CHAPTER 13
 

DISCERNING AND DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN...

THE TWO COMINGS OF CHRIST
THE FIVE JUDGMENTS and
THE TWO RESURRECTIONS


There are many things in life that need to be distinguished. Certain differences must be recognized and understood. For example, snakes are snakes, but most people would want to distinguish between a harmless garter snake and a deadly rattlesnake. Mushrooms are mushrooms, but those who gather mushrooms for eating must make a difference between the kinds that are edible (fit to be eaten) and the kinds that are not edible and even poisonous.

Our country has fought in different wars. The student of history must learn to distinguish between these different wars. The history student who confuses these wars and gets them all mixed up in his mind will not do very well when he is tested. These wars took place at different times. These wars were fought at different locations. There were wars that were fought on native soil here in America and there were wars that were fought on foreign soil. The enemies that we have fought against have been different. In one war we fought against the British. In a more recent war we fought against Japan and Germany. The more a person knows about these different wars the better he will be able to distinguish between them and not get confused.

Many people get confused as they study the Bible. One of the reasons for this is that they fail to distinguish between things that are different. In this chapter we want to take a look at three important topics which people have often been confused about. God does not want us to be confused (compare 1 Corinthians 14:33 which says "God is not the author of _____________________"). The Bible was given not to confuse but to shed clear light on these subjects (just as a good history book should shed clear light on the different wars that our nation has fought in). Let us go to God's Word and carefully consider these three important topics:
 

1. THE TWO COMINGS OF CHRIST

Nearly two thousand years ago Jesus Christ came to this earth. He was born of the virgin Mary; He lived a sinless life; He died on the cross for our sins; He came forth from the tomb in victory; and He ascended up into heaven from whence He had come. On the night before He went to the cross, Jesus said these words: "I WILL COME ______________" (John 14:3). He came ONCE, but He promised to come AGAIN. He came ONCE, but He promised to come A SECOND TIME. The Bible clearly teaches that there are TWO COMINGS of Christ. The FIRST COMING is history; it has already happened. The SECOND COMING is future; it has not yet happened. Today we are living IN BETWEEN two great events: the two comings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ came to earth the first time, died on the cross, rose again, and then 40 days after His resurrection what happened to the Lord (Acts 1:9)? ____________________________________________________ This event marked the end of our Lord's first coming as He returned back to heaven. Two angels then appeared and what important message did they announce to the disciples (Acts 1:10-11)? ______________________________________________________________________________  JESUS IS COMING AGAIN! He came the first time and He will come a second time!

 

HOW DID JESUS GO? (Acts 1:9-11)

HOW WILL JESUS COME?

He went up! He will come down!
He left earth to go to heaven He will leave heaven to come to earth.
He left from the earth. He will come down to the earth.
He left in a cloud (Acts 1:9). He will return in the clouds (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7).
He left in a real body (a resurrection body). He will return in a real body.
When He left people saw Him (Acts 1:9). When He comes people will see Him (Revelation 1:7).
It was JESUS CHRIST who went up into heaven. It will be this "SAME JESUS" who will come again (Acts 1:11). The same Person who left will be the same Person who will return!

 

Prophecies Concerning the Coming Messiah

Those living today can look back to the first coming of Christ and they can look ahead to the second coming of Christ:  

Suppose you lived in the days of Abraham or Moses or David or Isaiah. These men lived even before Christ came to earth the first time. They could not look back at Christ's coming because the Lord had not yet come. They had to look ahead.  They knew that the Messiah would someday come, but they did not understand that there would be two separate comings.  

The Old Testament had much to say about the coming of the Messiah. Old Testament believers knew that the Messiah (the Christ) would someday come into the world. Some of the Old Testament passages described the Messiah as a glorious King who would rule over all the world. There were other Old Testament passages that described the Messiah as One who would suffer and die. A person could get confused and think that these Old Testament passages were describing two different Persons.  

The following is written by a Jewish man, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, who also is a believer in Jesus as the Messiah:
 

Anyone who sets himself to the task of seeking to know what the Old Testament has to say about the coming of the Messiah soon finds himself involved with a seeming paradox.  At times one even seems to be faced with an outright contradiction. For the Jewish prophets gave a two-fold picture of the Messiah who was to come.

