Rereading Packer’s Knowing God, and it’s so much better than I remembered it.
His chapter on God as Judge, chapter 14, really struck me.
It becomes clear that the Bible’s proclamation of God’s work as Judge is part of its witness to His character. It confirms … His moral perfection, His righteousness and justice, His wisdom, omniscience, and omnipotence. It shows us also that the heart of the justice which expresses God’s nature is retribution, the rendering to men what they have deserved; for this is the essence of the judge’s task. To reward good with good, and evil with evil, is natural to God. (page 129)
Later on he says, “the final proof that God is a perfect moral being, not indifferent to questions of right and wrong is the fact that he has committed Himself to judge the world.” (page 130)
Basically, God being the Judge is pinnacle of His complete perfection. He is a judge, and necessarily must be so, because of His excellence and all His other attributes. To not talk about, and exalt, God as judge is to literally diminish His greatness. And how often do I fall into to ignoring this profound and glorious reality.
God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). God is light (1 John 1:5). But God is also a consuming fire (Hebrew 12:29), as there will be a day of judgment (1 John 4:17). All three must be held together at all times. If not the glory of God is terribly undermined.
In the NT, “God’s action as Judge, far from being reduced, is actually intensified. The entire New Testament is overshadowed by the certainty of a coming day of universal judgment, and by the problem thence arising: how may we sinners get right with God while there is yet time?” (page 127)
God as Judge screams the necessity of the Gospel. If God is not a judge, then the Gospel is superfluous and the Cross of Jesus a cosmic overreaction.
Here is where balance is essential in the Christian life and one’s theology. I can feel myself wanting to just proclaim God as Judge to counteract all the time that I’ve neglect this truth in my own life. But God is not just a Judge but also a Savior, and truly making the Gospel Good News.
As Judge, He is the law, but as Saviour He is the gospel. Run from Him now, and you will meet Him as Judge then—and without hope. Seem Him now, and you will find Him (for ‘he that seeketh findeth’), and you will then discover that you are looking forward to that future meeting with joy, knowing that there is now ‘no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). (page 133)
God is not God without being the Judge. And there is no Gospel without God the Savior saving us from God the Judge.