Death is a certainty and then the judgement, giving account of all deeds- good and evil; after that eternal joy or hell fires & only believers get assured rewards through Jesus!
“God will bring every deed in to judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). These are the words of King Solomon, the wisest man, after he had deliberated on the various mistakes committed during his lifetime. What will be the judgement day like? Will it be in the presence of all, right in the open? In case it is all in the open then the good and evil deeds will have to be shown to the accused in the presence of all, millions of people. Imagine one’s life events being screened on giant size screens for everyone, including those whom I had lied to, cheated and harmed during my life time- every single act flashes past in a moment. What looks will I get from all those who suffered at my hands? Generally in a court of law, on the date of hearing, everyone is worried and attempts to assess the mood of the judge. But the Judge in the heavenly court will be the Great I AM- for whom all past, present and future is open as if present and who never changes- the same uniformity in every act. So what will I do to prepare myself for that day and per chance if I have to face the trial now and today?
But why a day of judgement? – At the time of creation God had provided two options to Adam and Eve- first to eat the fruit of the ‘Tree of Life’ and live forever and there was no restriction on this; while the second was the fruit of the ‘Tree of knowledge of good and evil’ and die and this fruit was forbidden. God’s eternal plan has been for the man to reign over the earth, despite the presence of Satan and his gang of demons. Adam and Eve fell prey to Satan’s lies and attempted to lead a life of self sufficiency without dependence on God. Any act of disobedience would automatically involve judgement and resultant punishment, if required. This act of disobedience led to the first judgement being passed by God by expelling the two from the Garden of Eden and placing a curse on all the three actors involved.
The Types of judgement- God loves His creation and after the disciplining, He provided an escape clause for forgiveness of sin committed by Adam and Eve through animal sacrifice and their skins were provided to them to cover their shame for the act. This merciful act of God permitted the two to seek God and seek His Divine blessings to fellowship with and worship Him and in turn receive blessings to make their cursed life on the earth easy. This demanded a continued state of obedience to the commands of God and leading a holy life, fre from sin.
The next judgement was pronounced on the mankind by God through the flood during Noah’s time and God declared “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created-…… for I regret that I have made them” (Genesis 6:7). The Creator is the only one who has the knowledge and reason to judge His creation since only He is aware of the ‘why and the effect’ of creation. Through the eating of the fruit of Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man acquired the knowledge to differentiate between the good and bad and right from childhood one is taught to distinguish and choose right. We do this for we believe that we will be required to give account of our deeds to God after we face His throne.
How does God judge His people? Deuteronomy 28 contains blessings for obedience in the first 14 verses while curses for disobedience having immediate impact are listed from 15 to 68th verse. The curses to take effect will require judgement on a continuous basis and then condemnation and punishment. This is evident through the messages from the Lord God given to His people through the prophets. The aim of this is to turn people back to God and leave their sinful lives to do righteousness and love God. God is merciful and desires to give various chances to us to seek Him and obtain forgiveness. The best example of this is of the people of Nineveh and “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened” (Jonah 3:10).
In a similar manner God’s plan for all (Jeremiah 29:11) has two elements to it- one general and available to all and the other for those who seek Him and call out to Him- thus involving judgement of a regular kind. But this is a cursory scrutiny with the sole purpose of releasing blessings for obedience. The Psalmist prays to God claiming his righteousness (Psalm 17:3-5) and then seeks Divine blessings on the basis of this (verses 6-15). Apparently the Lord does not provide unlimited riches of His kindness without certain conditions being fulfilled. God loves His creation and in His love as a Father He will not allow degeneration of human life because He created us in His image and likeness; to which state He desires us to enter. It is for this reason that regular judgement goes on “because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a Father the son He delights in” (Proverbs 3:12). This is the first judgement of the living and the second will be at the time of rapture when the Lord will come to take His own while the final judgement will be after the final defeat and chaining of Satan for a 1,000 years.
Judgement after death- Death is the result of sin and it started only after the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Irrespective of the religion, race or status death is a certainty and the race to the finish line starts immediately after birth. All religions teach of our appearance before our Creator for judgement and after death certain invocations stating this fact are made. In Islam reading of Quran 2:156 which reads as “To God we belong and to Him we shall return” is carried out during the final rites after death. Islam teaches, like most other religions of the earth about life after death in the presence of or away from God in punishment and last rites include a reminder to the living to prepare for their own definite journey in to the unknown. “On that day, people will come forward in separate groups to be shown their deeds; whoever has done an atom’s weight of good will see it, but whoever has done an atom’s weight of evil will see that” (Quran 99:7-9). Thus God will weigh everyone’s good and bad deeds on the day of judgement and reward accordingly.