On the one hand, the inquirer will find numerous predictions regarding the Messiah which portray him as one who is going to suffer humiliation, physical harm, and finally death in a violent manner. This death was stated by the Jewish prophets to be a substitutionary death for the sins of the Jewish people.  On the other hand, he will find that the Jewish prophets also spoke of the Messiah coming as a conquering King who will destroy the enemies of Israel and set up the messianic kingdom of peace and prosperity.

This is the two-fold picture the Jewish prophets gave of the Messiah. For centuries past, during the formulation of the Talmud, our rabbis made serious studies of messianic prophecies.  They came up with this conclusion:  the prophets spoke of two different Messiahs.

The Messiah who was to come, suffer and die was termed Messiah, the Son of Joseph (Mashiach ben Yoseph).  The second Messiah who would then come following the first was termed Messiah, the Son of David (Mashiach ben David).  This one would raise the first Messiah back to life, and establish the Messianic kingdom of peace on earth.  That the Old Testament presents these two lines of Messianic prophecy was something that all the early rabbis recognized. The Old Testament never clearly states that there will be two Messiahs. In fact, many of the paradoxical descriptions are found side by side in the same passages, in which it seems that only one person is meant. But for the early rabbis the two-Messiah theory seemed to be the best answer.

Jesus Was A Jew, pages 23-24

The real solution is not to have two Messiahs, but to have TWO COMINGS of the one Messiah:  1)  His first coming where he would suffer and die;  2) His second coming where he would conquer and rule and reign.

Look at the following Old Testament verses which describe the coming Messiah. In front of each description, put either the letters SM (the Suffering Messiah) or the letter GK (the Glorious King): 

1. _______ "his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:14)
2. _______ "of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom" (Isaiah 9:7).
3. _______ "they pierced my hands and my feet" (Psalm 22:16)
4. _______ "Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty....the LORD is our King" (Isaiah 33:17,22)
5. _______ "His visage (face) was so marred more than any man" (Isaiah 52:14).
6. _______ "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3).
7. _______ "a King shall reign and prosper" (Jeremiah 23:5)
8. _______ "and after threescore and two weeks shall MESSIAH BE CUT OFF" (Daniel 9:26).
9. _______ "because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many" (Isaiah 53:12).
10. ______ "Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him and the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isaiah 40:10,5).

If you look at two mountain peaks from a distance, it may appear that there is only one mountain. From your vantage point, it may be difficult to distinguish that there are really two mountains with a valley in between. The Old Testament believer had difficulty distinguishing two separate comings of the Messiah.  To him the coming of the Messiah looked like one mountain peak in the distance. He did not realize that there were actually two mountain peaks with a valley of about 2000 years in between.

Read the following passages of Scripture. Underline that which belongs with Christ's first coming and circle that which belongs with Christ's second coming (the first one is done for you):

1. Micah 5:2

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

2. Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.

3. Isaiah 61:1-2 (compare Luke 4:18-19).

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God.

4. Zechariah 9:9-10 (compare Matthew 21:1-7).

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.

5. Isaiah 40:3-5 (compare Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3).

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD bath spoken it.

6. Malachi 3:1-2; 4:5 (compare Mark 1:2 and Matthew 17:3,10-13).

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming?...Behold, I will send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

7. Luke 1:31-33.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. _______________________________________________________________

Did you have difficulty with some of these? An Old Testament believer reading these verses would find them even more difficult to understand. He knew that the Messiah would come but he did not understand that there would be two separate comings.

As we read the New Testament it is much easier to distinguish between the two comings of Christ. Look up and read the following verses. If the verse is describing the 1st Coming of Christ, write the Number 1;  if the verse is describing the 2nd Coming of Christ, write the Number 2.

1. _____1 Timothy 1:15
2. _____ John 3:17
3. _____ John 14:3
4. _____ Matthew 16:27
5. _____ Luke 19:10
6. _____ Matthew 24:30
7. _____ 1 John 4:2; 5:20
8. _____ Acts 1:11
9. _____ Revelation 19:11-16
10._____ John 10:10
11. _____ James 5:8
12. _____ 2 Peter 3:4
13. _____ John 12:47
14. _____ John 18:37
15. _____ Revelation 22:20
16. _____ John 1:14
17. _____ Titus 2:13
18. _____ Galatians 4:4
19. _____ Revelation 19:11-16
20. _____ John 6:38,41,42,51

According to these verses, why did Christ come the first time? Why will Christ come the second time?

