The word ‘eschatology’ means ‘the study of last things, end times, or of endings.’ People who consider themselves to be students of eschatology will often research the Bible and other documents that pertain to the Lord’s return for His Church, our coming judgment, and the glory that awaits all who have placed their faith in Jesus. More believers need to be studying this sacred topic as the Rapture of the Church is immanently close.
I recently hosted a midweek Bible study at a local church in our area. I was the guest speaker for a group of senior saints. These were seasoned believers who had been walking with the Lord for many years, over 60 years for many of them. I felt a strong urge from the Lord to speak to them on the subject of a personal eschatology, and I felt the same to write about that in this blog. I have a special love for older believers, especially the ladies, our senior sister saints in the Lord. These women who have been faithful to the Lord for most of their lives and now are in a place of longing to be loved by the Master Himself. These saints who also have a great capacity to love and who are longing for Christ’ appearing, including being reunited with their believing husbands who have already gone home, leaving them as widows. Suffice it to say, we have a large body of seniors, brothers and sisters, who love Jesus and who long for His return. It’s to that appearing and coming judgment, both personal and eternal, that I am blogging about today.
We have all heard clichés like…
‘Nobody out runs the long arm of the Lord.’
‘We will all stand before God and give an account for our life.’
‘We will face one of two judgments, one for the righteous, and one for the wicked.’
‘Born Once, Die Twice; Born Twice, Die Once.’
‘Everyone gets so many trips around the sun and then we must account for them.’
‘Enjoy it now, you can’t take it with you.’
‘I never saw a Hearst towing a U-Haul trailer.’
‘He who dies with the most toys, still dies.’
All of these ‘eternal clichés’ that we have heard of or perhaps even spoken, point to one inevitable conclusion, that one day we will all die and then must give an account for our life before the Lord. This accounting comes in the form of a personal judgment that will be both final and eternal. This blog is about the personal nature of our coming judgment and how knowing, in advance, how it will play out, can have a positive effect on how we live our lives in the here and now. This life that we live is like a job interview, how well we do now determines how well (and where) we will spend eternity. This sacred truth is wrapped up in the gospel message of Jesus and His plan for our lives, both now and throughout all of eternity.
The Bible says, “And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” – Genesis 6:3
In context, the Lord is angered at the sinfulness of humanity and gives man a ‘time frame’ of 120 years where ‘He will strive to save him;’ but after that, God will render His judgment. Jewish scholars believe these 120 years to be Jubilee years, the 50th year in a cycle of years, so 50 x 120 = 6,000 years. Many Christians interpret this passage to mean that it took Noah 120 years to build the ark, but in reality, he preached for 120 years. The Book of Jasher says it only took Noah and his employees five years to build the ark. The ark represents a type and shadow of Jesus, the hope for the Church in a pre-tribulation Rapture which will spare Christ’ bride from the coming judgment, a prophesied seven-year tribulation that is soon to come on this earth. We are currently living in a pre-tribulation era; that is, the shadow of the tribulation is already being cast upon this world and those believers in Jesus who have discernment can see it best. We are living in the pre-season of God’s judgment which is consistent with His eventual Second Coming and global intervention in the world’s end time scenario.
God gives every man a set amount of time (some more than others) to repent of their wicked ways and turn to Him. Everyone gets this gift of time and opportunity to come to understand their sin problem and subsequent eternal fate. If we receive Jesus, than He will forgive us and grant us our much needed salvation. We, are all human, as such we are eternal creatures, the only species on this planet that have a spirit, that is the living essence of our Creator. We are eternal in our nature, made up of three parts, body, soul, and spirit. While this earthly body will die, our soul (mind, will, emotion) and spirit are eternal and will exist forever, consciously, in one of two places, heaven or hell; it’s the eternal nature of our existence as people. God created us in His image, the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). Humans are the only species among God’s creations who has this ‘eternal’ feature.
