This is a difficult message to preach. But let me start by saying God loves you, but He will still judge you.
Israel Falau got into trouble making a statement, giving an opinion. It’s just an opinion, but he was demonised by the media because it didn’t suit their agenda. I’m not here today to discover Israel Falau’s opinion, or mine, or yours, but God’s! I resolve to share the undiluted truth about the judgements today?
Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray once informed a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality, “I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law.”
Some time later the same man was surprised while burgling a house in Antwerp, Belgium, the thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine-foot wall, dropped down the other side, and found himself in the city jail.
Eternal judgement is like that… You think you’re getting away with it, until you don’t. The Bible says there will be a reckoning, like it or not.
A HOLY GOD…OF MERCY
There is a standard, there is a judgement, and God cannot and will not tolerate sin. But God’s heart is to save all of us from our sin,
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong’s)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God doesn’t lower His standards or change His just and righteous penalty for sin. As we will discover, the price for sin, which is death, must be paid. But God in His grace and mercy stepped up and paid this horrendous price through His son, Jesus.
So why don’t people accept His free gift? Because it involves them loving and obeying Him, and many are happy to just keep sinning.
DON’T JUDGE ME!
One of the most commonly quoted verses in the Bible is this one…
Matthew 7:1 (ESV Strong’s)
“Judge not, that you be not judged.
Most often this is trolled out by someone who is sinning, whether they acknowledge it is sin or not. ‘Don’t judge me’ means I can do what I like and you can’t say anything about it.
Fact it we can have an opinion, but God will judge them. We can make an assessment, we can have an opinion, but it’s just our opinion. I always say, we can’t judge others, but we can be fruit inspectors.
God will eventually call you to account. Everyone from Adam to the last man to be born on this earth will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ to be judged.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 (ESV Strong’s)
For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
And let’s make this clear, the Bible says,
John 5:22-23 (ESV Strong’s)
For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.
Jesus is the judge. Not me, not you, not the gay lobby, not politicians, not Israel Folau, not Judge Judy, not Judge Dread, not even God the Father… Jesus judges.
HOW CAN A GOD OF LOVE SEND PEOPLE TO HELL?
Many are asking this question today in our YouTube generation. We think that God is a God of love and mercy and therefore will not keep genuinely nice people out of heaven. I mean, send Hitler or Stalin to hell, but not a nice guy who’s sinning his heart out but isn’t upsetting or hurting anyone, right?
I’d love to say, “yeah you can come in to heaven. Don’t worry about holiness or obedience of anything like that, if you haven’t murdered anyone, come on in.” it is the popular thing to say, but the trouble is, God doesn’t say that in His Word. What He does say, in several places
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (ESV Strong’s)
… inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
If God let everyone into heaven, heaven would be hell! We are happy to proclaim the love and mercy of God, but not the holiness and judgement. We are about to examine 5 judgements mentioned in the Bible, but I think in all these that “How does a God of love send people to hell?” Is the wrong question.
The true question is, “Why does a Holy, sinless God, who could and should justly condemn all of us to hell, choose to offer mercy and salvation to us. If fact, He freely offers it to all people, but most will throw it back in His face?”
A GLIMPSE THROUGH THE VEIL OF DEATH
Death is mysterious. 35 years ago I died on a hospital bed for some minutes, hearts and breathing stopped for ever al minutes. During that time had an after death experience. I fell into the arms of Christ, surrounded by light and love and joy, then a voice said, You’re not finished yet, there is more for you to do, and then I was back in my body.
Death is a veil we rarely get the chance to see beyond, but Jesus gives a few hints in one parable, the rich man and Lazarus the pauper.
Luke 16:24-26 (ESV Strong’s)
And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
Eternal Judgement happens after our death, and it is … Final, completely separate, agonising, never ending.
So let’s look at 5 judgements mentioned in Scripture, who do they affect and what they mean to you?
1. JUDGEMENT OF THE CROSS
The first judgement deals with the believer whose sins were judged in Christ on the cross. Jesus said,
John 5:24 (ESV Strong’s)
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
The Greek word judgement is the word krisis. And our sins were judged at Calvary and every believer “has passed from death and into life.” This is our present salvation, because Christ paid for our sins. He was judged in our place, so that the justice of God would be made complete.
When you come to Christ, God doesn’t just let you off. His justice, His holiness demands that the price be paid for sin, but Jesus paid the penalty, He bore our judgement instead of us, and because of His sacrificial death, the believer is separated from his sins forever. Our sins have been blotted out, and God has promised that He will not remember them against us any more, because there are covered by the blood of Jesus.
The first judgement is the judgement of the cross, and for the believer, Calvary covers it all. Jesus faced the judgement for our sins, so we never have to.
1 Peter 3:18 (ESV Strong’s)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
2. THE BELIEVER’S SELF JUDGEMENT
1 Corinthians 11:31 (ESV Strong’s)
But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.
This second judgment is more than just passing judgement or opinions about things in our lives, it is changing what we do and say.
Our standard for judgement must be the Word of God, not what society dictates to us, not what makes us popular or socially acceptable.
When we judge ourself, the good and the bad will begin to come to light; and we must confess the bad and forsake it, then pursue the good.
Judging yourself is replacing the self-life with the Christ life. It’s about obedience to God, and not giving into the gratifications of the flesh.
Have you made that decision? Are you living for Jesus totally, because that’s what the believer’s self judgement is.