Who will be the judge?- This is the question which is very important, for if we know the Judge, there is a possibility of getting a lenient view- that is the belief we all have here on earth. The answer is provided in the Scriptures “We all must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due for us for the things done in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The authority to judge has been given by God the Father to His Son for the one reason that He was born as man, experienced the trials as a man, faced rejection and the ultimate punishment for our sins and can thus empathize with us.
What is the “Book of Life”? – Moses is the first person mentioning about God’s book and while interceding for forgiveness of the sins of Israelites prays for deletion of his name from this book but forgiveness for his people. God replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of My book” (Exodus 32:32-33). Apostle Paul refers to the ‘Book of Life’ and clarifies that the names of those ‘who contend for the Gospel’ are written in this book (Philippians 4:3). The book of Revelation has seven references about this book as “Book of the Lamb” and contains the names of believers in the Lord and who have emerged victorious in the trials of life. The Lord not only assures permanency in this entry of name but further promises “to confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5). “As many as received His name, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Accepting the Lord Jesus as Savior ensures forgiveness of sins and safety from being “cast in to the lake of fire” and eternal damnation (Revelation 20:15). The judge then becomes our ‘Advocate’ to plead for forgiveness from ourf sins.
Future Judgments- The Scriptures mention five different judgement in the future:
- Judgement of Israelites– This will be to evaluate the performance of Israelites for disobedience and rejection of Jesus as their Savior and in this “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake; some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).
- Judgement of living nations- Nations, who harmed the interests of Israel through dividing their lands, casting lots for people, traded boys and girls, will be judged by the Lord ‘in the valley of Jehoshaphat’ (Joel 3:2-3).
- Judgement of fallen angels- Immediately after millennial rule those angels, one third, who rebelled with Satan, “who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling” will be judged after being taken out of “darkness, bound with everlasting chains” (Jude 6).
- Great White Throne judgement-This is the judgement of all those whose names are not recorded in the ‘Book of Life’ or those who did not accept the Lord as their Savior. In their case another book will be opened which contains the total record of all their deeds during life on the earth and reviewed. “Anyone whose name was (will) not found written in the book of life was thrown in to the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). This lake of fire is ‘the lake of burning sulfur… where they will be tormented day and night forever and ever’ (verse 10).
- Judgement of ‘Children of God’-All believers also will be required to appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ to give account of the “things done in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14:10-11). The Greek word used here is ‘bema’ which is identical to the judgement seat of Olympic Games where the decision is about what level of reward be given since sins of these have already been washed with the blood of Lord Jesus. This is also declared in heaven “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Revelation 14:12). Apostle Paul clarifies about our works as being equated to gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and straw and the testing will be with fire (1 Corinthians 3:9-15). The rewards will be as per the quality of the works but other believers with poor works “will suffer loss, yet he himself will be saved” (verse 15).
The reward will be corresponding to the works, the twelve Apostles are promised ‘to judge the twelve tribes of Israel’ and the saints will rule the earth with the Lord during His reign. The commands are two; love your God with……. And love your neighbor as yourself and the works will have to be related to these two, since every other statute falls within the preview of these two commands.
Our Lord not only assured all those who believe in Him of “preparing a place for you” (John 14:2-3) and coming back to take them, He also prayed to God the Father for us. And this prayer again asks for the same blessing for us “Father I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). This prayer guarantees a place with “Him where He is” since just before raising Lazarus from the dead, our Lord very emphatically declared “Father I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me” (John 11:41-42). This was before even a single word had been spoken by Him, since the Father and He are one.
The question arises, is He capable of delivering on the promises that the Lord Jesus has made? The answer lies in the empty tomb, His meeting hundreds of people after His resurrection, His ascension before hundreds of people in an open area, the fulfilled promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit who is leading, guiding and empowering millions like you and me for the past two thousand years. The words we say “Lord Jesus, I trust in You” imply that we trust that He will give what we have asked or whatever is best for us- for HE KNOWS and what He gives is beyond our imagination because Jesus is!
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and the unchanging Lord does not forget His promises. The choice for us is very simple- to believe and be “a child of God” with a mansion in the Father’s house in heaven or land up in ‘the lake of fire burning with brimstone’ to be tormented till eternity. The question will only be ‘Did someone tell you about the good news of the Gospel?’ There may not be a second chance for who can assure the next breath!