The judgmentless gospel may be the most attractive counterfeit being proposed oday. The entire tide of our culture is turning toward a type of pluralism that would deny the reality (and even the need) for divine justice. Here are some ways we can keep from falling for these forms of the judgmentless gospel:

Recognize the good news of judgment.
You may be wondering: How can judgment be good news? Good question. The answer goes back to our love for justice. Once we understand God’s judgment as putting an end to all that is wrong with the world (war, famine, disease, etc.), then we can understand why even the apostle Paul viewed viewed judgment as part of his gospel.

In Romans 2, he writes: “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:15-16, emphasis added). According to the gospel, God will judge humanity.

The Old Testament as good news. Look at Psalm 96:

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. (vv. 9-13, emphasis added)

Apparently the witness of the Bible had no problem with celebrating judgment as good news. The idea of Jesus coming to judge the living and the dead was cause not only for comfort (as the Heidelberg Catechism states), but also for celebration. Take away the notion of judgment, and you rob Christianity of any hope of satisfying our longing for justice, a longing built into us by our just and wise God.

The judgmentess gospel fails to deal with the problem of evil and the detrimental way that we humans treat each other (and by extension, God). Once we take away judgment, we lose the gravity of our sin. Once we lose sight of our sinfulness, we short-circuit our experience of the powerful gratitude that comes from receiving grace.

See how judgment demonstrates the holy love of God
God is not a bipolar deity—one side wrathful and angry, the other loving and merciful. Love is His essential attribute, but this love is not like the sentimental love we think of today. God’s love is holy. It is jealous. The wrath of God is based in His love. The idea of biblical judgment not only assures us of future justice. It also gives us a clearer picture of the love of God.

Think of a loving father who has a son and daughter. If someone were to kidnap and abuse that father’s children, what kind of love would the father have if he felt no anger? No wrath? Or late’s say that a son and daughter are rebelling against their father’s authority and destroying their lives. If the father loves his son and daughter, his anger and wrath toward their sinful behavior is based in his love for them and his desire for their best.

What the judgmentless gospel leaves us with a one-dimentional God—a sappy, sanitized deity that we can easily manage. He nods and winks at our behavior, much like a kind, elderyly man who is not seriously invested in our lives. But the evil of our world is much too serious for us to view God as a pandering papa.

The picture of God in the Bible is much more satisfying. He is angry because He is love. He looks at the world and sees trafficking of innocent girls, the destructive use of drugs, the genocidal atrocities in Africa, the terrorist attacks that keep people in perpetual fear, and He—out of love for the creation that reflects Him as creator—is rightfully and gloriously angry. Real love always wants the best for the beloved.

The god who is truly scary is not the wrathful God of the Bible, but the god of the judgmentless gospel, who closes his eyes to the evil of this world, shrugs his shoulders, and ignores it in the name of “love.” What kind of “love” is this? A god who is never angered at sin and who lets evil go unpunished is not worthy of worship. The problem isn’t that the judgmentless god is too loving; it’s that he’s not loving enough.[1]

Trevin Wax


[1] Trevin Wax, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011], 75, 76, 77.

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