According to the Bible, after death you are either going to get horrible
news or tremendous news. Your final destination is going to be determined
by whether you accepted or rejected Jesus Christ during your lifetime. 

9. Judgment Day:Here Comes the Judge

According to the Bible, after death you are either going to get "bad news"
or "good news". Your final destination is going to be determined by
whether you accepted or rejected Jesus Christ during your lifetime.

Death:the Final Frontier
========================

What is Death?
--------------
Here are a few biblical insights on life and death. 

1. Physical death is undeniable and inevitable. 
   (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2; 9:2; Hebrews 9:27).

2. Your spirit lives on after your body dies (Matthew 10:28).

3. Sometimes when the Bible talks about death, it is referring to
   spiritual (or external) death. Even though your spoirit is immortal and
   will live forever, spiritual death means that your soul will be
   eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23).
  
4. Conversely, when the Bible talks about eternal life, it is referring to
   your spirit living in the presence of God (Romans 6:23).
 
Life and death, according to scripture, are not to be thought of as
existence and nonexistence, but as two different states of existence.
Death is simply a transition to a different mode of existence; it is not
extinction.

Where Do I Go When I Die?
-------------------------
The answer depends upon whether you accepted or rejected Christ during
your lifetime. Jesus answered this question with a story of the beggar and
a rich man (Luke 16:19-26). Here is what we can learn from this story:

1. There is a separation between these two places which cannot be crossed.
 
2. Once you are in one place, you can't go to the other. There is no
   changing your mind after death.
 
3. Lazarus was in complete comfort.

4. The rich man was in agony.

For non-Christians:It's off to hades...judgment's waiting room. In the
"intermediate state" between physical death and judgment, the unbelievers
are in a type of waiting room. The Old Testament Hebrew for this place is
sheol and the Greek word in the New testament is hades.

For Christians:on to heaven--no waiting. In sharp contrast, Christians who
die will go directly to the presence of the Lord. There is no probation,
no waiting room.

What is the Effect of Physical Death?
-------------------------------------
For the non-Christian, there is nothing positive about death. It marks the
irreversible beginning of eternal torment, starting in hades, and then
getting unbelievably worse in hell (after the judgment). But for the
Christian, death is not something to be feared. In fact, the apostle Paul
said that he looked forward to death because it meant being with Christ
(Philippians 1:21-23). 

"What About Purgatory?"
----------------------
Purgatory is primarily a Roman Catholic teaching. It is a "half-way" place
for those who aren't bad enough to go directly to hades and hell, and
those who aren't yet good enough to go directly to heaven. This teaching
says that those on earth can help move the inhabitants of purgatory toward
heaven by means of Mass, proyers, and good works. This teaching implies
that salvation can be earned through doing deeds, which is completely
contrary to the New Testament teaching that salvation is a free gift of
God's grace.

Standing Before the Judge
-------------------------
Make no mistake about it:A time of final judgment is coming. This is the
clear teaching of the Old Testament (Ecclesiastes 12:14). And the New
Testament (Romans 2:16).

"Why Is Judgment Necessary?"
----------------------------
God doesn't need a court proceeding to determine what we have done in
life. He already knows that. His judgment is to impose the death penalty
for sin for those who did not accept Christ's forgiveness (Romans 6:23) or
to reward those who have been forgiven for their service to God
(Matthews 25:14-30).

Who Is the Judge?
-----------------
While God is the judge of all (Hebrews 12:23), He has delegated this task
to His Son, Jesus Christ (John 5:22,23). Christ will be judging all people
from all nations and from all ages of history.

Sheep on the Right, Goats on the Left
-------------------------------------
In Matthew 25, Jesus described the judgment scene:

1. He will be sitting on a throne in all His glory, with His angels around
   Him.
 
2. All the people of all nations will be gathered in His presence.

3. Like a shepherd, He will separate the "sheejp" from the "goats."

4. The "sheep"--all the people who accepted Him--will go to His right
   side.

5. The "goats"--all those who rejected Him--will go to His left side.

6. The "sheep" are welcomed into the kingdom of God.

7.  The "goats"are sent to eternal punishment with Satan and the demons.

The Who and the When
--------------------
Throughout history, God has imposed judgments at different times and
occasions.