The following chart distinguishes between the two comings of Christ:

THE FIRST COMING OF CHRIST

THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST


The Cross

Christ came to die.


The Crown

Christ will come to rule and reign.

The first coming of Christ is a matter of HISTORY. The second coming of Christ is a matter of PROPHECY.
It has already  happened! God's Word tells us that it will happen!
It took place in the PAST. It will take place in the FUTURE.
Christ HAS COME (1 John 4:2). Christ WILL COME (Acts 1:11).
Christ came to be the SAVIOUR OF SINNERS (Matthew 1:21). Christ will come to be the KING OF _______________ (Revelation 19:16).
Christ came to be man’s SAVIOUR (John 3:17). Christ will come to be man’s JUDGE (Jude 14-15).
Which will it be for you?  If you do not receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then someday you must face Him as your Judge.
Christ came to earth as a newborn baby (Luke 2:7). Christ will come to earth as a conquering Warrior (Revelation 19:11-16).
Christ came with meekness riding on a donkey (Matthew 21:1-5). Christ will come with power riding on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16).
Christ came to bring peace to the human heart (Ephesians 2:13-19; Romans 5:1). Christ will come to bring peace to the entire world (Isaiah 9:6-7; Zechariah 9:10).
When Christ came the first time the government was in the hands of men (Herod the Great, the Romans, etc.) When Christ comes the second time the government will be in His hands upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Christ was killed by His enemies (Matthew 27:20-25). Christ will kill His enemies (2 Thess. 1:7-10; Rev. 19:21).
When Christ came the first time He was rejected by the Jewish people (John 1:11). They crucified their Messiah. When Christ comes the second time He will be received by the Jewish people (Zechariah 12:10-11; Romans 11:25-28; Matthew 23:39).

What have you done with the One who came to save you about 2000 years ago?  What have you done with Him (see John 3:18; 3:36)?  He came to save (1 Timothy 1:15).  Has He saved you (Acts 16:30-31)?  Are You  a True Believer?

 
Jesus Will Come Before and After the Tribulation

There is something else that we need to carefully distinguish. The Second Coming of Christ is actually made up of two parts or two phases. The first phase of the second coming is called the RAPTURE (for a detailed study on the rapture see the study entitled,  Will The Church Go Through The Tribulation?). The second phase of the second coming takes place about seven years later. We may call this the Lord's second coming to earth. Consider the following diagram:

The following comparative study distinguishes between the two phases of the second coming of Christ:

 

A Comparison Between the Rapture (Pre-tribulational Coming) and the Second Advent (Post-tribulational Coming)

1. TIME

  1. RAPTURE--before the tribulation (Revelation 3:10). The church will be kept out of that hour or time of testing which will come upon the whole world. See our booklet, Will the Church Go Through the Tribulation?
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--after the tribulation (Matthew 24:29-30; Revelation 19:11-16).

2. QUICKNESS

  1. RAPTURE--in a "moment" (Greek-"atom," a split-second, literally "uncut, indivisible," we divide and cut time into years and months and days and hours and minutes and seconds, but the smallest measure of time is an "atom" of time which we might call a split-second), in the blinking on an eye (1 Cor. 15:52). It is very sudden. It will happen before people will realize it is happening (even as it was with Enoch, see Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5). An example of a man being raptured away suddenly so as to be seen no more is found in Acts 8:39 (where the Greek word for rapture, harpazo, is used).
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--slow enough for people to realize and see what is happening (Matthew 24:27; Rev. 1:7; Psalm 2:2; Rev. 19:19). The second coming of Christ to the earth will be visible and obvious to all. No one will miss it.

3. DATE (THE DAY ON WHICH IT WILL TAKE PLACE)

  1. RAPTURE--UNKNOWN DAY. The Lord Jesus will surely come for His Church (John 14:3) but we do not know when (compare 1 John 2:28 and 3:2 where the subjunctive mood is used indicating that while the fact of His coming is sure, the time of His coming is unsure). The rapture is imminent which means that He may come at any time.
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--KNOWN DAY. The date of the second coming can be calculated to the very day. It will occur 2520 days (7 years, or 84 months, each month made up of 30 days) from the time that Antichrist makes a treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27) and it will occur 1260 days (3Ĺ years) from the time of the abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15). See Revelation 11:2,3; 12:6,14; 13:5; 2 Thess. 2:8 (Antichrist destroyed at 2nd coming). Of course, this "known day" cannot be known or calculated by anyone until the treaty is signed (Dan. 9:27).

