|“Wrath”. EPrata photo|
A third of the Bible is prophecy. There are fulfilled prophecies, prophecies that have been fulfilled and will be again (double prophecies, Pentecost, Acts 2:14-21), and prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled. (Christ’s second coming)
There are complicated prophecies, (Book of Obadiah, Daniel’s prophecies) and simple prophecies. (Messiah will be born of a virgin, (Isaiah 7:14). Prophecies that involve war upon nations (Ezekiel 35:4) and prophecies that involve just one individual. (Eve will be the mother of all the living, Genesis 3:20; Mary a virgin would give birth, Luke 1:35).
Many Christians are fascinated by prophecy and study them diligently. But there is a prophecy that many people don’t like to study and it is one that affects all people, Christian and non-Christian alike.
Jesus said He is coming again to judge the living and the dead. (Ecclesiastes 3:17; Jeremiah 17:10). Non-believers will be judged based on their works and condemned, and believers will be judged not unto condemnation but still, judged according to our works.
No Christian likes to be thinking about the prophecy of being weighed in the scales and found wanting. No one likes to think they have disappointed Jesus. We all want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23). Not all of us will. Some will enter heaven by the skin of their teeth. (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Yet Christians are told several times about our coming judgment (not unto condemnation, but according to our works).
Believers are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12). We will all have to give an account of ourselves. Jesus will judge the decisions we made, whether they were founded on the flesh or upon Him.
One subset of judgment will be teachers of His word. Teachers of the Bible will be judged more strictly-
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1).
Grumblers will be judged-
Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 4:11, James 5:9).
|“Doom sky”. EPrata photo|
All non-believers will be judged. As much as a Christian cringes at the thought of being judged by the Mighty Righteous God, non-believers absolutely hate us even mentioning it to them! The lost person becomes angry at the very thought of them having failed the standard God sets forth. Yet it will happen, at what is called the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15.
This judgment does not determine salvation because the lost person’s eternal state is fixed at death. Everyone at the Great White Throne will be an unbeliever who has rejected Christ while they were living and is therefore already doomed to an eternity in the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12). The judgment they will be experiencing is their life works projected like a mirror against a holy and righteous God and the level of their torment assigned. Yes, there are different degrees of punishment in hell.
Believers should think about this most difficult subject for several reasons. First, because as each person is cast (thrown) into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15) we can easily what John Bradford said. He was a martyr, imprisoned for the faith in 1553. As prisoners were paraded to the execution stake, Bradford would exclaim,
The pious Martyr Bradford, when he saw a poor criminal led to execution, exclaimed, “there, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” He knew that the same evil principles were in his own heart which had brought the criminal to that shameful end. (Source A treatise on prayer by Edward Bickersteth (1822).
Over time the phrase has been amended to say “There but for the grace of God, goes I.” Any one of us could be that person facing the wrath of Jesus, condemned and tossed into the torment forever, unless it had been Him sovereignly saving us. We are no longer under wrath, but at one point in our lives, we were. Don’t forget that.
Second, the Christian should ponder these things because we must give the full counsel of God as we witness. (Acts 20:27). We must share the bad news before we can get to the Good News. The bad news that there is no one righteous, no, not one. (Romans 3:10). We all fall short of the glory of God and are destined for the Lake of Fire forever, to be punished for our sins by the Judge. We tend to shorten the witnessing moment because we expect the outrage and anger when sharing that the person we are talking with is a sinner in need of the grace of Jesus. It’s hard to make someone angry. Even pastors shorten the counsel of God, by omitting the sin-death-wrath-punishment part and then quickly get to the part that they think is more palatable, or “attractive.”
|“Red heaven” EPrata photo|
The full counsel means both sides, His sovereign choice of the people He elects to salvation, and the personal responsibility of each man to repent and believe else be eternally responsible for their sin. Spurgeon said of the full counsel of God–
Running away with half a Truth, they are like men that go through the wilderness wearing only one shoe—they become lame in one foot—and that makes them limp all over. It does not matter which foot it is that is lame—the man is a cripple if either foot is thus afflicted.
Think often of the prophecy of the Second Coming of Jesus. He spoke of it more often than anything else. The Bible refers of it constantly. Within the Second Coming are a host of different prophecies. I agree, they are interesting to study. However, we need to remember that we labor for a holy God and He will return to judge the living and the dead.
He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
2 Timothy 4:1
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction