OTHER CONDITIONS DURING THE JUDGMENT
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the works of power which took place in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, It will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who have been exalted to heaven, to Hades you will be brought down. For if the works of power which took place in you had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained until today. But I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you" (Matt. 11:21-24). Friends, please listen. The more you hear the gospel the better it is. Before the judgment seat in the future, you will have that much less to say. If today you still commit sins, live for the world, seek your own pleasures, and consider sinning as your career, I beg you to consider the question of judgment. You will not live forever, and you will not be exempted from judgment. Judgment is as sure and definite as death.
I told the people in Shanghai that they would become like Tyre and Sidon in the future. Tyre and Sidon were once very flourishing, but today they are just places for laying nets. Because they were filled with sins and evil, God sent fire and brimstone to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah completely. Two years ago, an American archaeologist went to Sodom to search for historical evidence. He saw that the whole land was filled with traces of sulphur. O Shanghai, what Tyre and Sidon went through was easier than what Shanghai will have to go through during the judgment days. What Sodom experienced was easier than what Shanghai will have to face. Before the Lord was born, God’s Son had not died to bear our sins, and man did not know about sin and judgment. They could still have an excuse. But you have heard that God’s Son has died for you. If you do not resolve the problem of your sins today, I would shed all my tears for you! If we who preach the gospel had enough tears, we would shed them all for you! The future judgment will be extremely serious. The world will pass away, and you will pass away; all the worldly pleasures will also pass away. But the judgment will not pass away.
HOW TO ESCAPE JUDGMENT
I have to say something regarding the way for man to escape judgment. To escape judgment, we must first ask why we will be judged in the future. Because every man has sinned, every man must be judged. If you can escape sins, you can also escape judgment.
"Judgment" in the original text is the same word as "righteousness" and "condemnation." When we come across "judgment," we can change it to "condemnation." For instance, to read "after this comes judgment" (Heb. 9:27) is the same as "after this comes condemnation." Sin is a matter that no one can escape. If man had not sinned, we could tear down this meeting hall because we would not need it. I could also change my job. I am not preaching here because I have no other way to support my living. I could give up being a Christian. I could burn up this Bible, and I could have the boldness to do all kinds of things. But sin is real, and it is a solid fact that we need a Savior. I know that there is a Son of God who bore my sins, and I know that there is a Son of God who shed His blood to redeem me from sins. I know that once the problem of sin is solved, the problem of judgment will also be solved. There is a way, and there is salvation.
What way did God use to save us from sins? I have sins, and sins deserve judgment and hell. However, God’s Word tells us that God’s Son has died for our sins. God’s Son has died for us. "God’s Son"! This term is sweet to my mouth, finer than music to my ears, and poetic to my inspiration.
God’s Son has come and died for me. God’s Son has borne my sins and received the punishment for sins on the cross. Therefore, I am saved, and I am now free. This is the gospel! My purpose is not to bring you tidings of woe by telling you that you will die and receive judgment. I have shown you judgment first to make you aware of your need; you need a sin-bearing Savior.
Let me tell you a story: during the Civil War in the United States of America, there were two brothers. One lived in the North, and the other lived in the South. They both were drafted into the army. The South lost, and many soldiers were taken as prisoners by the North. The one who guarded the captives was the older brother. He found out that his younger brother was among the prisoners. He dared not say anything. At night, he took off his clothes and let his younger brother wear them to escape for his life. (At that time the prisoners were to be executed the following morning.) He put on his younger brother’s clothes and became a prisoner for him. The next morning, the older brother was executed by a firing squad. Later someone discovered that the dead one was not the right person. They still could try to catch the younger brother. But according to the law, they had to let the younger brother go because his brother had died for him. No person can die twice. Oh! This is but a very small example of the cross.
Please do not misunderstand my words. Do not think that the Lord Jesus came to serve society, preach universal love and equality, and become a model for mankind. I have read through the New Testament at least one hundred times and have never found such a teaching in the Bible. This is not the glad tidings. These are tidings of woe that come from the devil and hell. The Bible tells us that Jesus came in order to be judged for us. We deserved death, but Jesus died for us. The Lord Jesus said on the cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). God had no choice but to leave Him there because He bore our sins. He came from the heavens to make a way for us to go to the heavens. He departed from God and came to this world so that we could draw nigh to God. He suffered poverty so that we could become rich. He came to this earth so that we could be free from the earth. He came to bear sins so that we could be free from sins. He was judged for us so that every one of us who believes in Him could be exempted from judgment. Friends, when you hear the gospel, you always hear about the cross. The word cross means nothing other than the fact that the Lord Jesus has borne our judgment and suffered punishment for us.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 18: Notes on Scriptural Messages (2), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)