Monday, August 8, 2011

The Future Judgments

The Future Judgments

Excerpts from The Judgments - (Past, Present, and Future)   
Study By: J. Hampton Keathley, III
The Bema Judgment (Post Rapture, Pre Second Coming, For Christians Only)

·         The word "bema" was taken from Isthmian games where the contestants would compete for the prize under the careful scrutiny of judges who would make sure that every rule of the contest was obeyed (cf. 2 Titus 2:5). The victor of a given event, who had participated according to the rules, was led by the judge to the platform called the Bema. There the laurel wreath was placed on his head as a symbol of victory (cf. 1 Cor 9:24-25).

2 Titus 2:5  And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

1 Cor 9:24-25  Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  (25)  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

·         This judgment follows the rapture, in heaven, and is before the Marriage of the Lamb, and is intended as a rewards ceremony. The following scriptures talk about rewards:

1 Cor 3:11-15  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  (12)  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  (13)  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.  (14)  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  (15)  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

2 Titus 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.

1 John 2:28  And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Rev 3:11-12  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.  (12)  Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Rev 22:12  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

The Judgments of the Tribulation  (During the Tribulation)

While the Bema is going on in heaven (with the church in the Lord’s presence) a series of terrible judgments will begin to unfold on the earth for a period of seven years to be culminated by the return and manifestation of Christ to earth as the Great White Horse Rider of Revelation 19.

The main point to see here is that this entire period is the expression of God’s wrath in increasing degrees of judgment to be poured out on the world. The world seeks to find answers to its problems through the one world movement of the last days and apart from the true God as He has revealed Himself in Christ. So, much as we see in Rom 1:18-19, God turns the world over to the consequences of its choices. The result is the one world system of the Beast as described in Revelation. It will begin with an apparent time of prosperity and peace created by this one world government under the deceptions of the man of lawlessness. But even this will be God’s judgment and the expression of His wrath. While people are saying peace and safety, then sudden destruction will come as birth pains upon a woman in travail. The judgments of this time will grow in intensity and conclude with an awesome display of God’s wrath against a Christ-rejecting world.

The Judgment and Reward of Resurrected Old Testament and Tribulation Saints  (Post Tribulation, Pre Millennium)

While many would place the resurrection and reward of Old Testament saints with that of the church at the rapture, a number of factors favor this at the conclusion of the tribulation at the same time as the resurrection and reward of tribulation saints mentioned in Rev 20:4.

1.       Daniel, who wrote concerning the termination of God’s program for Israel in chapter 9, places the resurrection of the righteous in Israel as occurring after “a time of distress such as never occurred …” Clearly this is the Tribulation, Daniel’s Seventieth Week, or “the time of Jacob’s Distress” mentioned by Jeremiah (Jer 30:7; Dan 9:27).

2.      Resurrection is viewed in Scripture as an event that terminates one program and initiates another, and one would not expect Israel’s resurrection could come until God had finished the seventy years decreed for His people, the Jews, according to Dan 9:24-27. Since the events mentioned in Dan 9:26 (the cutting off of Messiah and the destruction of city and sanctuary) had to occur after the 69 weeks of years had run their course but before the seventieth week begins, there has to be a space of time, the parenthesis of the church age, between the conclusion of the sixty-ninth week and the beginning of the seventieth.

3.      The resurrection (rapture) and Bema of the church concludes this parenthesis, the church age, but Old Testament saints (the righteous dead) are not resurrected and rewarded until after the seventieth week when God concludes His program with Israel as far as the seventy weeks of Daniel are concerned.

The order of God’s resurrection program which includes the judgment of rewards would seem to be:

1.       the resurrection of Christ as the beginning of the resurrection program (1 Cor 15:23);

2.      the resurrection of the church age saints at the rapture (1 Thess 4:16);

3.      the resurrection of tribulation period saints (Rev 20:3-5), together with the resurrection of Old Testament saints (Dan 12:2; Isa 26:19).

The Judgment of Living Israel  (Post Tribulation, Pre Millennium)

The Time of This Judgment

The Scripture teaches that before Messiah can begin to reign, there must be a judgment to determine who will enter into Messiah’s kingdom since “they are not all Israel (spiritually regenerated believers who put their trust in Jesus Christ as their Messiah) who are Israel (physical descendants only)” (Rom 9:6). The rebels of unbelief must be removed so that only believing Israel will enter into the kingdom (cf. Eze 20:34-38; Eze 22:19-22; Matt 25:1-30).

Part of this removal occurs through the Tribulation judgments themselves (Rev 6:1-19; Zec 13:8-9). But those who are not killed by these judgments will be gathered, judged, and the rebels removed with only believers going into the millennial kingdom.

Matthew 24-25 set the chronology and thus the time. The order is:

·         The Tribulation judgments (Matt 24:4-26).
·         The visible return of Jesus Christ (Matt 24:27-30).
·         The regathering of those Israelites who were left after the tribulation judgments, both believing and unbelieving Jews (Matt 24:31; Eze 20:34-35 a).
·         The judgment of the Nation of Israel (Matt 25:1-30; Eze 20:35-38).

The Place of This Judgment

At the end of the Tribulation, the Lord Jesus will return personally to earth (Zec 14:4), but Eze 20:34-35 shows God brings Israel out from the nations where she has been scattered throughout the times of the Gentiles (gathers her to the last person, Eze 39:28). But Israel is first gathered at the borders, outside the land of Israel, called in Eze 20:35 “the wilderness of the peoples,” for judgment, face to face, one by one as sheep pass under the shepherd’s rod.

The Basis of This Judgment

Rev 7:14 shows us that salvation in the Tribulation (as in the church age) is through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God. This is further confirmed by the message of the book of Romans where the Apostle shows Israel’s problem to be one of seeking to establish her own righteousness by keeping the Law rather than accept God’s righteousness by faith in Christ (Rom. 9-11). Matt 25:1-30 shows that God will judge living Israel to separate the saved from the unsaved. In this passage and in Mal 3:2-3, Mal 3:5, and Eze 20:37-38, the individual’s works will be brought into judgment, but not because they are saved by their works, but because their works demonstrate they are rebels who have failed to trust in Jesus.

The Judgment of Living Gentiles (Post Tribulation, Pre Millennium, Sheep and Goat Judgment)

Just as He judged the Jews still alive at the end of the Tribulation when Christ personally returns to earth, so He will also judge those Gentiles who remain (Matt 25:31-46, Joel 3:2.

At the judgment of the Gentiles Christ will separate the sheep, representing the saved, from the goats, representing the lost (Mat 24:31-46). Though salvation is by grace and through faith, the saved who come out of the Great Tribulation will be identified by their works in befriending their Jewish brothers. In the universal anti-Semitism of the Great Tribulation one who befriends Jews will by this evidence manifest his salvation.6

The Final Judgment of Satan and the Fallen Angels  (Post Millennium)

Throughout the centuries as anticipated in the enmity mentioned in Gen 3:15, there has been constant warfare between the holy angels who minister to God’s people and Satan and his unholy angels, the demonic spirits. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier concerning the judgment of Satan, God has manifested His power by defeating Satan and his hordes. While, for God’s own purposes, Satan has been allowed to continue his nefarious schemes, Scripture speaks of three sure events regarding the activity of Satan and his demonic forces: his binding during the millennium, his short release, and his final incarceration in the Lake of Fire. Then all opposing powers against the Lord will be dealt with in judgment (Rev 20:1-3, Rev 20:7-10; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6; 1 Cor 15:24-26).

The Judgment of the Great White Throne  (Post Millennium)

All who have scoffed at God, denied His being, rebelled at His rule, or rejected His sovereignty—and in the process, also rejected His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ—must at this time stand before this throne to be condemned to eternal judgment. May the reality of this judgment cause us to carefully reflect on the serious consequences of this passage on a Christ-rejecting world.

Rev 20:11-15 And 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The Time of This Judgment

Rev 20:5 and Rev 20:11-15 show this takes place after the conclusion of the millennium following the doom of Satan and the destruction of heaven and earth, but before the eternal state of the new heavens and earth of Rev 21:1.

