God's Judgment Program
Tim Temple


Romans, chapter 2, contains more reference to judgment than probably any other chapter in the Bible, so I want to use that as a starting point as we look at God's Judgment Program . Turn in your Bible to Romans, chapter 2, and we will read together the first sixteen verses:

Romans 2:

1Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
2But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
3And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
4Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
5But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
11For there is no respect of persons with God.
12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

This chapter mentions judgment more than any other chapter in the Bible, and in the minds of many people, there is much confusion about the judgment of God. When we read a passage like this, it is hard to keep things straight because of the various references to judgment in the Scripture. A basic mistake many people make is to think in terms of one general judgment. I think probably the most common opinion among Christians is that there is a great day coming; in fact, there is even a hymn that has been written along those lines: “There is a great day coming when the saints and the sinners shall be parted right and left.” Most of the jokes that we hear about Heaven have to do with going to the gates of Heaven and standing there and talking usually to Saint Peter who is deciding if we get into Heaven or not. Of course, jokes are not the basis of our theology, you will be glad to hear, and not even hymnology is the basis for our theology. Rather, the Scripture tells us that there are seven separate and different judgments that are mentioned in the Scripture.

Because of taking references to those various judgments and thinking of them in terms of one judgment, there can be much confusion, so in this study we want to survey those various judgments. I am not going into any of them in great detail, but will do just a survey of the various judgments—what they are, when they take place, what they involve—so we can get these things sorted out in our minds.

Principles Upon Which God's Judgments are Based

Before we look at those individual judgments, the verses that we have just read together give us the four principles on which all of God's judgments are based, regardless of which of the judgments we are talking about. First, there is the principle of truth in verse 2. It says:

Romans 2:

2But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

All of God's judgments are based on truth. Then there is the factor of deeds down in verse 6:

Romans 2:

6Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

Then down in verse 11, we are reminded that these standards apply to everyone, young and old, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, because of God's objectivity:

Romans 2:

11For there is no respect of personspartiality with God.

The same standards of judgment apply to those who have given a lot of money or a lot of time to God's work and those who have not really done anything for the Lord. The standards of judgment apply across the board. Then the fourth factor in God's judgment is the last line of verse 16:

Romans 2:

16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

“My gospel” is a reference to the Gospel that the Apostle Paul preached. These are the four principles of judgment. In the first two judgments that we look at I am going to point out how these various principles apply in that particular judgment. We will not have time to do that with each of the judgments, but I want to show you how those things fit and then perhaps when you have the time, you can look at the other judgments that we will talk about from that same standpoint.

The Judgment of Sin at the Cross

The first of these is in John, chapter 5, and this is what I refer to as The Judgment of Sin at the Cross. Certainly there is a sense in which this is the most important judgment that we can talk about. It is a judgment that applies to every individual. In John, chapter 5, verse 24, Jesus said:

John 5:

24Verily, 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 is passed from death unto life.

We know without taking the time to prove it scripturally that this judgment of sin took place at the Cross. What Jesus was talking about in advance was that we, who believe in Him and in the methods that He gave, accept the fact that He was sent by the Father to pay for our sins. Those of us who believe that, He says in verse 24, have everlasting life and shall not come into judgment. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior have passed judgment already, not because of anything we have done, but because Jesus Christ paid for our sins and took the judgment of our sins upon Himself there at the Cross.

This is something, from our perspective, which has already taken place. It is a judgment that has already passed. Most of the judgments that we are going to look at in the Scripture are still future, but this is one that has already taken place. The word condemnation can be correctly translated specifically with the word judgment .

Notice how this judgment follows the principles that we find in Romans, chapter 2. First, we said the first principle of judgment is the principle of truth, and the truth involved in this judgment is the truth of the gospel. It says in verse 24:

John 5:

24Verily, 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; but is passed from death unto life.

Jesus' work was the work of salvation. God's work in sending Christ was the work allowing Christ to pay for our sins and for God to be satisfied with that payment. The second principle of judgment is the principle of deeds and Jesus did all the doing in that judgment. He took our sins in His own body on the Tree and there is a sense in which man has the deed of believing, but really even that belief is because of the gift of faith. It is not some human activity that we do, but the closest we come to doing something with our salvation is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Even that is something that God enables us to do. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the truth of the Gospel and enables us to exercise faith in Jesus Christ. So really the deeds, that second principle, were done by Jesus Christ in His death on the Cross.

