August 18th, 2020 @ 11:52 PM
THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-27-77 7:30 p.m.
In preparation for the message, you who are listening on the radio with us in the First Baptist Church in Dallas, turn in your Bible to the last book, chapter 20. And we shall read from verses eleven to the fifteenth verse, this is the great, final judgment. Now let us read it out loud together—Revelation 20:11‑15:
And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and Death and Hell gave up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And Death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
There is no such thing in the Bible as one general judgment. The Holy Scriptures reveal to us that there are several: some are in the heart, in our souls; some are on the earth; some are in the air; some are in heaven; some are wholly past; some are in the present; some are altogether in the future; some concern us; some concern others; some concern the living; some concern the dead; some are before the millennium; some are after the millennium. And in my studies, the best I can understand the Holy Scriptures, there are seven of the judgments that are associated with eschatology, the doctrine of last things, the consummation of the age.
There are five that have nothing to do with eschatology, with the future, whatsoever. There are two that are wholly past. There are three that are in the living present. And there are seven, as I say, eschatological judgments that are completely in the future. And they refer to the consummation of the age during the great, final, (“quote”) “Day of the Lord.”
First, we take up the two judgments that are wholly past. They are associated with the things that are exhibited by the death of Christ on the cross [Matthew 27:32-50]. First, there is the sentence, the judgment of God upon sin. And we see that judgment of God upon sin at the cross. This is the sentence that God as an Almighty Judge passes upon sin. And the Lord Jesus Christ took that penalty and died in our stead. The sentence of death that should have passed upon us was passed upon Him. He took our penalty, and He died in our stead. Second Corinthians 5:21: “God made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” And Galatians 3:13: “Christ was made a curse for us.”
We should have died on that center cross, but He died in our stead. This judgment is altogether past. It was two thousand years ago. For example, Romans 8:1, says: “There is now no condemnation…” The Greek word is katakrima—there is no judgment against–”there is now no judgment against them who are in Christ Jesus.”
That judgment was taken by Jesus and borne on the cross [2 Corinthians 5:21]. The Lord says the same thing in John 5:24: “He that believeth on Me shall not come into condemnation”—there is that Greek word krisis, krisis, judgment, again—”but is passed from death unto life.” This is a judgment that for us is over and past. We will never have to face it. Christ took our sentence and died for us.
I am thinking of a saying on a great passenger liner. A passenger, who had been asleep during the night, arose in the morning and came out on deck. And when he looked at the sky and at the sea, he was terrified. The sky was lowering, and the clouds were boiling, and the great waves were rising and falling. And seeing the captain, he said to the captain, “Sir, our ship is going into a terrible storm.”
And the captain replied, “No, my friend. No! The storm is already over. The storm is passed, and these lowering clouds and these great waves are just the aftermath.”
That’s the way it is with us. The great judgment of God upon our sins has already been paid for. The sentence has been passed and has been wholly executed, and we are free! [John 5:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13] That’s the first judgment at the cross, past.
The second of the judgment of the cross—that is past—is the judgment of God upon Satan. He is already defeated. There is no doubt about the outcome of this conflict and confrontation between Satan and our Lord Jesus Christ. He was defeated, and forever, at the cross. John 12:31 says: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” John 16:11 says: “The prince of this world is judged.” He is not going to win. Colossians 2:15 says that on the cross, “having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ was a public display, in His resurrection from the dead [Matthew 28:1-6], that Satan has no longer power over us. Christ has spoken that in the cross, as Hebrews 2:14 says, “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
Our Lord Christ went down into the sepulcher, down into the netherworld, down to the darkness of the grave, and there did He forever destroy that great and final enemy, death, and the devil who had the power of it [Hebrews 2:14]. Thus Christ could say in Luke 10:18: “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” He is a defeated enemy. Judgment has been passed upon him, and that great victory was won for us at the cross. These are the two judgments that are past.
