We now come to the final foundation of our faith – eternal judgment, which is essential for us if we want to go on towards maturity in Christ. Knowing this truth will put the fear of God in our hearts and cause us to walk circumspectly so that we may remain faithful till the very end and hit the mark that God has ordained for our lives.
As we die, so shall we be for all eternity. If our direction is towards heavenly things, we will go to heaven, but if we have permitted our heart to turn to the things of the world in our old age, then we shall be drawn by those desires into the pit of hell.
Ecc. 11:3 “… and if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.”
Eternal Judgment – Heaven or Hell
We must be very clear that after this life there is eternal judgment, which will determine whether we go to heaven or hell.
Our salvation is based upon believing that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior.
John 11:26″And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. …
Once saved, not always saved.
However, not everyone who accepts Jesus Christ into their hearts will go to heaven.
Regrettably, many Christians have a tendency to slack and then leave the paths of righteousness, thinking that their past acts of goodness will ensure their entrance into the portals of heaven above.
Ezekiel 18:24 “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.”
Many, including John Bunyan, have had visions of former Christians in hell. In fact, several people have shared of their personal testimony of similar visions. Those who were once born again, but do not continue to walk in the light will be cast into hell. Thus the admonition for us is always to do what is right in the sight of God that we might inherit eternal life!
Several people have given their testimony that although they went to church, they were backslidden and not walking in God’s ways. They died, and to their horror, they were being taken to hell. They pleaded with the angels to give them another chance, and because of God’s great mercy, they were given another opportunity. Today, there are many who go to church on a regular basis, but are “backslidden in heart” (Pro. 14:14). Do not be deceived into thinking, “I am born again, and so it does not matter how I live.” Unless we live a righteous life, we will not receive eternal life.
The real consequence of the doctrine of eternal security is that Christians are deceived into thinking that they can sin and get away with it. Many are walking in great delusion, thinking that they are born again and that they can retain their salvation while continuing in sin. The reality of life is that unless people repent after they have backslidden, they will go to hell.
Manifesting the spiritual gifts is not sufficient proof that people are saved. Some who are used mightily in the ministry do not even make it to heaven because they are not living in obedience to the Scriptures. Our ministry does not save us. It is only Jesus’ blood and righteousness that saves us. We cannot practice iniquity and expect to make it into heaven.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
However, if the wicked repent, they will be saved.
Ezekiel 33:14-16 “Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”
Those who reject Jesus and His words will one day be judged by the very words that they have rejected.
John 12:48 “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him– the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
Jesus spoke on eternal judgment more than He did on the glories of heaven. There are innumerable torments in hell. But the greatest torment of all is to be cut off from God’s presence forever. There is absolutely no hope in hell. Many who attended church and heard the message of God, yet had not embraced it, will forever have a gnawing regret within their being because they had the opportunity to receive salvation but rejected it.
The Lord Jesus Christ will be the presiding Judge on Judgment Day.
John 5:22″For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgments to the Son,”
God’s judgments are according to truth and are contained within His word.
Psalms 119:160“The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”
Rom. 2:2“But we know that the judgments of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.”
God will judge us according to our works.
Romans 2:6“who “will render to each one according to his deeds”
God’s judgment is without partiality. Continuing to walk in the light is what saves us
1 John 1:7-9
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Rom. 2:11“For there is no partiality with God.”
God’s judgment is according to light.
Each person will be judged according to the measure of moral light and understanding made available to him.
Rom. 2:12“For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law”
Those who have knowledge of God’s laws will be judged by that law. That is to say that those who have the light but disobey the light will have greater judgment than those without light who live by the law of conscience.
Those who have no knowledge of God’s laws will be judged by their conscience. Everyone has a conscience that tells them what is right and what is wrong.
However, both Christian and wicked will both perish, if they are unrepentant.
Judgment of Individuals
We have learnt from the last lesson that everyone whether righteous or wicked, will be resurrected from the dead to stand before God in their bodies to receive their judgments.
Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”
We need the fear of the Lord every day because as believers, we are all going to give an account of our lives to our Judge on judgment day.
Romans 14:12“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
Acts 17:30-31″Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Everyone who has died from the beginning of time – the evil and the good, must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, which is the Great White Throne Judgment and this takes place at the end of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.
This will be the most awesome event in the history of mankind – the moment when true justice is meted out for everyone. The face of judgment is so austere that the earth and heaven flee away from the One upon the throne.
Every person has a book written of him where all his deeds and thoughts are recorded and shall be judged accordingly.
Revelations 20:11-12 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who 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, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.’
Everything we do on earth is recorded in that book. And we will be judged according to the works done in the flesh upon this earth. However, this judgment for Christians is not a judgment of condemnation but is for us to receive our rewards.
Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
Romans 2:6, 16“who “will render to each one according to his deeds”:… in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
The all important question is this: Is our name written in the Book of Life? If not, we will be cast into the lake of fire along with all the damned who are in hell.
Rev. 20:15“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Areas in which a Believer will be assessed
Matthew 12:36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
When we appear before the Lord, we will have to give an account of everything we have done in life. We will be punished for every idle word we have spoken. Imagine that! There is a record of every word that we speak. That alone should be enough incentive to only speak the right things.
- Acts of kindnessMatthew 10:42 “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”We will be rewarded for every little act of kindness. Every smile, handshake, word of encouragement, and little kind deed will be rewarded in heaven!
- Life’s works1 Corinthians 3:11-15 “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”The foundation of any true Christian work is clearly Jesus Christ. Upon this foundation all the faithful ministers of Christ build. They receive and propagate the pure truths of the gospel without any corrupt mixture, and without adding to or diminishing from any of its teachings. These ministers are building with gold, silver, and precious stones.
Other ministers build with wood, hay, and stubble upon this foundation. Though they may adhere to the foundation, they depart from the mind of Christ in many particulars and substitute their own doctrines and ideas. None of this will abide in the fire of God. It will all be burned up.
We are not rewarded for salvation. Salvation is a free gift. We are rewarded for what we have built upon this foundation. The things we build upon this foundation represent our life’s works.
Different kinds of works
Our life’s works are the things we preach, teach, and propagate. This involves our time, money, and how we have used our talents, and energy.
Every man’s works are going to be tried by the fire of God. Only divine works, gold, silver and precious stones endure the test of time and temperature. The wood, hay, and stubble will be consumed by God’s fire.
- Gold– speaks of the divine nature. Some ministers preach a true message of holiness. They are building the divine nature into the lives of their people. Gold endures the fire, and their people will make it through the fire.
- Silver – speaks of redemption. Some preachers emphasize beautiful life- changing redemptive truths to their people.
- Precious stones – can speak of the gifts of the Spirit, and also of divine virtues formed by pressure. Diamonds are formed by time and pressure. Pearls represent beauty from suffering.
- Wood – speaks of humanity. A humanitarian emphasis that omits the need for a moral change will leave a man fruitless. An example: A particular tribe in Ethiopia was at the point of starvation. When truck loads of food and medical supplies were rushed in, they revived to full strength but then they went and massacred the neighboring village. The message of feeding the hungry and educating the ignorant will actually do more harm than good if there is no moral change in the lives of those we try to help. Our message of love must include the need for Christ and a changed heart. Otherwise, we will do the people a disservice, and we will have no eternal fruit. Our life’s works will all go up in smoke.
- Hay & Stubble – speak of the glory of man and the ideas and teachings of the natural mind. (Isaiah 40:6-8). Only the truth can endure the fire and the test of time, not the glory of man and his concepts.Some people go to heaven with virtually nothing to present to the Lord. It is the quality, not the quantity of works that determines the rewards.
Once there was a man who had a vision of the judgment seat of Christ. One of the people he saw in the vision was an evangelist. He carried in his hands a tremendous amount of works. The angel at the entrance smiled, took the works and put them into the fire of God. All that came out of the fire was a very little heap. That was all he had left. Most of his life’s works had been reduced to ashes. After that, he saw a little lady. She only had a small pile of works to give to the angel; but after it was placed in the fire, it came through intact. The lady actually had more to show for in eternity than the famous evangelist.