3. JUDGEMENT OF THE NATIONS
The third judgement the Bible talks about deals with the nations.
Matthew 25:31-32 (ESV Strong’s)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Notice at this judgment countries and nations and peoples are judged because of what they have done. All the nation’s of the earth will face judgement, and frankly if God doesn’t judge Australia for our collective wickedness He’s going to have to apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah!
We as God’s people must pray and repent and stand in the gap for our people and our nation, because one day Australia will be called to account.
But this is just a foretaste of the really big judgement…
4. THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT
Revelation 20:11-15 (ESV Strong’s)
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
All humanity through the ages will stand before the judgement of the Great White Throne. This great white throne judgment will follow the thousand-year reign of Christ. This is the final judgment, and only the wicked dead are to be judged. At this time the “Dead, small and great” will stand before God.
When those without Christ die, they don’t go to be with the Lord, they go to Hades, the place of the dead, to await this final judgement day.
At this judgment, the books will be opened and also the book of life will be opened. God has offered the chance of redemption to mankind. But many, maybe some of you, have rejected the grace of God.
When believers die, they go to be with Jesus in paradise.
Luke 23:43 (ESV Strong’s)
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
2 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV Strong’s)
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
So we who know Jesus as Lord do not face this terrifying judgement. Those who die without Christ are resurrected to face this the final judgement.
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV Strong’s)
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
The life you live today is not a dressed rehearsal. Despite what Shirley Maclean and others promote, you don’t get multiple lives… This is it. You can’t replay it, and there’s no second chance once you stop breathing. Die without Jesus, and you face the Great White Throne Judgement.
At this judgment, there will be no acquittal, no higher court to which the lost may appeal. Their eternity is based solely on how they respond to Jesus, not how nice they were, or generous, or kind.
And listen, the lost are lost! Those who die without Jesus will be lost, lost forever, eternity in hell, and without hope.
There is a hell, and in hell, there is no hope, no sympathy, no love, no joy, just eternal torment.
So how can a loving God condemn people to hell? Justice demands that He does, but mercy leads Him to reach out and offer salvation. It’s the chance to miss Hell and embrace heaven!
Matthew 25:41 (ESV Strong’s)
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
If you don’t know Jesus, you face the judgement of the Great White Throne alone. Not your wife and you, your husband and you, your church and you… Just you! The criterion here is simple… Either you are in the Book of Life, or you aren’t. You have either accepted Jesus as Lord, or not. At this point, God does not see your good intentions, He doesn’t see how nice you were. The only criteria is do you know Jesus as Lord of your life?
And tragically so many who had chance after chance to accept Jesus will face their final judgement without any hope, and with a broken heart God will condemn them to hell, an eternity of never ending torture and misery because they refused God’s free gift of salvation.
5. THE JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
As a Christian you are blessed to escape the tragedies of the great tribulation and the Great White Throne judgement. You have asked Jesus into your life, and are saved. But listen, there is one final judgement that we as believers face.
2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV Strong’s)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Yes you are a Christian, but that doesn’t mean you escape this judgement.
Now this judgment has nothing to do with your salvation, but everything to do with what we have accomplished in His Kingdom while here on earth. The judgment seat of Christ is where we are judged by Jesus, not for our salvation, but for eternal rewards.
In Greek the word for judgement seat is BEMA, a raised platform mounted by steps upon which a judge sits. It also alludes to the raised platform at the Olympics, upon which rewards are handed out. Here’s a more detailed account.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (ESV Strong’s)
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
So at the judgement seat of Christ, salvation is assured, it’s the foundation already laid, but there will still be judgement of what we have done and said. What we do right now matters. Live for yourself, for your own desires, you will suffer loss. Live for Jesus, and you will see reward.
The foundation is Jesus, that means we are saved. But why be saved as through fire, in other words by the seat of your pants, when you can build up gold, silver and costly stones?
Honestly, in our modern world we waste our time in so many ways. Look at your days, and what you do. What are you building? Are you building something that lasts for eternity, or wood, hay and straw?
This judgment of the believer’s works at the judgement seat of Christ will reveal what type of materials we used in building our relationship with Jesus. If the materials used were hay, wood or stubble they will be burned and the believer will suffer loss; still saved, but only just.
So I suggest whatever we do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father by him.
GET READY FOR JUDGEMENT DAY
For every person, man woman and child, Judgement Day is coming. The judgement you face depends on how you respond to the very first judgement we looked at today, the Cross of Christ. People I know and love, people you know and love are flippantly and ignorantly facing the most horrendous judgement.
You might say, well I don’t believe in that stuff. That makes no difference. You might say you don’t believe in gravity, but step off a 10 storey building and you can keep not believing all the way down until the ground judges you!
God is real. Judgements are real, and you have a short, limited time to accept Jesus and avoid the final judgement. It’s time for the truth of God’s sovereignty and Holiness to be proclaimed, instead of watered down. If you die without Christ, you are doomed. The Bible clearly says that. Don’t believe me? I don’t care, because you won’t be answering to me, but to the God who’s love, mercy and free gift you’ve rejected.
And you Christians. If your desire is to just flop over the line and barely make it into heaven, think again. You may not lose your salvation, but you will suffer loss. So much of what we do in our lives is just dross, just wood hay and stubble. One match at the Judgement Seat of Christ and you will face your Lord with only a pile of ashes to show.
Today you can harden your heart, or harden your resolve to totally live for Jesus. Join with me now and let’s totally commit our lives to Him.