"THE crack of doom and the Judgment Day" is
a phrase that casts a somber shadow over the hearts of many of God's dear saints,
destroying their peace and filling their lives with a fearful dread day and night. Of all
the perverted doctrines of the Scriptures taught and believed in Christendom, I doubt if
there is any so wide of the truth of God as that concerning the "judgment." The
corrupted idea from man's natural religion is, that at some future time the crack of doom
and the end of the world will arrive, when there will be one general and final assize of
all before the bar of God, where each one will have a trial, and the good will be rewarded
and transported to Elysian fields of bliss, and the bad condemned to endless suffering in
platonic regions of the damned! God's just judgment, which is over all His works, linked
with mercy, faith and love (Matt.23:23; Luke 11:42), is degraded to the sordid level of a
police court where the criminal is sentenced to the penalty of the law. O the odious
violence men commit on Holy Writ and God's character by their venerable traditions!
In beginning this study, let me say distinctly and unequivocally, that the sacred
Scriptures teach no such thing as a "general" resurrection and judgment. It is
the outgrowth of superficial teaching, with more knowledge and reverence for traditions
than for God's word.
The Scriptures, rightly divided and uninterpolated, teach many judgments. In the scope
of this study we wish to set forth five, one of which is past, the others future. They may
be named as follows: (1) The Judgment of the Cross, (2) The Dais of Christ, (3) The
Judgment of the House of God, (4) The Glory Throne Judgment, and (5) The Great White
Throne Judgment. Each of these judgments differs from the others in five particulars,
viz., as to Time, Place, Subjects, Basis of Judgment, and Result. We shall now present a
study of the first four.
I. THE JUDGMENT OF THE CROSS
- Time: About A. D. 33
- Place: Golgotha
- Subjects: Mankind
- Basis of Judgment: Christ's death
- Results: Justification and Conciliation
This judgment is past, and the Scriptures reveal that the saints shall not come into
judgment at the great white throne, with the dead, great and small. For them Christ on the
cruel cross settled the sin question to a finality. But the problem is, to get man away
from his natural religion and its consequences long enough to find his solace in the
deliverance which God wrought in Christ on Golgotha.
Remember that the decree to Adam was "The day you eat thereof, to die, you are
dying" (Gen.2:17). This law of Jehovah God was transgressed by Adam, and Paul
describes its effect upon the world of mankind, saying:
"Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin
death, and thus death came through into all mankind, on which all sinned" (Rom.5:12).
Here we have plain language that through Adam's lawlessness, sin entered into
the world of mankind and through sin death. Death is sin's penalty, decreed upon
Adam in the garden. Death came through into all mankind. Yet God is recommending His love
to us, seeing that when we are still sinners, Christ died for our sakes (Rom.5:8,9).
But do we really appreciate the significance of Christ dying for our sakes--what
it involved and what it procured? First, it involved God's condemnation of
sin in the flesh:
"For at the law's impotence (in which it was infirm through the flesh), God, when
sending His own Son in the likeness of sin's flesh and concerning sin, condemns sin in the
flesh, that the just requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who are not walking in
accord with flesh, but in accord with spirit" (Rom.8:3,4).
Second, it vindicated God's justice and made conciliation for the slanderous offense
against His character. God, out of His vast love, took His only begotten Son and made Him
the Sin-offering, whereby sin was adjudicated, past, present, and future, with life's
justifying for all mankind, and He made peace by the blood of His cross for
reconciling the universe unto Him. Let us give study to what is written concerning this
"Yet we are observing Jesus, having been made some whit inferior to messengers
(because of the suffering of death), wreathed with glory and honor, so that He should,
by the grace of God, be tasting death for the sake of all" (Heb.2:9).
"For the One knowing no sin, He makes sin for our sakes that we should be
becoming God's righteousness in Him" (2 Cor.5:21).
"Who, being the Effulgence of His glory and Emblem of His assumption, as well as
carrying on the universe by His powerful declaration, making a cleansing of sins,
is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heights" (Heb.1:3).
"Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for
condemnation, thus it is through one just award also for all mankind for life's
justifying. For even as through the disobedience of the one man the many were
constituted sinners, thus through the obedience also of the One the many shall be
constituted just" (Rom.5:18,19).
"Who [Christ] was given up because of our offenses, and was roused
because of our justification" (Rom.4:25).
"Being justified gratuitously by His grace, through the deliverance
which is in Christ Jesus (Whom God purposed for a Propitiatory, through faith in His
blood,...toward the display of His righteousness in the current era, for Him to be just
and a Justifier of the one who is of the faith of Jesus" (Rom.3: 24- 26).
