The common opinion that the Millennium is to be ushered in by the preaching of the Gospel, and that after the Millennium there is to be a "General Resurrection" followed by a "General judgment," and then the earth is to be destroyed by fire is not scriptural.
There can be no "General" judgment because the Scriptures speak of one judgment as being in the "Air" (1Thes. 4:16, 1Thes. 4:17; 2Cor. 5:6-8) ; another on the "Earth" (Matt. 25:31-33) ; and a third in "Heaven, " the earth and its atmosphere having fled away. Rev. 20:11-13. And to-make sure that these three separate judgments should not be combined into one General judgment scene, three different Thrones are mentioned.
1. The "Judgment Seat of Christ." 2 Cor. 5:10. "In the Air." For "Believers" only.
2. The "Throne of Glory." Matt. 25:31, Matt. 25:32. "On the Earth." For "The Nations."
3.The "Great White Throne." Rev. 20:11, 12. "In Heaven." For the "Wicked Dead."
The Scriptures speak of
Five Separate judgments.
They differ in five general aspects. As to "Subjects," "Time," "Place," "Basis of judgment" and "Result."
Judgment No. 1.
1. Subjects-Believers as to "SIN."
2. Time-A.D. 30.
4.Basis of judgment. Christ's "FINISHED WORK."
1. Death as to Christ.
2. Justification as to the Believer.
This judgment is PAST. The Bible proofs of the results of this judgment are Rom. 10:4.
"For Christ is the END OF THE LAW for righteousness to every one that Believeth."
"Christ Hath Redeemed us from the CURSE OF THE LAW, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Gal. 3:13.
"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, BEING DEAD TO SINS, should live unto righteousness." 1Pet. 2:24.
"There is therefore NOW no condemnation (judgment) to them which are IN CHRIST JESUS, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the Law of the 'SPIRIT OF LIFE' in Christ Jesus hath made me FREE From the Law of 'Sin and Death."' Rom. 8:1, Rom. 8:2.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me,
HATH EVERLASTING LIFE
and shall not come into condemnation (judgment) but
From Death Unto Life."
The "Believer's" judgment for Sin then is PAST, and was settled at the Cross.
But we must not forget that the judgment of the Believer is threefold.
1. As a "Sinner."
2. As a "Son."
3. As a "Servant."
As we have already seen his judgment as a "Sinner" is Past. Let us look at his judgment
2. As a "Son."
As soon as the sinner accepts Christ as his personal Saviour that settles the "Sin" question for him. For if our iniquities are laid on Him (Jesus), then they are not on Us. Isa. 53:5, Isa. 53:6. But the "Sin" question, and the "Sins" question are two different things. Christ died on the Cross to atone for "sin, " to pay the penalty of Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden. "Sin" is that tendency in mankind to do wrong which we call "Natural Depravity." We do not get rid of this "tendency" by the "New Birth," but we get a "counteracting force" called the "New Nature." We become a "dual personality, " composed of the "Old" and "New Natures," and which shall predominate depends on which we feed and which we starve. This explains the "warfare" that Paul describes as his experience, after his conversion, in Rom. 7:1-3. This warfare will continue until the "Old" nature is eradicated at death.
"Sins" are the outward acts of wrong-doing that we commit as the result of our tendency to sin. These sins must be put away daily by "confession."
"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an 'Advocate' with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1John 2:1.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1John 1:9.
Our judgment as "Sons" is for "unconfessed sins." The punishment is chastisement. This explains much of the chastisement of Christians, and should show them that they are "Sons" and not "Bastards." Heb. 12:5-1 Heb. 12:1. Paul says-
"If we would 'judge ourselves' we should not be judged. But when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned (judged) with the world." 1Cor. 11:31, 1Cor. 11:32.
Our duty then as "Sons" is to "self-judge" ourselves daily, "confess our sins," and so avert the chastisement of our Heavenly Father.
3. As a Servant.
This leads us to-
Judgment No. 2.
1. Subjects-Believers as to "WORKS."
2. Time-After The Church is caught out
3. Place-"Judgment Seat of Christ" (in the Air).
4. Basis of Judgment-Their "WORKS."
5. Result-Reward or Loss.
This judgment is FUTURE.
"We must all appear before the 'Judgment Seat of Christ,' that every one may receive the things 'done in the body' according to that he hath done, whether it be 'good' or 'bad' (worthless)." 2Cor. 5:10.
The pronoun "We" occurs 26 times in the chapter, and in every instance it means the Believer, and the Epistle is addressed to the "Church" and "Saints" at Corinth, so the judgment here spoken of is for Believers "only." The "Time" of this judgment is when the Lord comes (1Cor. 4:5), and the "Place" is "in the air" (1Thes. 4:17) and before the judgment Seat of Christ.
It will not be a judgment in the sense of a "trial" to see whether the judged are innocent (saved) or guilty (lost), for it is a judgment it of the "saved only." It will be like the judges' stand at a Fair, or Race Track, where rewards are distributed to the successful contestants. Paul describes such a scene in 1Cor. 9:24-26.
It is not a judgment for sin, but for "works." This judgment is described in 1Cor. 3:11-13.
"Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones (valuable building stones, as marble, etc.), wood, hay, stubble; every man's 'Work' shall be made manifest; for the 'Day' (judgment Day) shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by 'fire,' and the fire shall try every mans work, of what sort it is. If any man's work 'abide' which he hath built there upon 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."
The result of this judgment is "reward" or "loss." All our "bad" and "dead works," represented by the wood, hay and stubble, will be consumed, and only our "good works" shall remain. There is much which passes for Christian service which is merely human and secular, and does not count in our eternal reward. For those who deserve a "reward" it will be
The Crowning Day.
After the Grecian games were all over the runners, wrestlers, and successful contestants assembled before the "Bema," or Judges' stand, which was an elevated seat on which the Umpire sat, and the winners received a "corruptible crown" of "laurel leaves." Some had no reward, they had lost the "Victor's Crown." But while there was no reward there was no punishment, they were not cast out.
The New Testament speaks of Five Crowns.
1. The Crown of "LIFE."
This is the "Martyr's" crown, and is mentioned twice.
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation (testing), for when he is 'tried' (at the judgment Seat of Christ), he shall receive the 'Crown of Life' which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." James 1:12.
"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer; behold, the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried (tested) and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful 'unto death,' and I will give thee a 'Crown of Life."' Rev. 2:10
Notice it does not say "until" death, but "unto" death. They were not to recant but to remain faithful unto a martyr's death. To recant was to lose the crown. This refers to the martyrs of the Tribulation Period.
2. The Crown of "GLORY."
This is the "Elder's" or "Pastor's" crown, given by the Chief Shepherd when He shall appear. But it is not for
those who serve for "filthy lucre" or "lord it over God's heritage." 1Pet. 5:2-4.
3. The Crown of "REJOICING."
This is the "Soul Winner's" crown. 'Those brought to Jesus by us will be our "crown of rejoicing" at His Coming. 1Thes. 2:19, 1Thes. 2:20. Phil. 4:1.
4. The Crown of "RIGHTEOUSNESS"
This is the crown of those who "love His appearing" and will be given in "that day"-the Day of His Appearing. 2Tim. 4:8.
5. The Crown "INCORRUPTIBLE."
This is the "Victor's" crown, and is for those who "keep under their body." 1Cor. 9:25-27. Who do not yield to their fleshly lusts. Who do not permit themselves to be diverted from the Master's work by worldly amusements and pleasure, nor saturate their body with drugs.
If we do not want to be "ashamed at His Coming," 1John 2:28, let us see to it that we keep our body "under" and so live that we shall secure a crown.
1. Subjects-The JEWS.
2. Time-"The Great Tribulation."
3. Place-Jerusalem and Vicinity.
4. Basis of Judgment-Rejection of the Godhead.
5. Result-Their Conversion and Reception of Christ as TheirMessiah.
This judgment is FUTURE.
