One reader posted a comment to my last post and rather than answer him in the comments section, I thought I would make a new post to handle his question:
Here was John’s concern…
I’m going to be the little trouble maker here. I’m just thinking and would like your thoughts. I’ve think you’ve made an interesting point and upon reading this, this is the only time i’ve heard rain, floods and winds referred to as final judgment. My question would be “are those whose house is built on the rock going to go through the final judgment? Was not the rain, floods and winds poured out on Christ? Are believers going to be judged in the same manner as unbelievers? If this passage is referring to “final judgement”, it appears that it is the same exact judgment on both believers and unbelievers….although the results of the judgement are remarkably different.
John, you brought up an important point concerning what God’s judgment is, so I am happy for the opportunity to clarify. On the one hand, you are right in that believers will not be “judged” at the final judgment because our sins were judged in Christ. God’s wrath was poured out on Christ, so that those who are united to him by faith will not face it. But I think you were taking my point too far when you interpreted me to mean that “the rain, floods and wind” in this passage represent the wrath of God. In that sense, yes, you are right, we will not be judged.
But the word “judgment” is used in two ways in the New Testament. On the one hand, it is used in the sense of “condemnation” or a negative judgement. In this sense, to “judge” someone is to pronounce them guilty.
But judgment is also used in a neutral sense. This is the sense of separating or distinguishing or discriminating between two things.
You can see these two meanings in two apparently conflicting statements of Jesus.
First, in John 3:17 Jesus says, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (NASB). Here John is saying that the reason Jesus was sent into the world was not to bring condemnation, but to provide a way to be saved from condemnation. That is why the English Standard Version uses the word, “condemn” instead of “judge.” (“…did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world…”)
On the other hand, in John 9:39 Jesus says, “For judgement I came into this world…” and in John 5:27 he says that the Father, “has given him authority to execute judgment”. These verses do not contradict John 3:17 because they are referring to the fact that Jesus came to “distinguish” or “separate” those who are his from those who are not.
It is this distinguishing type of judgment that is happening in the house on the rock passage. The storm does not represent the negative penalty of condemnation, but rather the discriminating act of judgment at the final judgment that will separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). Actually, the Matthew 25 connection with the house on the rock is strong, because in both contexts there is a distinction being made between those who only call Jesus, “Lord, Lord” and those who are actually his people (compare Matthew 7:22 with Matthew 25:44)
Let me conclude with a quote from James Montgomery Boice:
Building on Christ’s words will also save you in death, for that is what escaping the storm’s destruction actually refers to. This is not merely a matter of finding something that will get you through life, fit to stand against “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” as it were. It is a matter of standing upright at the final judgment and not being carried off to hell by God’s verdict and command. (page 117 The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, Baker Books, 2001)