Various Judgments of the Bible
Various Judgments of the Bible
By James Griffin
In the Bible there are different variations of judgments upon believers and other groups of people. Nations, individuals and distinctions of people have to account to Christ at His throne one day for their deeds, whether they are good and evil. How does the Bible explain these judgments, and what is required to qualify for approval? Does our good deeds have to outweigh the bad? Is there only one judgment? Does religion count? Let us look into what the Bible says.
In the book of Daniel, there is a glimpse of the future judgment of God upon mankind, and it is explained as thus: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool; his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened... And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." (Daniel 7:9-10, 12:1) This is the earliest account of judgment, but who is the one on the throne? The Bible tells us Christ will be the judge from this account in the book of Revelation: "...And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.... His head and his hairs were as white like wool, and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters." (Revelation 1:5-7, 14-15)
Jesus Christ is the Judge mentioned here, and Christ has declared Himself the Judge: "For the Father judgeth no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him." (John 5:22-23) So the Bible has confirmed that Christ is the Judge, but which judgment will take place first, and who is it for? According to the teachings of Paul, the first group of individuals to be judged will be the church. Why is this? Scripture teaches that the church will be the first group of believers to meet Christ face to face: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1Thessalonians 4:16-17) The Rapture event will usher forth the first judgment, as explained by Paul: "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:9-12) This Judgment Seat of Christ is also explained in greater detail by Paul here: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2Corinthians 5:10)
The Judgment Seat of Christ
It appears during the Rapture of the church, believers will be transformed (1Corinthians 15:51-54) and will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. The question is, why does the church and her redeemed people have to be judged? We are saved already, correct? Yes, but this is not a judgment of condemnation. This judgment deals with our deeds, thoughts, and words and intents. Where can we find this? Observe: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (actively homosexual) nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." (1Corinthians 6:9-10) We know that at this judgment believers will experience an extensive examination of our deeds, actions, thoughts and words. Anything in our life that take away and distracts us from living holy and glorifying Christ will be lost, or some of our eternal rewards may be lost. Anything gained from our attitudes, witness, living, prayer, and offerings (money or material) to the poor or ministries will be counted gain for God. How would we know this? Paul states it here: "Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1Corinthians 3:12-15)
It appears we will not be condemned, but our actions and deeds on earth prior to the Rapture will determine what we will gain or lose from our judgment. That is why we must: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.." (2Corinthians 13:5) Everything we do is going to be examined at the judgment. The Bible is not trying to tell you to work yourself to death for the sake of rewards. The Bible tells us: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) It is the grace of God and His free gift of salvation that gives us the response to do good deeds. (James 2:14-26) We do not do good things to get saved and reap heavenly rewards; we do it in response to our salvation. More faithful Christians will receive more honor, rewards, joy and blessings, while less faithful Christians will receive less, based on their lifestyle and attitudes. (Revelation 3:15-19) How much of your life and time do you devote to Christ? Are you too busy? Do you study your Bible or do you spend hours in front of television? Would you live the way you do presently if Christ was there in person? All these things we should consider when living for God in these last days before we are received by the returning Lord.