We must make sure that all our works are wrought in God and born of Him. All of our own works and own causes for Christ will come to ashes. If we have fulfilled God’s calling upon our lives. Not only will we have to give an account of the works done in the flesh, but also whether or not we have fulfilled God’s calling upon our lives. Believers are not all equal in heaven. In the same way that the Lord has created the angels differently in order to accomplish different functions and duties, He made each one of us different so that we are equipped to fulfill our earthly ministry and accomplish the eternal task that He has ordained for us.
1 Corinthians 15:41-42 “There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.”
Therefore, we have the responsibility to draw upon the grace of God to be the person that the Lord wants us to be, both in the realm of character and also ability.
The Lord gives each one of us different abilities to fulfill different tasks, but it takes the grace of God for those abilities to develop; and as they develop we will fulfill the ministry that He has sent us into this world to accomplish.
The high calling of God which Paul mentions in Philippians 3:10-14 is to have a better resurrection. It is to know Christ intimately, and to be as close to him in eternity as possible. This is the mark, the prize, the goal.
The prize is to win Christ.
Judgment Criteria for Believers
It is far better to allow God to cleanse our motives when we are young than to come to the end of our life and find that we have labored in vain by building our own kingdom and propagating our own cause. All of us want to have a full reward and not waste our life teaching our own ideas and opinions.
II John 1:8“Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”
Matthew 25:21″His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Faithfulness alone is not good enough. Jesus does not expect us to produce more than we can, but He expects us to produce ALL that we can by His power within us.Matthew 25:28-30 ‘Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. ‘And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’The judgment of God is manifested toward the wicked and unprofitable servant. His judgment is threefold:
- He loses that which he had.
- He sees the diligent enriched by that which was once his.
- He loses an eternity in heaven and is plunged into the blackness of darkness forever.
Let us use that which God has given us for the extension of His kingdom, that indeed we may be those who bring forth one hundredfold.
Judgment of Nations
At the Second Coming of the Lord, there will be a judgment of nations.
This may be likened to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation where each church was assessed corporately (not as individuals) as to their general conduct. Their behavior was reviewed, commended, corrected, or condemned as it merited.
Matthew 25:31-39 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.”All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; ‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? ‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
There are certain nations that will qualify to be in the new earth as given in Matthew 25:35- 40.
Revelations 21:24“And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.”
In addition, only nations who also meet the qualifications of Revelation 21:27 will qualify to be in the new earth.
Revelations 21:27“But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
Jesus is separating the sheep nations from the goat nations. Sheep speaks of submission, and goats of rebellion. The nations are assessed to be a sheep or a goat by their treatment of the poor and the afflicted. Specifically, God is going to judge the Gentile nations by the way they have treated His beloved nation, Israel.
How a nation treats those in need will determine its eternal standing.
Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
We must realize that the way we treat others, in effect, is the way we treat the Lord Himself. The severity of the judgment upon the wicked is now declared in Matthew 25:41-45.
Matthew 25:41″Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, and all the rebellious who follow him. Then they will join the Beast and the False Prophet in the lake of fire as recorded in Revelation 20:10.
Matthew 25:46 – “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
We see one of the great divisions in mankind—the wicked who go into the lake of fire, and the righteous who manifest the fruits of their lives in compassion for others and enter into the joy of their Lord.
Hence, it is better that we judge, examine, and restrict ourselves of evil while we are in this earth and continually ask God for the gift of repentance that we may be transformed into His image.
When God brings judgments to our lives, they are unto life and for our good. Therefore, we should not despise the chastening of the Lord as they will save us from something much worse.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32“For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
With this foundation laid, having completed the study of the elementary truths upon which the faith of very Christian may be firmly build, let us move on to the next level in our Christian walk and by the grace of God, come to perfection at the end.
Heb. 6:1“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection…”