While the Church is being judged at the judgment Seat of Christ in the air, the Jews will be judged under Antichrist on the earth. The Jews are an "earthly" people; and as all the promises to them are "earthly," it follows that their judgment must be of an "earthly" character. The basis of their judgment is their "rejection of the Godhead." In the days of Samuel they rejected God the Father. 1Sam. 8:7. In the days of Christ they rejected God the Son. Luke 23:18. In the days of Stephen they rejected God the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51, Acts 7:54-56. For their sin they have been scattered among the nations until the Times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. When the Times of the Gentiles are about to end the Jews will be gathered back to the Holy Land "unconverted," and caused to "pass under the rod." Ez. 20:34-36. They will be cast into God's "Melting Pot" (Ez. 22:19-21), and pass through an experience spoken of by Jeremiah and Daniel as the "TIME OF JACOB'S TROUBLE." Jer. 30:4-6. Dan. 12:1.
Christ calls it "The Great Tribulation," and He and Zechariah the Prophet associate it with the "Return of the Lord." Matt. 24:21-23. Zech. 14:1-3.
The human agent the Lord will use will be Antichrist, the awfulness of whose rule will be supplemented by the pouring out of the "Vials of God's wrath" upon the earth. Rev. 15:1, Rev. 15:5-7; Rev. 16:21. See the chapter on "The Tribulation."
The result of these terrible judgments will be that the Jews will call in their misery upon the Lord. Zech. 12:10. Then Christ will come back to the Mt. of Olives (Zech. 14:3) and the Jews will look upon Him whom they "pierced" (Zech. 12:10), and a nation, the Jewish Nation, shall be "born (converted) in a day." Isa. 66:8. This will complete the judgment of the Jews. See the chapter on the Jews.
Judgment No. 4.
1. Subjects-The Nations (Gentiles).
2. Time-The "Revelation of Christ."
3. Place-The "Throne of His Glory." On the Earth-"Valley of Jehoshaphat."
4. Basis of judgment-Their Treatment of Christ's Brethren-The Jews.
5. Result-Some Nations "SAVED," Others "DESTROYED."
This judgment is FUTURE.
The account of this judgment is given in Matt. 25:31-33. The description of this judgment, and of the one given in Rev. 20:11-13 are combined by many, and taken to teach the doctrine of a general judgment. But when we compare them, they differ so widely, that it is evident that they do not describe the same event. What God has put asunder let no man join together. The following comparison will show the difference in the two accounts:
|Matt. 25:31-33.||Rev. 20:11-13.|
|1. No Resurrection.||1. A Resurrection.|
|2. Living Nations judged.||2. Dead judged.|
|3. On the Earth. Joel 3:2.||3. Heaven and Earth Gone.|
|4. No Books Mentioned.||4. Books Opened.|
|5. Three Classes Named. "Sheep," "Goats," "Brethren."||5. One Class Named. "The Dead."|
|6. Time-Before the Millennium||6. Time-After the Millennium.|
This comparison reveals the fact that one of these judgments is "on the earth," the other in the "heavens," and that they are separated by 1000 years.
The Greek word "ethnos" here translated "Nations," occurs 158 times in the New Testament. It is translated "Gentiles" 92 times, "Nation" or "Nations" 61 times, and "The Heathen" 5 times, but it is never in any instance (unless it be this) applied either to the "dead" or the "resurrected."
As this is a judgment of nations only, the Jews cannot be in it, for they are not reckoned among the nations. Num. 23:9. And as the Church will be associated with Christ in this judgment, for the "Saints" (the Church) shall judge the "World" (the Nations), (1Cor. 6:2), the Church cannot be in this judgment either. As we have seen the Church and the Jews have been already judged, so the "Judgment of the Nations" cannot be a general judgment. Who then, is asked, are meant by the Sheep? Do they not represent the Righteous, and all the Righteous from the beginning of the world to the end of Time? And do not the Goats in like manner represent all the Wicked?
If the Sheep are the Righteous, and the Goats the Wicked, then who are the Brethren? If they are the "followers of Christ," as some claim, they should be classed with the Sheep. The Scriptures teach that the Righteous are saved by "faith," and the Wicked are lost because they "reject Christ," but in this judgment scene the Sheep inherit a "Kingdom" and the Goats are commanded to "depart," because of their treatment of the Brethren.
All the contusion is caused by trying to make a judgment of "nations" mean a judgment of "individuals." The Sheep represent one class of Nations, and the Goats another class, while the Brethren represent the Jews (Christ's brethren).