The Place of This Judgment

Heaven and earth are seen fleeing from the face of Him who sits on this throne (Rev 20:11). In other words, they are destroyed, dissolved (2 Peter 3:7-12). The point is the Great White Throne Judgment does not occur on earth or in heaven as we know it, but somewhere beyond, perhaps in extreme outer space. This indication is also clear that it does occur in the new heavens and earth which are not created until after this event (cf. Rev 20:11 with Rev 21:1).

In other words, God has removed Satan and his demons, the False Prophet and the Beast, and is about to judge the rest of the unbelieving dead. So, it is only fitting that He also judge the old earth and heavens that has been the arena of Satan’s activity and man’s sin and rebellion. This evidently takes place after the resurrection of the unbelieving dead from the grave and Hades. They are resurrected, gathered before the throne and actually behold the dissolution of heaven and earth as a foreboding preparation for their judgment. All their hopes and dreams had been placed in an earth and system that was passing away (1 John 2:17), and now they see it dissolve before their very eyes.

“And no place was found for them,” i.e., for heaven and earth. In the eternal state there will be no place for that which reminds men of the rebellions of Satan and man with all its wickedness and sorrow (Rev 22:3; Rev 21:4; Isa 65:17).

The Participants of This Judgment

The judge is the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:22-23, John 5:27). All judgment has been placed into His hands as the perfect Son of man, Son of God, the one qualified to judge by virtue of his sinless humanity and defeat of Satan and sin through the cross (Rev 5:1-14).

Those judged are “the dead, great and small,” those who had no part in the first resurrection (Rev 20:5-6). Specifically, this is the dead of the second resurrection, the resurrection of the unjust, the resurrection unto the second death mentioned in Rev 20:5-6, Rev 20:12-14, and John 5:29 b. “The dead, great and small” emphasizes that no one is exempt. All who have died without faith in Jesus Christ—regardless of their status in human history, religiously, politically, economically, or morally—must stand before this throne of judgment.

The Basis of This Judgment

The basis of the judgment is what is found in the two sets of books—the books which are opened, and the other book, the Book of Life (Rev 20:12 b, Rev 20:13 b, Rev 20:15 a). Note that the text says “and the books (plural) were opened, and another book (singular) was opened, which is the Book of Life.” We have two sets, the books and the book which is mentioned again in verse Rev 20:15 a.

The Books: The identity of the books is not specifically revealed and we can only speculate from a comparison of other passages of Scripture and from the nature of these verses. I believe we have two books here.

1.The first book opened will probably be the Scripture, the Word of God, which contains the revelation of God’s holy character, the moral law, the declaration of man’s sinfulness, and God’s plan of salvation through faith in Christ. This book also reveals that even when men do not have the written Word, they have the law of God written in their hearts (Rom 2:14-16), and the revelation of God-consciousness in creation so that they are without excuse (Rom 1:18-21; Rom 2:12). Undoubtedly, then, the Scripture will be used to demonstrate the clearness of the plan of God and that man is without excuse. John 12:48 is very pertinent here: He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

2.The second book will be the book of works or deeds. Verses 13 and 14 state that the unbelieving dead will be judged according to their deeds (works). Undoubtedly then, one book is the book of works which contains a record of every person’s deeds as a witness of the true nature of their spiritual condition

The Book of Life: This book contains the names of all believers, of all who have put their faith in Christ and God’s plan of salvation or righteousness through the substitutionary death of Christ. Or, to put it another way, it is a record of those who have not rejected God’s plan of salvation and have responded to Christ in faith; for these their faith is reckoned for righteousness and their sins have not been imputed to them (Rom 4:4-6, Rom 4:22).

At the Great White Throne Judgment the Book of Life is produced to show that the participant’s name was not found written in the Book of Life because of their rejection of Jesus Christ. They, therefore, have no righteousness and cannot be accepted before God, but must be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire. The Book of Life contains the names of believers, those justified by faith and who have a righteousness from God imputed to their account. These and only these are accepted by God and will spend eternity with Him (cf. Rom 10:1-4; Phil 3:9).

    The Judgment or Punishment

Rev 20:14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

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