Judgment of the Nations
We have examined the Judgment Seat of Christ for Christians. There is a second judgment, however, and it deals with more future events. It appears that this second judgment will take place on earth after the dreadful days of the Great Tribulation. Jesus will come to earth with the church (Jude verses 14-15, Revelation 19:11-16) and execute judgments on the nations of the world. (Matthew 24:29-31) This particular judgment is called the Judgment of the Nations because Christ deals with each individual nation and its people for their deeds toward or against Israel. (Matthew 25:31-46) Those involved in the nations who were kind to Israel during the Tribulation and maybe throughout history will be judged as the "sheep." (Verses 35-36) Those involved in the nations who persecuted and mistreated Israel will be judged as the "goats." (Verses 41-46) You can see those involved with the nations that were unfaithful and hostile towards Israel will not inherit the Millennium Kingdom of Christ and David. (Isaiah 66:13-24, Revelation 20:4-6) Notice how the "sheep" go on to populate and replenish the earth during the thousand years while the wicked who somehow survived the Tribulation go on to torment. (Revelation 21:7-8)
There will be a resurrection once Christ comes to judge after the Tribulation. This resurrection will include Old Testament and the Tribulation Saints who were beheaded by the Antichrist because they refused to receive the mark and worship his image. (Revelation 15:2, 20:4) Remember how the Rapture of the church took place where the "dead in Christ" were resurrected and translated first? Well this happens again at the end of the Great Tribulation: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6) This event is the day Christ comes to earth to judge the nations and prepare the earth for the millennium. In Revelation 20:4 John the Apostle saw thrones, and those who sat on them. It appears at this judgment the Old Testament and the saints from the raptured church judge Tribulation Saints: "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?" (1Corinthians 6:2-3) After the Judgment Seat at the Rapture, the church saints are given authority: "...And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:10) At the conclusion of this second judgment, there is yet one more group that is to be judged. These are the unsaved- the ones who rejected Christ's grace and free gift of salvation.
Great White Throne Judgment
The third Judgment is quite sobering. Daniel and John seem to have witnessed the same event- the Great White Throne Judgment. In this judgment, the wicked dead from all generations and ages are present, and the books are opened. At the other two judgments, the books were not the issue. The previous judgments detailed the intimate and extensive examination of our deeds and the approval of our faith. Here in this judgment, the books are opened: "A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened... And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt....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." (Daniel 7:10, 12:1-2, Revelation 20:11-15)
The Books of Judgment
There has been great debate over what the books are and what is contained in them. According to the Bible the following books will be present: The Book of Life (Revelation 20:15) describes a list of the name of every person that ever lived. This listing includes all regardless of faith. The Book of Man's Works (Revelation 20:12-13) describes deeds, intents and consequences of such. The Book of the Law (Galatians 3:20) will be used since the Law (not Temple ordinances and sin sacrifices) is still holy, just and good. (Romans 7:12) The Word of God. (John 5:22-23) Since Christ is the Righteous Judge,
so is His Word, the Bible.
The Holy Bible has by far warned us in advance of our actions and decisions for so long. It is thus fitting it is one of the books at this judgment. Finally, the Lamb's Book of Life. (Revelation 21:27) This special book lists the names of all who confessed Christ into their lives and hearts by faith and continued in Christ until the end. It is this book that would be most painful to endure at this judgment. It would be quite devastating to imagine someone who spent their entire life being religious, going to church and doing good deeds. However, they never accepted Christ in their heart and never repented from their secret life of sin because they felt religion and church was enough. It never occurred to them that the weird Jesus People who warned them and preached to them were right- but it never got through because to them religion and church was enough. It never occurred to them the Bible was the only truth, and in turn the Bible only got attention on Sunday mornings and gathered dust on the shelf throughout the week. It never occurred to them that Christ did not know them- even though they cried, "Lord, Lord." (Matthew 7:21-23) And simply because they did not confess Christ into their heart and life by His Grace and their faith they are subject to this judgment of condemnation. The powerful yet gentle hands of Christ turn each page of the Lamb's Book of Life, searching for the name of that person, but unable to find it. Every individual at the Great White Throne Judgment will be cast into the lake of fire.
The Judgments of God are so important for us to remember, for holy living and a firm witness cannot be accomplished without it. The immediate return of Christ at the Rapture has a purifying effect: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1John 3:2-3) It is for this reason Paul the apostle preached day and night with tears (Acts 20:31) and defended the gospel from distortion and false doctrines. (1Timothy 6:3-5, 2Peter 2:1-3) Let us continue to strive for the precious prize of eternal life in Christ Jesus and help many to avoid the worst worldwide tyranny of global dictatorship to come.