4. PRECEDING SIGNS

  1. RAPTURE--NONE (Tit. 2:13; Rev. 22:20; etc.). He may come for His Church at any time and nothing needs to be fulfilled before He comes. The only thing we are waiting for is the completion of the church (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 11:25), and only God knows when this will be.
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--MANY (Matthew 24:3-28). There is much that must be fulfilled before Christ returns to the earth (such as all the events in Revelation 6-18 and in Matthew 24).

ILLUSTRATION: The rapture can be likened to Thanksgiving (a holiday without signs) and the second advent can be likened to Christmas (which is preceded by all kinds of signs). When you see the signs of Christmas (decorations, lights, trees, etc.) then you can be sure that Thanksgiving will take place at any time. If Christmas is near then Thanksgiving must be even nearer!

5. VISIBILITY

  1. RAPTURE--Christ seen only by the church (1 Thess. 4:17; 1 John 3:2).
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--Christ seen by every eye (Rev. 1:7; Matthew 24:24-27).

6. LOCATION

  1. RAPTURE--in the air (1 Thess. 4:17).
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--on the earth (Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:11).

7. ASSOCIATED JUDGMENT

  1. RAPTURE--the judgment seat of Christ (2 Tim. 4:1,8; 1 Pet. 1:7).
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--destruction of the wicked armies (Rev. 19:17-19) and the judgment of living nations (Matthew 25:31-46).

8. IDENTITY OF THOSE REMOVED FROM THE EARTH AND THOSE REMAINING ON THE EARTH

  1. RAPTURE--Believers are removed; unbelievers remain (1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; John 14:3).
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--Unbelievers are removed; believers remain (Matthew 24:37-41 and Luke 17:34-37). See Matthew 24:38 where the unbelieving world in Noah's day was taken away in judgment.

9. PURPOSE OF CHRIST'S COMING

  1. RAPTURE--to receive His bride (John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:17).
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--to receive His kingdom (Luke 19:22; Rev. chapters 19-20)

10. THE BODIES OF LIVING BELIEVERS

  1. RAPTURE--church age believers are raised (those who have died) and are translated and "changed" (those who are living) with the result that they have immortal, resurrection bodies (1 Cor. 15:52-53; 1 Thess. 4:17).
     
  2. SECOND ADVENT--believers who survive the tribulation enter the kingdom in natural bodies (Matthew 25:23), and these believers will eventually bear children and re-populate the earth.

For these many reasons, it is necessary to distinguish two phases of our Lord's second coming:  1) THE FIRST PHASE involving the Lord's coming for His church and taking His believers to heaven (John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18);  2) THE SECOND PHASE, taking place about 7 years later, involving the Lord's coming to earth as the world's Judge and conquering King (Rev. 19:11-21).

The Lord's Second Coming to Earth will be Public and Spectacular

In Matthew 24:26 "desert" signifies a remote place. You will not find the true Messiah out there in some remote place. If someone claims that the true Messiah is located in some remote place, donít be deceived. Or, if they claim that He is to be found in secret chambers or in a private room, donít believe them. The Greek term "private room" is also found in Matthew 6:6 where the Lord was recommending private prayer, rather than public prayer for the purpose of being seen by men. The Lordís coming will not be a private affair, known by only a few people. You will not find Him in some secret location. On the contrary, His coming will be a public affair, known by everyone. "Every eye will see Him" (Rev. 1:7). The world will not miss this event. No one will say, "I wonder if the Lord has come back to earth?" It will be clear and obvious to all. His coming will not be obscure in any way.

Matthew 24:27 cements the point further by using the illustration of a huge lightning storm, one that lights up the entire sky. A lightning storm is very public, very dramatic, very noisy, very spectacular, very hard to miss. The whole sky lights up. So also the Lord Jesus will come in power and great glory and there will be no mistaking His return. The whole world will witness this spectacular event.

