“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, NKJV)
The apostle Peter speaks of judgment commencing at God’s house. Since it has been almost two thousand years since he wrote this, we can safely conclude what started then continues to be true now. God’s house is the church (Heb. 3:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:15). So, we readily admit the church of Christ has and will undergo judgments. Judgment in this verse means “the process of judgment (separation) leading to a decision” (Vine, I:222). Peter has been discussing intense persecutions already happening to Christians. He said God’s people should not think it a strange (foreign, novel) thing when trials come upon us (1 Pet. 4:12). Instead, he exhorts us to “rejoice” since such trials are our fellowship with the sufferings of Christ (1 Pet. 4:13; Phil. 3:10). God blesses and comforts Christians who suffer for His name’s sake. Accepting reproach for our faith without shame, we are to glorify God in the name “Christian” (1 Pet. 4:14-16). To be ashamed of being a Christian judges us unworthy of Christ (Mk. 8:38). Suffering for one’s faith in Christ separates the faithful from those who abandon their faith to escape reproach. Thus, persecution has the effect of judging Christians. It separates the unfaithful from the righteous. Since Christians are saved through such difficulties, it becomes obvious that those who “do not obey the gospel of God” will not be saved (1 Pet. 4:17, 18).
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Corinthians 11:27–29, NKJV)
Some read this verse, and upon examining their spiritual life they conclude themselves to be unworthy to eat the Lord’s supper. But look closer. The point of this verse is not one’s character, but one’s conduct while eating the supper. (If a Christian has sins preventing proper worship, then repentance and confessional prayer assures God’s forgiveness, Acts 8:22-24; 1 Jno. 1:9. When one’s sins are forgiven he or she is indeed worthy to eat the supper and to offer other worship to God.) Today’s verse requires us to examine ourselves concerning the manner in which we eat the supper. It warns us against eating it “in an unworthy manner.” This happens when we fail to eat the supper as a memorial of Christ’s body and blood (v. 23-26). The Corinthians had turned it into a selfish meal that provoked division in the church. This perverted the purpose of the Lord’s supper made their worship vain (1 Cor. 1:18-21). If we do not remember Christ’s body and blood when we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are guilty crucifying the Lord. Such a damning judgment reflects how serious it is to eat the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.
45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:45–46, NKJV)
Will you judge yourself unworthy of everlasting life? According to the apostle Paul, that depends on your response to the gospel of Jesus Christ that he preached. In the absolute sense of sinless perfection, none of us are worthy (fit) of eternal life, since we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, 9-10). The wages of sin is death, but God’s gift is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). In today’s verse, Paul specifically says when people reject the gospel they judge themselves unfit for eternal life. While eternal life is God’s gift, it is not without conditions (Matt. 7:21). To oppose the gospel and to contradict its conditions of salvation is to render a damning judgment against oneself. (The gospel conditions of salvation are to believe, repent, confess faith and be baptized, Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38.) How do you judge yourself in this matter? That depends on whether you accept or reject the apostolic gospel.