The third principle of judgment was the principle of objectivity. God is no respecter of persons and the objectivity of this judgment is shown in the phrase, “He who hears My Word and believes in Him.” Notice that is a general statement. This judgment applies to the sins of everyone who accepts it. It applies to rich and poor, young and old. Anybody who believes in Jesus Christ can be saved. That is the principle of objectivity—no respecter of persons.

The fourth principle is the Gospel, and the role the Gospel plays in all of this is that the judgment of sin is taken care of by accepting the Gospel. These are the principles on which God judged sin.

Sometimes people have the idea that God let us off easy, that God was soft on sin, that God's allowing one Man's sacrifice to pay for the sins of all men was somehow slacking off. The truth of the Scripture is that God was completely satisfied with that sacrifice of Jesus Christ and that He poured out all of the wrath of God upon Jesus Christ, something that our human minds really can't fully comprehend. God was propitiated. God was satisfied with the payment of Jesus Christ, and it was not a cheap price that was paid for our salvation. It was the price of separation between Father and Son and Holy Spirit for the first time in all of eternity. It was the price of God's turning away His face from your sin and mine that was placed on Jesus Christ. That is the judgment of sin at the Cross. It was a totally legitimate judgment of your sins, a totally legitimate and acceptable payment for the sins that you and I have committed, done by Jesus Christ on the Cross. That is the first judgment, looking at these things chronologically. It has already taken place and it is applicable to you and me as we accept the truth of it by faith.

The second judgment in the series of judgments is the judgment of believers' sins. We find this recorded in I Corinthians, chapter 11. The context of this judgment is the Lord's Supper and down in verse 26, Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says:

I Corinthians 11:

26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation [judgment] to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

What we are talking about here in these verses is the judgment of believers' sins in our own bodies. Notice particularly the words judgment and judged in verses 29 and verse 31. If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. Paul is saying that this seemingly routine observance is so important that we should be very careful that we have the right heart attitude as we observe it. The way that we do that is by judging ourselves.

What does he mean by “judging ourselves”? He says, “Let a man examine himself.” What that really means is to examine ourselves not only when we partake of the Lord's Supper, but several times every day we should examine our hearts very carefully and see if there is any sin there that we have not confessed. I John, chapter 1, verse 9, says:

I John 1:

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This verse is talking about after our salvation, and certainly one of the times to do that is before we partake of the Lord's Supper, but that is not the only time by any means. He is saying at least we should do it before we partake of the Lord's Supper and make sure that there is no unconfessed sin in our hearts. We would be hypocrites to take this observance that speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ and our relationship to Him and do it with sin in our hearts. He refers to this as “judging ourselves.” To examine our hearts, to confess our sins, is to what he calls, “judge ourselves.”

Let's think about how this judgment is according to the four principles. First, the principle of truth. The truth in this judgment is the truth of God's Word about sin. God said that there are certain things of which He does not approve, and He spells those out for us in various places in the Scripture. That is the truth of God's Word. It is easy for us to rationalize those things. It is easy for us to let those things slip by in our lives. When we examine our hearts, we don't examine it on the basis of, “Well, this is just a weakness with me.” That may all be true, but regardless of the reason for the sin in our lives, the fact is that God said not to do it and we did it or God said to do and we did not do it. That is the truth of God's Word. It is always our standard.

Let me digress for just a moment to say that the farther our society gets away from the standards of God's Word the easier it is for us to not recognize sin in our own lives. It is so easy for us to be caught up in the standards of our society and not realize that the standards of God's Word are going to be increasingly farther apart from the standards of our society, not because the Word of God is changing, but because society is changing. Our standard needs to be the Word of God. That is the standard of truth in this judgment.

There is the principle of our deeds in relation to the truth of God's Word. Have we obeyed the Scripture or have we not? Have we had the attitude that the Scripture says? Have we done the actions that the Scripture says? That is the principle of deeds in relation to the truth.

