“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” (Heb 6:1-2)
So we need to examine the Scriptures and see what is meant by eternal judgment.
Its Eternal Consequences
First of all, based on the passage above, it is eternal in nature in that the decision rendered by God at that point is irreversible and final. As Jesus taught, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Mt 25:46). It determines the eternal destination of the person being judged, so it is permanent. And in light of the tremendous glories of heaven, as well as the enormous horrors of hell, the consequences of this judgment are of the utmost seriousness.
One Judgment for All Mankind
Jesus taught one judgment seat for all mankind. "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.” (Mat 25:31-33)
At the judgment, all the nations will be gathered before Him. The Father has entrusted all judgment to Him (Jn 5:22). Therefore, He will separate the people from one another, putting the righteous sheep on His right and the wicked goats on His left. Both the righteous and the wicked will stand before the same judgment seat.
Standard of Judgment
The same standard of judgment will be used for both the righteous and the wicked. It will be based on what they did and didn’t do.
Note the standard for the righteous:
"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 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, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'” (Mat 25:34-40)
Note the same standard He will use for the wicked:
"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Mat 25:41-46)
We know that we are saved by grace through faith, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). And it is only by the blood of Jesus that we can be washed of our sin. “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jn 1:7) But according to Jesus, the standard that He will use will be the same one for both the righteous and the wicked. To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of His, even the least of them, you did it to Him, and to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Him.
We know we must confess Jesus as Lord to be saved, and “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9) But being a believer is not the same as being righteous. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'” (Mat 7:21-23)
He will have to tell some of those who call Him Lord to depart from Him, because although they believed in Him and confessed His name, they practiced lawlessness. They prophesy and perform miracles, but they do not do the will of the Father. This is why it is so critical to be a doer and not only a hearer of the Word of God, because Jesus said that those who hear His words and act on them will be able to withstand the judgment like the house built on the solid rock. However, those who hear His words and do not act on them are foolish, because they will be destroyed like the house built on sand.
Our actions include the words we speak, which are part of the same standard the Lord will use in the judgment. Jesus also said, "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Mat 12:36-37). By this He meant that both His disciples and everyone else would give an accounting on judgment day for every careless word they have spoken. Since our words may either justify or condemn us, we must be very careful not to open our mouths easily. And if we do speak a careless word, we should repent and ask forgiveness.
Timing of the Judgment
Jesus taught that the eternal judgment would occur when He returns in His glory and all the holy angels with Him (Mt 25:31). Beyond that I prefer not to get into exact details about the timing of the judgment, since it is a future event and it’s not necessary for us to know the exact sequences of such things. Any issues relative to timing would not affect the fact that there will be a Day of Judgment.
The apostle Paul said the judgment will happen "On the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus." (Rom 2:16)
The Judgment Seat
At that time, the Lord Jesus will sit on His glorious throne (Mt 25:31). This is the judgment seat of Christ.
John saw this throne and said, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them” (Rev 20:11). He is so terrifying on His judgment seat as to cause earth and heaven to flee from Him.
The apostle Paul said, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.” (2Co 5:10-11).
In his epistle to the Romans, he called it the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, when he wrote: "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Rom 2:5-11).
God does not show favoritism. So whether you are a Jew or a a Gentile believer in Christ, God will render to each person according to his own deeds. That is why it is so important to do good, so that you may receive glory and honor and peace, rather than the tribulation and distress of those who do evil.
The Purpose of the Judgment
Some people try to twist Paul’s words to make them say something different than what Christ taught, but we must understand all the teachings of the apostles through the Words of Jesus. They cannot be interpreted in such as way that contradicts Jesus. Yet some cite the fact that the word translated “judgment seat” here is the Greek word “bema,” meaning “a step, that is, foot breath; by implication a rostrum, that is, tribunal: - judgment-seat, set [foot] on, throne.” (Strongs). They admit that this word connotes the kind of raised platform where a Roman magistrate or ruler sat to make decisions and pass sentence, which is correct. However, even though they admit the word refers to the place of judgment occupied by rulers and magistrates to make decisions and pass sentence, they prefer to emphasize the analogy of the athletic games. They say that Paul used this Greek word in light of his frequent reference to athletic games, since such a raised platform was used in the Olympic games, at which the judge rewarded those who had won. They force every aspect of the Olympic awards ceremony to fit, as if God must conform to man’s rules. They say that no punishment is meted out to the losers at such a judgment, only rewards for the winners or loss of rewards for others.