There are three judgments that are completely in the present, continually going on in the life of the believer. Number one, there is a judgment in our own hearts and lives, our daily, prayerful, watchful, self‑judgment. First Corinthians 11:31 says: “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” Second Corinthians 13:5 says: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” This personal judgment leads to confession of sin and forgiveness. As 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” As Psalm 32:5 says: “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”
This is the self‑judgment of the believer that goes on continually. As we lay our souls naked and open before the Lord God, we see the dereliction, and the shortcoming, and the iniquity, and the sin in our lives. And it leads us as believers to confess our sins before the Lord, who is faithful and just to forgive us [1 John 1:9]. And that’s the first of these judgments that continues in our lives.
Now, the second also continues. It is the chastening judgment of God upon the believer’s unconfessed sin. First Corinthians 11:32 says: “But when we are judged”—when God judges us—”we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” And there is that Greek word again katakrinō, that we should not be judged down, judged against, in the world.
When we are judged of the Lord—how those people out there in the world do, that’s between them and the devil. That’s between them and hell. That’s between them and damnation. But when a Christian sins, that’s between him and his Lord. And the Lord chastens His children [1 Corinthians 11:32]. Our willful disobedience leads to the chastening of the Lord.
Hebrews 12:5- says:
My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are rebuked of Him:
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth
But if ye are without chastening, then are you not sons, but illegitimates.
[Hebrews 12:5-6, 8]
You know, the people out there in the world can do a thousand things, and they just get by with it, just go right on because they belong to the world. They belong to judgment. They belong to damnation. They belong to hell. They are lost. But if a Christian does something that is wrong, the Lord will spank him. The Lord will chasten him. The Lord will speak to him, and he’ll feel it.
Oh, I can illustrate that ten thousand times! There are people tonight out here in the city of Dallas, doing ten thousand darkening things, and they enjoy it. They get a bang out of it. They get a kick out of it. They get a charge out of it. But if I did any one of them out there, my conscience would slay me. If I were not even in church, my heart would hurt me. This is the Lord’s Day, and God’s people are gathered here. And if I were not here, if I were out there, just not being present, I would hurt in my heart. God chastens His people if you belong to Him.
Now there is a third continuing judgment in our lives, and that is the intuitive judgment of God given to His servants to choose leaders in His work. Matthew chapter 7, verses 15 to 20, says:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
[Matthew 7:15-16, 20]
Epiginoskō—ye shall know them—epiginoskō—you shall know discerningly; you shall know judgmentally! Jesus had just said: “Judge not, that you be not judged” [Matthew 7:1]. The judgment of a man’s soul and the judgment of a man’s life—is he saved or lost? Is he for heaven or for hell? That is beyond us—we are not to judge.
But, God hath given us an intuitive judgment, a discernment, to help us choose leaders in the work. The elders, the pastors, the deacons, the leaders, the teachers, the directors—these ought to be carefully and prayerfully chosen, and you do that by observing the life and works, judging the lives and works of the people. Now these are the three judgments that continue now. One leads to confession of sin [1 John 1:9; Psalm 32:5]; the second leads to the chastening of the Lord [1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:5-6, 18]; and the third one leads to kingdom responsibility [Matthew 7:15-16, 20].
Now we come to the seven judgments that are wholly in the future. They are associated with the consummation of the age, with the eschatological program of God. There are seven great judgments that await us in the years of the consummation.
Number one: after the rapture when God comes down, when the Lord Jesus comes secretly like a thief in the night to take away His jewels, to rapture His saints up to heaven [1 Thessalonians 5:2], first in the program of God, all of us who are in Christ shall stand at the bēma of the Lord [1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10]. The purpose of this judgment is not whether we are saved or lost. That judgment, as I said, is at the cross [2 Corinthians 5:21; John 5:24]. That has already passed. You’re either saved, or you’re either lost now. And when you die, you will die either saved or you will die lost. That judgment was at the cross [Matthew 27:32-50], and we accept it or we reject it. For example, John 3:18 says:
He that believeth on Him is not condemned (there is that Greek word again “judged”)—but he that believeth not is condemned, is judged already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
So when we are raptured and stand before the bēma, the judgment seat of Christ, the purpose is not to decide whether we’re saved or lost [1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10]. We’re all saved or we wouldn’t be there. This is the saints of God that are raptured up, and the purpose of that judgment is for rewards. This is the bēma of the Lord Christ.