"Yet all is of God, Who conciliates us to Himself through Christ, and is
giving us the dispensation of the conciliation, how that, in Christ, God was
conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them" (2
"For if, being enemies, we were conciliated to God through the
death of His Son, much rather, being conciliated, we shall be saved in His life"
"...seeing that the entire complement delights to dwell in Him, and through Him
to reconcile the universe to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross)
through Him, whether on the earth or in the heavens" (Col.1:20).
This grand array of Scriptures places before our hearts the wonderful transaction on
Golgotha, where God accursed the Sinless One for our sakes, and through the merit of that
one just act, gives life's justifying to all mankind, at the same time making peace
through the blood of His cross for reconciling the universe to Himself. The work of Christ
on the cross was God's condemnation of sin in the flesh, the vindication of His justice,
and the basis for the reconciliation of the universe. And we press the fact that, when
mankind stand before Him for adjudication, it will not be concerning sin. The sin
question was settled to a finality on the cross, and having made a cleansing of sins,
He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heights (Heb.1: 3). Remember, that
all will come before Him for adjudication at some time or other, but when and wherever
their lot may be found, either as believers, unbelievers, or without any revealed
knowledge of God, the adjudication will be based upon their works, acts or deeds which
they have put into practice through the body, whether they be good or bad, and not
concerning the question of sin. This is an important distinction which the Scriptures
make, that has been distorted in the minds of the saints to the point where the sacrifice
of Christ is nothing more than a farce. But with the array of Scripture cited, revealing
how that God made Christ to be sin for our sakes, when we were still sinners, and roused
Him for our justification, is it reasonable to think that we are to be brought into
judgment again to answer for sins? No! A thousand times no! May He grant us the grace to
believe that Christ, as the Sin-bearer, fully paid the sin debt once for all, by the
travail of His soul in the accursed sufferings of those dread hours, while He hung on the
cross. He satisfied God and vindicated His justice, and opened the flood-gates of
everlasting peace for the reconciliation of the universe.
This leads us to the consideration of the second judgment.
II. THE DAIS OF CHRIST
- Time: After the Saints are assembled with Christ
- Place: In front of the Dais of Christ in Heaven
- Subjects: The Ecclesia which is the Body of Christ
- Basis of Judgment: Their Acts--Deportment and Service
- Result: Award and Loss
We have seen that adjudication was made for sin in Christ on the cross. Nevertheless,
the Scriptures teach a "judgment seat" of Christ, yet future, in front of which
all the saints of the ecclesia which is the body of Christ must appear, after they are
raptured away to the meeting in the air. Paul brings it before us in these words:
"For all of us must appear in front of the dais of Christ that each should be
requited for that which he puts into practice through the body, whether it is good or
bad" (2 Cor.5:10).
Some teach this to be the one great general judgment, but a discriminating
consideration of what is written here in the context reveals that only the saints who are
members of the body of Christ, clothed with the building of God, a house not made with
hands, eonian in the heavens (2 Cor.5:1), like unto the body glorious of our Lord Jesus
Christ (Phil 3:21), will be there. That this is truth, should be evident to all who will
give study to the context:
"We are aware . . . we have a building . . . we are groaning
. . . not that we want to be stripped, but to be dressed, that the mortal may be
swallowed up of life . . . for we are walking by faith . . . we are ambitious . . .
to be well pleasing to Him, For all of us must appear in front of the dais
of Christ that each should be requited for that which he puts into practice through the
body, whether it is good or bad" (2 Cor.5:1-10).
The pronouns "we" and "us" occur about twenty-five times in this
context, and in every instance they refer to believers in Christ Jesus, thus limiting the
adjudication to saints only. Moreover, we insist that this is not a judgment in the
sense of a trial to see whether the judged are innocent (saved) or guilty (lost).
It is a special award for that which has been put into practice through the body, whether
it is good or bad.