In fact, Lewis Sperry Chafer states: “It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the judgment is unrelated to the problem of sin, that it is more for the bestowing of rewards than the rejection of failure.” (Systematic Theology, Vol. IV: Ecclesiology-Eschatology, Dallas Seminary Press, Dallas, TX, 1948, p. 406). They teach that the bema judgment is not to judge believers for sin of any kind, confessed or unconfessed; however, this does not agree with the context of the passage written by the apostle Paul.
First, Paul stated, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” which agrees with what I have already stated, and which Jesus taught, that it is one judgment for all nations. Elsewhere Paul had said, “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Rom 14:10-12). In this context, Paul was warning believers not to judge their brothers, since we will all stand before the judgment seat of God, and each one will give an account of himself to God.
Secondly, Paul stated the purpose of the bema judgment is “so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” The Greek word for “recompensed” is “komizo,” meaning, “properly to provide for, that is, (by implication) to carry off (as if from harm; generally obtain): - bring, receive.” (Strongs). Each one may receive or be provided with what is due to him or her for the deeds in the body, meaning those committed while living on earth. This recompense is for both good and bad. It relates to what each person has done. The word for “done” is the Greek word “prasso,” meaning “to practice, that is, perform repeatedly or habitually; commit, deeds, do, exact, keep, require, use arts” (Strongs). This agrees completely with the teaching of Jesus that He will judge each one based on what they did and didn’t do, whether they did good and bad.
Therefore, the only sins that are not dealt with are the ones that have been forgiven by God and washed away in the blood of Jesus. The Lord will never bring up any sins that He has forgiven, because when He forgives, he remembers them no more. As the Scripture says: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Heb 8:12). Yet the only way to receive forgiveness for sin is to repent of it before God, confess it, and ask forgiveness. That is why the apostle John placed the conditional word “if” on the phrase, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1Jn 1:9). To say we are already forgiven for unconfessed sin is incorrect and unbiblical.
In the epistle to the Hebrews, Paul wrote, "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries." (Heb 10:26-27)
That is why we do fear the Lord when we think about the eternal judgment, which is why Paul went on to say, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.” (2Co 5:11). Paul spoke in the context of the bema judgment about the terror of the Lord. He said, including himself, “we,” when he said, “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.” However, the proponents of the “rewards-only” bema seat judgment for Christians don’t quote the verse in its proper context. They leave the part out where Paul said in the context of the bema seat judgment, “We know what it is to fear the Lord…” Paul knew what it was to fear the Lord, and this was one of the main reasons why he tried to persuade men to live for Christ.
Confidence in the Day of Judgment
The Scripture tells us that we may have confidence on the Day of Judgment and how that is possible. The apostle John said:
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” (1Jn 4:15-17)
This is a key passage to know and live by, if you want to have confidence on the Day of Judgment. This is the only way you can be free from the fear of punishment on that day.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” (1Jn 4:18-19)
But if you desire to have confidence at the judgment, which John spoke of, rather than fear, it’s not enough to simply say “I confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.” Of course, you must believe in the Son of God in order to have eternal life (1 Jn 5:10,13). But you must also act on the words in the rest of John’s epistle. He said many hard things about the narrow path we must walk to reach heaven. If you hate your brother and say you know God, you’re a liar. Nobody who hates his brother truly loves God (1 Jn 2:9; 4:20). If you don’t love, then you don’t know God (1 Jn 4:8). You’ve got to love your brother in deed and truth (1 Jn 3:7,19). You can’t have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness (1 Jn 1:6). You must walk in the Light as Jesus is in the Light (1 Jn 1:7). If you say you have no sin, the Truth is not in you (1 Jn 1:8). If you say you’ve come to know Him and you don’t keep His commandments, you’re a liar (1 Jn 2:4). You’ve got to love God and keep His commandments (1 Jn 3:22-24; 5:2-3). If you love the world or the things of this world, the love of the Father is not in you (1 Jn 2:15). You’ve got to abide in Christ if you want to have confidence and not shrink away at His coming when He appears (1Jn 2:28). You must purify yourself just as He is pure, which is as pure as the River of the Water of Life itself (1 Jn 3:3). No one who abides in Him sins or practices sin (1 Jn 3:6,9). You may not sin (1 Jn 2:1). In fact, no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him (1 Jn 3:6). If you practice sin, you’re of the devil. You must practice righteousness (1 Jn 3:7,19). Therefore, if you do sin, you must repent and confess your sin in order to be forgiven (1 Jn 1:9). If we do, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The Great White Throne Judgment
As I’ve already pointed out, some teach that there will be two judgments, one for the believers and another for the non-believers. They say the bema judgment is for believers and the “Great White Throne Judgment” is for non-believers. However, I hope that I have made it clear there is one judgment. If you are still not clear about this, then I kindly refer you back to my previous section in this article, called One Judgment for All Mankind. Here is what John saw:
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:11-15).