The word bēma is the Greek word meaning “a platform that is ascended by steps.” Paul appeared before the bēma of the Roman ruler in the eighteenth chapter in the Book of Acts in Corinth [Acts 18:12-16]. The bēma also was used to refer to that raised platform upon which the umpire stood, the judge stood. And in those Greek games, there they came before the bēma and received their reward in the contest that they had won. Now that is the purpose of the first great judgment. Eschatologically, in the future, all of God’s people shall appear, all of us, before the bēma of the Lord.
Now who is qualified to be that judge up there? Who will give us our rewards? It will not be we. We cannot judge. It is impossible for us. I one time heard of a woman who was very critical. She had a guest in her house, and standing at the window, she said, “Come here and look. Look at the dirty sheets that that woman next door has just hung out on the line.”
So the woman came to the window to look at the dirty sheets that her neighbor had just hung up on the line. Looking, she said, “But, dear, the dirt is not on the sheets; the dirt is on your window.”
We always see others through a distorted vision. We cannot judge. Only Jesus is qualified. John 5:22: “For the Father…hath committed all judgment to the Son.” Acts 17:31: “God hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained… in that He hath raised Him from the dead.” Only in Christ is there to be that final judgment. He alone is qualified. [Romans 14:10]: “For we shall all stand before the bēma, the judgment seat of Christ.” Second Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (the bēma ); that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Now, there are degrees in rewards. There are degrees in heaven. We’re not all going to be alike. We’re going to be there in heaven according to how we have built our Christian lives in this world. For example, in the third chapter of the first Corinthian letter, “the foundation is Christ, he says, and some will build upon that foundation gold, silver, precious stones,” and some shall build, “wood, hay, and stubble” [1 Corinthians 3:11-12]. And “every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day”—that great day at the bēma of Christ—”shall declare it…it shall be revealed by fire…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.” But “if any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: though he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” [1 Corinthians 3:13-15]. Just like a man running out of a house and everything is burned up. He runs out naked. He has nothing in the world. That can be us. That can be we at the bēma of the Lord. We are greatly differing in our rewards.
We’re going to be judged not only by the material—whether it’s gold, silver, or wood, hay, and stubble—but we’re going to be judged by our spoken words. Matthew 12:36: “I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” That word “idle,” argos, means “lazy, indifferent.” There’s nothing that you say by which you’re not going to be judged. We’re going to be judged by our faithfulness to the work of Christ.
And here God gave us, the Lord gave us the wonderful example of the parable of the talents [Matthew 25:14-30]. Some used what God gave them, and the Lord blessed them doubly so. But the man who didn’t use the gift that God gave him was cast out. He lost his reward [Matthew 25:29-30]. And that is important for you. O Lord! How important it is for you.
There’s not one of us but that God has given a gift, and some of us many gifts, and they are given to us in order that we might use them for the work of the Lord. We’re not to use them despicably. We’re not to use them selfishly. We’re not to use them indifferently. But we’re to use them prayerfully and zealously. What I can do, I ought to do, and God help me to do, for the Lord.
Now, we’re going to be judged by our own judgment of others, our attitude toward others, whether we have been sympathetic or censorious. For example, in Romans 14:1-4: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye… Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea… God is able to make him to stand.”