Much misunderstanding seems to arise over the word rendered "judgment." To
speak of judgment, we immediately call to mind the order of a police court! But the word
translated "judgment-seat" in our common, or King James Version here, and
"dais" in the CONCORDANT VERSION, is literally beema, and is very
significant. It suggests nothing, in itself, of a tribunal such as Pilate's judgment seat
(Matt.27:19) or Caesar's (Acts 25:10). It has reference to the raised platform from which
the rules of the games were enforced, and to which the contestants came to receive their
awards. We, who are in Christ Jesus, are absolutely absolved from all condemnation (katakrima,
DOWN-JUDGment, Rom.8:1), but we are eligible to an award for meritorious living and
It is astonishing how little thought is given to the subject of self-adjudication
today. A true heart realization of our relationship to Christ as Lord and all that it
involves would correct much of the loose living, loss of consideration and true brotherly
affection so appalling among the saints. Often we are asked the question: Will there be
any degrees or planes of glory in heaven? Such questions call for serious answers, and it
is of little profit to express opinions, but of the utmost wisdom and prudence to believe
God's word. As to our salvation and position in Christ, over and over again we are assured
that all have the same high place and privilege--there is "not Jew nor Greek, not
slave nor free, not male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"
(Gal.3:27,28). However, in the Lord, the physical distinctions are all recognized and our
requital at the dais of Christ will be for our deportment and service and in accord
therewith. All who give themselves in full obedience to the will of God from the soul,
slaving with singleness of heart unto the Lord Christ, and not to men, will be requited
for whatever good each one may do, and he who injures will be requited for that which he
injures, and there is no partiality. For confirmation of this teaching, we find it
"Slaves, be obeying your masters as to flesh, with fear and trembling, in the
singleness of your heart, as to Christ, not with eye-slavery, as man pleasers, but as
slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the soul, slaving with good humor, as to the
Lord and not to men, having perceived that, whatever good each one may do, for this he
will be requited by the Lord, whether slave or free" (Eph.6:5-8).
"Slaves, in all things be obeying your masters according to the flesh, not with
eye-slavery as man pleasers, but with singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. All whatever
you may be doing, be working from the soul, as to the Lord and not to men, being aware
that you will be getting the compensation of the enjoyment of an allotment from the Lord:
you are slaving for the Lord Christ. For he who is injuring shall be requited for that
which he injures and there is no partiality" (Col.3:22-25).
". . . For all of us must appear in front of the dais of Christ, that each one
should be requited for that which he puts into practice through the body, whether it is
good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:1-10).
If eonian distinctions are not made here for deportment and service,
language is meaningless! Furthermore, why does Paul admonish that "we are
ambitious to be well pleasing to Him?" Because of the realization that each
one shall be requited, receive, get back, or be repaid, whatever they have put into
practice through the body, whether it is good or bad, and bear it away for their eonian
glory or loss. Many are going to be requited for that which they have put into practice
through the body here, which they never dreamed of facing again, and carry it away for
their loss and regret for the oncoming eons. We need no
interpretation of these Scriptures. Simply a heart recognition and realization of them and
the serious reality which they press upon us, that we may give diligence in all our social
relations, that everything may be done out of unfeigned love and grace with singleness of
heart unto our Lord Christ and not to men, knowing that each one shall be requited for
that which he puts into practice through the body, whether it is good or bad, and there is
ENDURANCE IN SERVICE
It seems almost impossible to express the seriousness attached to the admonition of endurance
in service. Paul in the Philippian epistle sets Timothy before us as one
"genuinely solicitous" for that which concerns Christ Jesus; also Epaphroditus,
who endured in the service of the Lord, even to the risking of his soul to
fill up the want of ministration of the saints to Paul (Phil.2:20,21,29,30). And we are
told by Paul himself how he endured all because of those who are chosen, that they,
also, may happen upon the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eonian glory (2
Tim.2:10), who then presents what is necessary to have the eonian glory with
Faithful is the saying: "For if we died together, we shall be living together
also: if we are enduring, we shall be reigning together also; if we are disowning
Him, He also will be disowning us; if we are unfaithful, He is remaining faithful--He
cannot disown self" (2 Tim.2:11-13).
This faithful saying shows that our salvation and life and all that come's with it
flows from His immutable grace, and depends solely on His faithfulness, but for endurance
in service, there will be a recognized place of authority in His celestial
realms--the right to reign together with Him. If we disown Him, we cannot expect
Him to gives us a public place of power in the celestial kingdom. However, this does not
infringe in the least degree on our salvation or life or anything which is ours by His
FAITHFULNESS IN TEACHING
There will also be awards for those who serve the saints in dispensing the word of
truth, or the evangel. Paul solemnly lays this on the hearts of all who teach, in these
"According to the grace of God which is granted to me, as a wise foreman I lay a
foundation, yet another is building on it. Yet let each one beware how he is building.
