“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

1.6. The Coming Great Day of Judgment

For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. – Romans 14:10-12

The Coming Great Day of Judgment. The Bible tells us that God is love, but it also tells us He is holy and a just God, and that He will (and must) judge and condemn all sin. This is a pretty weighty chapter and not a topic of popular appeal, but it is one we must address and understand. This chapter is a bit longer than some, as we must go through this subject in detail to avoid being deceived, for Scripture warns us to be ready for Christ’s return today.

Scripture tells us that He will bring all sin to a conclusion on the great Day of Judgment – the great and awesome Day of the Lord, the Day of Eternity, the end of this age and the end of time itself. On this Day, God will judge all sin that has ever been committed in the world, and sin will be eradicated, banished from His creation forever, and creation will be restored to its rightful state – where there is no more sin, suffering or death. If you will, it’s here where we meet the grizzly bear depicted on the cover of this book – are you prepared for the encounter?

This will be the most awesomely hopeful, or dreadful, Day for all mankind in all of human history. Which of those it is depends on how you are able to stand before the Lord on that Day, when we will all stand before the Supreme Court of the Lord and give an account for everything we’ve said and done, for “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” All the deeds of man, over all of human history, will be made known and judged. No one who has ever lived – past, present or future – will escape this Day of Judgment!

On this Day, God will judge our motives as well as our actions, for He knows the thoughts of man; nothing, no matter how dark or secret, can be hidden from God. For it is written: “nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light,” and “whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops,” and “then each of us will give an account of himself to God,” so “that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” It’s only pride and arrogance that causes one to think he or she can hide anything from God, Creator of all. You (we all) will have to answer for every single sinful thought, deed, action and motive we have ever had or done. All sin will be judged by a holy, righteous and just God for what it truly is. He will make no mistakes in judgment either, for He knows all things.

We will all be gathered before Christ on that Day – those who died in sin by rejecting Christ (the lost) will be gathered on His left, and those who died in righteousness (the saved, who are covered by the blood of Christ) will be on His right. As explained in prior chapters, your spirit is eternal – it lives on fully conscious even after your body dies. When Christ returns for Judgment Day, the spirits of all those who have died will be re-united with their new resurrected eternal bodies; and those alive at Christs return will be “changed in an instant” into their new eternal bodies.  The Bible tells us that both the saved and the lost will be resurrected in eternal bodies! You do not pass into nothingness at death, and the wicked (the lost) are not extinguished into nothingness after judgment (the false teaching of annihilation).

At Judgment, “books will be opened” (in which every thought, motive, action and deed you have done in your life is recorded), and then “every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God,” also written as: “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” for Jesus is the Lord God Himself. Even those who did not believe in God and His Christ will bow down and declare Jesus as Lord, to the glory of God. Then judgment will happen. Scripture says that Jesus will be our judge; but He will also be the attorney for those who have accepted Him! Wouldn’t you like to have the Judge also as your Attorney? How remarkable! This is explained in the upcoming chapters on the “good news” of the gospel.

The saved, those who died righteous (forgiven of sin) by accepting Christ, will hear the verdict of “Not Guilty” (of sin) and “Well done, good and faithful servant,” “enter into my rest” in heaven with God and His holy angels forever. The lost however, those who died in sin, will hear the verdict: “Guilty” (of sin). Scripture also tells us that the penalty for sin is death; the guilty will hear the Judge say “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness,” and they will then be thrown “into the eternal fire [hell] which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” for all eternity, where they “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” This is called eternal death, for life can only be found in the presence of God. Only the righteous can enter heaven with God in eternal life; nothing and no-one sinful can enter heaven with God.

HELL IS A REAL PLACE OF TORMENT

Make no mistake; hell is a real place, and those who die in sin will be banished there forever, away from the presence of God. It is described as a place of “eternal fire,” a “lake of fire and brimstone,” but also one of “outer darkness” and a place “of torment” where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Hell was created for the devil and the angels who sinned in followed after him; it was not created for man. However, when man chooses to remain in sin (by his own free will – the result of pride and stubbornness), his destination is the same as the devils. Wayne Jackson writes: [1]

Hell: The Ultimate Separation

Inspiration describes the penalty of hell as “the second death” (Revelation 20:14), which suggests that it is the ultimate separation from God. This is emphasized forcefully in several New Testament passages. In the parable of the virgins, those unprepared virgins who “slept” (i.e., died), when awakened by the coming of the Bridegroom, wanted entrance into his presence, but the door was shut, and they were denied that association (Matthew 25:1-13).

Unprofitable servants will be “cast out” and will hear the Lord exclaim: “Depart from me” (Matthew 25:41). Paul expressed it like this. Those who know not God and who obey not the gospel, “shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9; emphasis added). This abiding separation from God is but a continuation of the estrangement that the rebel cultivated in this life. The Lord is not responsible for such a reckless decision!