It may surprise you how God sympathizes with some of the weakest members, the most stumbling members of our church. We don’t understand. There may be a tack in that man’s shoe that we don’t know anything about. There may be a hurt in that man’s heart that you never thought for. There may be an awesome confrontation in that man’s life that you know nothing about.
And we’re not to be censorious. We’re not to be hypocritical. We’re not to gather our skirts around us as though we’re better than anybody. But we are to be sympathetic, and loving, and prayerful. We are going to be judged by our inner motives. When we give, did you do it in order to be seen of men, in [Matthew 6:1‑4], or did you give just for the glory of the Lord? When we pray, do you pray in order to be seen of men, that they may call you pious and holy, or do you pray for the love of God, Matthew 6:5-6? And when we fast, do you fast to be seen of men, that they think you are most godly and pious, Matthew 6:16, 18? Don’t appear unto men to fast; do it unto the Lord.
If we are faithful to Him, the Lord will not fail to remember us. Revelation 22:12: “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his works shall be.” And Matthew 10:42: “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of water only, a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” This is how the Lord is going to judge us: all of us who shall appear someday at the great bēma of Christ [2 Corinthians 5:10].
Now, the second great judgment of the future is after the rapture [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. After God’s people have been taken out of the earth, then come the great and terrible judgments of the tribulation. They are recounted in Revelation 6 through 19 [Revelation 6:1-19:21]. There are the seal judgments in Revelation 6 [Revelation 6:1-17]. There are the trumpet judgments in Revelation 8 and 9 [Revelation 8:2-9:21, 11:15-19]. There are the bowl judgments in Revelation 16 [Revelation 16:1-21].
There is a judgment upon ecclesiastical Babylon in Revelation 17 [Revelation 17:1-18]. She is called the great whore. She is called the false prophet. And she represents the great worldwide religion that is antithetical to the Spirit and revelation of our blessed Lord. There’s going to be a judgment of God upon false religion.
There is a judgment of God upon political Babylon in Revelation 18. The beast and his empire, this whole world system that defies God, is going to be judged [Revelation 18:1-24]. These judgments fall after God’s people have been taken out of the earth, after the rapture [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], and the judgments of the terrible tribulation [Matthew 24:4-26].
The third great eschatological judgment is the judgment upon the nation Israel before the millennium. No one shall enter the millennium unconverted: there will be a judgment upon Israel [Matthew 25:1-30], there will be a judgment upon the Gentiles before the millennium [Matthew 25:31-46]. No one, I repeat, shall enter the millennium unconverted. There will be therefore a judgment upon Israel [Matthew 25:1-30].
The chronology of the Lord’s words in Matthew 24 and 25 of these eschatological judgments are these. Number one: the tribulation, that’s the first thing. After the church is raptured away, the first thing that shall happen is the tribulation. This is Matthew 24:4-26. Then second: the second coming of the Lord; the great, open, public appearing; the personal descent of the Lord Jesus to earth; that is Matthew 24:27-30. Third is the regathering of Israel in the Holy Land, Matthew 24:31. Fourth is the judgment of Israel, Matthew 25:1-30. And five is the judgment of the Gentiles, Matthew 25:31-46. That is a chronology as the Lord bespeaks it in His great eschatological discourse in Matthew 24‑25.
Now, the chronology of Israel’s judgment is this: one, when the times of the Gentiles are about to run their course, the Jews will be gathered back to the Holy Land unconverted. That’s the reason all of us who read God’s Book say one of the signs of the approaching end time is the turning of the face of the Jew back to Palestine. Ezekiel 36:24, 25, 26 says: “For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” Then, not before, they’re going to be converted in the land, not out of the land. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean . . . and a new heart will I also give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” That’s the first thing in the program of the judgment of the Jews: they will be gathered back into the Holy Land unconverted [Ezekiel 36:24-26].
Second: there they will be cast into God’s fiery melting pot. And, oh, what words I read in the Bible concerning the fiery judgments of God upon Israel. For example, in Ezekiel 22:
Therefore thus saith God; Because you are become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.