Then there is the standard of objectivity. Sin is sin, no matter who commits it. In the revelations about Jimmy Swaggart several years ago, I was impressed that even though his ministries had contributed great amounts of money to the denomination of which he is a part, the denomination was not swayed in the face of losing literally millions of dollars of contributions from his ministries in their pronouncing judgment. Whether you agree with the judgment that was pronounced or not, the principle that I believe they sincerely tried to maintain was that there is no respect of persons. One of the quotations I read was, “We are going to apply the same standards to Jimmy that we would apply to John Doe.”

Whether they were successful in that or not or whether you like what they did or not is beside the point. The point is that that is certainly the standard of the Word of God, and they are to be commended for trying to accomplish the standard of the Word of God. If there is sin in our hearts, it doesn't matter how much money we have given to the church or how many people we have led to Christ, God says that that thing is sin. That is the standard of objectivity.

The principle of the Gospel in this judgment is that there would be no possibility of forgiveness of sin if it were not for the Gospel. Inherent in the Gospel is the possibility of continued fellowship with God through continued confession of sin. So there is a sense in which when we partake of the Lord's Supper, we are facing one of the judgments of God. God gives us the privilege of judging our own sins because Christ has already paid for those sins. That is the second judgment as we look at them chronologically.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

Then the third judgment mentioned in the Scripture is The Judgment Seat of Christ. Turn to II Corinthians, chapter 5, and notice verses 9-10. Paul is speaking about himself and his own ministry, but he is exhorting us to have the same attitude. He says:

II Corinthians 5:

9Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
10For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

The whole passage is interesting, but we want to just focus on these two verses. Here is the Judgment Seat of Christ. In our next study we are going to talk about the various historical events that prophecy outlines in the future days. Some of you are familiar with that and maybe some of you are not, but without taking the time to go into that, just take my word for it at this point that this judgment will take place apparently right after the Rapture. When the Lord Jesus Christ appears in the air and we who have accepted Him as Savior and are still living will be caught up to meet Him in the air, those who have died, having accepted Christ as Savior before they died, will come out of the tombs (I Thessalonians, chapter 4). Right after the Rapture, when we all get to Heaven, when the whole Body of Christ is united there in Heaven, we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Every reference to the Judgment Seat of Christ is in future tense and it is applicable to all believers. The first time that that could take place, the first time that all believers can be gathered, would be right after the Rapture, and we would assume that it would be as soon as possible. That is why I believe that this judgment will take place very soon after the Rapture when we all get to Heaven.

However, notice carefully, this will not be to determine whether or not we get into Heaven. One of the big mistakes that we make about the judgment is to think that the judgments have to do with whether we get into Heaven or not. The only judgment that applies to whether we get into Heaven or not is the first one we talked about, the judgment of sin at the Cross. That is where the decision about whether we get into Heaven or not is made. The decision about whether we get into Heaven or not is made the moment we accept Jesus Christ as Savior. At that moment, we are qualified for Heaven because of what Jesus has done for us.

The first clue we have about the Judgment Seat of Christ is that the words judgment seat in verse 10 are the translation of the Greek word bema. The bema was an elevated stand on which the Olympic judges sat and the same thing is done in some sports today as in judging a tennis match, but in the Roman Olympic Games, the judge would sit on a bema. It was called in colloquial terms “the judgment seat.” So the first century Christians reading this would have realized that this was not a judgment in the sense of a courtroom, but a judgment in the sense of an athletic contest. The purpose of those Olympic judges was to see where people placed in the race. That is the concept in this Judgment Seat of Christ, not to see who gets into Heaven, but to think about what was accomplished by those who have gotten there.

