One verse of the Bible was formerly quoted more often than it is today — although today we are arriving at the time of its fulfilment: that is I Peter 4:17, “For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?” But strangely enough, this verse is almost always used by the ministers to threaten their own congregations with judgement and condemnation, as though it was the Christians who should be in fear of this judgement. Perhaps that does get more money in the offering that Sunday: but is this a correct use of the word of God? Let’s examine this subject in detail.
This is a Christian nation: it was founded by Christians, who came to this continent when it was an untamed wilderness, peopled by fierce savages; but they came here, as their own records tell us, to establish Christian communities where they could worship God without interference. Even today, although we have allowed the entrance of millions of people who hate our God and everything we hold sacred, yet the great majority of our people are still Christian. They are not completely perfect, of course: people were never sinlessly perfect at any time — that is why there was need for Jesus Christ to come and save us by His sacrifice made for us on the cross. But His death and resurrection were not in vain: He has cleansed us of the guilt of our sins: if He had not, then He would have died in vain. But God’s purpose can never fail: He has saved us from the judgement for our sins, and redeemed us as His children, who had strayed like lost sheep. Therefore, it is not the Christians who need fear the judgement: indeed, I John 4:17 tells us, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement: because as He Is, so are we in this world.”