1. The great flood in Noah's day was God's judgment upon evil humanity
   (Genesis 6-8).
 
2. The Jews wandering in the wilderness for 40 years was God's judgment
   imposed for their lack of faith (Numbers 14).
 
3. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead by God as immediate judgment for
   their lying (Acts 5).
 
But these were individual, isolated judgments by God. They can be
contrasted with the "final judgment," which willoccur at the end of the
tribulation when Christ comes again. At that time, everyone will be judged
(Jude 14,15).

But everyone will not be judged at the same time, and all the judgments
will not have the same result.

1. Judgment of the Antichrist and the false prophet. At the end of the
   battle of Armageddon, the hordes of the world's armies will turn
   against the coming Christ. But Christ will slay them all, and He will
   take the Antichrist (the "beast") and the false prophet and cast them
   into hell (the "lake of fire"), where they will spend eternity
   (Revelation 19:19,20).
   
2. Judgment of Satan and his demons. At the second coming, satan will be
   bound by Christ and cast into an abyss for 1000 years. At the end of
   the millennium, Satan will be let loose for a short time, and he'll try
   to gather an army to battle Christians at the city of Jerusalem. But
   God will intervene by pouring fire from the sky. Satan will be
   captured, judged, and cast into the lake of fire which will be the same
   fate for his demons (Revelation 20:9,10).
  
3. Judgment of believers. Christians don't escape judgment just because
   they have accepted Christ as their Savior. But their judgment will be
   completely different than the judgment for unbelievers. After the
   rapture, Christians will stand before "the judgment seat of Christ".
 
4. Judgment of unbelievers. At the end of the millennium, all the people
   from all of history who failed to believe in Christ will be resurrected
   for their final judgment. This judgment is known as "the great white
   throne judgment".
 
"What About the People Who Lived Before Jesus?"
-----------------------------------------------
How is God going to judge those who lived and died before Jesus' death on
the cross? For those who lived during Old Testament times, God will
examine their faith in Him. The question is not whether they believed in
Jesus, but whether they had faith in God. If they did, then the work of
Jesus on the cross covers their sins. The best example may be Abraham. Of
his faith in God, the Bible says:

       And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous
       because of his faith (Genesis 15:6).
 
The Forgiven at the Judgment Seat of Christ:Rewards Only
--------------------------------------------------------
Great news for Christians! Their judgment is not going to involve any
penalties. By accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior, all of their sins
are forgiven. So they are declared "not guilty" (Romans 8:1).

The judgment of Christians is called "the judgment seat of Christ." The
Greek word used by Paul for "judgment seat" is bema. The bema was the
judge's bench at the Olympic stadium in ancient Corinth in Greece. When an
athlete won the race, he would step up onto the bema to receive his award.
Because of this, the judgment day for Christians is called the "bema seat"
judgment.

Jewels or Junk
--------------
The judgment seat of Christ will not be an examination of Christians'
sins. But it will be an examination of the quality of their service to
God. In other words, how well did they handle the gifts, talents,
resources, and opportunities which God gave to each of them? The apostle
Paul explained the nature of this judgment by using a word picture from
the building trade. In his illustration, the "foundation" is solid because
it represents salvation in Jesus Christ. But the building inspector
(Christ) is going to inspect the quality of the building materials for
what was constructed on that foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

Here is what we can learn from POaul's illustration about the judgment
seat of Christ:

1. Some of the things we do for Christ are valuable. These count for
   something, and will entitle us to some kind of reward.
 
2. Other things we do on earth are a waste of time as far as God is
   concerned. We may be acting religious, but if God isn't pleased by what
   we are doing, them our actions are as worthless as building with wood,
   hay, and straw. There is no reward for such junk.
 
Jesus also told some parables which indicate the question which Jesus will
be asking at the judgment seat of Christ:"What have you done with what I
have given you?" The parable of the ten servants (Luke 19:11-27) shows
that not everyone gets the same opportunites or resources. Christians
won't be competing against each other at this judgment, but they will be
held responsible for how well they managed what God gave to them.