We must bear in mind the time and place of this judgment. The time is at the "Revelation of Christ," when He comes to set up His "Millennial Kingdom" on the earth. The place is the "Valley of Jehoshaphat" in the vicinity of Jerusalem.
"For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather ALL NATIONS, and will bring them down into the 'Valley of Jehoshaphat, ' and will plead with them there for MY PEOPLE and for my heritage ISRAEL, whom they have scattered among the Nations, and parted my land." Joel 3:1, Joel 3:2.
This prophecy clearly states that there is to be a "Judgment of Nations" on the earth in the "Valley of ehoshaphat" at the time of the restoration of the Jews to their own' land, and that the basis of judgment is the treatment by the nations of Christ's brethren-The Jews.
During the "Tribulation Period" the Nations that treat the Jewish People kindly, feeding and clothing them, and visiting them in prison, will be the "Sheep Nations," while those who neglect to do so will be the "Goat Nations."
At the "Judgment of Nations" the King (Christ) will say to the "Sheep Nations," inasmuch as ye have been kind to My brethren (the Jews), "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." This Kingdom is the "Millennial Kingdom" that the "Sheep Nations" as Nations will "inherit" and possess during the Millennium. And as they are to be among the "saved nations" of the New Earth (Rev. 21:24) it can be said of them that they, or at least the righteous individuals of them, shall enter into life eternal. Matt. 25:46.
Christ's sentence upon the "Goat Nations" will be-"Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire ' prepared for the Devil and his angels," and "these shall go away into everlasting punishment." The "Goat Nations" will at once be destroyed as Nations, not one of them shall get into the Millennium, and the wicked individuals that compose them will perish and be eternally lost.
Judgment No. 5.
1. Subjects-The Wicked Dead.
2. Time-During the Renovation of the Earth by Fire.
3. Place-Before "The Great White Throne."
4. Basis of judgment-Their "Works."
5. Result-Cast Into the "Lake of Fire."
This judgment is FUTURE.
The account of it is given in Rev. 20:11-13. It will take place at the close of the Millennium a 1000 years after the judgment of the Nations, and before the "Great White Throne."
The "Great White Throne" will not be on the earth, for the "Great White Throne judgment" will take place
during the renovation of the earth by fire, for the "renovation" of this Earth is reserved or kept until the time
of that judgment, which Peter calls "The Day of judgment and Perdition of Ungodly Men" (2Pet. 3:7),
because the judgment of the "Great White Throne"is the judgment of the wicked dead.
All the Righteous dead will arise at the First Resurrection. If any Righteous die between the First Resurrection and the Resurrection of the "wicked" or Second Resurrection, they will rise with the wicked dead at that Resurrection. The words-"Whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life (vs. 15), implies that there will be "some," probably very few, Righteous at the Second Resurrection.
At the close of the Millennium and just before the renovation of the earth by fire, the living Righteous will probably be translated, and the living Wicked or Ungodly will be destroyed in the flames that will consume the earth's atmosphere and exterior surface.
The Wicked or Ungodly will not be judged to see whether they are entitled to Eternal Life, but to ascertain the "degree" of their punishment. The sad feature of this judgment will be that there will be many kind and lovable people there who were not saved, and who will be classed among the "ungodly" because they rejected Christ as a Saviour. The "Books" will be opened in which the "Recording Angel" has kept a record of every person's life, and they will be judged every man according to his "works." Some will be sentenced to a more severe punishment than others, but none will escape. The worst of all is, that those who were not so bad must spend eternity with the ungodly, and that in the "Lake of Fire." Their punishment includes the second death, which means that they shall lose their resurrection bodies, in which they were judged, and become "disembodied spirits" again, and so exist in the "Lake of Fire" FOREVER.
The "Fallen Angels" (not the Devil's angels), who are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness" will be judged at this time, which Jude calls the judgment of the "Great Day." Jude 6. When this judgment is over the Devil and his angels, and all the ungodly, will have been consigned to the "Lake of Fire," and the Universe purged of all evil, and righteousness shall reign supreme on the New Earth.