Satan has blinded many today concerning the judgment of God. In some religious circles, the emphasis is so upon love until many have a distorted, unbalanced apprehension of the true nature and character of God. You would be led to believe by their one-sided view that God is so in love with man, regardless of his sin and rebellion, until judgment has no place in God’s program.
These little booklets contain messages not ordinarily found in religious literature today. They represent no voice or official organ of any church or denomination. The author desires to stay as free as possible from all groups and associations that would hinder or confine his God given convictions.
However, he fully realizes he is simply one member of Christ’s great body and therefore not complete in himself. So it is with this understanding these messages are sent forth desiring not only to strengthen and enlighten Christ’s Church but to submit the same for confirmation to those who have Christ in them.
“But we are sure that THE JUDGMENT OF GOD is according to truth against them which commit such things.” Rom. 2:2.
The Bible is filled with many examples of the judgment of God. Sometimes it affects the whole earth such as the flood in the days of Noah. Sometimes it is a national judgment. At others, families or households are judged. Last of all, God judges single individuals. Very often God’s judgment falls not on just the wicked unbeliever, but on his own people also. Regardless of whom or how severe the judgment, it is always “according to truth.”
God is a righteous judge and the penalty always suits the crime — not as we may see or think, but according to the righteous judgment of God who judges not after the hearing of the ear or the seeing of the eye.
Then too, God’s judgment doesn’t always come as soon as, or in the manner, we might expect it, but it comes just the same.
Satan has blinded many today concerning the judgment of God. In some religious circles, the emphasis is so upon love until many have a distorted, unbalanced apprehension of the true nature and character of God. You would be led to believe by their one-sided view that God is so in love with man, regardless of his sin and rebellion, until judgment has no place in God’s program. I tell you such is not the case. Consider the following quotations which could be multiplied thousands of times if we had time and space: “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” Psalm 7:11.
“... for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” Exodus 20:5b.
“Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.” Rom. 2:9.
“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” I Peter 3:12.
Now among many of the questions we shall answer in this message, we have the following: Who does God judge? How does he judge? When does he judge? First, let us consider:
Hebrews 10:30 says, “For we know him that hath said, vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, THE LORD SHALL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”
The Lord is ever working with those who are his to perfect them, make them bear much fruit and conform them to the image of his glory. Eph. 4:11-12; Heb. 6:1; John 15:2; Rom. 8:25-30. During this process of teaching and spiritual growth, the Lord has to discipline and correct his children even as an earthly father would discipline his earthly children. Sometimes this spiritual discipline can be very severe and grievous. But, as the scripture says, “nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Heb. 12:5-11.
This discipline and correction is simply God’s way of judging and whipping his children for sin and disobedience. Heb. 12:6 calls it chastening and scourging. The word “scourgeth” in Heb. 12:6 comes from the Greek word “mastigoo” and literally and figuratively means “to flog, beat or whip” even as criminals were scourged by the Roman flagellum during the days of Christ. It is the same word that is used for the scourging of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 19:1.
But the Lord, in his goodness, would have us walk in the light and thus avoid the severity of the divine scourge. He has given us the Holy Spirit and his Word to teach and convict us as we travel this pilgrim’s pathway. John 16:13; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6.
The Holy Spirit convicts and checks us when we transgress or fail to walk in the light. It is then up to us to correct our mistake or repent of our misdeed. Obedience to this divine check will save us many lashes from the hands of our heavenly Father who loves us and chastens us for our own good. Heb. 12:5-6.
Every Christian has his share of this divine discipline. Mere professors can, and often do, do many things and get by with it, but not the true children of God. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If we endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers (all sons of God are partakers), then are ye bastards and not sons.” Heb. 12:6-8. In simple present day language, God teaches, convicts and whips his children as they need it.
Those who do not receive this chastening may claim to be his, but they are bastards and not sons. In other words, though they profess they are born of God, he is not their true father.
The Lord first speaks to our heart and we are convicted by that heavy, grieved and burdensome feeling. It is actually the Holy Spirit which is grieved and this is God’s way of checking and letting us know. Humble repentance at this point will often deliver you from further chastening, depending, of course, on how much light you have sinned against. Remember, God’s judgment is always “according to truth against them which commit such things.” Rom. 2:2.
