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Is There A Final Judgment? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Montgomery   

When Christ raises the dead, will there be a final judgment?  Scripture does indeed speak of the resurrection as a time "in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28-29)  Does this mean that Christ will need to determine who are His and who are not?   Christ knows them that are His.  Their names are written in the Lamb's book of life.  He will separate them from those who are not His children.  He will recognize them instantly. He will not find this difficult to do in the least.  Among the lusterless wicked, His glorified saints will sparkle like diamonds.  "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels." (Malachi 3:17)  Yet, popular thought contends that there will be a final judgment both of the just and unjust.  Let us turn to the scriptures for the answer and consider three views of the resurrection: Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28-29; and Revelations 20:11-15.

Matthew 25:31-46 describes that day this way.  The Son of man shall come in his glory, shall sit upon His throne of glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations.  He shall then separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.  His children are easily identifiable from those who are not.  He shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  To those on his right, He shall say, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  This kingdom is prepared or fit for only His children, and on that day, they will be fit to reside eternally therein because their bodies will be glorified and in that glorified body their pure soul and spirit will reside harmoniously.

The Lord will separate His sheep from the goats.  This separation is of individuals and not of a nameless mass of people. The Lord will personally separate His Elect from the wicked.  The resurrection is a personal thing. They are His jewels among the wicked, His sheep among the goats.  The Lord speaks to the righteous, and says, "Come ye." He tells them what things they did to Him, yet they seem unaware that they had done them.  He declares, "inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  The wicked will claim they would have done the same had they but known, yet Christ makes it plain to them that they did not even do one loving thing to even one of the least of His brethren.  The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment that is prepared for them and they will be made fit to dwell eternally therein. Their soul and spirit shall reside in a body that can and will exist for all eternity in Hell.

Matthew 25:41, 46 identifies those who are to be cast into everlasting fire as the cursed.  Those who are to inherit life eternal are identified as the righteous. The works that Christ attributed to the righteous were works of love.  This love comes from God and is the basis for those works that characterize the child of God.  The wicked never possessed this love because God never loved them nor ever sent His love into their hearts; therefore, they could never perform the works of love.  The emphasis is on the quality of the works; not the quantity.  Notice, Christ says, "done it" and not "done them."  He says, "unto one of the least," and not, "unto many of the greatest."

In John 5:29, He simply says, "they that have done good," not "they that have done many good works."  Nor does the Lord, in John 5:29, intimate salvation by works. The quantity of work is not contemplated here. It is the quality of the person under consideration.  The presence of the indwelling of the Spirit determines the quality of the person.  It is the "seed" implanted in regeneration that does not sin and cannot sin.  The wicked do not possess this "seed."

In John 5:28-29, the Lord clearly states that all mankind will be raised together.  This is not to say that there will not be some still living when the Savior returns.  The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, says, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." In 1 Thessalonians 4:15, the apostle Paul says, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep." Once again, John 5:28-29 is one view of the resurrection and not a total view. Matthew 25:31-46 proves that both the righteous and the wicked will simultaneously stand before the throne of Christ.  We also know that some will not be physically dead at the time of His second coming.  All mankind shall be changed in the resurrection, and this is what the Lord has in mind in John 5:28-29.

The Lord, in these verses, proves there is a resurrection of life and of damnation.  The word "damnation" comes from the Greek word "krisis" (Strong's # 2920) which generally means, "decision." Krisis is translated in the KJV forty-one times as judgment, three times as damnation, twice as accusation, and twice as condemnation.  Many of the times krisis is translated as judgment, it has reference to a sentence of condemnation, damnatory judgment, condemnation and punishment.  This is how it is used in John 5:28-29.

It is also how the word judgment is used in Hebrews 9:27-28.  "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." When Adam sinned in the Garden, all men sinned in their federal head, Adam.  All men stand condemned before God.  Death was appointed unto all men and accompanying this appointment is the judgment.  The judgment is set in the mind of God, but there is coming a final formal legal utterance from the seat of God's justice. Eternal woe and misery is the destiny of all mankind.  This judgment cannot and will not be reversed.

Hebrews 9:27-28 does indeed specify that it was appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment. The important thing to ascertain from this text is when the judgment mentioned here is going to take place. To many, it seems as if the judgment happens or occurs after or following the death, but this is not really what the text means. If the death mentioned here is physical death, then logically this judgment is to take place after we each physically die. But this can't be what the writer means. Sure, we all will die sometime, but we all do not die physically at the same time. The text indicates that we were appointed to die. The word "appointed" means to "to be reserved." In other words, it was reserved for us to die. When did this "reservation" occur? According to Romans 5:12, it was when the first Adam sinned. This is also when we all collectively died, and it was then that judgment was passed. See especially Romans 5:18 for confirmation that "judgment came upon all men to condemnation" when the first Adam sinned. We sinned in Adam, we were judged in Adam, and we were condemned in Adam. Based upon Rom 5:12-18, I have to say that the judgment is tied to the appointment and this all happened when the first Adam sinned. Because this is true, there is no hope for Mankind. If our hope is in ourselves (and specifically in our ability to keep the Law) then all we have to look forward to is eternal woe and misery. But if our hope is in Christ and we believe He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, then we have the joyous privilege to look forward to His imminent return to take us home to glory rather than the execution of the judgment that was given when the first Adam sinned.

I want it stated for the record that I believe that the Elect of God will not face judgment on that final day but will be forever declared and manifested to be the children of God. The Wicked will stand before God and be sentenced for the crimes that they committed. They were already found guilty in Adam and are held accountable for their individual sins. It will be manifested to them why they are guilty and they will be shown why they deserve eternal death.

The only hope for anyone is that a perfect offering was made to appease God. For His children, Christ came to bear their sins.  He is their substitute. The work of redemption and atonement was reserved for Him to do at the appointed time.  He came to atone for their sins.  He became sin for His children.  He paid the price for their sins.  He died the death that they had coming to them.  Their death became His death.  Their judgment became His judgment.  In bearing their sins, He put away their sins.  In dying their death, He saved them from death. In taking their judgment, He justified them. The judgment of John 5:29 and Hebrews 9:27 is not for the Elect but for the non-Elect.

Revelations 20:11-15 confirms this.  John saw a great white throne, and Him that sat upon it.  (Verse 11)  The dead, small and great, stood 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. (Verse 12)   All the dead were judged every man according to their works. (Verse 13)  The books are distinguished from the book.  The expression "out of" indicates the origin, source, or cause of the judgment. The things that are written in the books will be the source and origin from which God judges the dead.  Before God, every man will be measured to those things written in the books and every man will receive judgment in harmony with their works.  The judgment will be that every man, not found in the book of life, will be cast into the lake of fire.  Verses 12 and 13 confirm that the righteous are not a part of this judgment because everyone who was judged was cast into the lake of fire.  The only ones who escaped this judgment are those who were found written in the book of life.

As in the accounts found in Matthew 25 and John 5, Revelations 20 shows a separation of the righteous from the wicked.  All three accounts show that God, via His Son Jesus Christ, will make an obvious separation between the two classes of people.  The children of God are described as sheep, as having done good, as having been found in the book of life.  Christ declares their works as proof that they are His children.  They stand before Christ in glorified bodies.  The wicked must also stand before God.  They are set to His left side of judgment.  God will judge them out of those things found in the books.  It will be proven they deserve to be cast into eternal hell. This judgment is the sentencing of the wicked.  To sentence means to formally declare to the guilty the legal consequences of the guilt to which he has been convicted.  In the legal realm, sentencing is the post-conviction stage of the criminal justice process in which the defendant is brought before the court for imposition of sentence.  According to the oldest precepts of law, sentence is not given upon matters that are not clear.  Surely, in the mind of God, it has always been clear who is guilty and who is not.  In that Day of Judgment when the sentence is declared, it will become eternally clear to the wicked why they are being cast into eternal Hell.

But the righteous should have no fear of this judgment because the righteous will not and cannot be judged anymore.  John wrote in 1st John 4:17-18, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.  He that feareth is not made perfect in love."  The word judgment comes from krisis. There is coming the final sentencing phase of the wicked, but the Elect should have no fear of judgment because Christ has already taken our judgment upon Him.  1st John 4:19 states, "We love him because he first loved us."  This love dwells in the regenerated soul and spirit of each of His Elect.  John 5:24 proves the Elect are no longer under threat of judgment. The Lord says, "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 (krisis); but is passed from death unto life." The child of God shall not be judged nor sentenced to death because he is not condemned.  In Romans 8:1, Paul wrote, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."

Christ came the first time to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. When He appears the second time, it is to take His children home to Glory. Had He not perfectly atoned for the sin of the Elect, their would be no second appearing; no resurrection; no glory.  Apart from the work of Christ, one can only look for death and judgment.  But to those who are looking for Him, one can see the only way, the only hope of salvation from death and judgment.  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee."

Written in much fear and with much love for the truth,
Mike Montgomery


Last Updated ( Friday, 20 October 2006 )
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