 

2. THE FIVE JUDGMENTS

There are many who believe that there will be one GENERAL JUDGMENT. They would describe this as a great event taking place at the end of the world, when all human beings--saints and sinners, Jews and Gentiles, the living and the dead--shall stand before God and be judged. This is not what the Bible teaches. As the Scriptures are carefully studied the believer learns to distinguish between several different judgments. These judgments are different from each other. They differ with respect to the subjects (those being judged), the place, the time and the result.

We are now ready to consider five of the important judgments that are mentioned in the Bible. These are not the only judgments mentioned in the Bible, but these five need to be carefully understood and distinguished:
 

1. THE JUDGMENT OF THE CROSS

God is holy and God must punish sin and judge sin. The Bible tells us the good news that "Christ died for ________ sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). This means that Christ was punished instead of us!  As a guilty sinner, I am the one who deserves God's judgment, but God's judgment fell upon my Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am the one who deserves the death penalty.  I'm the one who should have hung on a cross for my crimes, but my Saviour died for in my place.  "Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6).

1) Who is the Judge?

The Holy God, the Judge of all the earth (Psalm 22:1,3; Isaiah 53:6,10).

2) Who is the Subject? Who is being judged?

The Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:18).

3) Where does the judgment take place?

At the cross (1 Peter 2:24).

4) When did this judgment take place?

About 30 A.D., on the day that Christ died.

5) The result:

Death for Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6,8) but eternal life for the believer (Romans 6:23). Since the judgment fell on Christ, the believer will never be judged or condemned because of his sin (Romans 8:1; John 5:24).  

6) Key passages:

Isaiah 53; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:18 and many others.
 

2. THE SELF JUDGMENT OF BELIEVERS.

This judgment is described in 1 Corinthians 11:31-32: "For if we would _______________ ____________________, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are C___________________ of the Lord, that we should not be C________________ with the world." God wants believers to deal with sin in the right way. When there is sin in my life I should not ignore it or pretend that it is not very serious or try to cover it over. Sin is something that should be acknowledged and confessed and made known to God. I should JUDGE MYSELF: "Lord, I'm guilty! I have sinned against You and I have done wrong. Thank You that Jesus died for me and thank You for forgiving me!"

1) Who is the Judge?

The believer (1 Corinthians 11:28,31; 1 John 1:9).

2) Who is the subject? Who is being judged?

The believer. He is judging himself (1 Corinthians 11:31).

3) Where does the judgment take place?

Anywhere. Any place where the believer is.

4) When does the judgment take place?

At any time throughout the Christian life (compare Psalm 139:23-24).

5) The result:

For the believer who fails to judge himself: CHASTISEMENT (1 Corinthians 11:32). For the believer who does judge himself: FORGIVENESS (1 John 1:9).

6) Key passages:

1 Corinthians 11:28-32; 1 John 1:5-10.
 

3. THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST.

This judgment involves believers. This judgment has nothing to do with the believer's salvation because this has already been settled when the believer was saved. The issue involved in this judgment will be the BELIEVER'S WORKS: "For we (believers) must all appear before the ___________________ seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). This judgment has nothing to do with how a person lived during his unsaved days but it has everything to do with how a person has lived since he was saved (during his entire Christian life).

1) Who is the Judge?

The Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10).

2) Who are the subjects? Who will be judged?

Believers only---those who are members of Christ's body, which is the Church. It is clear from the context of 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14:10 that Paul is talking about believers, not unbelievers.

3) Where does the judgment take place?

In the presence of the Lord (in heaven). See the next point.

4) When does the judgment take place?

Immediately following the rapture (1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Tim.4:8; Rev.22:12).

5) The result:

Faithful believers shall receive a reward (1 Corinthians 3:14). Unfaithful believers shall suffer loss (1 Corinthians 3:15), but "he himself shall be _________________" (1 Corinthians 3:15). He will suffer loss of reward but not loss of salvation.

6) Key Passages:

2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-12; 1 Cor.3:11-l5; 4:4-5; 2 Timothy 4:8.
 

4. THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS.

This important judgment is often confused with the Great White Throne Judgment (which we will study under the next point). These two judgments are not the same as we shall soon learn:

1) Who is the Judge?

The Son of ________ (Matthew 25:31, the great MESSIAH-KING!)

2) Who are the subjects? Who will be judged?

"All the _________________" (Matthew 25:32). These will be Gentiles who will be living on earth at the time of the second coming of Christ (those whom Christ will not destroy at His coming).

