Jimmy E. Lathan
The end of all things as we know it is at hand. We know from the study of the Holy Scriptures that we are living in the last of the last days. And as the end of this age approaches, the Holy Scriptures faithfully points us to the Judgments of our God. It is natural for sinful men not to think of a God who is going to judge them some day. Satan and the powers of darkness are constantly working so that men will never know until it is too late. But what about us who are Christian; We who know that there is a day of judgment to come, how do we live, and think in the light of this truth? We say we believe in the Day of Judgment, but do we really believe in the Day of Judgment? Think of it: Do we as “Christians” live, think, and speak as if we are in the last days and are swiftly approaching the day of reckoning? Many times I have thought on this as I am sure you have as well; I have tried to imagine what it is going to be like on the day when God shall judge the secrets of men’s hearts by Jesus Christ. Recently as I thought on the subject of the Judgment to come, I have had to ask myself in all honesty: Do I really believe in the day of God’s awesome and dreadful judgment? I think that often we are too quick to answer such a serious question and we don’t seem to take into account our lifestyles in light of the judgment to come. Maybe we have convinced ourselves that we believe something we really don’t. We know that the world lies in darkness, because Satan has blinded their minds to light of the Gospel, but what of us; what is our excuse for living so worldly, and are so dominated by the flesh and yet we say we believe in the day of judgment. Are we under a delusion of thinking that attending church every Sunday morning that we are true saints of God while we live to ourselves, and worldly pursuits the rest of the week? My brothers and sisters, if this is true of us, then I would say we really do not believe in the judgment to come; or at least not like we should. If only we believed that we would give an account like we should believe it; O how it would change our lives; O how life’s distraction won’t distract us so easily; O how life’s attractions will lose it’s pull on our lives; O how we would set our affections on things above.
What of our Elders and Church-Leaders: Do they preach as if there is a day of judgment to come? I can not remember the last time I have heard a message on Hell, or the judgment to come. The message of judgment is a lost and a forgotten message; a message for a generation of an archaic age, and not for the twenty-first century, backslidden, apostate, “purpose-driven”, church of today. Keith Green once said in a conversation with friend, and mentor, Leonard Ravenhill: “. . . All roads lead to the judgment” this statement is true; it is true of the saint as well as the sinner. We as Christians need to be concerned about the Day of Judgment, and not be high-minded or arrogant. There is something to be feared in god for the saint as well as the sinner. And because of the fear of the Lord, we should be ever conscience of the reality of that day as the apostle Paul was. The apostles were not only motivated by love but also by fear; fear of that day when they before angels, cherubim, seraphim, and all the sainted dead of all ages will give an account before the one who has eyes as a flame of fire.
I. The judgment on sin.
II. The judgment of the believer.
judgment of the nation of
IV. The judgment of the gentile nations.
V. The judgment of the wicked dead.
This judgment took place on the cross as our Lord Jesus offered up himself a Holy sacrifice to bear the penalty for sin. In the epistle of first Peter chapter three, verse eighteen, we read, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit.” This was the primary purpose of his first coming. He came to die in our place for our sins. In the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter fifty-three which is one of the greatest chapters in all of the word of God; verse six reads, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” This WAS THE reason for HIS FIRST coming to this planet was to address the sin question. God who is holy could not overlook our guilt and shame; his holiness required him to judge us for the broken commandment. How would God provide salvation for man, and at the same time judge sin? This would seem like the greatest of all dilemmas of the universe. But it was all planned out in eternity past that god would provide a Lamb for himself; a lamb that would bear our sins in our place and be judged for our sins so that we could go free from the AWFUL penalty of our sins. In the book of Romans chapter eight, verse three we read these wonderful words, “for what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” The problem between God and man is sin. This is the issue when we are faced with THE QUESTION: what must WE do to be reconciled to God. The PENALTY FOR sin must first and foremost be dealt with and this is why Jesus came to take away our sins. John the beloved writes is first general epistle, chapter two, verse two, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” God judged sin in the Savior on the cross so that whosoever comes to him by faith in the finished work of Christ, can be pardon and justified from all sin. Now having been justified by his blood, we shall be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
“Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things dOne in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” II Corinthians 5:9-10. Hear is where it will all culminate, at the judgment seat or, “Bema seat.” The bema seat in ancient times was a place WHERE an umpire judge would sit in the Greek games. He would watch attentively all contestants whether they were runners, or the wrestlers, etc. to see if all are striving lawfully, and to be able to disqualify a contestant if necessary and to reward the VICTOR. Paul said in II Timothy 2:5, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” Paul had in view the judgment of believers before the Bema seat of Christ when all the sainted dead in Christ will be assembled before him. But there was something about this day that Paul understood that I’m afraid we in the 21st. century seem to lack in our understanding. Notice the next verse after verse ten in II Corinthians five; “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (vs. 11) What was it that terrified Paul about the judgment set of Christ that doesn’t seem to shock and terrify none in the Church of today? What ever the first century believers understood about that day, we need to understand about that day.