The Guilty at the Great White Throne Judgment:Dead Men Walking
--------------------------------------------------------------
In the Book of Revelation, John describes the judgment day that all
unbelievers will face (Revelation 20-11-15). This "great white throne
judgment" is for all people who have rejected God's plan of salvation.
There is no question about their guilt. Their sin made them guilty
(John3:18).God knows those who belong to Him. Their names are written in
"the Book of Life" (Luke 10:20;Revelation 3:5). At this judgment, the Book
of Life will be opened, and the names of the unbelievers will be found
nowhere in the book. Christ Himself will say" I don't know you. Go away"
(Luke 13:27).

Hell:the Forever Home of the Condemed
--------------------------------------
The "lake of fire"is Bible terminology for "hell." This is the place to
which the unbelievers are sentenced following the great white throne
judgment. We can learn about hell by looking at how the  Bible describes
it (or the condition of its inhabitants):

1. outer darkness (Matthew 8:12)

2. furnace (Matthew 13:42)

3. eternal fire (Matthew 25:41)

4. terrible punishment (Romans 2:5)

5. everlasing destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

6. bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1,2)

7. tormented with fire and burning sulfur (Revelation 14:10,11)

8. the lake that burns with fire and sulfur (revelation 21:8)

9. the second death (Revelationm 21:8)

One Thing You Gotta Know for Sure
---------------------------------
The most defining characteristic of hell, will not be the "gnashing of
teeth". It will be the absence of the presence of God (2 Thess 1:9). This
is what makes hell the complete opposite of heaven.

And There's More Bad News
--------------------------
There are two other features about hell which make it such a dreaded
place:its finality and its eternality.

Finality. When the verdict is imposed at the great white throne judgment,
there will be no second chance. It's final. There is not a single verse in
the Bible which indicates that anyone will have an opportunity for
changing his or her belief after the final judgment. In fact, the verses
you can read actually reinforce the finality of it all (Matthew 25:41;
Luke 1619-31).

Eternality. An unbelievers's sentence to hell is not only irreversible, it
is also one that lasts forever. It is a death sentence which doesn't end
with death, because you never die. Instead, you suffer for eternity. With
many verses which describe hell with words like everlasing, eternal, or
forever and ever, it seems clear that it will be a never-ending torture.

So What Does All This Mean To You?
----------------------------------
Let's review what we know:

1. Everybody dies, and there will eventually be a judgment for everyone.

2. Believers will be at the judgment seat of Christ because of what He has
   done, and they go to heaven.
 
3. Unbelievers will be at the great white throne judgment because of what
   they have done, and they go to hell.
 
4. Hell is a place of unbelievable agony, and it never ends. 

Hell is a choice. It isn't God's plan for you. He doesn't want you to
perish (2 Peter 3:9). God wants everyone to be saved and to understand the
truth (1 Timothy 2:4). 

       Sin is a person's saying to God throughout life,
       'Go away and leave me alone.' Hell is God's finally
       saying to that individual, 'You may have your wish.'
 


Hell isn't something that God does to us. It is comething that we deserve
because of our sin. But we always have the option of obtaining forgiveness
for our sins if we will submit our lives to Jesus. The choice is ours.

"What's That Again?"

1. Death comes to everyone (unless you are raptured). We will all
   experience a physical, bodily death, but we all havae a spirit (soul)
   which lives forever.
 
2. A final judgment awaits everyone after death. For Christians, it will
   happen after the rapture. For unbelievers, it will occur after the
   millennium.
 
3. The judgment for believers is known as the judgment seat of Christ.
   They are not judged for their sins, because their sins were forgiven
   when they believed in Jesus Christ. 
 
4. Unbelievers will go through the great white throne judgment. The
   verdict is a foregone conclusion, because each of them is guilty of
   sin. The penalty for this unforgiven sin is eternal banishment from the
   presence of God. Hell is not a fantasy;it is a real place with
   everlasting suffering and torment.