God’s judgement is possibly one of the most misunderstood doctrines in the Bible. New believers in Christ who have not had the opportunity to get deep into Bible study and grasp the truth of God’s word have some trouble with this teaching. Those who have simply not taken the time to delve into God’s word and study it, will also find themselves confused about this doctrine. Also, for those Christians who are not Bible students and are not in a local church which teaches the whole counsel of God, they, too, will be confused about this. God’s judgement is spelled out clearly in scripture and if we just take the time to study it, we will have a clear understanding of it. First, we have to realize what God’s word tells us concerning His judgement and when it will take place. Also, we must understand that there are different judgements for those who are Christians and those who are not. There are judgements for the worldly nations when Jesus returns, and finally, a final judgement for all those through time who decided against Jesus as their savior.
One of the problems we face today as Christians is the continuous wrong teaching concerning the way God judges or who and when He judges. First, for the Christian, there is no judgement for sin once a person is saved,
This verse is simple and clear, easy to understand. It is not taken out of context with the writing. For all those who are saved, they are in Christ Jesus and there is no condemnation or judgement for sin awaiting them. The sins of the believers were judged on the cross when Jesus paid the penalty for all who would come to Him.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor. 5:21 NKJV
These scriptures help clear up the confusion concerning any Christian experiencing any judgement for their sin. That is such a glorious thing in our Christian lives; to know and understand what Christ did for us on the cross. It is easy and simple to say, “Jesus died for us.” But, there is so much more to it than that; He paid the price for our sin so we don’t have to suffer the judgement and serve out our sentence of eternity in hell. That is about as blunt as it can be put. Many today don’t like to hear about hell but the truth is, for all those who don’t accept the free gift of salvation, which is available to everyone who ever lived or will live, will suffer eternity in hell! For Christians, the penalty for sin was paid at the cross by Jesus and there is no further judgement for their sin. And, this is available to anyone who accepts Jesus as their savior and makes Him Lord of their life! So, there is no judgement for sin but there is a judgement which believers in Christ will experience. It is the judgement of their works. The work which they did for Jesus and the works not for Jesus.
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. 2 Cor. 5:10 NKJV
The judgement which Christians will experience is for those works after they were saved. Since there is no way we can work and earn our salvation (Eph. 2:8-9), these are the works of our lives after salvation. This is sometimes referred to as The Bema Seat of Christ. The word bema in Greek means judgement seat. So, there is no judgement for sin for the Christian but there will be a judgement for the works of our Christian life. I believe it will be a time of great humility and shame for us. I know, for myself, I will have to hang my head in shame for I will know I did not do as much as I should have or could have for Jesus. Paul talked about this in his first letter to the church in Corinth,
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. 1 Cor. 3:12-14
Of course, the foundation here in this passage is Jesus and it is mentioned in verse 11 of this chapter. So, our works will be tested by the fire and everything we did for Jesus will withstand the flames and all those works of the world or not for Jesus will be burned and consumed by the flames. For the Christian whose works will be consumed by the fire, he/she is still saved (1 Cor. 3:15) and suffer only the loss of their works. One of the first churches I attended after I was saved, the pastor always proclaimed that when he experiences this judgement, he will come out smelling like smoke. I know he won’t be the only one, I will be right there with him.
God’s Judgement of the Nations
This is another teaching that seems to get butchered by some in the Church. Jesus will judge the nations when He returns to earth. The Bible does not speak of any judgement of any nation, during the Church age, prior to that time. There have been some who have declared that the Lord is judging America for abortion and gay marriage and just about any other kind of sin you might think of. When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, many began to proclaim God was judging that city for its sin. But, there was no basis for these claims. After the events of September 11, 2001, many have stepped up and proclaimed God’s judgment on America as an explanation for these events. Where is the proof text in the Bible. The Bible does not mention the USA anywhere in scripture. I was asked many, many times after those tragedies why God would allow that to happen. I was repeatedly ask, “Why would God allow those planes to fly into those buildings?!” For the person who is not saved, there is no way to explain that without explaining who God is and what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. At that point, a person is better equipped to understand. One thing is certain, it was not the judgement of God on this country, it was the work of evil. Satan is behind all the works of evil; he loves to see people suffer because he hates us.