As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in Mine anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.
Yea, I will gather you and blow upon you in the fire of My wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof.
As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out My fury upon you.
All right, look again in the third chapter of Malachi:
Who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
[Malachi 3: 2-3]
The second thing: when Israel goes back to the land unconverted [Ezekiel 36:24-26], they’re going to be tried in the fiery furnace of the Lord God [Malachi 3:2-3]. And third: they will pass through an experience spoken of by Jeremiah and Daniel as, “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” That is mentioned in Jeremiah 30:4-7 and in Daniel chapter 12, verse 1 [Daniel 12:1]. Christ calls this time the time of the great tribulation [Matthew 24:21]. The human agent that the Lord God will use for the scourging and chastening of Israel is the Antichrist [Daniel 7:25]. The terror of his reign will be supplemented by the bowls of God’s wrath poured out upon the earth, in Revelation 15 and 16 [Revelation 15:1-16:21]. There’s an awesome time coming ahead for Israel when God shall throw them in that fiery furnace.
Now, following the chronology of the judgment of Israel, the result of these terrible judgments will be the Jews in their misery will call upon the Lord, Zechariah 12:11. Christ will come to them, standing upon Mount Olives, [Zechariah 14:[-4]. “The Jews will look on Him whom they have pierced,” Zechariah 12:10. They will mourn, confess, repent, and accept their King Messiah, Zechariah 12:10-13; Zechariah 13:1; Zechariah 14:9 and 20. And a nation will be born in a day, Isaiah 66:8. Israel will be saved, [Romans 11:26-27]. The summary of this judgment is recounted in Ezekiel 20:33-38: The saved are divided from the lost, the dross is burned out, and the nation of Israel enters the millennium, all of them worshiping their Savior and Lord. Oh, what God says in His Word!
Now, the fourth eschatological judgment concerns the Gentiles. It concerns you and me. No one, I say, shall enter the millennium unconverted. And as there is a judgment of Israel carefully outlined here in the Holy Word [Matthew 25:1-30], so there is a judgment upon the Gentile nations. This is described in Matthew 25:31-46.
Matthew 25:32 says: “Before Him (the Lord Jesus) shall be gathered all nations.” Now the Greek word is ethnos. And ethnos refers to the heathen world, to the Gentiles. That word ethnos is used in the New Testament one hundred fifty-eight times; it is translated “Gentiles” ninety-two times. It is translated “nations” sixty-one times. It is translated “heathen” five times. But the word is never applied to the dead, and it is never applied to those who are resurrected. Always that word applies to the living nations. So there before the Lord Jesus Christ when He sits upon the throne of His glory, there will be gathered all the living nations of the world [Matthew 25:31-32].
And they will be judged in these categories: first, sheep. The sheep are those who accepted the gospel of Christ’s salvation and befriended the “brethren,” [Matthew 25:33-40], brethren, the messengers of the Lord, the sealed one hundred forty-four thousand in Revelation 7 [Revelation 7:1-8]. The goats are those who disdained the messengers of the Lord, the brethren of Christ, who are preaching the gospel of Jesus in the great tribulation [Matthew 25:41-46].
That’s one of the most amazing things to me in this world. There is never a time when there is not revival possible! And the greatest revival that the world will ever see will be in the midst of the great tribulation [Revelation 7:1-17].
These are they who are coming out of, hoi erchomenoi. These are those who are coming out of the great tribulation, he megale he thlipsis. “These are they who are coming out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the [blood of the] Lamb” [Revelation 7:14]. All of these have been won to Christ in the midst of the great tribulation. The sheep are those who listen to these brethren of the Lord who are preaching the gospel of the Son of God [Matthew 25:33; Revelation 7:1-17].