Regardless of the consequences, God’s children cannot afford to continue in a state of disobedience. I Peter 5:5-6 says “... God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” The foregoing scripture is written to Christians.
Continued disobedience or rejection of light will surely bring God’s judgment down upon the believer. This judgment can come in many forms and ways. Much of the sickness and ill health of Christians is caused by disobedience to spiritual and natural laws that God has ordained for our good. Exodus 15:26 and Deut. 28 clearly teaches transgression of God’s divine laws will bring the terrible curse of disease, sickness and death.
This principle of divine judgment is not confined to the Old Testament alone. In I Cor. 11:17-34, we have a classic example of how God judges even Christians for disobedience. In this case, some of the Corinthian believers were coming to the Lord’s supper in a drunken and gluttonous manner. In verse 30 Paul tells them, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” Not only were some of them sick and physically weak, but many had died.
In verse 31, the apostle tells them that self-judgment would keep the Lord from judging, and it will be noted by the careful student that the apostle uses the pronouns “we and ourselves,” which, of course, simply means he includes himself.
In verse 32, he states that when the Lord judges, he also chastens, “that we should not be condemned with the world.” Hallelujah! Though it is grievous at the time of the chastening, it is because we are his and he is whipping us for our own good that we be not condemned with the world.
Although the believer is in mind here, unbelievers also suffer in their bodies and minds when they break the laws which God has ordained for the good of the human family. The principle of sowing and reaping applies to saint and sinner alike. For example, many are dying from lung cancer today because they have, for years, broken God’s law, both spiritual and natural, in smoking cigarettes. The scripture plainly teaches that we are to “... cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” II Cor. 7:1.
God’s Word also teaches that he will destroy us if we defile our body which is the temple of the Holy Ghost. I Cor. 3:16-17. Though this type of judgment is the result of reaping things sown in the flesh over a period of time, God often moves more swiftly and directly when we sin against great light.
Take, for example, David who committed a terrible sin in taking another man’s wife and having the man put in a place where he would be killed. II Sam. 11, 12. For this terrible sin, God smote the child born to David and Bathsheba despite the fact that David fasted and prayed seven days. II Sam. 12:14-23.
This was just the beginning of David’s reaping for his great sin. His life was filled with sorrow, shame, heartache and bloodshed as a result. He was told by the prophet of God that evil would be raised up against him in his own house and that the sword would never depart from his house. One of his sons, Amnon, raped his half sister; another son, Absalom, killed Amnon in cold blood and had to leave home, family and kingdom. Later returning, he led a rebellion against his own father whom he tried to kill as he temporarily took the kingdom. While reigning over the kingdom, Absalom went in to his father’s concubines and, in open shame, brought further disgrace upon David.
In the end, Joab, David’s captain over the army, double-crossed David and killed Absalom though David had given orders not to harm him. What an awful price to pay for that sin — the rest of his life.
Even today God judges his people according to the light they have. I have known of precious babies and children being taken from mothers and fathers who were saved but sinned against light. Many of God’s people suffer in their body because of sin. Many go to an early grave with terrible diseases because they will not walk in obedience before the Lord. Shame and disgrace are brought upon many Christian homes because the parents refuse to serve the Lord. Often it is through the children.
It’s true that God’s people are saved and secure because of the precious blood of Christ. But he judges and chastens them when they sin. He will even take them in death if necessary. The early church understood this truth and was commanded by the Apostle Paul to turn one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (death of physical body) that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. I Cor. 5:1-5. This is what John referred to as the sin unto death. I John 5:16.
It is simply judgment upon a believer that takes the physical life. It is no special sin, simply sin against light that brings reproach upon the Lord or great injury to the cause and body of Christ.
Ananias and Sapphira committed the sin unto death. Acts 5:1-10. King Saul, though God’s anointed, committed the sin unto death. Yet, he and Jonathan went to where Samuel, the prophet, was when they died. I Sam. 28:19. Read of how David mourned and lamented over the death of Saul and Jonathan. II Sam. 1:17- 27.