The most popular belief, in much of the Church today, is these events of 911 are the results of a prophecy in Isaiah 9:10. A very popular book, The Harbinger, proclaims that these events are the fulfillment of Isa. 9:10. But, in my opinion, there is some stretching the truth of scripture here. This passage, actually this scripture, must be taken in the context of the entire passage which includes verses 8-21 of Isa. 9. This passage of scripture is specifically aimed at Israel and no other nation or country. Some will say this is a dual prophecy but that is not so. A careful study of this passage will, in no way, indicate any dual prophecy and if that is the case, we can take many prophecies and claim a dual meaning for an event of our time. The author of this book has taken extreme liberties with Isa. 9:10 by trying to use it as a means of explaining the events of 911. The book sets a terrible example for interpreting scripture and can be very misleading for those who read it. In his critique of the book, David James had this to say concerning this problem,
However, because of serious flaws throughout the book, the potential dangers may well outweigh the benefits. Many of the author’s views and ideas as presented in The Harbinger are misguided, having both significant exegetical and theological problems. Additionally, the book could well leave its readers with serious misunderstandings about how to appropriately interpret and apply the Word of God. Not only does The Harbinger fail to reveal a mystery in Isaiah:9:10, but in spite of the much-needed call to repentance, the book presents a danger to believers and unbelievers alike. http://www.thebereancall.org/content/june-2012-extra
Now, of course, everyone will have or form their own opinions concerning this book and its author, but I have to agree with David James concerning the interpretation of the verse. First, there is an unofficial rule to remember when reading or studying scripture. We should read the verses before and the verses after a scripture we find ourselves zeroing in on. We have a saying, “Ten before and ten after.” Read the ten verses before and the ten verses after the scripture in question and put it into a proper context within the chapter or the passage. I am not going to turn this into a critique on The Harbinger. If you want that, go to the above web address and it is there for you. I used The Harbinger as an example because it has taken the Church, and those outside the Church, by storm. In my opinion, it is simply another “fad” book that Christians get caught up in and, believe it as gospel, and fail to check it out against scripture. In this case, it should be simple since it is a single verse taken out of context. I know this will ruffle a lot of feathers in Christian circles but I must be truthful concerning the way I believe and interpret scripture.
So, the judgement of the nations by Jesus will take place when He returns (Rev 19:11-21). There are no Christians involved here since those who are judged are the nations serving the antichrist. I like to think of this judgement not only of the nations of the world but a judgement of all those who oppose Jesus. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus foretells these events.
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 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: Mat. 25:32-33, 41 NKJV
God’s Final Judgement
The last judgement recorded in the Bible is the Great White Throne Judgement. It is found in Revelation 20:11-15 and includes all those who died refusing to accept Jesus as their savior. The world today is so determined to do what it wants to do, in their own way and has absolutely no place for God in their lives. The people in our country, the USA, who are not Christians, see us as foolish, simple-minded, narrow-minded bigots and fools for believing in a fairy tale. They believe the Bible was collaborated by men in order to have it say what it says and wrote by men, only, and never inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bible to them is a book (they don’t understand 66 books in one) that is full of science fiction, inhumane brutality and some feel good messages which are used to brain wash people into believing a lie. Well, there are right on one thing, when I was saved, Jesus washed my brain and cleansed it of all the worldly garbage I was storing up there. So, there are many, many people today who are extremely belligerent toward Christianity. If we take a time out, step back and observe the world, we will be able to see why people are so against Jesus and His Church. When we read the account in Genesis concerning Noah and the building of the ark and the passages of Genesis 6, we see how terrible the people of the world were at that time. Actually, they were so bad, God flooded the earth and wiped them all out, except for Noah and seven family members. Now, listen to what Jesus had to say about that time and the time of His return,
But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Mat. 24:37 NKJV
Can we agree that the people of the world today resemble the people in the time of Noah? Look around at what is going on in this world and this country. We have 50% of the population in this country which supports gay marriage. Gay marriage is legal in nine states and there will be more states jumping on that bandwagon. Ordained ministers are performing some of these marriages and some churches are debating over the acceptance of this abomination. Abortion is an insignificant, passing thing; many people inside and outside the Church support abortion. How can a Christian support abortion? How can they know what the Bible says and support abortion or gay marriage? Christians believe in a form of Godly evolution or an evolution which is part of creation. Our children are taught this lie in public schools along with alternative sexual life styles. So, it is not only those who oppose Christianity, but also some who claim to be Christians, who support these anti-God practices of the world. Now, can we see a similarity with those in the time of Noah? I could go on and on with the evil practices of the world and their firm stance against the Church but, I will let it go right there and get to the point concerning this judgement. The Great White Throne Judgement is the judgement of all those who died not knowing Jesus. There is no second chances here. The Catholic Church has the doctrine of purgatory which is a place where a person can be prayed out of and into heaven. It is a place of being between heaven and hell. According to scripture, there is no such place. When a Christian dies, he is immediately in the presence of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:6,8). Also, there is a verse in the Hebrews which states we don’t get a second chance after death,
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, Heb. 9:27 NKJV
So, for those who die not knowing Jesus, there is no second chance. The only thing that awaits them is judgement and there are no pardons or dismissals in this judgement. Our Lord is just, He is a just God. He can only do what is right. Every person ever born or who will be born, has the same equal opportunity to accept the free gift of salvation. For those who scoff at it and decline to accept, will be judged at this time. If you read the passage, you will see that there is only eternal suffering in hell awaiting these people. I don’t say that with any enjoyment at all. The worst, evil person I know, I wouldn’t wish that on. To suffer in the fires of hell without ever being consumed by the flames is a suffering I cannot fathom, nor do I want to know. It should be a reminder to us that we need to tell as many people as we can about the saving grace of Jesus and then as the Lord allows, tell them what awaits them if they refuse. I know that many scoff when and if we mention the fires of hell and they accuse us of telling fairy tales and exaggerated lies. But, we must let them know and then trust the Lord to work on their hearts.
The judgement of God is real; or should I say, the judgements of God. The judgement of the works of Christians after salvation, the judgement of the nations by Jesus at His return to earth and the Great White Throne Judgement for all those who died not knowing Jesus. These are all in the Bible and can be studied in their proper context. If this is done, there will be less confusion and misunderstanding concerning the judgement of God.