3) Where does this judgment take place?

On the earth, because Christ has just returned to the earth (Matthew 25:31), and these Gentiles are those who have survived the great tribulation and are still alive on the earth.

4) When does the judgment take place?

"When the ________ of man shall _____________ in his glory" (Matthew 25:31).  This coming is also described in Matthew 24:30.

5) The result:

The sheep (saved) enter the kingdom (Matthew 25:34) and the goats (unsaved) are eternally punished in fire (Matthew 25:41,46).

6) Key Passages:

Matthew 25:31-46 and Joel 3:1,2,13-14.
 

5. THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT.

This is the great final judgment for all the unsaved people who have ever lived. It is described in Revelation 20:11-15. In 2 Peter 3:7 it is called "the day of ____________________ and perdition of ______________ men." As you study the following six points you will see that it is different from the judgment described in Matthew 25:31-46 (the Judgment of the Nations):

1) Who is the Judge?

God (Revelation 20:12). John 5:22,27 further identifies this Judge as God the Son (the Lord Jesus Christ).

2) Who are the subjects? Who will be judged?

THE DEAD, small and great (Revelation 20:12). These are people who have never received Christ as Saviour. They are lifeless because they do not have God's precious gift of eternal life (1 John 5:11-12).

3) Where does this judgment take place?

Not on the earth, because "the earth and heaven  ____________  away and there was found no place for them" (Revelation 20:11 and compare 2 Peter 3:7-12). It takes place before God's great white throne.

4) When does this judgment take place?

Read Revelation 20:1-10. This judgment takes place after the thousand year kingdom, after the final rebellion (verses 7-9) and after Satan has been cast into the lake of fire. Note: The Judgment of the Nations will take place before the thousand year kingdom.

5) The result:

The dead were cast into the lake of _____________ (Revelation 20:15).

6) Key passage:

Revelation 20:11-15 (and compare 2 Peter chapter 3).

Other judgments that are mentioned in the Bible include the Judgment of Israel (Ezekiel 20:33-44; Psalm 50:1-21) which takes place at the beginning of the thousand year kingdom and also the Judgment of Angels which is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:3.

What about you? Do you believe that Jesus Christ was judged and punished for your sins? Which judgment will you someday take part in--the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Great White Throne Judgment? In the days of Noah there was only one safe place to be: IN THE ARK! Today there is only one safe place to be: IN CHRIST JESUS (Romans 8:1). Those who are IN CHRIST JESUS never need to fear the judgment and condemnation of God (Romans 8:1; John 5:24; John 3:18). There is only one way to FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME, and that is to RUN INTO THE OPEN ARMS OF CHRIST, the only Saviour. If you come to Him, He will never cast you _________ (John 6:37).

Note:  See our study on The Difference Between Salvation and Rewards.

The Great White Throne Judgment - Personal Application

The Scriptures seem to indicate that believers in Christ will be present at the Great White Throne Judgment which is described for us in Revelation 20:11-15.  What are some Biblical passages which might suggest that believers will be present as witnesses at this final judgment?

1) Beginning with the rapture and thereafter, we have the promise, "and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17).  We know that the Lord Jesus Christ will be present at the Great White Throne Judgment, because He is the Judge.  Will not His Bride be with Him also?

2) In  Revelation 3:9 the believers in the church of Philadelphia were promised that certain unsaved people would someday worship at their feet (Rev.3:9).  At that future time these unsaved people will know that Christ has loved the very people whom they once persecuted. This is an amazing promise for all of God's people down though the centuries who have been abused, persecuted, injured and attacked by unsaved people.  Prophetically, the only time when the unsaved will worship at the feet of the saints is at the Great White Throne Judgment.  [The Great White Throne Judgment will take place immediately after all the unsaved are raised from the dead. Immediately following this judgment the unsaved are cast into the lake of fire.]   Apparently this will also be the time when all the unsaved will bow their knees before Christ and confess that He is Lord  (Phil. 2:9-11). 

3)  In 1 Corinthians 6:2 Paul writes to the Corinthian believers and says, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?"   During the thousand year kingdom age, the Lord Jesus will be the primary Judge (Isaiah 33:22), but church-age believers in their glorified bodies will also be given delegated authority to exercise judgment.  Judgment will be given unto them (Rev. 20:4; compare Matthew 19:28).    The Lord Jesus Christ will be the final Judge of all the unsaved at the Great White Throne (John 5:22,27), but apparently church-age saints will participate with Him in this judgment as witnesses.