Even Moses, the meekest man in all the earth, disobeyed the Lord and had to die in the mount without going into the promised land. Num. 20:12. In the 7th verse of Deut. 34, the scripture says, “And Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.” There was nothing wrong with Moses physically. The Lord just put him to sleep in the mount because of his sin and would not let him go into the promised land.
All of the foregoing judgment has to do with this life. Now I want to consider the believer and the judgment seat of Christ. Some would have us believe that since our sins were placed on Christ that we will not be judged. This is true so far as the PENALTY of sin is concerned. We have been redeemed from the curse of the law through the death of Christ on the cross. This is a once and for all finished work. Rom. 5:19; 10:4; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 10:10-19.
Please notice in verse 10 of Heb. 10 “once for all,” verse 12 “one sacrifice,” verse 14 “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” and verse 18 which says, “now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
True enough, men are saved only once and the perfect, imputed righteousness of Christ is placed to their account. This is what is meant in verse 14 where the scripture says, “For by one offering he hath (not will, hope to, or maybe) perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
Let’s remember God “calleth those things which be not (not yet manifested) as though they were.” Rom. 4:17, Gen. 17:5. This great sovereign God said to Abraham, “For a father of many nations have I made thee.” And this was at a time when it was humanly impossible for Sarah to have children. But the word of the Lord to Abraham was fulfilled and Isaac was born in process of time. Hallelujah!
God also looked down the stream of time from the very foundation of the world and saw every one of his children. Eph. 1:4-5. Not only did he see us, but he saw us PERFECTED FOREVER. Because of this great truth, the inspired writer wrote these words, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us who can be against us? He that spared not his Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is ever at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” As it is written, “For thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:28-39.
Praise God forever! He not only sees us as saved forever, but actually sees us glorified yonder in heaven. In God’s eyes and reckoning, we are a finished product, complete in Christ. Col. 2:8-10. “... complete in him.” What can be added to something that is complete?
Though God’s children are forever redeemed from the curse of the law, they are responsible as to how they use their life and talents after coming to a saving knowledge of Christ. They can be humble, obedient and cooperative, and as a result, gain great rewards.
Redemption and eternal life is as a result of the sacrifice of Christ and faith in the precious blood. Rewards are the result of faithful obedience after being brought to Christ. Though our sins are washed away in the blood and our names recorded in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of this world, we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Rev. 17:8, Rom. 14:10-12, II Cor. 5:10. Every Christian will have to go before this judgment seat and face his life after coming to a saving knowledge of Christ. Paul tells us of six kinds of material we can build with. Some of it will not stand the fiery test of the judgment seat and it will be burned up. Those whose works are burned will “... suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” I Cor. 3:10-15.
Let’s not deceive ourselves. This judgment will be thorough and severe. The very words we have spoken and the thoughts of our heart are going to be brought out in the open. Matt. 12:36-37, I Cor. 4:5.
Many are going to this judgment seat (though saved as by fire) filled with remorse and shame as they meet him face to face who died to redeem them from their sins. John had this in mind when he said, “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” I John 2:28.
Due to the fact the Bible definitely teaches God’s chastening and judgment upon the believer for sin, many are puzzled as to why so many church members can live as they please and receive no reproof. Let’s not forget that joining most churches and being born again are two different things.
There are literally multitudes of professing Christians who have only an intellectual faith and, at heart, are lost unbelievers. It is necessary to continually make this distinction because so many are deceived as to what it really means to believe in Christ.
This accounts for so many professing Christians being able to live such inconsistent, and often immoral, lives and get by with it. God’s children cannot. Remember Heb. 12:6-8 says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if we be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
Because Christians have not understood this truth, they have often stood in amazement and wondered how certain professing believers could live such shoddy lives and still call themselves Christians..
Let’s bear in mind “... The Lord knoweth them that are his” and has commanded “... every one that nameth the name of Christ to depart from iniquity.” II Tim. 2:19. Disobedience on the part of the child of God will bring divine chastisement, but the unbeliever, though a professing Christian, will escape this divine reproof as long as he does not directly oppose Christ and the kingdom of God. He may live to a ripe old age and enjoy the common blessings of God. He may live in a Christian community and nation but still die an unbeliever whose eternal lot is the lake of fire.