Solomon said it this way, “I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. 12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives,”
– Ecclesiastes 3:10-12
Our plight is simple, we are all humans created by God in His image and likeness. God is eternal so therefore all humanity is eternal, that is, we have a start date, but no end date. God has put ‘eternity’ in man’s heart which conveys an understanding that after we die, we will continue to exist on an eternal plain. As we ponder our eternal nature, given to us by God, we must better understand the ‘personal nature’ of what happens to us when we step across the veil from this life and into the next. Unfortunately there are many who only consider the matters of this life as all there is and after they die, it’s just over, nothingness, like they never existed. This doctrine of a demon is called ‘anilinism’ and it conveys with it the idea that after a person dies, they just become instinct, non-existent, and non-living. This is just NOT true! We are eternal.
The Apostle Paul said that for the believer in Jesus… “…we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God,” – 2 Corinthians 5:7-11
Walking by faith is living by faith, in God thorough Jesus Christ – it’s being a Christian. Because we are Christians, we want to please the Lord and eventually be with Him; however, until He calls us to our eternal home, we must continue to do His business (occupy) till He does. Every Christian will one day stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (aka the Bema Seat), where our lives will be evaluated by the good things and the bad (worthless, but non-sin) things that we did in our lives. This pending judgment will be given to us by Jesus Himself whom God has made judge over humanity.
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” – John 5:21-23
Knowing this truth reveals that Jesus will either be our Savior or our Judge. The Bema Seat judgment will determine our rewards that we, as believers in Jesus, have earned in this life and will enjoy throughout eternity.
Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19,20
This treasure that we have laid up in this life will eventually be rewarded us at the Bema Seat. Knowing that we will give an account at the end of this life often prompts a believer to live more righteously and thoughtfully. Our love for God must be what motivates us in our obedience to Him; not our fear of missing heaven and going to hell forever. For the Christian, the closest they will ever get to hell is what the devil does to make them fear they are going there. For the believer in Jesus, our personal judgment is more about a reward. Nobody stands at the Bema Seat of Christ and wonders if they are going to hell; the Bema Seat judgment is what every believer will experience just prior to going into heaven. The order of events goes like this, first the Rapture / Resurrection, then the Bema, then the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Just like that, we are judged, rewarded, and celebrated in the Kingdom of Heaven where we will be with Jesus and all those who have loved and longed for His appearing. This blog is focused on the personal nature of the two types of judgments that man will experience, the one we are speaking of, the Bema Seat, is what awaits all believers in Jesus. The other judgment, the Great White Throne (GWT), is a judgment that awaits all the unsaved sinners of the world who have died in their sin.
The believer’s judgment is one that renders an eternal reward which awaits all Christians who have received Jesus in their life and who, from that time, have served Him faithfully.
The sinner’s judgment is one that renders only an eternity in hell. This is where all sinners who have died in their sin will one day be resurrected from Hell to stand before God Almighty (Jesus) and be judged, only to be cast alive into the Lake of Fire, a place of horrific torment, something Jesus called ‘the second death.’
Jesus said twice in the parable of the talents, “He also who had received (five) two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained (five) two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” – Matthew 25:21-23
This passage is referencing the Bema Seat and as believers in Jesus, we all want to hear our Lord say, ‘well done you good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord;’ this is the judgment we long for. As the Bema Seat judgment is a rewards judgment for believers in Jesus, the antithesis of this judgment is the GWT, the judgment for the unsaved. The unsaved judgment is one that renders an eternal conscious torment in the lake of fire; away from the presence of the Lord. Because God is holy and we are not, without Jesus we can’t be in God’s presence. As a result, there remains only one other place in eternity for sinful humanity, a place the Bible says that Jesus created for the devil and his fallen angels.
The Apostle Paul said of Jesus that… “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” – Colossians 1:15-17
John the Revelator said that… “the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” – Revelation 4:10,11
Everything that was created was created by God (Jesus) including Hell and the Lake of Fire (LOF). If anyone follows after the devil and rejects the saving grace of Jesus Christ, that same person will go to the same place where the devil is eventually going; the lake of fire, mentioned in three passages in Revelation. The first in context to the Beast and the False Prophet being cast alive into the LOF at the end of the Tribulation.