4) Revelation 20:15 seems to indicate a contrast between those whose names are not found written in the book of life and those names that are found therein:  "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."  The fact that there are a great host of names not found written in this book implies that there are a great number of names that are found therein.  The saints, if they are present as witnesses at this great event, would represent those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. The subjects of this awesome judgment will be "the dead" (Rev. 20:12), that is, the unsaved (all of whose names will not be found in the Lamb's book of life). 

5)  If the saints are not present at the Great White Throne as witnesses, then where else would they be?   In Revelation 20:11 we learn that at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment, "the earth and the heaven fled away."   Our Lord also predicted that the heaven and earth would pass away (Matt. 24:35). The total destruction of the heavens and the earth is described in detail in 2 Peter chapter 3. The timing of this event is said to be the day when God will judge the ungodly and cause them to perish (2 Peter 3:7). This can only be the Great White Throne Judgment.  So the saints cannot be on the earth and they cannot be in the heavens because the heavens have passed away and have been destroyed in fervent heat.  The saints cannot be in the new heaven or in the new earth, because these are created immediately after the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 21:1).  If the "heavens" which are destroyed refer to the first and second heavens (the universe as we know it), then the only other place for the saints would be the third heaven. 

Note:  Revelation 14:10 suggests that God's holy angels will also be witnesses of the doom of the ungodly.

Application:   We can imagine ourselves being present at the Great White Throne Judgment as witnesses of this awesome event:

I see the books being opened, condemning the unsaved based on the wicked works which they have done (Rev. 20:12).  I then realize that I too was once guilty of some of those same evil works (see Col. 1:21).  I witness these unsaved people being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15), and I tremble to realize that I was just as deserving of this punishment as they, and the only reason I am not cast into the same lake of doom is because of Jesus Christ and His grace.  I realize that I deserve hell as much as they do. I recognize that I was once a child of wrath (Eph. 2:2-3; Col. 3:6-7), guilty of many of the same crimes and deserving of the same punishment which is now inflicted on those now being cast into the lake of fire before my very eyes.  I know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God, and this includes those who were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, and such like (1 Cor. 6:9-10).  And then Paul's words "and such were some of you" (1 Cor. 6:11) remind me that I was once unrighteous also, guilty of serious crimes against God, deserving to be barred from the kingdom and consigned to outer darkness and eternal torment.

Today we have a very small grasp of what it means to be delivered from the wrath to come.  At that day, we shall know more fully:
 

I Am Debtor

by Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843)

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory, looking o'er life's finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know, not till then how much I owe.

When I hear the wicked call
On the rocks and hills to fall,
When I see them start and shrink, on the fiery deluge brink,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know, not till then how much I owe.


When I stand before the throne
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art, Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know, not till then how much I owe.

When the praise of heaven I hear
Loud as thunders to the ear,
Loud as many waters' noise, sweet as harp's melodious voice,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know Something of how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Saviour's side, by the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show, by my love, how much I owe.

Oft I walk beneath the cloud,
Dark as midnight's gloomy shroud;
But, when fear is at the height, Jesus comes, and all is light:
Blessed Jesus bid me show doubting saints how much I owe.

When in flowery paths I tread,
Oft by sin I'm captive led;
Oft I fall, but still arise; the Spirit comes, the tempter flies:
Blessed Spirit! Bid me show weary sinners all I owe.

Oft the nights of sorrow reign
Weeping, sickness, sighing, pain,
But a night thine anger burns, morning comes, and joy returns:
God of comforts! bid me show to Thy poor, how much I owe.

May 1837


All the believers who witness the Great White Throne Judgment will surely have a deeper understanding of the grace of God and what it means to be delivered from so great a death (2 Cor. 1:10).


3. THE TWO RESURRECTIONS

All of the dead, both saved and unsaved, will someday be raised up! A future bodily resurrection is something that will happen to all men.

Resurrection is something that will happen to the body. Resurrection is something that will happen to "those who are in the G______________" (John 5:28). When a person dies their body is put in the grave (not their soul or spirit).