In reality, the unbeliever often fares much better in this life than a genuine Christian. This fact was a great grief to the Psalmist who couldn’t understand why he was plagued and chastened all the day long, while the wicked prospered and were not in trouble as other men. Later, he went into the sanctuary of God and there learned their end and realized how foolish he had been to envy the wicked. Psalm 73.
This is a true principle brought out in other places. Heb. 11:24-26 says, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of reward.”
True it is, the wicked often prosper and fare well in this world, but what about their end? Balaam, the hireling prophet, saw this and said, “... Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” Num. 23:10.
Though it is quite possible for the unbeliever to live out his days in good health and prosperity, there are some things God will not tolerate or pass over until the final day of judgment. When unbelievers become an instrument in the hands of Satan to hinder or oppose the kingdom of God, they are subject to be judged and cut off before their time.
The angel of the Lord smote King Herod and he died because he took the glory that belonged to the Lord. Acts 12:20-25.
Elymas, the sorcerer, was smitten with blindness because he tried to turn a man away from Christ whom Paul was trying to win. Acts 13:6-11.
The wicked sons of Eli were killed because of the reproach they brought upon Israel and the priest’s office. I Sam. 2,3,4.
In the 16th chapter of Numbers, we have the account of divine judgment upon Korah and other wicked men who opposed Moses. The ground opened up and swallowed some and fire from the Lord consumed 250 others who intruded into the priest’s office.
All of these are Bible examples of wicked and foolish men who were judged for their sin by an angry God. The wicked may swindle, cheat, lie and live an immoral life for many years before his sins find him out. But the one thing God moves in swift judgment against is those who oppose or sin against great light.
I could tell you of numerous cases where God’s judgment fell upon those who tried to destroy the ministry of men of God. Some were smitten with terrible diseases and died. Some lost their children through unexpected death. And still others were brought to shame and disgrace in other ways.
In two instances, young men in good health were completely paralyzed. One of them repented, joined the church, recovered and was still living the last time I heard of him. The other one continued on so far as I know and died after a brief reprieve.
A Baptist brother and personal friend of mine who has been mightily used of the Lord to shut men up to God has had many experiences of God’s judgment falling upon those whom Satan used to hinder the work of Christ in his ministry.
One man in an influential position in a large church where this brother was holding a revival campaign learned the same lesson that Elymas did in Acts 13:8-11. This man who began to oppose the meeting by refusing to attend and calling up the other church members and trying to persuade them to also boycott the meeting was smitten stone blind by an angry God. However, this story ended well because the man came to church and was led down the aisle where he publicly confessed his sin to the evangelist, the pastor and the whole church. Needless to say, there was a time of great rejoicing and the fear of the Lord came upon many as God moved in revival power. The man’s eyes were also healed as soon as he confessed his sin.
On another occasion, seven deacons who walked out and began to bitterly oppose the meeting this brother was holding in their church died in one week’s time. Some were suddenly taken ill and died and the rest died as a result of various accidents.
When these men joined hands in an evil alliance to stop this meeting, the pastor and evangelist joined hearts in prayer to God that he would either convert them or kill them and get them out of the way. In one week’s time, they were all dead and a revival came to that church.
Prov. 29:1 says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” We have actually quoted this verse of scripture to some who shortly thereafter were suddenly destroyed without warning.
As we approach the end of this age and greater and greater light is shed, the judgment of God will once again become swift and sure against those that hinder the kingdom of God. The more light men have, the greater their responsibility and more severe the judgment of God, which is according to truth.
In fact, God’s judgments are in the earth today all around us if we could just realize it. Man’s blindness keeps him from seeing the hand of God in the terrible things that are befalling humanity. Violence, terrible accidents, suicide and dreaded diseases are common happenings to most of us. Yet, we fail to see any significance in this due to our blindness and lack of fear of the Lord. A lame effort to explain these things away by attributing them to happenstance or non-relative circumstances is usually made. But none dare say it is the result of the judgment of Almighty God.
