Eternal Judgment

by: Ray Wooten

Email: ucm3821@aol.com


We humans have many things in common, but, like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike. Everyone is unique in his own order within Godís family plan. However, one thing that is common to all is shown in the bible. Heb 9:27, "--- it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

Appointed = Greek, apokeimai. This Greek word is used four times in the bible. Letís take a brief look at them to help us see the truth.

1. Heb 9:27, here it is used as appointed, regarding death.

2. Col 1:5, "--- because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel," Laid up= apokeimai. Literally, our hope is "laid away or by."

3. 2 Tim 4:8, "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." Here a crown is laid up, or laid "away."

4. Luke 19:20, "Lord, behold, (here is) thy pound, which I kept laid up in a napkin:" This gives us the idea of what the word conveys. Lay up is to lay away in store.

Before the proliferation of credit card buying many retail stores featured a "lay away plan" in which consumers could choose their merchandise and the company would put in storage or lay away their goods until the buyer paid the full purchase price. They were then free to take their goods. So, when death is appointed it is "laid away in store" for everyone. You and I will die. That is an appointment we all must keep.

Heb 9:27 also states that after death, comes judgment.

Judgment = Greek, krisis. Man has to meet Christ as Judge, as Jesus himself graphically pictures (Matt 25:31-46; John 5:25-29).

To most of mankind judgment is an alarming word. We tend to conjure up all sorts of punishment in our minds. We have been conditioned to believe that God is some kind of harsh ogre with a determination to severely punish everyone he finds doing something wrong. We donít understand that the awesome God, our Father, is making every effort to give us eternal life in His very own Family. To us judgment implies that we donít have a chance to be saved. We seem to know inherently that we have been bad or, at least, anything but good. And we deserve harsh judgment and cruel punishment. But, this is a complete misunderstanding of God and His purpose.

Make no mistake about it; all humans are "bad" and deserve eternal death. Jer 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" KJV

Rom 7:22-23, "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." KJV

And, "---- the wages of sin is death;" Rom 6:23, KJV. (If you would like to study this point further, request our booklet, "The Two Adams").

JUDGMENT/SALVATION

But, our Creator, God has lovingly planned a way for our eternal salvation. Rom 6:23, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." KJV And, our eternal judgment is intimately connected with our acceptance or rejection of that plan. That plan is through Jesus, the Messiah, who was God in the flesh that lived and died for our sins so that we may die "in Him" and, therefore, live "in Him", (see "The Two Adams").

Many have accepted Godís plan and have been redeemed, saved from the penalty of sin, i.e. eternal death (Godís Law demands the death of all sinners). If you have, that is good. If you have not, isnít it time you did? Donít just shrug this off. Salvation can be yours! Donít think that you already know and immediately disagree with the truth of this subject. It is way too important for that.

Now, let us notice one of the most astounding, fascinating and exciting truths that the Bible reveals. What is it? God is not trying to save the entire world now! Yet, conversely, it also reveals the entire world, all mankind, whether they are alive now, have lived in the past and died, or whether they will live in the future, will have an opportunity for salvation. 1 Cor 15:22, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." KJV

How can both these teachings be true? If God is not trying to save the world now, how can all humanity have a chance for salvation? The answer to the seeming dilemma is in the bible doctrine of eternal judgment.

Consider all the billions of people who lived from Adam until now, who never knew of the name of Jesus Christ, the only name under heaven by which people can be saved (Acts 4:12). Are they lost forever -- doomed to die with no hope for eternal life? What about the idolaters and heathen throughout history?

Perhaps you have had family members or friends who have died without accepting the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. What is their fate? Are they lost? Or what about little babies who died and never understood enough to accept Jesus? Since they were born "in Adam" they, too, must have a savior. These questions need to be answered. And, they are!

THE BASIC TRUTH

You need to understand this for your own faith and for the wonderful truth of what is "laid by in store" for all these people. Because of all the misunderstanding and false teachings about this doctrine of eternal judgment you should learn this well so you can explain it to others.

The time of judgment for each individual is from the time of his calling, (2 Tim 1:9, "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling," ---) until death or change into a member of Godís Family, composed of spirit. It is during this time that a person is being judged by the biblical standard of judgment. Too often we are told that we are judged by our obedience to the 10 commandments. Letís analyze that for just a moment. Does the bible really say that? Well, yes it does, in a way. We are told to "become like Christ" and to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord". This goes way beyond the "doís and doníts" of oneís conduct or how "holy" one may feel when he "keeps the law". This is pertaining to what is happening down in the innermost part of oneís being. What one thinks and says really matters to God. If we are "in Christ" we are saved, but, contrary to what "nominal Christianity" teaches, if one stops at merely saying he accepts Jesus as Savior and never shows any fruits of it, then the judgment must be that he, in fact has not accepted Him.