Jesus Christ is the One who will call forth the dead. It is HIS voice that they will hear (John 5:28). Will they obey His voice (John 5:29)? ______  Just as Lazarus came forth in response to the voice of Jesus (John 11:43-44), so also someday all that are in the graves will H___________ His voice (John 5:28) and shall C_________   F__________ (John 5:29).

The Bible mentions TWO RESURRECTIONS and all men are included in one of these two resurrections. Notice the two resurrections that are mentioned in John 5:29:  

1) the resurrection of  __________
2) the resurrection of D ______________________ (judgment).

Notice the two resurrections that are mentioned in Acts 24:15:

1) the resurrection of the J__________ (righteous)
2) the resurrection of the U______________ (unrighteous)

Notice the two resurrections that are mentioned in Daniel 12:2:

1) some shall awake to everlasting _____________________
2) some to shame and ______________________ contempt.

Jesus spoke of the first resurrection in Luke 14:14:

the resurrection of the _____________

The second resurrection is mentioned in Revelation 20:12:

the dead (are raised up to) stand before God (compare Revelation 20:4-6).

Which resurrection would you like to be a part of--the first or the second? ___________________ All of the saved belong to the first resurrection (see Revelation 20:6). All of the unsaved belong to the second resurrection.

The First Resurrection

All saved people will be a part of the resurrection of life (the first resurrection). God will give each saved person a new resurrection body that will be perfectly designed for the believer to live in throughout eternity. This resurrection body is described in 1 Corinthians 15:35-54.

Those who take part in the first resurrection (saved people) are not all raised up at the same time. Who was the first Person to be raised up (1 Corinthians 15:23). Christ is raised up first. He is the One who leads the "RESURRECTION PARADE." Other groups of saved people will follow in their proper ORDER (1 Cor. 15:23):

  1. Christ is first (1 Corinthians 15:23).
     
  2. The "dead in Christ" (members of the Church who have died) will be raised up at the time of the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:52). Those Christians who are living on earth at the time of the rapture will also "be changed" and receive new bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
     
  3. Old Testament believers will be raised up after the time of tribulation (about seven years after the rapture) according to Daniel 12:1-2. Believers who die during the tribulation will also be raised up at this time according to Revelation 20:4.
     
  4. We must assume that those who are saved during the 1000 year kingdom will receive new bodies at the end of the Kingdom (although there is no verse that specifically mentions this).

Note:  In Matthew 27:52-53 we learn about a very unique event which took place immediately after the resurrection of Jesus Christ in or around the city of Jerusalem:  "And many bodies of the saints that slept arose [were raised], and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."   Matthew is the only gospel writer who mentions this event.  We know nothing about this event except for what is here said.  Notice that they were raised up bodily and came out of their graves.  These who were raised were "saints" (believers), not unsaved people.  They appeared to many people in Jerusalem.  Whether these saints were raised like Lazarus, only to die again, or whether they were raised up in a permanent resurrection body is not stated.

The Second Resurrection

All of the unsaved people will be part of the resurrection of damnation (or judgment), according to John 5:29. Those who take part in the second resurrection will all be raised at the same time. They will be raised to stand before the GREAT WHITE THRONE and before the HOLY GOD who sits upon it. This will include all the unsaved who have ever lived, from wicked Cain (1 John 3:12) to the last group of rebels described in Revelation 20:7-9. These people will be given a resurrection body that will be perfectly designed for hell so that they will be able to suffer the torments of the lake of fire forever (to suffer and to burn but to never be consumed in the burning).

Note:  Harry Bultema (1884-1952) pastored Christian Reformed churches in Iowa and Michigan.  He was a reformed theologian but in his study of prophecy he came to realize that the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, did not teach one general resurrection (where all of the saved and unsaved are raised up at the same time, at the end of time).  He published his findings in his book Maranatha--A Study of Unfulfilled Prophecy.   This book was re-published by Kregel Publications in 1985 (it was originally published in the Dutch language).  His discussion on the first resurrection is very insightful and even more detailed than most of the writings of dispensationalists who treat this subject.

* * * * * * *

Do you believe in the One who is the RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE (John 11:25-26)? ______  If you do, then BLESSED AND HOLY ARE YOU (Revelation 20:6)! You will never experience the "second death" which is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:6,14-15)!

"He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death" (Rev. 2:11).


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