the one hand and their conduct on the other being foreign to the word of the Lord. This no doubt was in the mind of James when he said: “Be not many teachers knowing that you shall receive the greater condemnation” (Jas. 3:1). People are not only required to “hearken unto all that he shall command” (Deut. 18:19) and that it shall be required of him, evidently in that day, “but that prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die” (Deut. 18:20). True enough did Jesus say that “many will come to me in that day, saying Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name…” “Then I will profess unto them I never knew you” (Matt. 7:22-23). There are preachers all over this country speaking things and encouraging God’s people to practice things He never commanded and doing things unbecoming of honest men, much less of preachers of the Gospel. It doesn’t matter, either, how well one can preach, or how good a mixer he is with the people, or how seemingly pious he may be if in his preaching he ever goes beyond that which is written in God’s holy word, or in any wise is dishonest and unscrupulous. Let them first show themselves trustworthy, handling aright the word of God, honest and pure before they put themselves up as teachers of God’s law. In their failure to follow faithfully the Apostles’ Doctrine they do more harm than good. So I believe that there will be a larger percentage of preachers in hell than of any other class of people. It should be remembered also that the judgment will not begin at the tail and come up, but will begin at the head and come down. The judgment begins at the house or family of God, and not with the infidels or the children of the devil. The preachers, perhaps, will be the first to answer the call. If the righteous be judged, where shall the hope of the unrighteous to escape be found? There is no escape for them. So, I might ask, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3). Ask yourself, my friends, this solemn question.