Preparing for the Judgment

Jesus emphatically told His followers that there would be a final judgment and publicity would attend it. He said,

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.”

Matthew 25:31, 32.

This judgment message was taught by God’s prophets and has been the subject of many Bible writers since the beginning of time. “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him’ (Jude 14, 15).”

Every inhabitant of the world will be judged publicly, in the presence of all the unfallen worlds. The law of God, which the majority in this world have despised, will be exalted and seen in its true nature.

The Psalmist said, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people: ‘Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.’ Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge” (Psalm 50:2–6).

“Clouds and darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. A fire goes before Him, and burns up His enemies round about. His lightnings light the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory” (Psalm 97:2–6).

“Then there appears against the sky a hand holding two tables of stone folded together. … That holy law, God’s righteousness, that amid thunder and flame was proclaimed from Sinai as the guide of life, is now revealed to men as the rule of judgment. The hand opens the tables, and there are seen the precepts of the Decalogue, traced as with a pen of fire. The words are so plain that all can read them. Memory is aroused, the darkness of superstition and heresy is swept from every mind, and God’s ten words, brief, comprehensive, and authoritative, are presented to the view of all the inhabitants of the earth.” The Great Controversy, 639.

God’s law, that men either despise or say it was done away with, will be exalted as the standard of His government. Paul refers to this in Hebrews 12:18, where he wrote, “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (After so many years of Egyptian captivity the Israelites were afraid of God approaching them directly.) … But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:18, 19, 22–24).

Paul continues, “See that you do not refuse Him Who speaks …” (verse 25).

The angels have a significant part to play in the judgment for several reasons:

  1. The angels who chose to stay on the side of Christ when the controversy erupted with Lucifer have been involved since before the world was created.
  2. Angels are given assignments. Ellen White wrote, “But angels watch the precious dust of this servant of God [referring to William Miller], and he will come forth at the sound of the last trump.” Early Writings, 258. The tombs of all the righteous dead are guarded by angels and on resurrection morning none will be forgotten. All who have not committed the unpardonable sin have a minimum of one guardian angel and some have two. While Jesus was on earth he had two guardian angels who did not leave Him even when He died; they stayed at His tomb. Ellen White wrote, “These angels were of the company that had been waiting in a shining cloud to escort Jesus to His heavenly home. The most exalted of the angel throng, they were the two who had come to the tomb at Christ’s resurrection, and they had been with Him throughout His life on earth.” The Desire of Ages, 832.

“Under God the angels are all-powerful. They are mighty, and they excel in strength. On one occasion, in obedience to the command of Christ, they slew in one night one hundred and eighty-five thousand men of the Assyrian army. They can, and will, soon visit the earth with judgments. In quick succession one angel after another will pour out vials of wrath upon the inhabitants of the earth. How easily could the angels, beholding the shameful scene of the trial of Christ, have testified to their indignation by consuming the adversaries of God! But they were not commanded to do this.” The Signs of the Times, January 17, 1900. Angels observe perfect order and only do what they are directed to do by their commanders.

We know that angels frequently disguise themselves as human beings. Paul reminds us, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2).

In The Review and Herald, November 22, 1898, Ellen White wrote, “The Lord would have us understand that these mighty ones who visit our world have borne an active part in the work which we have called our own. These heavenly beings are ministering angels, and they frequently disguise themselves in the form of human beings, and as strangers converse with those who are engaged in the work of God. In the lonely places they have been the companions of the traveler in peril. In tempest-tossed ships they have spoken words to allay fear and inspire hope in the hour of danger. Many, under different circumstances, have listened to the voices of the inhabitants of other worlds. Time and again have they been the leaders of armies. They have been sent forth to cleanse away pestilence. They have eaten at the humble board of families, and often have they appeared as weary travelers in need of shelter for the night.

“We need to understand better than we do the work of these angel visitants. It would be well for us, as children of God, to consider that heavenly beings hear our words, and behold our works. Heavenly angels are co-operating with us in every good work, and thus earth is connected with heaven.”

Whether you are saved or lost in the final judgment, you will see a panorama of your whole life. Then it will be too late to get ready, for all cases will have already been decided. It is right now while probation is still open that the gospel must be preached to the whole world.

We are living in the time of grace. Right now, even the chiefest of sinners can still decide to turn around, change sides, follow Jesus and be saved. It is also true that a person who is following Jesus can lose his/her way and be lost. Decision time is running out, and soon it will be too late to make the change.

Often people are unhappy with the judgments decided by worldly courts and appeal to a higher court until the case reaches the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court refuses to accept the case at that level there is no higher appeal.

When God judges the world there is no appeal. People will put their hand over their mouth with nothing to say (see Job 40:4; Micah 7:16). They will be silent because the evidence against them will be overwhelming. Notice the evidence of this:

Angels keep a record of every thought, word and action and will be there when the Judge appears. A panoramic view of their whole life will be seen passing in front of each one. Each life will be measured by the law of God in the presence of the universe to see if that person is safe to be in the company of unfallen worlds. Jesus is the Judge. It says in John 5:22, 27: “… the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son. … and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.”

Ellen White wrote: “God has committed all judgment unto the Son, for without controversy He is God manifest in the flesh.