Conversely, if he really is "in Christ", then Christ is also "in him" Remember, "Christ in you" is the "hope of Glory", Col 1:27. If Christ is "in you", that will be reflected in your life. So, ask the question, what will be reflected in me? Let the bible answer by telling us what was in Christ. (John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:17, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.") KJV. This is why we are admonished to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18). Christ reflected the Father through His Grace and Truth; we should reflect Christ and the Father the same way. If Christ is indeed "in us", we will reflect it in our love, care and concern for the people with whom we associate. The words of our mouths will be blessings, not curses, truth, not lies and they will be as David said; Ps 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." KJV This will be Godís judgment of us whatever our time of judgment may be.

For different groups of people, this judgment will occur at different times, either now (as in the case of the spiritual organism that the bible calls Godís Church), during the Millennium for those who live over into it and those who will be born during the Millennium or at the close of the Millennium in the Great White Throne Judgment for those who will be resurrected in the flesh at that time.

SOME ERRONEOUS TEACHINGS

The teachings of many bible teachers are a long way from the clear revelation of the Bible. Most churches do not even understand that God is not calling most people to salvation now, let alone understand the connection between the time of oneís calling and his period of judgment. They usually view the judgment merely as the time of passing of a sentence upon a person. Many people probably picture a courtroom, complete with a fatherly but stern God in a black robe behind a large desk, faced by fearful sinners awaiting His judgment to see if they will go "up" to heaven or "down" to hell, but, this is not the picture presented by the Bible!

THE BIBLE TEACHING

The astounding, central truth essential to understanding this topic is that God is not trying to save the entire world now. Satan is said to be deceiving the whole world (Revelation 12:9). If the whole world is deceived, how can it be in the process of being saved? From the days of Adam and his eviction from the Garden of Eden, through the days when Moses told the children of Israel that "the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear" (Deuteronomy 29:2-4), it has been obvious that God is not now saving the whole world.

Paul said, "God hath concluded them all (mankind) in unbelief, that he might (eventually, but not now) have mercy upon all" (Romans 11:32,)

No wonder Satan is called the "god of this world" (II Corinthians 4:4,) and Godís way is called the way only "few" now take (Matthew 7:14). No wonder Paul called the vast majority of humanity "strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:11-12).

But why has God chosen not to save all people? The answer is that for God to fulfill His master plan of creating us in His image and likeness requires time. Jer 33:8, "And I will cleanse them from their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me." KJV Pardon is done instantaneously through the blood of Jesus. But cleansing is a process that requires time. This time of judgment is actually the time of oneís opportunity for salvation through pardon and for preparing us for the duties we will have in the Family of God through the cleansing process of washing by the Holy Spirit and through the Word, which is Christ dwelling "in us". 1 Cor 6:11, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Eph 5:25-26, "even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word," KJV. This is true of all who are converted no matter which period they are given their opportunity for salvation/judgment. Therefore most, but not all, of humanity are being left to themselves now.

THE FIRST PERIOD OF JUDGMENT

Some are being called by God now to preach His message as a witness to the world (not to proselyte or convert the world -- Matthew 24:14) and to learn Godís way, so they may teach the masses when God finally does call the rest of the human race and open their minds, (Rev 5:10).

Two key scriptures in this regard are II Corinthians 6:2 and I Peter 4:17.

II Corinthians 6:2 is misleading in some translations, which read that God has succored us in "the" day of salvation. But this verse, both in the original Greek and in the Old Testament verse from which it is quoted, does not contain the definite article, but reads that now is "a day of salvation." Obviously, if now is a day of salvation, then there must be other times when God has dealt or will deal with people.

I Peter 4:17 makes the point that now is only a time of salvation more clearly, showing for whom now is the time for salvation: "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God."

Notice that a judgment is now on the house of God -- the Spiritual Organism -- but not upon others. And clearly this judgment is not a mere sentencing, but a process of evaluation made by God as He watches over our growth through a period of time.

Of course, ultimately, judgment includes Christís final proclamation that we are either sheep or goats. (Matthew 25: 31-46). Obviously that is an analogy of our spiritual state. And that determination has already been made. It doesnít happen at a single "moment of decision". Those of us who are converted in this life are being judged based on whether we are "in Christ" and Christ is "in us". This will be obvious based on whether we have the fruits of Christís "new commandment" in our lives. John 13:34, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." John 15:12, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." KJV

The first period of judgment, when most will be deceived and only a few will be called, is now (I Peter 4:17). This era ends with the return of Jesus Christ to set up His Kingdom, and the resurrection to eternal life of all who were called and cleansed from Adamís time till then.

As Revelation 20:5 says, "This is the first resurrection." It is the time of redemption of the few "called" (Romans 8:28) who form the "firstfruits" (not the whole spiritual harvest, James 1:18, Revelation 14:14) of Godís master plan.

But if now is not the only time when God will call humanity -- that is, give them opportunity for salvation and spiritual judgment based on the grace and truth of Jesus that dwells "in them", then, when are the other times?

THE SECOND PERIOD OF JUDGMENT

The second time of judgment is during the Millennium, the 1,000 years immediately after Jesusí return to set up His Kingdom. One clear theme running throughout the Bible is that during the Millennium all then alive will know the truth of God (Isaiah 11:9, Jeremiah 31:34, Joel 2:32). This millennial period of judgment differs from the world now in that all people then alive will have a chance for salvation.

