THE FIVE JUDGMENTS
The expression "general judgment," of such frequent occurrence in religious literature, is not found in the Scriptures, and, what is of more importance, the idea intended to be conveyed by that expression is not found in the Scriptures.
Dr. Pentecost well says: "It is a mischievous habit that has led the Christian world to speak of the Judgment as being one great even, taking place at the end of the world, when all human beings, saints, sinners, Jews and Gentiles, the living and the dead, shall stand up before the 'Great White Throne' and there be judged. Nothing can be more wide of the teaching of the Scriptures."
The Scriptures speak of five judgments, and these will be found to differ in four general respects: (1) In respect of those who are the subjects of judgment; (2) in respect of the place of judgment; (3) in respect of the time of judgment; and (4) in respect of the result of the judgment.
1. The Sins of Believers Have Been Judged. - Time, A.D. 30. Place, the Cross. Result, Death for Christ, Justification for the Believer.
And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: WHERE THEY CRUCIFIED HIM. John 19:17, 18.
Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree. 1 Peter 2:24.
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. 1 Pet. 3:18.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Gal. 3:13.
For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor. 5:21.
But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared, to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself. Heb. 9:26.
When He had by Himself purged our sins. Heb. 1:3.
There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them that are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:1.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me HATH eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life. John 5:24. R.V.
The word translated "judgment" in this passage ("condemnation" in the common version) is the same word rendered "judgment" in Matt. 10:15; Heb. 9:27; 2 Peter 2:4. An entirely different word is used in 2 Cor. 5:10, where the judgment of our works as believers is referred to.
2. Self in the Believer Must be Judged. - Time, anytime. Place, anywhere. Result, chastisement.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 1 Cor. 11:31, 32.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Heb. 12:7.
See also 1 Peter 4:17; 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Sam. 7:14, 15; 2 Sam. 12:13, 14; 1 Tim. 1:20.
3. The Works of Believers Are to Be Judged. - Time, when Christ comes. Place: "In the Air." Result, to the believer, "reward" or "loss." - "but he himself shall be saved."
It is a solemn thought that, though Christ bore our sins in His own body on the tree, and God has entered into covenant with us to "remember them no more" (Heb. 10:17), every work must come into judgment.
Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto Him. For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Cor. 5:9, 10. R.V.
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. Rom. 14:10.
It will be observed that both of these passages are limited by the context to believers. In the first the Apostle has just written of us as in one of two states: either we are at home in the body and absent from the Lord, or absent from the body and present with the Lord; language which could not be used of unbelievers. "Wherefore we make it our aim" in either place - with the Lord, or in the body - to please Him, "for we must all be made manifest," etc. 2 Cor. 5:8, 9.
In the other passage the words "we" and "brother" again limit it to believers. The Holy Spirit never so commingles the saved and the lost. Then, lest it should seem incredible that a blood-cleansed saint could come into any judgment whatever, he quotes from Isaiah to prove that "every knee shall bow," etc., and adds, "so then everyone of us shall give account of himself to God."
The following passage gives the basis of the Judgment of Works:
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. I Cor. 3:11-15.
The following passages fix the time of this judgment.
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works. Matt. 16:27.
And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:14. (See 1 Cor. 15:22, 23).
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of God. 1 Cor. 4:5.
(It is comforting, in view of that inevitable scrutiny of our poor botch-work, to learn that in His patient love He is so leading us now as that He can then find something in it all for which to praise us.)
Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Rev. 22:12.
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day. 2 Tim. 4:8.
The place of this judgment, 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. See also Matt. 25:24-30.
4. The Nations Are to Be Judged. - Time: the glorious appearing of Christ. Place, the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Result, some saved, some lost.
Time. Matt. 25:31, 32; Matt. 13:40, 41.
Place. Joel 3:1, 2, 12-14.
Basis. Treatment of those whom Christ there calls, "My brethren." Matt. 25:40, 45; Joel 3:3, 6, 7. These "brethren" are believed to be the Jewish Remnant who have turned to Jesus as their Messiah during "the great tribulation" which follows the taking away of the Church, and is terminated by the glorious appearing of our Lord. Matt. 24:21-22; Rev. 7:14, R.V.; 2 Thess. 2:3-9. R.V. The proof is too extensive to be adduced here. It is evident, however, that these "brethren" cannot be believers of this dispensation, for it would be impossible to find any considerable number of Christians who are so ignorant that they do not know that offices of kindness to believers are really ministries to Jesus Himself.
Result. Matt. 25:46.
As this judgment of the living nations is sometimes confounded with that of the "great white throne," in Revelation 20:11, it may be well to note the following contrasts between the two scenes.
|Living Nations||Great White Throne|
Living nations judged
On the earth
Three classes - sheep, goats, "brethren"
Time, when Christ appears
"The dead" judged
Heavens and earth fled away
"Books were opened"
One class - "the dead"
After He has reighned 1000 years
The saints will be associated with Christ in this judgment, and hence cannot be the subject of it. See 1 Cor. 6:2, with Dan. 7:22 and Jude 14, 15.
In truth the judgment of the living nations have but one thing in common - the Judge.
5. The Wicked Dead Are to Be Judged - Time, a determined day, after the Millennium. Acts 17:31; Rev. 20:5, 7.
Place, before "the great white throne." Rev. 20:11.
Result. Rev. 20:15.
Some may be troubled by the word "day" in such passages as Acts 17:31 and Romans 2:16. See the following passages where "day" means a lengthened period: 2 Pet. 3:8; 2 Cor. 6:2; John 8:56. The "hour" of John 5:25 has now lasted more than nineteen hundred years.
[Note. - The Scriptures speak, also, of a judgment of angels. 1 Cor. 6:3; Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4. Luke 22:30 probably refers to Judges as under the Theocracy - an administrative office, rather than judicial. See Isaiah 1:26.]