It’s only a matter of time before all is revealed, says RT Kendall. Either in this life, or the next


Source: Igor Stevanovic / Alamy Stock Photo

“I tell you that on the day of judgement people will have to account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36, CSB).

“For nothing is concealed that won’t be revealed. And nothing hidden that won’t be made known and brought to light.” (Luke 8:17,CSB).

These are the words of Jesus. And they are my least favourite verses in the entire New Testament.

Will all that I have said and all I have done really be revealed openly - in public - on the day of judgement?

I hope not. But according to Jesus, it is only a matter of time when all that is knowable about you and I will be out in the open.

As you may have noticed, some Christian leaders are being found out well in advance of the judgement. It seems that almost weekly another high-profile pastor is accused of serious wrong-doing, often of a sexual nature.

Even as I write these words, some people are biting their nails at what might be revealed in this life.

Many of us would die a thousand deaths were all that is knowable about us be revealed and reported.

All will be revealed?

Will our open sins and secret sins be revealed at the Judgement Seat of Christ?

I had long believed that all our sins are “buried in the sea of God’s forgetfulness”, a phrase loosely connected to the Authorized Version translation of Micah 7:19, but not actually in the Bible. I still hope that this line of thinking is utterly and absolutely true, as I think I would drop dead on the spot if my sins were to be reported now – not to mention at the judgement.

But if all my sins are buried in the sea of God’s forgetfulness, why should Abraham, Jacob, Saul, David, Joab, Uzziah or Hezekiah and countless others have their shortcomings revealed in holy scripture? Why should I get away with my failures and these people be openly found out in their lifetime?

I think I would drop dead on the spot if my sins were to be reported now

God is the judge

The Apostle Paul didn’t seem to fear the final judgement. Instead, he was counting on the truth coming out. When the church in Corinth doubted his integrity and apostleship he replied: “It is of little importance to me that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even judge myself. For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. It is the Lord who judges me. So don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each from God” (1 Corinthians 4:3-5).

I have taken this passage to mean that I too should wait until the Last Day for the truth of any of my own controversies to come out. The Bible is clear that we should never attempt to vindicate ourselves. This is what God does. “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay” (Romans 12:19). When I try to vindicate myself, things invariably get worse. I have learned the hard way to let God do it, but the problem is: we may have to wait a long time!

When I was the pastor of a church in America over 50 years ago, I had some deacons who gave me a lot of trouble. It was an awful time. I turned to a verse that gave me great comfort. It was about the “persecutions and afflictions” that one was enduring. Paul said, “It is clear evidence of God’s righteous judgement that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to you who are afflicted”. Oh good. Yes! Thank you, Lord. I loved it! I wanted external vindication, when everybody would be forced to see my innocence. But something told me to keep reading. Oh dear. My joy was short-lived. “This [vindication] will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, when he takes vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:5-8). If you have been wronged or hurt, then vindication is coming, but you will have to be patient. It may not happen in this life. 

The truth should change us 

Paul seems to take the view that, although our sins are forgiven, there will nonetheless be a judgement that will show how Jesus’ words will be applied. Our idle words will be exposed. So will our injustices, cruelties and misdeeds. This should have a definite effect on our lives now. But does it?

I was brought up in a church that believed you could lose your salvation if you give into sin. What always surprised me was that it did not have much effect on our lives! I will never forget a man in my old church in Kentucky who greatly admired a former pastor. When the pastor resigned and went to another church, my friend went into the world and forgot about living a life of holiness. But when word got out that his old pastor was coming back to preach, he came to church and sat on the front seat with unashamed confidence. Then when the pastor left town, he went back to his sinful habits. The teaching that he would lose his salvation did not seem to bother him the slightest.

But I also knew a man who believed “once saved, always saved” and who took full advantage of this teaching and lived without much regard toward sexual purity. He would say, “I am saved, I cannot be lost no matter what I do”. He had also been taught that a truly saved person would not live like that. That, however, did not seem to matter to him.

I would not want to be in the shoes of those who have been found out. I feel for them

These are just two examples of people who lived contrary to the clear biblical teaching of holiness. Paul said, “For this is God’s will, your sanctification that you keep away from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). He added, “the Lord is an avenger of all these offenses” (v6). This means that those who indulge in sexual immorality and who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ will, sooner or later, be found out and judged. For some it happens in this life. For others, it will come later.

We may imagine that nothing could be worse than being exposed and judged in this life. I would not want to be in the shoes of those who have been found out. I feel for them. But, although I cannot prove this, being exposed on that Day of days will be worse.

I truly don’t want to moralise. I am fully aware of my own weaknesses. But it seems to me that a lack of the fear of God is what is at bottom of sexual promiscuity.

Am I less likely to fall into sin if I am a charismatic (one who believes that the gifts of the Spirit and miracles described in the New Testament are available today)? No. 

Is an Arminian (one who believes in free will and that one can lose their salvation after they backslide) more likely to live a holy life than a Calvinist (one who believes that those born again cannot lose their salvation)? No. 

Are Anglicans more spiritual than Catholics? Do Pentecostals have a better record than Baptists when it comes to sexual purity? Is one who prays in tongues more likely to have stronger will power than one who does not believe in the gifts of the Spirit? Is a person with a genuine prophetic gift more likely to exemplify godliness and integrity than one who does not have any of the spiritual gifts?

No. I cannot see how these things make the difference in one’s character.

So what will?

Only the fear of God.

Unless you fear God and fear his judgement, you too will be susceptible to falling. 

I am sure of this: the sin of adultery is displeasing to God. As more cases of moral failure emerge, I am confident we are seeing God himself rolling up his sleeves in these days to deal with sin in his Church. If this article is a wake-up call to you, then I pray you do the right thing without delay.