Something else needs to be pointed out here. If you noticed the lasts word of verse 10: “whether it be good or bad.” The word bad there is a translation of a Greek word meaning “wasted.” It is similar to our English word fallow , as in letting a field lie fallow. Even though there is some good from letting a field lie fallow occasionally, the sense of that is that is it is not in use. It is useless. At least at that particular time, it is useless. So the Judgment Seat of Christ is a judgment to examine how useful to Christ the things that we have done in our lives are. The details of this judgment are given back in I Corinthians, chapter 3. Again, because of our limitation on time, I hope you will take my word for it without my having to prove that this is a reference to the same judgment. I can demonstrate that from the Scripture, but we are short of time. Notice down in verse 11:

I Corinthians 3:

11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13Every 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.
14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

In verse 11 he says that the foundation for everything that we do should be the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what this judgment is going to deal with. What have we done in relationship to what Christ has done for us? Our works at this judgment will be judged on the basis of whether or not they were motivated by honor for Jesus Christ. Notice carefully what I said. This judgment is not going to deal with how many people we led to Christ or how many evangelistic crusades we conducted or how big a church we pastored or how big a Sunday school class we taught. This judgment deals with our motivation. It deals with our building with what we had to do. Our works will be judged on the basis of whether or not our motive was to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is a greatly relieving concept. If you will understand that concept, it will do wonders for your spiritual life and for the tension that maybe you feel in trying to serve the Lord, not in any way to downgrade the work for the Lord, but it is just another illustration of the principle that is all through the Scripture that with God faithfulness is success. We are so busy trying to keep track of numbers and trying to compare our ministry with somebody else's ministry and our results with somebody else's results. But what God is interested in is what we build on the foundation and whether or not what we are doing is pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ. We leave the results with Him. If our motivation is to honor Jesus Christ in what we do, those works are considered gold, silver and precious stones in God's sight. Someone else may pastor a bigger church. Someone else may lead more people to Jesus Christ. Someone else may earn more academic degrees. Someone else may have a bigger following. There are all kinds of things that men look at, but God is going to look at what we built on that foundation of Jesus Christ. Did it honor Jesus Christ? Was it our desire in what we did to honor Jesus Christ? That is the thing that God is going to examine. The works that were not done with that motivation are considered as wood, hay and stubble.

I believe that Paul is speaking figuratively here, but he is using an illustration that at that judgment, as God examines those works, what happens to gold and silver and precious stones when they are submitted to the fire? They just become more pure, don't they? They don't disintegrate. They may change their form, but it is a purification to the extent that they change. Wood, hay and straw just are consumed in the fire—nothing but ashes left. Paul says, “As we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and our works are examined, what we have built on the foundation of our salvation in Jesus Christ, those things that have been done for Christ's honor and glory, are going to remain. The fire isn't going to bother them, but those things that are done even with the spirit of building a bigger church or raising a bigger budget than we did last year, or those kind of things that are done for any motivation other than honoring Jesus Christ are going to be gone. They are going to be fallow. They are going to be wasted. They are going to burn up just like wood, hay and stubble.”

That is a sobering thought; that is a challenging thought. Why do you do what you do as a Christian? Are you here in this service because it is expected of you? Are you here because you hope we will notice how faithful you are in your attendance? Did you put money in the offering so that nobody would get the wrong impression about you, or are you here because you love Jesus Christ and you want to have another opportunity to worship Him and you want to have another opportunity to learn more about Him? I don't know that. Believe it or not, but I can't tell those kinds of things about you, but God can and at the judgment seat of Christ, that is going to be demonstrated. If you are here for any of those motivations that I mentioned, if you want to you can get up and leave right now because it is wasted time. I doubt if anybody has that much courage at this point, but you see, it is our motivation that God looks at, and I hope that all of us are accumulating some gold and silver and precious stones by being here because that is based upon what God sees of our hearts. Attendance at this service is a very, very minute example of what I am talking about. Attendance at church is only one of the aspects that will be examined at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Let me quickly say that attendance in church is just an example of the principle, but the things that are done for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ, that are motivated by the foundation of Jesus Christ and wanting to build on that foundation, in one way or other will be preserved at the judgment. The things that are motivated by any other reason are wood, hay and stubble and will be wiped out.

