Gary: You are listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. Still ahead, Dave and Tom continue their weekly in-depth examination of salvation. Please stay tuned.
Now, Contending for the Faith: In this regular feature of our program, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here is this week’s question:
“I appreciate how you stress the importance of understanding that while God is a God of love, He is also a God of justice. But I have some questions about God’s judgment: Is it true that there are two distinct judgments, one for the saved and one for those who have rejected God’s salvation?”
Tom: Now, Dave, that’s a good question. I know for a while as a young Christian I thought there was just one judgment, and I was always mistaking the Great White Throne judgment to be the judgment that I would be standing before God. But that’s not what the Bible says, is it?
Dave: Well, you get a very interesting statement way back in the Old Testament, Psalm 1: “For the ungodly shall not stand in judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, [but] the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
That’s the way Psalm 1 ends. So there it almost sounds like ungodly people don’t get judged? No, they are condemned already! The Judgment Seat of Christ is separate and distinct from the Great White Throne. And Paul, writing to Christians in 2 Corinthians 5, says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”
But then in Revelation 20, it says, “I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it from whose face the earth and heavens fled away. There was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great…” These are dead, these are dead in trespasses and sins! They’ve never been given the life of Christ. “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” The books are opened, and so forth, and they are cast into the Lake of Fire! It’s not a question of salvation there—are these people saved or not—no, they’re being judged according to their works, it says, and that will be the degree, apparently, of their punishment.
So yes, there are two judgments, if we want to use that same term for both of them, although apparently from the Bible they’re different enough so that you don’t really use the same term.
Tom: The Bible seems to indicate, too, that—well, they have to be at different times. We believe that the church is going to be Raptured and our judgment, which has to do with our works and rewards, comes at that time, whereas the judgment, the Great White Throne judgment, is at the end of the millennial reign of Christ.
Dave: That’s right. You get it in Revelation 20. So we look forward to the Rapture. It’s very solemn. The first event that will take place when we are brought to heaven is the judgment [seat] of Christ. And you read, of course, of that in 1 Corinthians 3 where it says, “Every man’s works will be tried.” The fire will try them. Wood, hay, and stubble will be burned up, gold, silver, and precious stones will remain, and he will be rewarded according to his works. Those are rewards. It’s not—there again, it’s not a matter of salvation. The saved are saved, the lost are lost. The saved are given rewards for their works, the good works. They suffer loss for bad works, and it can be even without the right motive, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13: “I could give all my goods to feed the poor and give my body to be burned: if I don’t do it out of love, it profits nothing.”
Now, the Catholics, unfortunately, have tried to support purgatory from 1 Corinthians 3. It does not say that the person is being burned, it says their works are being tried by fire. There is no possible way that a person could be purified by fire! It is the blood of Christ that washes away our sins, that purges us. It is not fire that purges us. So here it is very clearly: It is the works that are being tested—not literal fire, but the fire of God’s judgment, His justice, His probing of motives, and of the value of these works, and so forth.
Tom: Yeah. You know, John:5:24 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death to life.”
Dave: Now, you must be going from the New King James. My old King James says, “…shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life.”
Tom: Dave, this implies (well, more than implies) that there are two resurrections then.
Dave: Well, it’s exactly what the Bible says. Jesus said, “The hour is coming and now is when all that are in the grave shall hear his voice and come forth. They that have done good unto the resurrection of life, they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” So when the dead are raised, as you said, at the end of the Millennium, anybody who has not been raised yet, it says, “The sea gave up the dead which were in them. Death and hell gave up the dead which were in them.” There’s something worse than hell, and they were cast into the Lake of Fire—death and hell are cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death, the Scripture says.
But previous to that, we have the resurrection in 1 Thessalonians 4 and in 1 Corinthians 15 when Christ descends from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, the trump of God. The dead in Christ rise first—that’s at the Rapture. “We who are alive and remain are caught up together with them.”
Now, in Revelation 20, you have the resurrection of the saved who died for their faith, who were killed by the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation. They call that the first resurrection, because that is part of this. And they are all part of this first resurrection, but the resurrection of the damned, that comes at the end of time.