I’ve always said, one Jew is worth forty Gentiles anytime you get him converted. And you can imagine what’s going to happen in that tribulation with a hundred and forty-four thousand of those men sealed by the Holy Spirit of God [Revelation 7:4] who are preaching the gospel throughout the whole world [Revelation 7:9-10]. Now, they are the sheep [Matthew 25:33-34].
The goats are those who disdain that message, spurn it, turn it down [Matthew 25:32-33, 41]. And the brethren [Matthew 25:40, 45], of course, are the fellow Jews of the Lord Jesus, the sealed of Revelation 7 [Revelation 7:4]. This will take place, according to Joel 3:1-2, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Now, I’ve studied that Valley of Jehoshaphat, and nobody knows where the Valley of Jehoshaphat is. They identify it with Kidron, but that was a long time after that prophecy was made. And they say that’s the Valley of Jehoshaphat just in order to have someplace to say that is the place. We don’t know where that is. The Lord is coming down to this earth, and He is going to set His great throne of glory upon this earth. And before Him are going to be gathered all of the Gentiles of the earth [Matthew 25:31], and we’re going to be judged [Matthew 25:31-46]—this is in the tribulation—we’re going to be judged according to whether we have accepted or whether we have rejected the gospel of the Son of God [Joel 3:1-2].
Now the fifth great eschatological judgment is the judgment upon the beast, the Antichrist, and the false prophet, the second beast, the great harlot [Revelation 19:19-20]. At the second coming of Christ, when the Lord comes down openly [Revelation 1:7], He is going to judge the political system of this world that disdains the Lord [Revelation 19:19-20]. O God, think of China! Great God, think of Russia, when the judgment of God falls upon these nations that spurn the love and mercy of Christ!
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against the Lord Christ, who sat upon His throne, upon His horse, and against His army.
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him… These both were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
This is the judgment of God upon the beast and the false prophet [Revelation 19:19-20], upon Babylon ecclesiastical [Revelation 17:1-18] and Babylon that is political [Revelation 18:1-24].
The sixth judgment is the judgment of God upon the fallen angels, including Satan. They have already lost! They’re already defeated. And God is going to set a day in which He will judge them and cast them into the lake of fire. Second Peter 2:4: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” Jude 6: “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” The great day is this Day of the Lord, the period of the consummation. First Corinthians 6:3 says: “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” Satan is included in this great judgment of the angels. Revelation 20:10-12: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
The order of damnation into this lake of fire is this: the first one to go into the lake of fire is the beast, the political systems of the world that abhor and hold in contempt the Lord God [Revelation 19:20]. The second to go into hell is the false prophet, these who in the name of religion lead people astray [Revelation 19:20]. The third to be damned into hell are the fallen angels [Matthew 25:41]. The fourth to be cast into hell is Satan [Revelation 20:10]. And the last to be cast into hell are the lost who reject Christ and spurn His mercy [Revelation 20:11-15], and do despite to His Spirit of grace, and trample underfoot the blood of the covenant wherewith He was sanctified [Hebrews 10:29].
And the Lord says this place was not prepared for you; it was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matthew 25:41]. And you only go there when you choose to follow him, Satan, damnation [Revelation 20:14-15]. God pleads with a man: “Follow Me, and I will take you home [John 14:1-3]. Follow Me; I will take you to heaven [Revelation 21:1-3]. Follow Me; I will give you life everlasting” [John 3:16, 10:27-30].
But if a man says no to God: “I despise the grace and the blood of Jesus, and I choose to follow my own will” [Hebrews 10:28-31]—which is Satan’s will, there’s nothing left. You have the choice! It wasn’t prepared for you. It was prepared for the devil and his angels [Matthew 25:41]. And you go there just because you choose to be damned, to be lost in hell. O God! What an awesome thing.
Now, finally, number seven, the last great judgment, the one that you read in the Bible, the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. This is the final judgment. This is the last judgment. This is the judgment of the unrighteous dead. They also have a judgment, and here they receive the reward of their evil works. The whole thing begins eschatologically when God’s people are raptured [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], and we appear before the bēma of Christ, and we’re given our reward [2 Corinthians 5:10].