This judgment of the believers will involve THEIR works, not whether or not he or she will be saved. This question was settled for them in their lives on earth when they came to God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The judgment of the Christian will display his or her works before all to see what the real substance of our works is. Our motives, intentions, and our obedience will be judged before all. Paul warned us of how we SHOULD build on the true foundation. First, he says in I Corinthians 3: 11, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Paul continues with the succeeding verse; “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (vs.12-15). the ancient Greek runner who would prevail received a “laurel leaves” in the shape of a crown. This is a corruptible crown, but we as believers can obtain an incorruptible crown, and an inheritance that fades not away. What are our lives producing gold, silver, and precious stones, or wood, hay, and stubble? Why do we do the things that we do if we do anything at all? Should we be content with faithful Church attendance, or should we take comfort and security in the denomination we associate with? Will our lives go up in smoke before the Lord, and all of the holy angels on that day? One thing we must bear in mind is that the Lord God doesn’t judge us according to our own assessment. We may think that we are doing REALLY well because we may teach a Sunday school class, or usher, or preach, or sing in the choir, but not necessarily, we may do one or all of these things and still bring forth wood, hay, and stubble. Is it really worth it that we be ashamed on that day, and not receive all of the crowns we should have, or worse yet, no crown at all?
According to the Holy Scriptures, there are five crowns that will be given to those who ARE able to obtain them. Just as the contestant of the Greek games assembled before the Bema to receive the laurels crown, we will assemble to be given a victor’s crown on that day. The greatest joy of receiving as many crowns as we can is that there will be more to lay at the master’s feet on that glorious day. He is King of kings, and Lord or lords.
This is the Martyr’s crown, and mentioned twice in Scripture. In the
This crown seems to be for the Elder’s, or the Pastor’s who faithfully preach the word of God without compromise, or fear of men. This crown will not be giving to those who squandered the people for the sake of filthy lucre. In the first epistle of the apostle Peter 5: 2-4 he writes, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Sheppard shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” This is the crown that awaits every true and faithful Gospel preacher. The sacrifices that are made; the toil; the labor; the long hours; the hospital visits; the praying for the sick and afflicted will not be in vain on that day. Those faithful ministers will see that it was all worth it, because it was for Jesus sake.
3. The crown of rejoicing.
This crown is for those who win souls to the Lord. Those who we personally brought to the Lord, or had a part in the support of such, will receive this wonderful crown. It can not be overstated the worth of a precious soul that will live forever in a state of bliss and glory; or in agonizing, fiery torment forever. The bible says in Proverbs 15:11; “Hell and destruction are before the Lord. . .” God see everyone who is slipping into Hell, and he is angry at our lack of concern, and self-centered lives that demonstrate no concern for our fellowman who we know is on his way to this place called, Hell. We are indebted to all men to take the gospel to them, because all are under the wrath of God until they turn from their sins to Christ, and his finished work. I Thessalonians 2:19-20 says, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of out Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”
4. The crown of righteousness.
This is the crown for those who love his appearing. Some will be ashamed of his appearing. Will you and I be ashamed when Christ returns for his Church? If we are not ashamed on that day of his return, we will immediately receive this crown that will never perish. In 2 Timothy 4:8 we read, “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.” The righteous judge shall give a crown of righteousness to those who are waiting for his return.
5. The “incorruptible” crown.
In the book of first Peter chapter one, verse four says, “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” This is the victor’s crown for those who keep their bodies under subjection (I Corinthians 9:25-27); who do not yield to their fleshly lust; who do not live in defilement of the body; who do not allow themselves to lose site of the Harvest fields. Jesus said that we should raise our eyes upon the fields, for they are white and falling to the ground. But there is some else indicated in the Scriptures just beyond that harvest field; and that is a gathering, and billowing storm clouds of the wrath of God Almighty. We can hear the thunder in the not so distant future for we are in the last of the last days. Do we really believe in the Day of Judgment? Do we really believe that men are falling into Hellfire at this moment? Let us pray that we will have an understanding of the Judgment to come, and know as Paul knew the terror of the Lord.
The judgment of the church will
take place in heaven before the “Bema”, or
judgment seat of Christ. But the judgment of the Jews will take place on the
earth. The Jews are an earthly people with promises of an earthly kingdom, and
therefore their judgment must be an earthly judgment. The Church however is a
heavenly people, and therefore their judgment is reserved in the heavenlies.
The bases of their judgment is their rejection of God as there ruler. In the
days of Samuel the prophet they had rejected the Lord God and desired a king
like all the nations around them. In the book of first Samuel chapter eight,
verse seven we read, “And the Lord said unto Samuel, hearken unto the voice of the
people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but
they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”
“Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at
once? For as soon as
The nations of the world are on a collision course with
the judgment of God. No nation on this planet will escape the judgment to come;
(this would also include
The judgment of the “Goat” nations that “. . . did it not to one of the least of these my, ye did it not unto me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” The end of these nations that did not feed, or clothe, or provide shelter, or visit the Jewish remnant in the prison house is made clear according to the forty-six verse. They shall be thrown into Hellfire to be punished forever and ever. The nations that will be allowed to enter the thousand year reign of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will enjoy the blessing of a world without hunger, disease, murder, rape, war, and unrest. There will be enough resources for all. The animals will also be affected by the glory of the Lord. There will be no animal preying upon another, but “. . . The lion shall eat straw like the Ox.” (Isaiah 11)
None can deny that this is one of the most disturbing of all the judgments that we have discussed thus far. This is dooms day for all who have died in their sins. Those who are the subjects of this judgment have already spent so time in Hell awaiting this official day of reckoning. Those who die in their sins go to Hell and are tormented in Hellfire until the day they must be judged by God, and officially sentenced and punishment measured out according to their crimes. The righteous and the wicked shall both have a resurrection. The resurrection of the just, will takes place a thousand years before the resurrection of the wicked. And just as the just shall receive bodies that can not be destroyed; the wicked also shall have bodies that are indestructible. The resurrected bodies of the wicked shall not bear the glories of that of the righteous in their bodies, for the righteous shall have glorified bodies like the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the resurrections, the soul and spirit of those who have experienced physical death are reunited with their own bodies. In the case of the righteous, they will be made totally perfect in every way, but in the case of the wicked dead, they will be brought to a perfect ruin and thereby, rendered utterly useless as a vessel that is of no use except to be destroyed. In the twentieth chapter of the book of the Revelation, we have the most doleful, and horrifying picture that one can imagine. First, we are told of the final end of the Devil and his angels in verse ten, which reads, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” We also are told in the holy scriptures of another group of angels who rebelled in the days of Noah when the Sons of God (The angels) married the daughters of men. In the second epistle of the apostle Peter, we read in the second chapter, verse four, “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” Also in the book of St. Jude, he enlarges on the words of Peter when wrote, “And the angels which kept not their first estate , but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” (Vs. 6) One can only imagine the seen of that woeful day of eternal doom. There is no greater description of that day than what we find in the book of the Revelation; I’ll simply let the passage speak for itself. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Vs. 11-15)
The lake of fire and brimstone is the final and eternal separation from God forever and ever. This doesn’t mean that God’s presence will not be with them in one sense. His presence will be felt, and experienced by the righteous, and the wicked. But the righteous shall experience his love and fellowship to all eternity while the wicked shall experience his wrath and displeasure as they are tormented with fire and brimstone for ever and ever. In the book of Isaiah the prophet, he gives us a graphic picture of the torment of those who are eternally lost. In the sixty-sixth chapter, verse twenty-four, we read, “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” The wicked are like the troubled sea that can not rest. We can not imagine what eternity is, for we are but finite creatures. But one thing we must understand about the condition of the wicked, that just as with the righteous, their eternal condition will not be altered. Unless there is some change in God, there will not be a change in the plight of the wicked. God still hates sin, and his holy wrath must burn against it forever in accord with his holy and pure nature. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” (Deuteronomy 32:22)
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