End Times, Part 3- Judgments for All Humans (Sn1:Ep13)

Peace to Live By: End Times, Part 3- Judgments for All Humans (Sn1:Ep13) - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       In human governing or judging, right and wrong are usually determined by a preordained set of rules. In reality, though, the way right and wrong are really determined is by comparing the actions, the deeds, done with what the Bible says is right. All of us, whether we be Christian or non-Christian, will face the Ultimate Judge someday, and everything we have done will be evaluated. That is, all of our thoughts, words, and deeds are currently being evaluated and will be examined by our Creator in the future. This includes both the good and bad things that, we, as people do, say, and think. So, the things that we do today matter. And it will not matter what case we try to form for ourselves because, in the end, there is only one Counselor. There is only one Person who can get you out of the trouble you've caused for yourself, and this one Advocate is Jesus.

       Today, I want to discuss the judgments that will occur at the end times, as presented in the Bible. God, on his throne, will actually judge people. This involves both the judgments of Christians, as well as those of unbelievers. There will not be any jury to decide these matters, as God knows best and is always right in what he says. He is always right in his judgment. The Bible lays out distinct and different scenarios for each group of people, and the latter group will be greater in number than the former group. Now intertwined with these judgments are the corresponding resurrections that will take place. Indeed, of the many promises for us Christians in the future, one of these is that we will obtain new, resurrected bodies. Therefore, today, I want to discuss the resurrections that will take place at the end times as well.

       First, let us discuss the judgment of Christians. Believers will be judged at what is called the Judgment Seat of Christ, or the Bema Seat of Christ. This event occurs sometime between The Rapture of the Church and The Second Coming of Jesus. In this judgment, God will go over with each one of us how we lived in our lives, whether it was wisely or unwisely. This includes an evaluation of our works for God, whether they were good or evil. Paul makes an interesting statement found in 2 Corinthians 5, which refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ. It reads:

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10, ESV).

So, bear in mind, first, that all Christians will appear before The Judgment Seat of Christ. This judgment is not an option for us, and none of us will get special treatment. God favors no man or woman over another. Always remember that, and that’s encouraging. God is not a corrupt judge, or rather corrupted, like many of our earthly judges. Second, contemplate that Christians are not only capable of doing good in this life, but Paul states they are also capable of doing evil. A Christian can live in this life doing evil things, and yet still be a Christian. Now, I'm not going to speculate on what this might look like.

       Now, turn in your Bibles or tap in your Bible apps back 1 Corinthians, and let's look at chapter 4, starting at verse 2. It says the following:

“Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:2-5, ESV)

So, I want to point out that God is going to “disclose the purposes of the heart” for each believer. This is important to note because it may appear that Christians are doing good works, when in fact they may have an ulterior motive. And sometimes we may start with an ulterior motive, but may end up doing the good work for the sake of the work. Plus, there are works done for God by believers that people do not see out in the open, as they are “things now hidden in darkness.” But God will reward people for these things, as he is keeping track of everything. Jesus said in Mark 10:31, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (ESV). Also, consider what Lord Jesus said Matthew 6 in the Sermon on the Mount. You'll find there that Jesus noted three particular things that Christians are to do in secret, and then subsequently be rewarded for them. These are giving (v. 4), praying (v. 6), and fasting (v. 18).

       So, every Christian is going to be responsible for giving his or her own record, or report, before God Himself. In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul talked about the fact the we, as Christians, will all stand in judgment before God. He even goes so far as to say that each Christian will have to report to God for what he or she had done in life. God will ask us to speak about the endeavors we have embarked upon or the achievements we have accomplished in our lives. Now, this is a scary thing to think about. Everything that we have ever done will be evaluated and analyzed, to see whether it was good or evil. Jesus said in Luke 8:17 that everything people have done will become known, and things that are secret now will be brought out into the open for everyone to see. You may have a secret pet sin, but even if you're able to hide it now, you won't be able to hide it for everyone to see at the judgment.

       Now, as Christians, we can do both good and evil works, as I've already stated. But I want to look at a passage of Scripture found in 1 Corinthians 3. If you’ll turn there in your Bibles or tap their in your Bible apps. It states the following by the Apostle Paul:

“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15, ESV)

There are several things that I want to note from this paragraph. Consider that Paul expects each of us to be building on the foundation that he has laid down. That is, all of us Christians are expected to be doing good works, or actions, like sharing our faith with unbelievers, doing good things that benefits fellow church members, etc. It is important for us to watch our motives because if we do the right things for the wrong reasons, we will suffer great losses. It is important to strive for quality in your work, for you want to strive to be perfect. But be careful in comparing yourself to other Christians. God looks at our hearts, so our works will be judged on his standard.

       Paul outlines several different types of building materials that are used to build on the foundation he talked about. The good ones are the gold, silver, and precious stones. The bad materials are the wood, hay, and straw. Now, these latter three are the ones that can be burned up, while the former three cannot be burned (at least, not easily). So, it is at the judgment for Christians that every work we have done will be tested by God's fire. Hopefully, each of us will have at least some work still standing after the fire has tested it. That way, we will receive rewards in accordance with the works, whether great or small. But if all the works are burned up, Paul still assures that those people will be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven. They will not be thrown into hell because our salvation as Christians does not depend on our good works. That is, we are not saved because of the good works we do. Notice also that the person's works, which are burned, is a loss incurred, meaning that those people would have received good things but will not because their works are just not good. And I think this will probably happen to all of us in one way or another. We will all probably have some loss because we are not perfect.