Still, those who lived and died from Adam till Jesus Christís return and the first resurrection will not yet have had a chance. Apparently this will be the largest of the three groups to be saved/judged. Their chance will come, however. It is spoken of in Revelation 20:11, which describes the Great White Throne Judgment. This is the time of the second resurrection, when the dead from all time, small and great, will be raised to another physical existence, except this time with a difference. This time the "books" (Greek, biblos = the bible) are opened to their understanding (verse 12), and they live out a full life span with the chance to know God and the truth of salvation.

This is the time when all the humans who have not had a chance will be given one. This is the time of judgment for Tyre and Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah, as Jesus revealed (Matthew 11:22, 10:15).

It is spoken of in plain terms by the prophet Ezekiel: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up...I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live" (Ezekiel 37:12, 14).

Now Godís merciful, fair plan will be complete. All will have had a chance for salvation, a period of living during which the truth of God will be open to their minds, and they will be judged according to it -- their judgment period.

For the Church that period is now. In the Millennium all those then alive will have their chance. Finally, during the Great White Throne Judgment, all the former dead who didnít have a chance before will get their opportunity. No one will get a "second chance," but everyone will get one full opportunity for salvation.

Why did God choose this method? Think of the logic of this plan. The few are saved first through the personal effort of Jesus. He has experienced pressures, pains and heartaches of human life. He shows that His disciples from that time until His return will continue the work of "feeding" and caring for His "sheepfold" because we, too, have experienced the trials, etc. of human life. Through this method He is, at this time, working with the smallest numbers, maybe just the thousands. In the millennium the thousands who have experienced the pressures, heartaches and pains of human life will work with the millions. In the Great White Throne period the millions will deal and work with the billions who are resurrected to physical life. What a plan!

WHO IS THE JUDGE?

There is one more thought that would be good for us to understand and remember, that is, who is the judge? The Bible gives a clear answer to that question. John 5:22-30, "For the Father judges no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: {23} That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father which hath sent him. {24} Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. {25} Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. {26} For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; {27} And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. {28} Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, {29] And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. {30} I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." KJV

Did you really catch what Jesus said in verses 25 and 27? Jesus gives Life because He is the Son of God and He executes judgment because He is the son of man. Could it be any better than this?

Jesus understands our situation because He was man, yet, He does not condone sin because He is (the Son of) God. So, He gave His life to pay our debt for sin and He sends His Holy Spirit and gives us His Word to cleanse us. And it is the same method for all people of all times. 

Let me share this short scenario about the Judge in this wondrous plan of God. Let us be thankful that no other man is our judge. Our Judge is the same one who left heaven where He was God, came to earth as a man, suffered total rejection by those who should have loved Him most, was beaten into a "bloody pulp" by Roman soldiers with whips called "cat oí nine tails" then, suffered the ultimate indignity of being nailed to a tree to die at the hands of Roman soldiers. But, they were not the only ones responsible for that ignominious, illegal, murderous crucifixion. Your sins and mine were just as responsible for that persecution, beating and killing as the Romans. Yet, the victim of that horrendous maltreatment did it all willingly.

Jesus could have called 10,000 angels to save him from all of that. But, He preferred our salvation over His own self preservation and He wants you and me to have that same attitude. And let me tell you friends and brethren, true believers and followers of Jesus, the Messiah, will have that attitude.

I know this is hard, but, Christ did not come to make it easy for us. He came to make it possible for us. This all happens to us through our being "in Him", and "He in us." Because, to take selfish, egotistical people and transform them into loving, caring, sharing, outgoing, Christ-like people requires a lot of sacrifice on the part of everybody, and Jesus set the example of just such a life.

That same Jesus who experienced all that I have described, and more, as He was nearing the end of His human life made a request to the Father, and let us always remember, the one who judges us is the same one who said to His Father, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

This could only have worked by having someone who was perfectly sinless Ė not an offspring of Adam Ė whose life was worth more than all human life put together who was worthy to pay for the sins of all human beings. The Son Of The Living God!

Few know Him, do you? I hope so!

Key Verses

Here are a few key scriptures relating to eternal judgment. They will help as a review.

Mark 4:11-12 and John 6:44 show that God is not trying to save all the world now.

II Corinthians 6:2 explains that now is not the only day of salvation.

1 Peter 4:17 shows that judgment is a process of time while one is under review by God and that judgment is now on the Church.

Revelation 20:1-12 describes the various resurrections that delineate the various Judgment periods.

Isaiah 11:9 and Jeremiah 31:34 say that all people will know God in the Millennium.

Ezekiel 37:12-14 illustrates how the former dead will be raised and be given the truth of God during the Great White Throne Judgment.

 


 

Written by Ray Wooten, 
Evangelist, United Christian Ministries
P.O. Box 1505
Pelham, Alabama 35124-5505
Phone: 888-985-9066
Email: ucm3821@aol.com
Web page: United Christian Minsitries