Rewards Based Upon that which Survives

Then it says that God will give rewards on the basis of that which survives. The book of Revelation tells us that John said, as he looked at the throne of God after believers are all in Heaven together, that he saw believers casting their crowns before the throne of God. The Scripture refers to several different kinds of crowns of rewards that will be given to believers. We would assume that that is what becomes of these rewards. It doesn't fit with Scripture that we will be walking around in Heaven with badges on our chest or crowns on our heads to indicate that we were a super believer and you were not. This is what we will have to be able to tangibly, physically present to Jesus Christ and say, “I recognize I would not be here, my life would have meant nothing, Jesus, were it not for what You did.”

So there is a sense in which the things that we do while we are here on earth will enable us to have a more fulfilling presence in Heaven. Everybody in Heaven is going to be as happy and as fulfilled and as joyful as he can possibly be, but our capacity for enjoyment in Heaven can be greater based on how we use our time here on earth.

I mentioned earlier my secret desires of singing in the choir and those kinds of things. I love music and I have a stereo system in my office and with some regularity listen to classical music while studying. I love to hear music and I love to sing and I love to hear other people sing and present music. I have a real enjoyment of music, but there are people in this church who have a real education in music and who have devoted years of their lives to developing their musical abilities and they have God-given talents in music. I enjoy music to the fullest of my capability, but those people who have studied music have a much greater ability to enjoy music than I do. I enjoy it just as fully as I can. They enjoy it just as fully as they can, but their capacity to enjoy the music is greater than mine. They hear those subtleties that you and I who have not studied and trained in music probably don't even hear. They hear those qualities and things that we don't have the capability of appreciating. That is the way it will be in Heaven. Every one of us will appreciate and enjoy Heaven to the fullest extent, but by building gold, silver and precious stones on the foundation of Jesus Christ in this life, our capacity for enjoyment of Heaven will be enlarged. What we do in this life doesn't have to do with whether or not we will get into Heaven. Accepting Jesus Christ is what settles that, but what we do with our time after we are saved has to do with our ability to praise, honor and glorify Jesus Christ and our capacity to enjoy Him forever. So what we do has a tremendous importance not on whether we will get into Heaven or not, but in our capacity to enjoy the presence of the Lord when we get there.

Judgment of Nations

Another judgment that is mentioned in the Scripture is the judgment of nations mentioned in Matthew, chapter 25. This will take place right after the Tribulation at the beginning of the Millennial Reign of Christ, and it will have to do with how various nations and individuals in those nations treated the believing Jews during the Tribulation. I am mentioning it because it is one of the judgments that is specified in the Scripture. It is not a judgment that will involve us because if we understand the layout of Scripture correctly, we will not be on the earth during the Tribulation, but that is one of the judgments.

Judgment of Israel

Then another judgment that does not affect us, but it is a judgment that is mentioned in the Scripture, is the judgment of Israel described in Ezekiel, chapter 20, verses 33-44. The emphasis on that judgment is on the fact that by means of the judgment of the Tribulation, the judgment that God pours out on the earth during that seven-year Tribulation period, God will demonstrate to the Jews His justice in letting only believers go into the Millennium. So that is the judgment of Israel which God clearly explains to the Jews that only believers will be present in the kingdom.

Judgment of Angels

Then the sixth judgment mentioned in the Bible is the judgment of angels, which is mentioned in Jude 6. Let's read that one because it has more bearing on us than the judgment of Israel or the judgment of the nations. Notice Jude, verse 6:


6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Very little detail is given about this particular judgment. “The great day” is a reference, I believe, and the context of the book of Jude is to the defeat of Satan at the end of the Millennial period and Satan is finally cast into the lake of fire. The angels that sinned that are referred to in this verse are those who rebelled with Lucifer when he first rebelled against God and they became the demons. This is where they will be permanently cast into Hell. Some of the demons are free to roam around the world. There is demon work in this nation as well as in other countries, but there are some demons who apparently were so wicked that they were chained awaiting judgment, but all of these fallen angels will face the judgment of God and be cast into Hell with Satan.