       It is true that a lot of people, in this life, are going to make one particularly bad choice, and go to the grave with it. Many are choosing and have chosen not be believe in God, not to acknowledge the Creator who has created them, and not live in a way that is honoring and pleasing to Him. With this being said, now let's change subjects here and be concerned about that judgment that is awaiting those who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. This judgment will occur after the conclusion of the Millennial Reign of Christ, the 1,000-year reign of Christ here on the earth. It occurs before the Great White Throne in heaven, hence the name The Great White Throne Judgment. It includes unbelievers from all periods of human history, that is, all times, including the Old Testament, New Testament, and times covered in the Book of the Revelation. Let's look at Revelation 20, starting in verse 11:

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 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.” (Revelation 20:11-15, ESV)

We note here then that there is no hope for those people who's names are not found to be written in The Book of Life. For these people, there are no second chances. Rather, they are thrown into The Lake of Fire.

       I want to take a moment here and consider where we learn in the Bible that hell is conscious punishment for an individual. It seems as if though some people in the world today would like to conclude that even though hell exists, that it may not actually be 'conscious.' But the Bible makes it clear that hell really is a conscious place. Matthew 8:12ex states, "the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." These actions of the individuals going into hell, both "weeping and gnashing of teeth", clearly show conscious behaviors. Jesus, just in the Book of Matthew, again says the same thing about the crying and teeth grinding in Matthew 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, 24:51, and 25:30. So, the conscious evidence is overwhelming, to say the least.

       But someone might ask: what is hell really like? I think it would be fair to liken hell to our own human prison system, for instance. When someone commits a vile enough crime here on earth, often times that person is thrown in solitary confinement. The person is cut off from outside relationships, is by him or herself, and is typically is a dark cell. Now, I personally think at best this illustration is only a slight shadow of the true punishment hell will bring to an unsaved individual. And one has to remember that there is constant torment, both day and night. While the torment in the earthly cell may be much more psychological than physical, the torment in the true hell will be both psychological and physical. As an aside, be aware that it would appear that these people obviously have to have some sort of supernatural resurrected bodies. Otherwise, they would just burn up and die again when entering The Lake of Fire. But that’s impossible because there is no third death. There is no annihilationsim. Since these people will be tormented day and night forever and ever, they have to be able to suffer this torment.

       Finally, today, I want to talk about the resurrections of believers in Christ. Some believers, those who are alive at the time of the Rapture, will be raptured up to met Christ in the sky, escaping death and receiving new, resurrected bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-54). But, what about those believers that are not alive at the time of the The Rapture, like the Old Testament believers, believers that were part of Christ's church beforehand, and the martyrs of The Tribulation period? They will be resurrected in the first resurrection. Consider what Jesus says in John 5. Here, Jesus talks about the resurrections that will take place at his Second Coming. I will go ahead and read the passage, starting in verse 25:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 5:25-30, ESV)

Also, we read the following in Revelation 20, in you’ll turn back there. Starting in verse 4:

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. 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 ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4-6, ESV)

Therefore, we understand from these passages that all saved people (excluding those participating in the Rapture) will be resurrected in the first resurrection. Furthermore, we read “but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” So, the believers will be part of the 1,000 year reign of Christ.

       In conclusion today, I hope everyone has a better understanding of both the judgments that are going to be faced by both believers in Christ and non-believers, as well as the resurrection of believers, and non-believers.

       I want to consider a passage found in John 11. You don’t have to turn there, but I will read it:

“Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”” (John 11:17-27, ESV)

You don’t have to wait for the resurrection of the dead to experience life. Perhaps you are like Martha in the passage and believe that Jesus can indeed give you a new life. Indeed, he can and will give you a new life-one that never ends-if you will only believe in his name for the forgiveness of your sins.

       If you want to be set free from the weight of your sins against God, if you want to experience this eternal life, if you want to have a new life, all you need to do is pray a prayer like this:

God, I am a sinner. I have not lived following your way, but my way. But I understand that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that he rose from the dead so that I might have a new beginning, a new life, in you. I surrender my life over to you, Father. Please take care of me, and make me become like Jesus.

If you prayed that prayer today, you can rest assured that you now have life, a new life, and that you will be resurrected with the saints of God in the future, escape any eternal condemnation to come. Now go about today and share this with someone close to you, so that more people will be saved from God’s wrath to come.

       Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father. Your wonderful love is made manifest in your Word, the Word which you make available so freely to us. I pray for anyone who has accepted Jesus Christ today as his or her personal Lord and Savior, that will build that person up by your Spirit now living in them, that they will bear fruit for you and become like Jesus in the process. Strengthen them and keep them. I pray for those who have not accept Jesus yet, that they will take seriously what you have said in your Word, and that they will not pass up your warnings to accept your grace. I pray for those of us who do know Jesus already, that we would continue to grow through the study of Word, and that we would be strengthened on our walks with you. I pray that you would keep us from evil, and continue to make us more like Jesus. Now bless us today as we continue the rest of today. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton