(NOTE: This is a ‘rough draft’ of a chapter of my finished book- available on Amazon via Title Link: Thy Kingdom Come- Here and Now!)
Chapter 11- The Foundational Principle of Eternal Judgment
Before delving into the sobering principle of eternal judgment, I need to clarify what I have seen as a misunderstanding in the Body of Christ. It is often detrimental to a clear understanding of what the whole counsel of God in His inspired Word, the Holy Bible reveals about an issue when one verse or portion of Scripture is taken out of context and caused to stand alone. I have heard more times than I can count and most recently in a political discourse, the misapplication of:
Matthew 7:1,2… Do not judge, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you.
Keeping it in context one cannot make the misguided assertion that we are not to judge others in inappropriate circumstances when we include the rest of the Lord’s word on the subject:
Matthew 7:3-5… And why do you look at the splinter which is in your brother’s eye, but the beam in your eye you do not consider? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me remove the splinter from your eye, and behold, the beam is in your eye? Hypocrite, first remove the beam from your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.
It is clear that what the Lord is pointing out is that each of us must be brutally honest about our own brokenness and need for repentance and confession leading to sanctification, before we seek to engender a change of heart in another. In no way does it abrogate our responsibility to seek to help others in drawing closer to the Lord in sincere transparency of heart and purity of mind and motive. This is particularly true in the community of believers where we are to bear one another’s burdens.
Galatians 6:1,2… Brothers, even if a man is overtaken in some offense, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of meekness, looking to yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ completely.
The law of Christ is the law of love (1 Corinthians 13) and as an expression of the divine life working through us, this divine love allows us to bear another burden until he or she is able to properly bear it themselves. It is with great care and motivated by love that we are to obey the Lord Jesus when he reminds us:
John 7:24… Do not judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
This brings us full circle to the underlying issue that the writer of Hebrews addresses before he lists the elementary principles of Christ in Chapter 6. He says:
Hebrews 5:14… But solid food is for the full-grown, who because of practice have their faculties exercised for discriminating between both good and evil.
In maturity we have the authority to judge righteous judgment, in humility with pure motive of heart. This delegated authority is so profound that we are told:
1 Corinthians 6:1-5… Does any one of you who has a case against another dare to be judged before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy of the smallest judgments? Do you not know that we will judge angels, and not to mention things of this life? If then you hold judgments over things of this life, do you seat as judges those who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. So there is no one wise among you, who will be able to discern between his brothers?
The best discussion of this matter that I have found recently is the article Toward Christian Justice by An Orthodox Jewish Rabbi (his pseudonym), in The Morning Star Journal vol.16 no.3 The Kingdom: Kingdom Powerissue (see morningstarministries.org). In it the author details the great need that the Body of Christ has, corporately and individually- to implement and follow the clear biblical guidelines in establishing a Spirit led system of justice and equity. We must remember that righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne (Psalms 97:2).
Christian maturity as we have seen involves the daily and even moment by moment transformation of the soul (mind, will, emotions, imagination). In the Hebrews 5:14 verse above, another translation renders because of practice as by reason of use. We must always be willing to stretch toward greater spiritual growth… a deeper measure of emulating in transparency Christ-like character, and likewise be willing to submit to correction- either by the Word, the Spirit, and those found trustworthy who personally care about us. This is how we sharpen our perception and mature our faculties to discern or discriminate between ‘good and evil’. Let us truly judge righteous judgment.
The Doctrine of Eternal Judgment
1 Chronicles 16: 29-36… Ascribe to Jehovah the glory of His name; bring an offering and come before Him. Worship Jehovah in holy splendor; Tremble before Him all the earth. Indeed the world has been established; it will not be moved; Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; And let them say among the nations, Jehovah reigns!
Let the sea and its fullness roar; Let the field and all that is in it exult; Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before Jehovah, for He is coming to judge the earth. Give thanks to Jehovah for He is good, and say “Save us, O God of our salvation; and gather us and deliver us out of the nations, that we may give thanks to Your holy name, that we may glory in Your praise. Blessed be Jehovah the God of Israel, from eternity to eternity.
There is but one God… and His name is Jehovah. He is revealed in the Scriptures in three persons: Jehovah Abba Father (to all His children), Jehovah Lord Jesus Christ, and Jehovah Holy Spirit. We will look at the doctrine of the Trinity which is a divine mystery more closely in the future. Suffice it to say that the Creator has made us in His image with the desire to walk in us and move in this physical universe in sanctified mankind. Because of His intrinsic nature of being Eternal, He has created each individual person to likewise be eternal in spirit. This is where the dilemma exists. He has created us for relationship and intimacy with Him, and clearly:
2 Peter 3:9… The Lord… is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
He has voted in our favor from eternity past and forever; the devil has voted against us because of his great hatred for all who now supersede him… and we have the deciding vote with respect to our eternal destiny. It is so pathetically sad how the enemy has deceived man to such an extent that so many enter eternity every day without knowing Jesus as Savior and Lord. Their eternal doom is sealed; there is no longer hope of salvation for them… they have chosen, albeit many inadvertently to spend eternity in the lake of fire.
2 Peter 2:9… The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of trial and how to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.
Acts 17:30-32… Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now charges all men everywhere to repent, because He has set a day in which He is to judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He has designated, having furnished proof to all by raising Him from the dead. And when they heard of a resurrection of the dead, some scoffed…
This fantastic reality which is so mind-boggling that most cannot wrap their heads around it does sound unreal. I remember how it felt in my B.C. days- the whole premise of the Bible… Adam and Eve, the fall, the cross, Heaven, hell, eternal judgment… it all seemed too unbelievable to even consider. Until the Lord ‘arrested’ me, revealed Himself and His unfathomable love for me, and my resistance melted. I found the truth that I had been searching for in Christ. And yet even today I have such a crisis of consciousness in looking at the elementary principle of eternal judgment.
Hebrews 9:27… It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
That one verse blows a gaping hole in the false teaching of reincarnation. It disseminates the credibility of the Hindu religion and other New Age religions that promote a so-called cycle of life where one returns either higher or lower on the food chain. It is incomprehensible how such nonsense has multiplied millions of adherents. But when each of us stands before God, there will be no excuse.
1 Peter… For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God, and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
2 Corinthians 5:9-11… Therefore we make it our aim… to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men...
We who are privileged to know the truth, and do obey the gospel of God have the security of knowing that Heaven is our future home, and Mt. Zion, the New Jerusalem our residence when we all return to earth. Because of the atoning work of the cross of Calvary and the price that the Lord Jesus Christ paid for the blood-bought children of God we will not suffer eternal judgment. But we will stand before Christ at His judgment seat. Paul speaking, develops the concept:
1 Corinthians 3:9-15… For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s cultivated land, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid a foundation, and another builds upon it. But let each man take heed how he builds upon it. For another foundation no one is able to lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds upon the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, stubble, The work of each will become manifest; for the day will declare it, because it is revealed by fire, and the fire itself will prove each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built upon the foundation remains, he will receive a reward; if anyone’s work is consumed, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Again the salvation that we have received in Christ is not because of works, and is unchangeably eternal (John 10:28; 17:2,3). Those believers whose Christian works are not approved by the Lord, and therefore suffer loss of reward will still be saved. The Lord’s reward to those believers whose Christian works are approved by Him is for the Kingdom age, and is something that each of us should strive for in gratitude for our salvation and daily blessings. The contrast in judgment of the lost is sobering.
John 3:14-21… And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, That everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil. For everyone who practices evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his work be reproved. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be manifested that they are wrought in God.
Although we looked at the two resurrections in the last chapter, let’s look closely again at The Great White Throne Judgment. As stated earlier, each of us has an eternal spirit created by an Eternal God who in His infinite wisdom has given us free will. This free will does not contradict His sovereignty. He was, is, and always will be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. In His sovereignty and for as yet undetermined future benefit, he has given us the privilege of choice: the choice to receive or reject God, the choice to believe or not believe the Bible and the Gospel message, and the choice to spend eternity in Heaven and in the restored earth… or to take up permanent residence in the Lake of Fire.
Revelation 20:11-15… And I saw a great white throne, and Him who sat upon it, from whose face 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 scrolls were opened; and another scroll was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged by the things which were written in the scrolls, according to their works. 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, each according to their works. And death and Hades were case into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death, the Lake of Fire. And if anyone was not found written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the Lake of Fire.
This is a horrific end of life that never ends! The Lake of Fire created for the devil and his angels becomes the place of eternal torment, agony, and separation from a Holy God. This is why we must share the gospel with the living while they are drawing breath… once their breath is taken and their spirits leave their bodies, it’s too late.
Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner-
“Judgment Day Blues”