“God designed that the Prince of sufferers in humanity should be judge of the whole world. He who came from the heavenly courts to save man from eternal death; He Whom men despised, rejected, and upon Whom they heaped all the contempt of which human beings, inspired by Satan, are capable; He who submitted to be arraigned before an earthly tribunal, and Who suffered the ignominious death of the cross—He alone is to pronounce the sentence of reward or of punishment. He who submitted to the suffering and humiliation of the cross here, in the counsel of God is to have the fullest compensation, and ascend the throne acknowledged by all the heavenly universe as the King of saints. He has undertaken the work of salvation, and shown before unfallen worlds and the heavenly family that the work He has begun He is able to complete. It is Christ Who gives men the grace of repentance; His merits are accepted by the Father in behalf of every soul that will help to compose the family of God.” The Review and Herald, November 22, 1898.

She continues, “Solemn will be the day of final decision. In prophetic vision the apostle John describes it: ‘And 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. And 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’ (Revelation 29:11, 12). Then is it not of tremendous importance to us, individually, that our works be right works? Probationary time is granted us, opportunities and privileges are given us, to make our calling and election sure. How we should prize this precious time, and improve every talent God has given, that we may be faithful stewards over ourselves, keeping our souls in the love of God!” Ibid.

Now is the “precious time” to make our calling and election sure. Paul said, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on the earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God Who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:10–13). [Emphasis added.] We must cooperate with God in working out our own salvation with fear and trembling to receive the gift of eternal life for it is not us doing it but God working in us. So why does the Bible say that you work it out? God never works contrary to a person’s will. He allows choice. If I choose to follow my own desire, I choose to be lost. I should be afraid that when I have to make a choice that I’ll choose my way instead of God’s way. He says, “… work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

In Ephesians 6:10–18 Paul counsels to put on the whole armor of God. He talks about the battle we must fight against evil and that we need to be strong in the Lord. The battle is a spiritual battle against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, whether we want it to take place or not. There is no way to get out of it.

Our only defense against the enemy of souls is the armor of truth and the righteousness of Christ (verse 14), a right understanding of the gospel (verse 15), having faith (verse 16), the hope of salvation and the word of God (verse 17) to be able to stand, and praying always (verse 18).

It was His connection with His Father that strengthened Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said to Peter, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Again Jesus said, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

Peter said the same thing: “… the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious …” (I Peter 4:7, literal translation) or be sober, watch unto prayer.

Jesus said, “… search the Scriptures, because in them you think you have eternal life; and they are they that testify of Me” (John 5:39, literal translation). Paul said, concerning the Bereans, “… they were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they … searched the Scriptures daily … with all readiness of mind … whether these things were so” (Acts 17:10–11, literal translation).

Clad in the armor of God we must avoid the way of temptation. In this life, temptation will come to all but we should not deliberately look for it. It is presumptuous to walk in the way of temptation and get into trouble and expect to be excused.

Paul says to “flee sexual immorality” (I Corinthians 6:18). In other words, run away from it as did Joseph when tempted by Potiphar’s wife (see Genesis 39:13). Another thing to flee from is idolatry (I Corinthians 10:14).

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:7–12).

Writing to Timothy, Paul said, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

Enquire of the Lord if you are not aware of your besetting sins, to reveal those areas in which the devil can most easily trip you up and then avoid those things. Each of us has entangling sins which we must guard against.

Paul taught Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” (I Timothy 6:12). This can only be accomplished by fleeing from temptation. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, He said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ ” (Matthew 4:4).

A careful study of the Bible will reveal the things that put us out of harmony with God’s will so they can be corrected. The Spirit moves us ever so gently, pointing us to exactly what we need to see at just the right time.

When the people of a Samaritan village refused to receive Jesus, James and John said, “ ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. And they went to another village’ ” (Luke 9:54–56). Though they loved Jesus and followed Him they had the wrong spirit and needed correction. There are only two spirits seeking to gain control of the world. After spending three years with Jesus, He told them that with that attitude they were under control of the wrong one.

It is crucial to study and see what spirit controls us. Ask yourself what is the motivation in the way I deal with others? It is not just what I do but what motivates the action.

The Bible records that Caleb had a different spirit. It says, “They certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of them who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him, and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it” (Numbers 14:23, 24).

The wise man said that “before honor is humility” (Proverbs 15:33). It was because of Jesus’ humility that He was rejected. In every generation those who represent Him in character are also rejected by the proud and haughty. Pride and humility do not mix.

A parable that has caused much concern for many is the fairness of the landowner recorded in Matthew 20 who went out and hired people to work in his vineyard. At the third hour He hired others, and then more at the sixth hour, and at the ninth hour more workers were hired, and even at the eleventh hour when He found the people standing idle in the market place he offered them work in His vineyard telling them “whatever is right you will receive. So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last unto the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius’ ” (Matthew 20:7–13)?

From a worldly point of view, it just doesn’t seem fair. Ellen White comments in Christ’s Object Lessons that the reason for this parable is that Jesus saw what would be the weakness and the curse of the church in all ages—self-righteousness. Most people, when they do more than others, think that they should receive more reward. The landowner said, “ ‘Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good? So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen’ ” (verses 14–16).

The council that Christ gave to the Laodicean church in Revelation 3 is that you think you are rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. He said, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed … and eye salve, that you may see” (verse 18).

In the world gold means money; money means power. In the spiritual world gold is faith and love. If you have love, you have everything you need, and if you have faith, you can get everything you need. The white raiment is the righteousness of Christ and the eye salve is the ability to see and understand the spiritual warfare that is taking place.

Time is running out. We need the armor of God to fight the final battle against Satan before Jesus returns. Watch unto prayer searching the Scriptures, and flee temptation. Have faith and live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

In Romans 7, Paul recognized his own weakness and cried out saying, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God …” (verses 24, 25).

Fall down before Him now while the day of grace is still open and you can be saved.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.