For other foundation can no one lay beside that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now
if anyone is building on this foundation gold and silver, precious stones, wood, grass,
straw, each one's work will become apparent, for the day will make it evident, seeing that
it is revealed by fire. And the fire will be testing the work of each one--what kind it
is. If anyone's work which he builds on it shall remain, he will get wages. If
anyone's work shall burn up, he will forfeit it, yet he shall be saved, yet thus, as
through fire (1 Cor.3:10-15).
Paul laid the foundation in Corinth. Apollos and others were building on it. The gold
and silver, precious stones, wood, grass, and straw represent the character of
their teachings with which they sought to build up and edify the
ecclesia. It is not a question of quantity but quality. Wood, grass, and
straw will easily make an imposing pile, but they will not abide in that day when the fire
will be testing each one's work--what kind it is. Doubtless, the gold stands for that
which is divine, silver for redemption, and the precious stones for those
gems of grace which adorn them, especially the "secrets" of which Paul was
hinting and later revealed; while the wood, grass, and straw represent philosophy and
empty seduction, in accord with human traditions and base additions to the truth, which
today almost cover up the great verities of divine revelation.
Let all take this to heart: It will be better to have a little after the fire
than much before it. How earnestly sincere we should be in having God's word in its
purity, and being genuinely scrupulous as to what we teach, that we may build right
material, so it will stand the test of the fire in that day.
III. THE JUDGMENT OF THE HOUSE OF GOD
- Time: The Coming Indignation
- Place: Asia Minor and Palestine
- Subjects: The House of God-the Jewish Ecclesias
- Basis of Judgment: Christ as King and Priest
- Result: A remnant receives Him as Messiah
While the body church is at the dais of Christ in heaven, the judgments of the book of
Revelation will be opened for the purpose of enforcing the right of Christ to be Potentate
and Priest of all the earth. This judgment must begin from the house of God (1 Peter
4:17), and, as Prophet, we find Christ presenting His claims first among the synagogues of
His own people Israel, in the messages to the seven ecclesias of the Revelation (chapters
two and three) which will be located in the various places designated in Asia Minor.
Others, though scattered among all nations, even today, are gathering back to
Palestine, unconverted, where they will be caused to "pass under the rod"
(Ezek.20:34-38). They will be cast into God's "melting pot" (Ezek.22:19-22), and
pass through the experience spoken of by Jeremiah and Daniel as the "time of Jacob's
trouble" (Jer 30:4-7; Dan.12:1). Christ, in His closing declaration among them on
earth, called it "the great tribulation" or "affliction," and He and
Zechariah connect it with His return (Matt 24:21-31; Zech.14:1-11).
Under the awful reign of the Desolator they will be hated by all the nations,
persecuted and slain unmercifully (Matt.24:9- 13). The result of these terrible
afflictions will be that the Jews, out of their misery, will call upon the Lord
(Zech.12:10). Christ will return, standing in that day on the Mount of Olives facing
Jerusalem on the east (Zech.14:3), and they will look upon Him Whom they
"pierced" (Zech.12:10), and say: "Blessed is He Who is coming in the name
of the Lord" (Luke 13:35), and the new nation (Isa.66:7,8) will be given the
sovereignty of the kingdom under all the heavens for the eon (Dan.7:27).
IV. THE GLORY THRONE JUDGMENT
- Time: The Revelation of Christ in Power and Much glory
- Place: The Throne of His Glory on the Earth in the Valley of Jehoshaphat
- Subjects: The Living Nations (Gentiles)
- Basis of Judgment: Their Treatment of Christ's Brethren, the Jews, during the
- Result: Some Nations "Saved," others "Chastened"
Almost every preacher who attempts a sermon on the "judgment," takes his text
from Matthew 25:31-46 and expounds it as the "final judgment" in which he
arraigns all humanity (the living and the resurrected dead) before the One sitting on the
throne, to hear their destiny declared unto them! Our International Sunday School
literature makes this awful blunder every time they attempt an exposition on the subject,
leading thousands on thousands of God's saints astray from the revealed truth. How this
"judgment" can be confused with the "Great White Throne Judgment" of
Revelation 20:11-15 (if teachers would only read the two accounts, to say nothing of
studying them), presents a bewildering problem. Let us make a simple comparison:
THE GLORY THRONE
THE GREAT WHITE THRONE
|1. At Revelation of Christ
||One thousand years later
|2. On the earth (Joel 3:2)
||Heaven and earth gone
|3. Living nations judged
|4. No resurrection
|5. Three classes: "sheep,"
"kids" and "brethren"
|One class: the dead
|6. No books mentioned
||Books opened: book of life opened
This comparison reveals facts which make it impossible for these
judgments to be identical. One is on this earth, and the other takes place after the
heavens and the earth have fled, and the two are separated by a period of time of more
than a thousand years!
