ETERNAL JUDGMENT

OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this post you will be able to:

  • Write the Key Verse from memory.
  • Define the word “judgment.”
  • Explain why judgment is necessary.
  • Identify who will judge at the final judgment.
  • Identify who will be judged in the final judgment.
  • Explain the principles governing final judgment.

KEY VERSE:

For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king.

(Isaiah 33:22)

INTRODUCTION

Eternal judgment is the last of the six foundation principles of the Christian faith.

In the Old Testament the word “judgment” is used two ways. One refers to the statutes, testimonies, and laws of God. The other concerns God’s judgment on men and nations. The latter meaning is how the word “judgment” is used in the New Testament. It is this meaning that is used in this chapter.

DEFINITION

The word “to judge” means to separate or make a difference between. This includes bringing to trial, examining evidence, determining guilt or innocence, and deciding the penalty for sin. Eternal judgment is the great and final judgment spoken of in the Bible which determines the eternal destiny of all souls.

THE JUDGES

GOD IS THE JUDGE:

For the Lord is our judge.   (Isaiah 32:22)

…God the judge of all…    (Hebrews 12:23)

God judges the sinful behavior of mankind. God’s real desire is not judgment but that all men come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ:

For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)

God’s desire is that all men everywhere repent. If they do not repent of sin they will experience

His judgment:

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent;

Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness… (Acts 17:30-31)

JESUS CHRIST:

God has given Jesus authority to judge:

…for He has given all judgment–the last judgment and the whole business of judging–entirely into the hands of the Son…

And He has given Him authority and granted Him power to execute [exercise, practice] judgment, because He is a Son of man [very man]. (John 5:22,27, The Amplified Bible)

THE SAINTS:

In the final judgment true believers will help judge the world:

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 ye shall judge angels?…(I Corinthians 6:2-3)

The word “saints” in this verse means all true believers. They will help judge the “world” [the unrighteous].

THE STANDARD OF JUDGMENT:

The standard by which we all will be judged is the Word of God:

And if any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him:

the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

(John 12:47-48)

It is not the standards, creeds, or traditions of man by which we will be judged. It is not on the basis of organizational or denominational rules. The standard by which we will be judged is the fixed standard of the Word of God:

Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven.     (Psalms 119:89)

THE REASON FOR JUDGMENT

The Bible reveals judgment is necessary because of sin against God’s law, ungodliness, unrighteousness, unbelief, trespasses, and evil deeds. Although these are different words, they are all words for sin:

SIN AGAINST GOD’S LAW:

For…as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.

(Romans 2:12)

UNGODLINESS:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (II Peter 3:7)

To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. (Jude 15)

UNRIGHTEOUSNESS:

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished. (II Peter 2:9)

UNBELIEF:

He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

TRESPASS:

By the offence [trespass] of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation… (Romans 5:18, The Amplified Bible)

EVIL DEEDS:

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)

THE PRINCIPLES OF DIVINE JUDGMENT

Worldly principles of judgment vary from nation to nation. The standards may vary from state to state within a nation and from city to city. Worldly principles of judgment and punishment vary because people interpret certain acts in different ways. The same act interpreted as wrong in one culture may be acceptable in another. For example, killing of a cow is viewed quite differently in America, where it is used for meat, than in India where the cow is considered sacred by some people.

The judgment of man varies because the standards by which they judge vary. But the principles of God’s judgment do not change. God judges…

ON THE BASIS OF THE WORD OF GOD:

God’s law and the principles of judgment are fixed in His Word:

Forever, O Lord, Thy   Word is settled in Heaven. (Psalms 119:89)

ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE:

Men and nations will be judged according to the knowledge of God which was given them. Jesus said some would be judged more severely than the cities of Sodom, Gomorrha, Ninevah, Tyre, and Sidon. These were evil cities mentioned in the Old Testament which God judged and punished.

The reason Jesus pronounced more severe judgment on some New Testament cities was because these cities had more knowledge of God. Jesus Himself had ministered in these cities and performed mighty works of healing and deliverance. Still, the people of these cities would not repent. Jesus warned:

Woe unto thee, Chorazin, woe unto thee Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.

And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to Hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for thee. (Matthew 11:21-24)

The men of Ninevah shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:41)

A general revelation of God is given to all men through the wonders of creation:

For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that we are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

This general understanding of God given to all men through creation is the basic standard by which men will be judged. Those who receive additional revelation by hearing God’s Word will be judged by a higher standard of knowledge.

INDIVIDUALLY:

Each person will be judged individually:

The soul that sinneth it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20)

Judgment determining individual eternal destiny will not be on a group basis. It will be on an individual basis.

ACCORDING TO TRUTH:

Paul wrote:

…But we are sure the judgment of God is according to truth…

(Romans 2:2)

ON THE BASIS OF PERSONAL CONDUCT:

Each of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and will be judged according to our deeds. The Bible also calls this judgment according to ” works”:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in this body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

…Who will render every man according to his deeds.     (Romans 2:6)

…the Father…judgeth according to every man’s work.     (I Peter 1:17)

…the dead were judged out of these things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12)

God’s record of man’s “works” covers not only actions but also thoughts and motives. God looks on the heart, not just on the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7).