Let’s look at each part of this passage and compare it with the previous ones I’ve already mentioned:
First, he saw “a great white throne and Him who sat upon it.” Why should this be different from the throne of judgment about which both Jesus and Paul both spoke? While this is the first time the color of the throne is mentioned in Scripture, it does not mean it is a different throne or a different judgment than what is spoken of elsewhere.
Secondly, John said, “…I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne…” Certainly one could make a case that John saw “the dead” before the throne, and not the living, which would imply that this is not referring to the saints, since we are alive in Christ. However, if we view this in light of the previous passages in which Jesus and Paul spoke of the judgment, then it could also mean that every person who ever lived will one day stand before the throne for judgment. This would agree with the passages where Jesus and Paul spoke of the eternal judgment. They both referred to it as the resurrection from the dead.
Thirdly, John said, “…and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds” (20:12). This agrees completely with what both Jesus and Paul taught about the judgment, whereby we are all judged according to our deeds, which are written in the books. This is repeated again in verse thirteen, where John wrote, “and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds” (20:13).
Notice John said, “and another book was opened, which is the book of life;” Jesus spoke of this book when He told His disciples, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luk 10:20). When you repent of your sins, and put your faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior, your name is written in the book of life. This is a very important, because “…if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (20:15). The fact that John said, “If” seems to indicate that among all of those standing before the throne, there are some whose names are in fact written in the book of life. The implication is that these souls will NOT be thrown into the lake of fire. However, the mistake that people make is thinking that once their name is written in the book of life, it can never be erased. That is incorrect. After giving your life to Jesus, if you go back into the world and into a life of sin, your name is erased. For more on this see The Book of Life.
Fourthly, John said, “…and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.” This means that after people are already in hell, they will be brought out of hell to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Hell will literally give up the dead so they can receive their judgment from the Lord Jesus Christ, who sits upon the throne. This is what some call the second resurrection, because it is the resurrection of the wicked dead, who awake to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan 12:2). However, while that is true, the Scripture simply calls it the second death.
This begs the question why they were in hell if they had not yet received judgment. The reason is that when a person dies, God knows at the time they die what the final judgment will be on judgment day. How does He know this? God knows everything before it happens. He knows the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. There is nothing He does not know.
In order to explain this more clearly, let me use the devil and his fallen angels as an example. We know the eternal fire is prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41). It was not created for humans, but for the devil and his angels. However, Jesus taught that all the wicked go to that same place (Mt 25:41).
And Peter drew some parallels between the fallen angels and the wicked in the second chapter of his second epistle. In that passage he said, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;” (2Pe 2:4). Peter taught that God sent the fallen angels down to hell to be reserved unto judgment. That means He knew already what their final outcome would be, but He cast them into hell to await the judgment. They were cast into hell before the judgment, but immediately following the judgment they will be thrown into the lake of fire.
In that same passage, Peter spoke in the same way of the unrighteous people saying, “Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the Day of Judgment.” (2Pe 2:9). This means that when unrighteous people die, God keeps them under punishment for the Day of Judgment.