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” – Revelation 19:20
Well over a 1,000 years later after the final rebellion the Bible says that… “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” – Revelation 20:10
Up until this point there are only two people in the LOF, the beast and the false prophet. The devil will be the third person to be cast alive into the LOF.
John the Revelator reveals a sacred truth about following after the devil.
“If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” – Revelation 13:9-11
Put another way, if you are acting in a way that is consistent with the devil’s ways, you are going to get the same judgment as the devil. If the devil is leading and others are following him, they will end up in the same place he is going. Just after the devil is cast alive into the LOF, the GWT commences and untold billions of people will be resurrected from hell (Gehenna) to stand before God and be judged by Him, only to be found guilty, and then to be cast alive into the LOF with the devil and his demons. The Great White Throne Judgment is a judgment reserved only for the unsaved dead, not Christians.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:11-15
Questions to Ponder:
- When you think of your personal judgment, what kind of images come into your mind and heart?
- Are they positive thoughts that are consistent with what God’s Word says about a Christian’s judgment?
- Are they hope-filled and happy knowing that what you will receive from the Lord is what has been promised to you as a believer in Jesus in His Word?
- Do you consider your actions in this life in light of God’s Word as it relates to His promises of warnings of a coming judgment? In other words, do you consider how you live in light of your coming judgment?
Perhaps you struggle with thoughts of fear and torment or an uncertainty as to your eternal judgment and the condition of your soul. Perhaps you are not sure that you are even saved, as a result the thought of what may come your way in the form of a judgment haunts you when you think about it. Many unsaved people deal with this condition by just not thinking about it. This is a trick from the enemy because the devil knows that if he can get you thinking about other things (distractions) instead of your potential eternal destiny, than he can distract you long enough to keep you away from potentially receiving Jesus and becoming saved.
As Christians, we have a hope in Jesus that is as secure as God’s Word. Our coming judgment is more about rewards than it is about loss; however, we will all experience some loss of rewards at the Bema, but not our precious eternal spirit and soul because that was decided at the cross. Unsaved people don’t have this hope; just a certain fearful expectation of a coming judgment that is eternally terrifying. To simply not believe that hell is real is a simple lie that the devil tells individuals who are more into their personal lifestyle and the temporariness of this life. Their simply thought is that they just don’t care or will deal with it when they get there, which, of course will be too late for them.
We will all stand before the Lord one day and give an account for our lives;
- For the saved this will happen just after the Rapture/Resurrection, but just prior to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. What we have sown in this life will be rewarded us at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ; this is a NT judgment reserved only for NT saints; post-crucifixion. It’s a NT thing!
- For the unsaved who die in their sin, they will be condemned to hell, Gehenna, in the underworld where they will await the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennial Reign of Jesus, after the final rebellion, when the Lord will resurrect everyone in hell and have each of them individually stand before the Lord and give an account, only to be cast alive into the Lake of Fire, the second death.
This blog is not about the eschatological nature of why it plays out in this way so much is that it plays out in this way. In simple terms, the coming judgment that awaits us is both personal and real; it invokes only one of two judgments with one of two outcomes, heaven or hell, both are eternal. The message of the Gospel of Jesus has been preached throughout the world and is continuing to be preached via the many media outlets, churches, evangelists, and missions’ works. The kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing and forceful men and women are laying hold of it!
The Lord went through a lot of effort, sacrifice, and pain to provide us with salvation through Jesus and to know who God is and what He has prepared for us in the form of our coming judgment and reward. We have a sacred responsibility and opportunity to embrace the Christ and be saved from our sin so that we can inherit eternal life with Him in heaven. All men are without excuse, we know our judgment is coming, we just need to be standing in the correct line; the Bema Seat Judgment line. Sometimes individuals who struggle with totally surrendering their lives to Christ are looking for another gospel; another message, another belief system that best supports their lifestyle. This is an emergent lie that has deceived many otherwise saved and overcoming Christians.
Our time on earth is extremely brief in comparison to eternity. How well we do now will determine where we will be then. It’s not over when we hit the grave; it’s only just beginning; remember, we are eternal beings who continue on existing even after this flesh body has died.
More Questions to Ponder:
- Is there something about your personal, pending, and eternal judgment that inspires you or scares you?
- Are you ready to ‘face the music’ of your life and give an account for your actions, words, and choices?
- What will it take for you, if you are not saved, to come to terms with your coming judgment?
In the end, Jesus Christ Himself will be the judge of your life or your Savior.
>>> You can be assured that you are saved.
The Bible says: “…The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:8-13
What about the doctrine of ‘eternal security’ and ‘once saved, always saved?’ A lot of people out there believe that you can never lose your salvation. I would love to believe this, but I know that many people may have said a few words at an altar call and had an encounter with Jesus, but in the long run, have fell away into a lifestyle of worldly living. Are you willing to wager your eternal soul on this doctrine of a demon?
The Lord, through the Prophet Ezekiel, says it this way, “…if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.” – Ezekiel 18:21,22
A wicked man can repent, turn from his wickedness, and receive the Lord’s forgiveness and salvation. He is assured of his salvation because of his obedience to God’s Word and command to repent.
God goes on to ask the question… “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?” – (vs.23)
Clearly the Lord does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, because He knows where they are going. God would rather a sinner repent of their wickedness and turn to Him. God knows what awaits all sinners who die in their sin and He is mighty to save them if they are willing to repent of their sin and turn to Him.
He goes on to say… “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.” – (vs.24)
It is possible for a righteous man to backslide and lose their salvation based on their freewill act of walking away from the Lord. The devil knows he can’t ‘snatch us out of the hand of God,’ but if he can get us to be drawn away from the Lord and into a lifestyle of sin, driven by our own enticements, we can lose our salvation.
“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?” – (vs.25-29)
Sinners often complain about the strict truths of God’s Word. They feel they have a right to debate it, but in reality, we all must adjust to the holiness of the Lord and the precepts of His Word.
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” – (vs,30-32)
Once again we see the heart of the Lord pleading with the lost to repent and turn to Him. God knows what awaits all sinners and He has made provision for a great salvation through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross.
Question: What can I do to not be afraid of my coming judgment?
Answer: Repent of your sins and walk in the righteousness of Christ with the rest of the NT Church who awaits the Bema Seat Judgment. Call upon the name of Jesus for your salvation.
Question: What about people who are not saved and who have already died, can I pray for them, perhaps, pray them out of hell?
Answer: No, once a person dies, their fate is sealed.
The Hebrew writer said it this way, “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” – Hebrews 9:27
Remember, it doesn’t matter how a person dies that determines their salvation, rather, how they lived when they died; more specifically, whether or not they received Jesus as their Lord and Savior at the point of death.
The remedy for your coming personal judgment is a personal Savior, His name is Jesus and He is the only way to the Father. Some might say that they are being cohered into accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In reality, we are already going to hell; for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. The payment for our sin is eternal death and separation from God (Romans 3:23, 6:23). However, thanks be to God, He has provided us salvation through Jesus; it’s a gift of His grace, not something that we could earn. All we have to do is receive Jesus by faith and allow Him to be the Lord of our life. Reading the Bible and believing every word written therein will help us to grow in our faith. Attending a local Bible teaching church will help us to mature in our faith and to be used by the Lord to bless others.
The truth be told, our personal eschatology begins now. As we prepare for our future home in glory, we are commissioned by Jesus to be a witness of Him to the world. I encourage you man of God or potential man (woman) of God, be reconciled to God today if you are not already and live for him from now until He calls us home. If you are saved by grace, live for Jesus now, knowing that one day soon we will be with Jesus. This is our eternal hope, a certain hopeful expectation of being resurrected from this world into heaven where we will live with our Lord Jesus and all those who have also called upon His name for their salvation.
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Central Missouri. He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.