God’s Righteous Judgement:
The Courtroom Scene

In a Brief  Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 10a of 83

5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: …  16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:5-16).

In chapter 2, the apostle Paul is speaking to those who know not only the works of God, but the Word of God. He is addressing particularly Jews and Christians.

We saw in our last study, that not everyone who knows the Word of God is truly saved. There are in the Visible Church, wheat and tare, good and bad fishes, sheep and goats, good and bad soil. Those who despise the goodness of God are tare, bad fishes, goats and bad soil.

These, according to Paul, are treasuring up “wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (v. 5).

Take note of what Paul is saying. He is not saying that God has suspended his wrath and judgement. God is judging every day. And in chapter 1, verse 18, we see that the wrath of God is being revealed daily from heaven. Already, trickles of His wrath is being felt by man.

What Paul is saying is that there will be a day when God’s wrath and judgement will be revealed in such a way that no one will miss it. It is a day of the revelation of God’s wrath and judgement. It is a day when everything will be revealed in clear. It is a day when it will be perfectly clear to everyone why God does what He does to anyone.

But how will the judgement be carried out? What will be the criteria for making the verdicts? What will be the sentences? These are three questions that we must ask as we study the present passage.

1. How will the Judgment 
be carried out?

In a typical court case today, a person comes before the judge only when he is accused of a crime.

The judge will then have to determine whether he is guilty of the crime. To do so, he must first determine whether the accused has done what he was accused of doing.

And then he must decide why he did what he did. Only then will the judge pronounce his verdict: Guilty or Not-Guilty!

And only then does he pass the sentence: whether the accused should be acquitted, made to pay a fine, send to prison, or be executed, etc.

The judge makes all his decision based on what he is told and what he can discover. Sometimes he gets his facts wrong. Sometimes he makes wrong decisions even with reliable facts. And sometimes his judgement may be affected by prejudice or bias.

The judgement in the heavenly courtroom does not happen in the same way.

In the first place, every single person will be judged. No one will be exempted. No one,—whether Jew or Gentile, Greek or Barbarian, Wise or Unwise, Young or Old, Modern or Ancient, Male or Female, Christian or Non-Christian—will be excepted. We will all stand before the judgement seat of God regardless of whether we are aware of having done anything wrong.

In the second place, God does not need to determine whether we have committed any crime. Nothing is hid from His eyes. He knows and remembers all that we have done, said or thought better than we do. He knows the intentions of every of our deeds. Neither does he need to judge whether our deeds are right or wrong.  He already knows their rightness or wrongness.

In the third place, every single of our deeds will be brought into judgement. In the case of the earthly courtroom, only the deeds for which we are accused of will be judged. Not so in the heavenly courtroom. Paul says that God “will render to every man according to his deeds” (v. 6). He will even judge the “secrets of men” (v. 16).

King Solomon referring to this same judgement says:

“For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecc 12:14).

In fact, the Lord Jesus himself teaches us that even our idle words will be judged:

“…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Mt 12:36) says our Lord.

In the fourth place, you must understand that in the heavenly courtroom, God will make judgement or verdict with regards to persons and not with regards to their acts.

Let me put it this way: In the earthly courtroom, individual acts are judged and the person is acquitted or pronounced guilty in regard to the acts. But not so in the heavenly courtroom.

In the heavenly courtroom, whether the acts are right or wrong; or whether the person has done it or not, have already been determined as certain facts. So really, in the heavenly courtroom, the acts of man are brought up only as evidences to substantiate God’s judgement. And they are brought up not for God to make his judgement, but for the man being judged and all who are beholding to be left without doubt that God’s judgement is righteous.

Let me illustrate what I am saying. Suppose I am in my study, and my children are in the living room playing. Suddenly, I hear some screaming and shouting and crying. The children were quarrelling and fighting. I call all of them into my study. I tell them to stand before me with their hands behind the back. They are being judged. I query them one by one to try to determine what happened. Now, of course, every one of them will plead innocent and point fingers at one another. This is what the earthly courtroom is like. The judge can never be hundred percent sure in his verdict.

But suppose I am in my study, and the children are in the living room; but I can see what is going on in the living room through a close circuit TV. Now when the quarrelling and fighting starts, I know what is going on. I call all the children in and I need not ask them what happened. I begin to make my judgement. You were wrong to do this! You were wrong to say that! Now if they protest and say that they did not do what I charge them with, all I need to do is to play the video, and it settles all the question.

This, in a way, is what the heavenly courtroom is like.

When a man is being judged in the heavenly courtroom, his whole life is, as it were, projected on a big screen, as God pronounces His verdict.

This is the fourth thing you must remember about the heavenly courtroom in contrast to the earthly courtroom.

In the fifth place, while there is always the possibility of error of judgement in the earthly courtroom, there is never any error in the heavenly courtroom. God not only know all the facts perfectly, but His judgement is a perfectly “righteous judgement” (v. 5). Anyone who stands before the judgment seat of God knows that he will have a perfectly fair trial. He will know that if God pronounce him guilty, he is guilty. No lawyer will be able to persuade God otherwise, for God’s judgement is based upon His omniscience.

In the sixth place, while human judges are sometimes biased, it is never so with God. “For there is no respect of persons with God,” says Paul (v. 11). No one who stands before God can ever hope to be given preferential treatment because of status, wealth, race, age, religion or gender. God does not give face.

And neither needs anyone who stands before God fear that he would be disadvantaged because of status, wealth, race, religion, age or gender.  There is no respect of persons with God. God never discriminates against anyone.


… to be continued next issue

JJ Lim