Likewise, Paul said, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Heb 9:27). We know that means exactly what it says, that each person has an appointment with death and we are not going to miss it. Once we die, then comes the judgment. It agrees with the fact that the judgment seat of Christ will happen one day at the very end for all mankind. However, it can also be understood to mean that immediately following death, men must face a judgment that determines whether they will be allowed into heaven or sent to hell to be reserved unto judgment. In other words, God handles it the same way he handled the fallen angels.
This is in agreement with what many people have testified, who have received divine revelations from the Lord. For example, Ezekiel Moses testified that he died, stood before the judgment as a believer, and was sent to hell. When he stood there for judgment, the angels had the book of life and other books, in which all of his deeds had been recorded. (For more, see Ezekiel Moses Testimony of Heaven and Hell). Likewise, Samuel Oghenetega testified that the Lord showed him the day Archbishop Benson Idahosa died and stood before the angels for judgment. The angels opened the book of life and other books were opened. His name was not found in the book of life. Off in the distance he saw the throne of the Lord God Almighty. It was radiating with such bright, white light, that He could not see God inside the light. But he saw the hand of God extend outside the glory and raising only His index finger; He waved it back and forth to indicate that Idahosa would not be allowed into heaven. He was sent to hell. (For more, see The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness).
I believe that one day, all these people who have been sent to hell will be brought before the judgment throne of Christ to give an account for every deed done while in the body, whether good or bad. Likewise, all those whose names are written in the book of life, because they followed Jesus, will be in heaven. And because they are the righteous who have already taken part in the first resurrection, they will not be harmed at all by the second death, which is the lake of fire. John wrote:
“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” (Rev 20:4-6)
First, John said “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
Secondly, he defines this event when these souls come to life by saying, “This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” That can be understood to mean that the first resurrection occurs a thousand years before the Great White Throne Judgment, at which the wicked will be sentenced to the second death in the eternal fire. But even if you don't think so, you must agree that the "first" resurrection occurs first, as the term implies, which places it before the second resurrection.
Since the second death has no power over those who take part in the first resurrection, then when they stand in the judgment, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. In other words, they will not be thrown into the lake of fire, because their names are written in the book of life. They will have confidence on the Day of Judgment.
Thirdly, in John's description of those who take part in the first resurrection, he said, "I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them." This reference to the righteous sitting on thrones and judgment being given to them agrees with the words of the apostle Paul, who said the Lord's people will judge the world (1 Cor 6:2). These are the righteous who endure to the end; they will take part in the first resurrection and will awake to everlasting life to reign with Christ (Dan 12:2; 2 Tim 2:12). This also agrees with the words of our Lord, who spoke of the King's servants one day being given charge of cities (Lk 19:11-19). These are the ones who are victorious and do His will to the end, to whom He will give authority over the nations just as He has received authority from the Father (Rev 2:26-27).
Striving to Attain to the Resurrection from the Dead
I'd like to say one last word about participating in the first resurrection and avoiding the second one with its second death -- the lake of fire. There is only one road that anyone can take, if they wish to reach heaven, which is through Jesus Christ -- the Way (Jn 14:6), and it is a narrow road (Mt 7:14). That road is very difficult and full of hardships (Ac 14:22). Many have started out on it and then given up.
Therefore Paul said, "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Phil 3:10). Paul did not even claim to have already obtained all this, but he pressed on to take hold of it one day (Phil 3:11). The standard to do so, according to Paul, was participating in Christ's sufferings, being made like Him in His death. And that's still the standard today, which includes considering all things loss for the sake of Christ, and losing all things (Phil 3:8). In this way Paul hoped to somehow attain to the resurrection from the dead, which is the first resurrection, the one in which the righteous shall participate.
Likewise, our Lord also called it the resurrection from the dead, saying, "but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;" (Luk 20:35). From this we learn that you must be "considered worthy to attain" to the resurrection from the dead, in order to participate in it.
Jesus also spoke of this first resurrection as the resurrection of the righteous. He said, "You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Lk 14:14b). So we know that this is when the righteous will be rewarded. I hope it is your desire, as it is mine also, to attain to the first resurrection from the dead, as Paul said.