WITHOUT PARTIALITY:

The eternal judgment will be without partiality. This means without special favor. People will not be judged on the basis of their wealth, social position, nationality, or education.

…the Father…without respect of persons judgeth. (I Peter 1:17)

To have respect of persons means to be influenced in judgment by some external factor of appearance, relationship, position, wealth, etc.

God’s judgment is not influenced by any of these things:

…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. (I Samuel 16:7)

ACCORDING TO THE LAW:

…as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law.

(Romans 2:12)

ACCORDING TO RIGHTEOUSNESS:

And He shall judge the world in righteousness; He shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. (Psalms 9:8)

…He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth. (Psalms 96:13)

…He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness. (Acts 17:31)

…the righteous judgment of God. (Romans 2:5)

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing. (II Timothy 4:8)

ACCORDING TO MOTIVES AND THOUGHTS:

Therefore judge nothing before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsel of the hearts… (I Corinthians 4:5)

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Romans 2:16)

THE TIME OF JUDGMENT

The Bible indicates there is a past, present, and future judgment:

PAST JUDGMENT:

The Bible is a history of God’s past judgment. From the time of Adam and Eve it records God’s judgment of nations and individuals.

The Bible records two special past judgments that are important to believers. These are the judgments of Satan and the world. God has already passed judgment and set the penalties for both.

-Satan And His Angels:

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God passed final judgment on Satan:

…the prince of this world [Satan] is judged.    (John 16:11)

And having spoiled principalities and powers [the forces of Satan] He [Jesus] made a show of them openly triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15)

Satan has already been judged by God. He is allowed limited activity until he is cast into the lake of fire at the end of the world but he is already condemned as guilty. Satan’s angels, who left their original position in Heaven as angels of God to join him in rebellion, are also already condemned:

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6)

-The World:

Jesus said:

Now is the judgment of this world…     (John 12:31)

Because it is ruined by the presence of sin, the physical world is already condemned by God’s judgment. The Bible says the world will be destroyed by fire:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (II Peter 3:10)

PRESENT JUDGMENT:

There is a present judgment that goes on continuously. All men are presently judged as sinful or righteous before God. The present judgment of man is on the basis of whether or not he has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior:

He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

God’s present judgment on unbelievers is by showing His wrath because they hinder the truth:

For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth… (Romans 1:18, The Amplified Bible)

God’s present judgment of believers is in love.    He corrects them when they do wrong:

…My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him;

For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth…

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons. (Hebrews 12:5,6,8)

Just as a natural father corrects his children, God judges the behavior of His children. If they sin, God corrects them in love just as a father does his son. God’s chastisement [correction] of His children is for a specific purpose:

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:11)

FUTURE JUDGMENT:

It is the future judgment to which Paul refers in Hebrews 6 when he speaks of “eternal judgment.” Eternal judgment happens after death:

It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

(Hebrews 9:27)

As you learned in previous lessons, after a person dies it is immediately determined whether or not he enters the presence of God. The destinies of the righteous and the unrighteous are different after death. But the final judgment confirming their eternal destinies occurs after the end of the world and the resurrection:

I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom. (II Timothy 4:1)

…Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all… (Jude 14,15)

THE LOCATIONS OF FINAL JUDGMENT

There are three locations where final judgment will occur:

THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST:

Those judged here will be all true believers:

…We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.    

(Romans 14:10)

…For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

(II Corinthians 5:10)

THE THRONE OF HIS GLORY:

The second place of judgment is called “the throne of Christ’s glory.” Those judged here will be those who remained on the earth during the tribulation period. The righteous will be resurrected and judged prior to Jesus setting up the Millennial Kingdom on earth.

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. (Revelation 20:4-5a)

THE GREAT WHITE THRONE:

The final place of judgment is called the “great white throne.” Those judged here are the remaining dead who will be resurrected at the close of the Millennium. (This is the second resurrection called the resurrection of the unjust.)

The Great White Throne judgment is recorded in Revelation 20:11-15. The unrighteous will be judged and because of their sin cast into a lake of fire along with Satan and his angels.

ETERNAL JUDGMENT

There will be only two basic divisions of people who are tried in the final judgments: Believers and unbelievers.

BELIEVERS:

Believers will be judged for their works and rewarded accordingly.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

(Romans 14:12)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every man may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

Believers will be judged by how they have built their lives on the foundation of God’s Word:

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… (I Corinthians 3:12-15)

In the natural world, wood, hay, and stubble all grow visibly above the ground. They burn easily. They are examples of works done by believers to be seen by man. The motive for these works was wrong.

Gold and silver are not destroyed by fire. In the natural world, these substances develop below the ground unseen by man. They are an example of works done with the right motive, not done just to be seen and praised by man. They are works which are valuable in God’s Kingdom because they were done with the right motive.