The great white throne judgment is the judgment of the unrighteous dead, and there they receive the reward of their evil deeds [Revelation 20:11-15]. There are degrees in hell, just as there are degrees in heaven. Luke 12:47-48, says: “He that is worthy of many stripes shall be beaten with many stripes. And he that is worthy of few stripes shall be beaten with few stripes.”
As there are degrees in heaven [1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10], there are also degrees in hell. And when the lost stand at the great, final white throne judgment of Christ, there they are going to be awarded their degrees [Revelation 20:11-13]. Of all Scriptures, this is the most solemn, and fearsome, and awesome, and too terribly devastating for words!
In that great final judgment, there’ll be no saved person there. He settled his account out of court long ago, and found forgiveness and salvation at the cross [2 Corinthians 5:21; John 5:24]. Only unbelievers are at that great final judgment according to Daniel 12:2: “Awakening some to shame and everlasting contempt.” But they’re all there. They’re all there.
Adolph Hitler was never brought to court in this world, but he’ll be brought before the great judgment day of Almighty God. He’ll not miss it. He’ll be there. The infidel who laughs and scoffs at God, and the atheist who makes fun of the people of the Lord, and these who destroy the lives of children, and all the workers of iniquity—they’ll be there.
Would you like to have your biography written? My brother, it is written. It’s up there in God’s hands in heaven. And it says: “And the books were opened, and we were judged every one out of those things which are written in the books” [Revelation 20:12]. And those that are lost stand before God and hear the awesome verdict, “Guilty as charged.” These are the things they did. Then the Lord opens one other book before the final denouement of the age. He opens the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12-15].
And He says to the recording angel, “Before this man is sent away into damnation and to hell, look through the pages of the Book of Life to be sure that his name is not written there.” And the angel looks through the pages of the Book of Life. And if his name is not found in that book, he is cast into the lake of fire, where the beast and the false prophet and the fallen angels [Matthew 25:41], and Satan are tormented forever and ever [Revelation 20:10, 14-15].
O Lord, is my name written there in the book, wise and fair? Oh, tell me, blessed Savior, is my name written there? Ah! the awesomeness of what God reveals in His Book, it brings me to my knees. Great God, save my soul! Lord, be Mediator, and Intercessor, and Pleader, and Defender, and Savior for me. Have mercy upon me and my poor soul, O God! And that is the promise of the Lord for us who turn in faith, in trust, in commitment and confession, in repentance and commitment to Him. “He that cometh unto Me, I will no wise cast out” [John 6:37]. “He that believeth on Me shall have everlasting life” [John 5:24]. “I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly, he that cometh unto Me” [John 10:10]. Blessed are those that find that rest in the Lord: “Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” eternal rest [Matthew 11:28].
O God, that we might turn and be saved! And that is our appeal to your souls tonight. Facing as we do the great judgment day of Almighty God, find refuge in Jesus, comfort and strength and salvation in Him [John 6:37]. And that’s why we press the appeal to your heart tonight, accepting Jesus as Savior, asking Him to forgive your sins, to write your name in the heavenly Lamb’s Book of Life, and to rejoice in the goodness of God and forever, come. Bring your family and come, to put your life with us in this dear church, come. To pilgrimage with us on this road from earth to heaven, come! O God, bless you, as in your heart you decide for God. “I shall honor Him in my life. I shall deposit in His care and keeping my lost soul. Dear God, remember me.” And if He has not deceived us, and if God has not lied to us, He will stand by us in our pilgrimage here, He will be with us in the hour of our death [Hebrews 13:5]. And He will be our pleader, and defender, and intercessor, and Savior at the great judgment day of Almighty God. Oh, come. Come. Come. In a moment, we’ll stand to sing our appeal, and on the first note of the first stanza, come. Do it now. Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.