Great White Throne Judgment

Finally, there is the Great White Throne judgment, which is described in Revelation, chapter 20, verse 11. The verses above this talk about what we have just been talking about—the devil's being cast into the Lake of Fire. Then in verse 11, he says:

Revelation 20:

11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand 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.
13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

At the end of the Millennium, just before the creation of the new heavens and the new earth, this judgment takes place. In verses 11 and verse 13, all of the unsaved dead are gathered before God—not the saved and unsaved. The believers have already faced the Judgment Seat of Christ which has to do with things done in our bodies between the time we accept Christ as Savior and the time we get to Heaven, but this is where unbelievers stand before God. In verse 12, it says, “The books of works were opened and the Book of Life is opened”—two separate books. Notice that books is plural and another book (singular) was opened which is the Book of Life and the dead were judged according to their works which were by the things written in the books. Those first books (plural) are the books of works.

Apparently from what we read here, God is writing down every good work that unbelievers do, and there is a great deal of good work that is done by unbelievers. Something that I think we need to be careful about in our dealing with unbelievers as Christians is it is very easy for us to give the impression that we think we are the only ones who are accomplishing anything for good. God keeps a record of all the philanthropic organizations, and you know that millions and millions of dollars are given to feed the hungry and the clothe the poor and all kinds of things are done by unbelievers that accomplish some good on this earth. God is keeping track of that, but at the Great White Throne Judgment these unbelievers are called before God and their works are read to them out of the books. The scene here, if we use what my Dad called “our sanctified imagination,” we look at that judgment scene and we see these unbelievers standing there and saying, “Well, God. I really ought to be allowed to get into Heaven because of this that I did and that that I did.” Theoretically, we can even imagine that God would say, “Yes, I have that all recorded here. In fact, I have some things recorded here that you haven't even mentioned,” but notice what the real decision is based on in verse 15. Verse 12 tells us that another book is opened and in verse 15, we read:

Revelation 20:

15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The Book of Works records the good works that are done, but the Book of Life records the names of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. This judgment really will be to demonstrate to those who are cast into Hell that salvation is not by works. God keeps track of the good works, and salvation is not by works. Jesus talked about the fact that we get some honor for the good works that we do, and if you are doing things just for the honor of men, you had better be sure that you do it up right and get a lot of honor because God is not going to honor you for that. God keeps track of it, but those people get a lot of civic pride and a lot of civic recognition and that is all right, but what gets them into Heaven is whether or not their name is found in the Book of Life. One of the tragedies of Hell, one of the great punishments of Hell, one of the great miseries of Hell will be that everybody there knows why they are there and that they have every reason to be there.

During my lifetime, the Lord has put me in a position of doing a lot of ministry in jails. Even when I was in junior high and high school, I would go with some men who conducted jail services. When I was in college, I spent a couple of years as assistant to a prison chaplain in a state prison in Georgia. Recently, we have the opportunities to work again in the jail, here in Abilene, and I have met a lot of people in jail. Probably the Lord has let me do that just to make sure that I know how terrible jail is and stay out of it myself, knowing my weak frame and my sinful nature; but for whatever reason, I wound up spending a lot of time in jail fortunately on the right side of the bars. I have noticed how many prisoners will tell you, “I really don't deserve to be here. It is all a misunderstanding. I was framed.” I have met a few, but I have met proportionately few, who say, “I did it and I got caught, and I am getting what I deserve.” You hardly ever see that, but in Hell there won't be anybody trying to tell you, “I was framed. I didn't understand. I didn't realize what I was getting into.” By the time they have gone through the Great White Throne Judgment, they will know exactly why they are in Hell, and they will understand exactly what those good works accomplished. The people in Hell will know the Gospel just as clearly as the people in Heaven.

That is a tragic thing, and it ought to impress on us the importance of getting across the issues of the Gospel to those around us and to support those who are doing it and do whatever we can in the giving of the Gospel because God is no respect of persons and no matter how nice the person may be, the person who has not accepted Jesus Christ as Savior is going to be cast into the Lake of Fire which God really prepared for the Devil and his angels. Everyone will know the justice of God in these judgments.


The first two judgments are already passed. For us, those are the only judgments which we need to be concerned about. The Judgment Seat of Christ is something that has to do with our enjoyment of Heaven and our shame before God for our failures, but that doesn't have to do with getting into Heaven.

Let me ask you. Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? That is the issue in God's judgment. God poured out His judgment on Jesus Christ and there is therefore now no judgment to them who are in Christ Jesus.

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