What’s the Word?

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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“…if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

“He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47,48).

I’m sure that the unbelievers among the Lord’s hearers were relieved to hear Him say that He had not come to judge them. But some of them may have remembered hearing Him say that “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). Well, if the Father committed all judgment to the Son, how could the Son say that He had not come to judge people?

The answer to this question is found in “rightly dividing the Word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). You see, the Lord was making a dispensational statement. He had not come to judge the world in His first coming, but in His second coming, He will come to “judge and make war” (Rev. 19:11).

Then, after the fiery judgment of the Second Coming (II Thes. 1:7,8), “God…hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained” (Acts 17:30,31). We know that Paul speaks here of the Lord Jesus Christ since he goes on to say of this man “that He hath raised from the dead.” In that day, the day that the Lord described as “the last day” (John 12:48), the unsaved of all ages will stand before the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11), where they will be judged guilty and condemned to the lake of fire (vv. 12-15). It is concerning this judgment that the Lord said, “the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

Did you ever wonder what word will judge men in the last day? Believe it or not, this question must also be answered dispensationally! The word by which the Lord will judge unbelievers among the Jews to whom He was sent under the kingdom program (Matt. 15:24) is different than the word by which unbelievers who lived in the dispensation of grace will be judged.

The word by which unbelievers in the kingdom program will be judged was, as the Lord said in our text, a word that He had “spoken” during His sojourn here on earth. He gives us a hint as to what word that might be when He went on to call this word “a commandment” that the Father had given Him (v. 49), adding: “And I know that His commandment is life everlasting” (v. 50). Thus we know that whatever word the Lord spoke that will judge unbelievers under the kingdom program, it is a word that gave everlasting life to those that did believe this word.

He was speaking, of course, of the word of the gospel. It is the gospel that saves men’s souls in any dispensation, and it is the gospel that will judge men guilty if they do not believe it. In the kingdom program, the gospel word that gave eternal life was Jesus is the Christ (John 6:67-69). This is the word that will someday judge unbelievers who lived under the kingdom program when they stand before the Great White Throne if they refused to believe the word of that gospel.

Of course today, in the dispensation of grace, it is not enough to have the kind of “faith in His name” (Acts 3:16) that constitutes believing that “Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:31; I John 5:1). Today you have to have “faith in His blood” (Rom. 3:25) to be saved; that is, you have to believe that “Christ died for our sins” and rose again (I Cor. 15:1-4). When unbelievers who lived in the dispensation of grace stand before the Lord’s Great White Throne, this is the word of the Lord by which they will be judged, the word He spoke through Paul.

How do we know that unbelievers from the dispensation of grace will be judged by the word of a different gospel? It is because our apostle Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13; 15:16), describes the last day as “the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16), not according to the word that the Lord spoke when He ministered to the Jews. As you can see, even the very gospel of salvation has to be rightly divided!

We sometimes hear it said that rightly dividing the Word of truth is “an interesting doctrine, but not a very practical doctrine.” We couldn’t disagree more. What could possibly be more practical than knowing which words of Scripture have the power to give eternal life in the dispensation of grace, and which words will judge men guilty of their sins when they believe them not? Dispensationalism doesn’t just help us when it comes to figuring out things like why the Lord said He wasn’t sent to judge men after the Father committed all judgment to Him. Rightly dividing the Word ensures that we are able to make a clear presentation of the gospel that saves men’s souls to those who will suffer the flames of eternal torment without it.

To the Reader:

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