Some cases I know of have been used to immortalize the person judged by making martyrs out of them. I know of one preacher who became so terribly exalted until the Lord had to take his child in judgment. This was only used to make a martyr out of the child and capitalize on the death of the innocent to exalt the preacher and his church even more.
Getting farther away from the fear of the Lord, this man was literally turned over to the devil who drove him to grievous sin and immorality. In the end, a demon possessed woman who he was having an affair with shot him to death. And though it was proven in a court of law by many reliable witnesses that the man was guilty, the church only made a martyr out of him and continued to exalt his name.
Because of so little judgment in the church, the Lord has to take things into his own hands and mete out judgment independently of the church. However, this is not the way it should be done, especially where members of Christ’s body, the church, is concerned.
This is also the reason the Lord cannot bless the church with his power and presence. Judgment must begin first at the house of God. When it does, the church will indeed become more terrible and feared than a mighty army with banners. Song of Sol. 6:4.
When judgment comes to the church, Ananiases and Saphira’s will once again be smitten right in the assembly of the saints and we won’t have to worry about the uncircumcised and unclean coming in among us. Isaiah 52:1, Acts 5:1-13.
The most terrible day since God created man will come when the unbeliever faces a holy God for his sins. Imagination cannot capture nor words convey the horror and anguish of soul that will grip every lost man, woman, boy and girl on that day. Revelation 20:11-15 says, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
On that day, the complete record of lives will be opened for all to see. Lives will be made bare and open before the court of the universe. Hidden sins of indescribable wickedness shall be brought out in the open for all to see and hear. This is the final day of retribution when wicked, unbelieving men face God and their sins. Innocent lives they have taken will be there to testify against them. Those they have robbed, cheated and defamed will be there as witnesses of the state against them.
Adulterers, fornicators and whoremongers will face those whose lives, homes and characters they destroyed. Multitudes of little innocent children will be there to testify against drunken fathers and mothers who never cared for their soul. Multitudes of all classes of professing Christians will be there to face their hypocritical lives. Preachers, deacons, elders, stewards, Sunday School teachers, priests and nuns will be there to face the Christ they never really knew and loved.
Let’s note from the Word of God a few expressions of the feelings of those who come to this time and place unprepared. According to Rev. 6:15-17 and 20:11, men will seek to flee and hide from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, but there will be no hiding place. Men hide their sin and wickedness now but they will not be able to hide on that day.
Rev. 6:15-17 says, “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
Think of it! Men will be crying for the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from the face of him that sitteth on the throne.
Luke 13:28 says, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” The wicked shall be weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth as they observe the righteous sit down in the kingdom but themselves lost for eternity. Think of the stark horror of soul to realize that all hope is gone forever. Matt. 13:40-42 says, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
I have been present many times when loved ones have been taken in death from their families and have heard the bitter cries of anguish over their earthly loss. Some cases are much harder than others, especially where it is a young person such as a son or a daughter who is taken suddenly without warning. The loss is so great at times until it seems we can’t stand it.
But think of that awful day when millions upon millions of lost human beings are all weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth at one time. Matt. 24:30 says, “... then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” This universal mourning will be because they realize at last the Bible is true, Christ’s coming is real and all hope for them is gone. This loss will be for eternity.
No wonder Jesus said it is better to cut off our hand, our foot or pluck out our eyes and enter into life maimed than into hell where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:43-48. This is also the reason he whose name is not found written in the book of life, will be cast into the lake of fire. This is the final disposition of all unbelievers. Their cases will be closed. Their doom sealed for eternity. Court will be dismissed forever and the judgment throne destroyed.
God, the father of just men made perfect, will enter into his eternal rest with all his redeemed creation. The memory of sin and lost men will be blotted out for eternity.
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Rev. 21:7- 8.
Thank God, the blood has been shed and the sin debt paid for those who put their trust in him. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36.
Have you made peace with Jesus yet? If not, do it right now and write me a letter and tell me about it.
Your unworthy friend,
C. Parker Thomas