The Manner and Timing of the Resurrection from the Dead
Our Lord Jesus taught us the manner and the timing of the resurrection from the dead. He said:
"Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." (Joh 5:28-29)
Jesus taught that there will be a resurrection of life and a resurrection of judgment. The first resurrection he spoke of was the resurrection of life, and that is only for those who did good deeds. The resurrection of judgment is for those who committed evil deeds. He said that it would be His voice that all who are in the tombs would hear at a certain coming hour, which would cause them to come forth to one resurrection or the other.
The apostle Paul also taught about the timing and manner of the resurrection from the dead. He wrote: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘death is swallowed up in victory.’” (1Co 15:51-54).
The resurrection from the dead will happen suddenly, in a moment, very quickly, at the time when the last trumpet is sounded. At that time, the dead will be raised imperishable.
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1Th 4:15-17)
The resurrection from the dead will happen at the coming of the Lord, when He descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with God's last trumpet. First the dead in Christ will rise, and then we (righteous) who are alive and remain on earth will be snatched up into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
The Resurrection and the Life
If it is your desire to attain to the resurrection from the dead on the last day, then you need to follow Jesus, live for Him, and trust Him to keep you.
Jesus said, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." (Joh 6:38-40)
If you truly believe in Him, you must keep His Word, obeying His commands. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." (Joh 8:51)
“Jesus said to Martha, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’" (Joh 11:25-26)
Putting it All Together
So to recap what we have learned from the Scriptures, the eternal judgment has eternal consequences, which are final and irreversible. There is one judgment for all mankind, one judgment seat, which is the glorious throne of Christ, and one standard of judgment, based on what each person did and didn’t do during his or her life on earth. Each one of us must appear before the judgment seat, and there are no exceptions. It’s appointed to each man once to die and then comes the judgment. Each one will be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
The righteous will be rewarded at the resurrection of the righteous, which is the first resurrection. That is the resurrection of the dead that we must all seek to attain to. It will happen at the coming of the Lord, when He descends from heaven with a shout, at the last trumpet.
Some people who teach about the judgment get caught up in the details of timing, sequence, and whether there will be two judgments, rather than one. But to me those are nonessential matters of "arrangement." Getting caught up in those aspects of how it will all unfold, and failing to warn people about the fact that we must all face judgment is a grave mistake that can give many people false confidence that results in their eternal destruction. However, even if I am mistaken about some aspects of the "arrangement" in this article, I have hopefully communicated the fact that there is a judgment we must all undergo, and that we need to be ready for it.
Thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Resurrection and the Life, it is possible to have confidence on the Day of Judgment. You must repent of your sin and believe in the Son of God in order to have eternal life, and then your name will be written in the Book of Life. But don’t stop at simply believing or saying you believe. Act upon the Words of Jesus, proving your repentance by your deeds (Ac 26:20). Maintaining a white robe is connected with your righteous deeds. Don’t be a mere hearer of His words, but one who keeps His Word and puts it into practice. Live a righteous life by doing what is right, so that you may be considered worthy to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
If you died today, do you know where you would go? Just because you think you are saved and going to heaven does not mean you are going there. Plenty of people say, “I confess Jesus is the Son of God,” yet they don’t live like the apostle John taught in His epistle. They don’t do what Jesus commanded, and they are like the foolish man who built on sand. When they die, they are sent to hell with the wicked to await the judgment, while their punishment continues. On the other hand, plenty of people are trusting in their own good works to save them, and they are wrong also. We are saved by grace through faith. It is the gift of God; not as a result of works. You cannot be saved without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He loves you with an everlasting love, and died on the cross for you. But He won't lower the standard of heaven for anybody. Please repent and turn to Him, cry out to God for mercy, and trust Jesus to save you today. Truth, Righteousness and Holiness in Him are the only way that can bring man to heaven.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "All Hail King Jesus" painting © 2012 is by Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Book of Life, Ezekiel Moses Testimony of Heaven and Hell, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, and the other posts on the home page. I also recommend watching the video by Leonard Ravenhill, The Judgment Seat of Christ (video). You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.