There are three judgments mentioned in the Bible. All three of these judgments are different in nature. The judgment at the house of God is in the present. It is an act of love on the part of God toward his saved elect and is a sign of true regeneration. Only the children of God experience this form of judgment. See Hebrews 12:5-11. The judgment seat of Christ is an event that only the child of God will experience; it is yet in the future. It also is a sign of true regeneration. See Romans 14:10. The great white throne judgment is a future event which involves all those who do not know Jesus Christ as personal Savior. It is an inescapable event at the end of time which will involve everyone who is not born again. See Revelation 20:11-15.
The theme of 1 Peter chapter 4 is suffering for the cause of Christ and the necessity of living a separated life unto God. The example of suffering is set forth as Christ being the example in the previous chapter 3:18-22. In a brief outline of 1 Peter 4 we may observe that: in verse 1, they are exhorted to arm themselves with the same mind of Christ (Philippians 3:6-8). Verses 2-4 shows that they should not be well thought of by the world; for it is condemned by the great and holy Judge (3:15-17). Verses 7-11 they are urged to have a kind and loving attitude toward one another (Philippians 2:1-4). Verse 12-14 they should not be surprised when persecutions come as a result of their testimony in Christ (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3). Verses 15-16, if their suffering or judgment by the world be not for crimes which are against the law of God, but for their testimony in Christ they shall be blessed in that and in the end (2:20); Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. See 2 Timothy 2:8-13. It is important that you follow up with the secondary passages in the outline of this chapter.
Judgment at the House of God: 1 Peter 4:17 For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God? 1 Corinthians 11:32 says, But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Judgment for the “house of God” is not meant to be punishment. It is a form of testing and chastening. There are many definitions given for the word chasten such as: “to train children; to be instructed or taught or learn; to cause one to learn; of those who are molding the character of others by reproof and admonition.” Then there is the negative aspect of chastening such as: “of God, to chasten by the affliction of evils and calamities; to chastise with blows; to scourge.” The judgment as the house of God can be either for the individual or for the whole church body. It is temporary, and always for the good. All those afflictions which God brings upon his children are for their reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, trial of faith, and mortification. Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Judgment helps remind us of these instructions that we may walk in integrity before God; that we might walk worthy of our vocation. It is according to the works of the saints and is for the purpose of cleansing; 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. These sufferings and afflictions are but for a time, and even as it is for a moment, for a little while; it is a reason for the saints should glorify God.
But keep in mind the statement of Peter: For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God… This involves church discipline. Church discipline is not only for the good of the individual, but for the good of the Lord’s body in general. We shall continue these thoughts next time, Lord willing.