Another witness against their identity is the Greek word ethnos, translated here
in Matthew 25, "nations." It occurs 164 times in the Greek Scriptures, and is
translated in our common version 93 times "gentiles," 64 times
"nation" or "nations," 5 times "heathen," and 2 times
"people." But never, in any instance, is it applied to either the dead
or resurrected. In the face of this fact, verified by the internal evidence of the
Scriptures themselves, surely we will not be guilty of uniting these two judgments again.
All this comes about by trying to make the Glory Throne Judgment of "nations"
a judgment of individuals. The "sheep" represent one class of nations and the
"goats" or "kids" another class, while the "brethren"
represent the Jews, Christ's own brethren according to the flesh.
If we will let the Scriptures speak to us as they are written, all will be clear:
"Now immediately after the affliction of those days . . . they shall be viewing
the Son of Mankind coming on the clouds of heaven with power and much glory"
This is His glorious epiphany, or Revelation, from heaven when every eye shall be
viewing Him (Matt.24:27; Rev.1:7; 19:11- 21), whenever He may be coming to be glorified in
His saints and to be marveled at in all who believe (seeing that our testimony to you was
believed) in that day...(2 Thess.1:6-10). It is then that these words of our Lord Jesus
will find fulfillment:
"Now, whenever the Son of Mankind may be coming in His glory, and all the holy
messengers with Him, then He shall be seated on the throne of His glory, and in front
of Him shall be assembled all nations, and He shall be severing then from one another even
as a shepherd is severing the sheep from the kids" (Matt.25:31, 32).
So far as the record goes (and nothing else is admissible here), the personnel of this
judgment consists of the "Judge and His retinue" (Matt.25:31), "the
nations" (Matt.25:32; Joel 3:2, 3), and His "brethren" (Matt.25:40). These,
no more and no less. If any resurrected people are there, they have to be forced into the
text, for they are not given by the spirit.
This judgment of the nations is sounded again and again in the Hebrew Scriptures from
Isaiah to Malachi. Familiarity with these accounts and their relation to Israel and the
Millennial kingdom, should keep all from making it a final judgment. In Joel
3:1-21, we are given a very terse setting of this judgment scene:
"For behold! in those days and in that era,
In which I turn back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,
I gather together all the nations also,
And cause them to descend into the vale of Jehoshaphat,
And I am judged with them there
As to My people and My allotment, Israel,
Whom they disperse among the nations.
`Mobilize and come, all nations around,
There cause Thy mighty ones to settle, Jehovah!
The nations are arousing and ascending to the vale of Jehoshaphat [Jehovah-JUDGE]
For there I an sitting to judge all the nations from around."
It is evident that all this refers to the nations who will be living on the earth in
that day when Christ returns to establish His kingdom of glory on the earth. It has
nothing whatever to do with the church or the wicked dead.
Christ will sever the nations from one another as a shepherd is severing the sheep from
the kids, putting the sheep nations on His right and the kids on the left. Apparently
these nations are made up largely of uncivilized peoples of the earth in that day, as they
seem to know nothing of Christ. The sheep nations will be adjudged "just" for
having befriended His brethren according to the flesh, showing them kindness, protection
and assistance while suffering the awful affliction under the Desolator, and will be
passed into the millennial kingdom and blessed with all the abundance of soulish blessings
of that era, subservient to Israel. The nations who gave no consideration to the suffering
and distress of His brethren during this awful affliction, will be sent away into eonian
This passage of Scripture is usually appealed to when proving eternal life for the
righteous and everlasting punishment for the wicked--heaven and hell. But neither heaven
nor hell, eternal life nor everlasting punishment are in view in the passage!
Another objection is usually raised concerning the eonian life given to the sheep
nations, that this will be salvation by "good works;" and we readily agree that
such is the case here, for faith seems not to enter into it in any way. The cause for such
an objection however, is failure to apprehend that during God's eonian administrations He
uses various methods of fitting mankind for fellowship with Himself. It should be
remembered that the church which is the body of Christ, is graced with a salvation more
transcendently glorious than all others, and at the time of this judgment scene, is
already enjoying the bliss of their allotment among the celestials in heaven. The eonian
salvation that becomes the portion of the nations in this judgment in no way compares with
the allotment of glory lavished on the church (Eph. 2).