Have you ever experienced something so unexplainable that you have wanted to ask, “Why?” Many people today do not believe that there is a God because if there were a God, how could He allow such terrible and unexplainable things to happen? A time is coming when we will all have the opportunity to ask, “Why?” and we will find an answer.
In the not-so-distant future, every human being will stand before God and give an account of himself or herself. God has a record of everything that has ever been said and done in this world. He even has a record of the thoughts of all of mankind. All of these things will one day, very soon, be revealed.
Jesus said, “[T]here is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” Matthew 10:26. Everything that is unknown or hidden today will, in that last day, be revealed.
The Bible tells us that God’s judgment will take place in three phases. This should be familiar to us because in the earthly court system, judgment is also dispensed in three phases:
Investigative – When a person is initially brought before a judge and a jury for a trial. All the evidence that has been gathered against the accused is presented in this first phase. The evidence will either be sufficient to find a person guilty or it will fail to convince the jury and the person will be acquitted, found innocent. If acquitted, then judgment is over. But if a person is convicted, then there are two more judgment phases to face.
Sentencing – A sentence, based upon the severity of the crime, is determined and set.
Executive – The execution of the sentence a person has been given is the final phase. It might be probation, a fine and/or community service, time in prison, or if it is a capital case, a death sentence.
God’s judgment is the same. Our focus in this article will be on the executive phase of God’s judgment. “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. 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. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades [the grave] delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11–15
Here we see that this judgment is based on evidence, the things written in the records which God has been keeping since sin entered the world, and by which mankind will be judged “according to their works.” Somehow, Christians have gotten the idea that because they call themselves Christians, they won’t be judged according to what they do or don’t do. This is a terrible error because both the Old and New Testaments are clear that God will judge His people according to their works. Therefore, it is very important that we understand that our names must be found in the book of life and our works must be according to God’s law if we hope to meet God in the judgment and be found innocent of sin.
Looking again at Revelation 20, we see that this is how God will judge the people of the world, too, and that even though they may die in this life, they will be raised up again to face judgment. This judgment will be the second death. All who through sin became the enemies of God will die this second death judgment, when Satan and sin will be completely destroyed (Malachi 4:1). “Root and branch will be destroyed by the fires of the last days. Satan, the great general of apostasy, is the root, and all his workers, who teach his lies in regard to the law of God, are the branches.” Manuscript 58, 1897
“It will be seen that Satan’s rebellion against God has resulted in ruin to himself, and to all that chose to become his subjects. He has represented that great good would result from transgression; but it will be seen that ‘the wages of sin is death.’ Romans 6:23. … An end will be made of sin, with all the woe and ruin that have resulted from it.” The Faith I Live By, 357
This is the execution of the judgment.
Malachi says that God will once and for all destroy sin and Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:26 that Christ will then destroy our final enemy—death. At the judgment, the book of life will be opened and anyone whose name is not found there will be cast into the lake of fire and experience the second death.
Jesus’ second coming brings about this final judgment. The second coming, mentioned hundreds of times in the New Testament, is its keynote. It is also spoken of many times in the Old Testament. The end of all things occurs at Jesus’ second coming. Revelation 19:11–16 describes the second coming of Jesus in symbolic language, “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Notice that Jesus is coming back prepared to wage war. As we draw nearer to the end of time, the world will become increasingly wicked. We read this in Matthew 24, in both 1 and 2 Timothy, in 2 Peter chapters 2 and 3, and in Revelation. The Bible repeatedly warns that because of this wickedness, the Lord returns to wage one final battle with sin. “Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.” Isaiah 13:9
The Old and New Testaments also state that sinners will be destroyed when the Lord returns once again to this earth. And why does this battle end this way? “[T]o give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9
Revelation describes this destruction. “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.’ And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 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. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Revelation 19:17–21
Isaiah also describes the end of all things contrary to righteousness. “The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like that of many people! A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of the nations gathered together! The Lord of hosts musters the army for battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven—the Lord and His weapons of indignation, to destroy the whole land. Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty.” Isaiah 13:4–6
The Lord will return to destroy sin and sinners from off the earth. All those who worshiped the beast and his image and received his mark will be killed when the Lord returns. It doesn’t matter if someone is a king or a pauper, if sin is found in their life, if their name is not written in the book of life, they will die. None will be left.
We can see clearly what will happen to the wicked at Jesus’ return. But more importantly, let’s see what will happen to those who have dedicated their lives to doing the will of God; those who have received the Holy Spirit and been transformed into the likeness of Christ—Christians in the truest sense of the word.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ” 1 Corinthians 15:51–54
Paul quotes this prophecy found in Isaiah 25:6–9: “In this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast. He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day: ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.’ ”
Being mortal means that we are subject to death. Immortal means we will no longer be subject to death.
The righteous children of God who have died will all be raised to immortality. Those who are living will be made immortal and caught up with those who are raised from the dead to meet the Lord together in the air. Jesus told His disciples just before His arrest and crucifixion, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1–3
When Jesus comes, the wicked who are alive on the earth, will all be killed by the brightness of His coming. But God’s children, whether they be dead or alive, will be given immortality and be taken up together into the clouds to meet Him.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
“But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.” Revelation 20:4–6, first part
The wicked will be dead, to be raised again to face final judgement after the millennium. Only Satan will remain alive.
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.” Revelation 20:1–3
Revelation tells us that the devil will be bound to this earth in solitary confinement for 1,000 years. There will be no one to deceive; no one to suffer from his cruelty. And during this 1,000-year period, the saints will review the books, the record that God has been keeping throughout the history of the world. The trial is commenced, the evidence is given. The saints will see that the evidence is overwhelmingly compelling and they must agree with God’s verdict of guilty.
The New Testament is very clear that judgment will be committed to Christ’s saints. “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” 1 Corinthians 6:1–3
The saints will judge fallen angels and sinners alike, and will then fully understand why sinners must be destroyed.
It is during this time of judgement that the many unanswered questions that we have asked, will be answered. It isn’t that God cannot or refuses to answer our questions. God has a purpose for all the things that occur in this world and in our individual lives. We do not now see as God sees and therefore, we are unable to understand why things happen as they do. “Why did this happen? Why did God allow that?” They may be unanswered now, but there is no question regarding our lives on this earth that will be unanswerable. We just simply must wait for God’s time to receive the answer. And here, during the millennium, as we look over the books, we will see why things happened the way they did and be satisfied that God, in His love and mercy, did everything just right.
At the close of the millennium, Satan will be set free, the wicked will be raised from the dead, and all will be sentenced. The penalty for their sins: eternal death. No burning forever and ever … just death.
Satan, sin, and sinners—all gone. Having been sentenced for their sins, God executes judgment and all that is sinful is destroyed forever. “God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; the Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies; the Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. …
“Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him. … He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time.” Nahum 1:2, 3, 6, and 9, last part
We will soon find out that God always does what is right and best for His children.
“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’
“And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!’ ” Revelation 5:11–13
Jesus said He would be back to take us home with Him. For eternity, we will hear again and again the story of our redemption. Questions will be asked and answered. We will sing praises to God and Jesus, His Son.
Are we waiting and longing for His return? Soon God’s children will be changed, the mortal will be given immortality and they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. From then on, they will forever be with Him. Will you be ready to meet Him on that day?
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.