The works of true believers will be judged on the basis of obedience.    The parables of the talents in Matthew 25 and the parable of the pounds in Luke 19 were told by Jesus to illustrate this truth.

In both these parables, servants were judged on the basis of what they had done with what they had been given. They were told to invest funds for their masters. Servants who were disobedient were judged unfaithful.

Just like these parables, our Master has given us a responsibility. That responsibility is known as the Great Commission:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

(Matthew 28:19-20)

We are to take what God has given us, the message of the Gospel, and reproduce it by sharing it with others throughout the world. As we obey this commission, we are investing what God has given us and increasing it.

Some believers have greater responsibilities than others in this commission. Some are called as pastors, evangelists, teachers, etc. But every born-again believer has some responsibility in reaching the world with the Gospel.

Believers will be judged on the basis of their faithfulness to the responsibility God has given them:

Moreover it is required    in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

(I Corinthians 4:2)

Believers will not be judged on the basis of abilities, education, or spiritual gifts. They will be judged on the basis of obedience and faithfulness to what God has given them to do. The judgment of true believers is not one of condemnation. That is, the true believer cannot be condemned to eternal punishment. Through accepting Christ, he already has passed from spiritual death to eternal life:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

A true believer is one who has repented from sin and shown faith toward God by accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior. He is one who has become and lived as a new creature in Jesus Christ. Paul confirmed:

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

When a sinner comes to Jesus his record of former sins is erased by God. When a believer sins, he needs only to repent and confess his sin and God erases it from the record:

If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

UNBELIEVERS:

The unrighteous will be judged and punished for sin. God keeps a record called the “book of life” in which is listed the names of those who have repented, accepted Jesus Christ, and become true believers. Those who have rejected Him will be judged for sin and doomed to eternal punishment. Their names are not in the book of life:

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

It is important to understand that you must live as a new creature in Jesus after conversion. It is possible to be saved and then because of continuing in sin to “backslide” into the old life. The Bible confirms that it is possible to have your name written in the book of life but then have it blotted out because of sin:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (Exodus 32:33)

This is why learning to live a holy life is so important. (We will discuss this in the final chapter on perfection). By overcoming sin in your life, you can be assured God will not blot your name out of the book of life:

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life… (Revelation 3:5)

THE DESTINY OF THE RIGHTEOUS

The righteous are destined to eternal life in the presence of God. The presence of God is called Heaven. In the Bible it is described by several names:

THE FATHER’S HOUSE:

Jesus described it as His Father’s house, a place of home, rest, and fellowship:

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.   I go to prepare a place for you.    (John 14:2)

A HEAVENLY COUNTRY:

The Bible compares Heaven to a country to which we are traveling just as Israel traveled to the

Promised Land:

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:16)

A CITY:

Heaven is compared to a city:

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven… (Revelation 21:2)

The Bible reveals some wonderful things about Heaven.    It is a place of:

HOLINESS:

And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:27)

JOY:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there by any more pain; for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

BEAUTY:

And the building of the wall of it was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. (Revelation 21:18)

SERVICE:

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (Revelation 7:15)

REIGNING WITH CHRIST:

Jesus promised…

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne. (Revelation 3:21)

WORSHIP:

The Bible records that those in Heaven…

…fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.

(Revelation 5:14)

LIGHT AND GLORY:

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it: For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21:23)

A PLACE OF NEW PERSPECTIVE:

Being in Heaven will give us a new perspective on everything:

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. (Isaiah 65:17)

THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD:

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

ETERNAL DESTINY OF THE UNRIGHTEOUS

Hell is the eternal destiny of the wicked.   Hell is a place of:

EXTREME SUFFERING:

And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

MEMORY AND REMORSE:

And in Hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom…

But Abraham said, Son remember that thou in thy lifetime receivest thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. (Luke 16:23,25)

UNSATISFIED DESIRE:

And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water; and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. (Luke 16:24)

CONTEMPT:

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. (Daniel 12:2)

WICKED COMPANIONSHIP:

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

HOPELESSNESS:

When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. (Proverbs 11:7)

ETERNAL PUNISHMENT:

Hell was originally prepared for Satan and his angels. Because of sin, man is also destined for eternity in Hell unless He is redeemed by Jesus Christ:

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)

Punishment for the wicked is eternal. The same word that is used for eternal life in the Bible (John 3:15) and the eternal God (I Timothy 1:17) is used to describe eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:2). If one of these is temporary, then the other two would have to be temporary.

There is no way to escape the conclusion that if God is everlasting and eternal life is everlasting, then so is punishment in Hell. God does not send people to Hell. Man chooses to go there by rejecting Jesus Christ and living a sinful life. God has provided a way of escape from eternal punishment through the plan of salvation. He is not willing that any should perish.

HOW THEN SHOULD WE LIVE?

How should the doctrine of eternal judgment affect our lives as believers?

When writing on the subject of future judgment,   the Apostle Peter answered this question:

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness…

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, blameless. (II Peter 3:11,14)

Understanding of eternal judgment should result in spiritual maturity in the life of the believer.

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