The Horror of Separation from God

How is it possible to describe the spiritual state of being banished from the presence of the supreme Being of the universe? Being alienated from Jehovah is the ultimate experience of horror. It is a separation from everything that is pure and good, everything that is right and wholesome, and everything that makes for joy and tranquility. It is, however, a spiritual experience, and since the human mind operates on the plane of the material, we really are not prepared to appreciate the gravity of such a circumstance. Hence, God has employed appropriate symbolism to describe the agonies of hell.

The spiritual abode of the wicked is a state of pain, trouble, and sorrow (Psalm 116:3). It is characterized by shame and contempt (Daniel 12:2) and is a realm of affliction (Jonah 2:2). Hell is a place of outer darkness where there is weeping and the gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30)—a sphere of eternal fire (Matthew 25:41) where the “worm” (a figure for gnawing anguish) does not die (Mark 9:48).

The wicked are described as being beaten with stripes (Luke 12:47-48). They are recipients of God’s wrath and indignation, they experience tribulation and anguish (Romans 2:8-9), and they suffer punishment as a manifestation of the Lord’s vengeance (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Hell is a place of utter torment, where no rest ever is known (Revelation 14:10-11).

While it would not be an expression of responsible exegesis to literalize the figures of speech cataloged above, one must never forget that the symbolism is designed to emphasize the terror of being abandoned by God. Moreover, the figures doubtless do not do justice to the actual reality of this eternal nightmare.

The torment of hell comes the eternal memory and regret of one’s sins searing into their consciousness for all time; for on Judgment Day, everyone will have finally seen their sin and sinful nature fully revealed for what it really is, and they will also God for who He truly is – a merciful, loving, righteous, holy and just God. The lost will see that the glory of God and heaven, right in front of them, almost be able to reach out and touch it and within grasp, but then realize they are barred from entering – for eternity.

Those condemned to hell will be fully conscious and alive in spirit; they will have all eternity to know they rejected the gift of eternal life, which God offered to all. They will see that God was “patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”; they will see that He tirelessly, mercifully and continuously reached out to them, trying to save them from the judgment to come. They will have all eternity to think about “what if” I had only listened. Oh, what a searing torment that will be – and it will all be self-imposed. Wayne Jackson writes: [2]

The Nature of Gehenna

There are several important truths regarding the punishment of Gehenna that the Bible student must consider.

Body and Soul

Gehenna is a state that involves both the resurrected body and the soul. First, note that unrighteous people will be resurrected from the dead, just as the saints will (Jn. 5:28-29; Acts 24:15). Then, observe that Christ clearly indicated that the body, as well as the soul, will be subjected to the agonies of Gehenna (Mt. 5:29-30; Mk. 9:43-48; Mt. 10:28).

Consciousness

Gehenna involves a state of awareness. It is very important that this point be made, because there are those who allege that hell will consist in the wicked being annihilated (C. Pinnock, 40 [3]; cf. LaGard Smith, 1988 [4]). In their view, the occupants of Gehenna will eventually cease to exist. This concept is flawed indeed.

First, when the Lord affirmed that God will “destroy” both body and soul in Gehenna (Mt. 10:28), he employed the word apollumi (used about 92 times in the New Testament). It is translated by such terms as “destroy,” “perish,” “loss,” and “lost.” The term does not suggest the sense of annihilation.

When the prodigal son was in the far country, he was “lost” (apololos), i.e., estranged from the blessings of his home, but he was not annihilated. Jesus affirmed that he came to save that which stands lost (apololos). The perfect tense describes a present condition which has resulted from previous activity. The Lord did not come to save folks who were in a state of non-existence!

“In every instance where the word apollumi is found in the New Testament, something other than annihilation is being described” (Morey, 90 [5]).

Regarding apollumi, Vine notes: “The idea is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being” (211). [6]

Thayer defines apollumi, in connection with Matthew 10:28, as follows: “to devote or give over to eternal misery” (64). [7]

Second, the Bible employs a number of expressions to describe the emotional state of Gehenna, which can only imply the concept of conscious agony. It is depicted as a place of “unquenchable fire” (Mk. 9:44) — fire being a metaphor for “the extreme penal torments which the wicked are to undergo after their life on earth” (Thayer, 558).

Jesus spoke of Gehenna as a place “where their worm dies not” (Mk. 9:48). The never-dying worm is a symbol of the unending “torment of the damned” (Arndt/Gingrich, 765). [8]

The Lord describes Gehenna as a place of “eternal punishment.” The word rendered “punishment” is the Greek kolasis. Note the following statement from the patristic document known as 1 Clement (A.D. 95). “… [The Lord] does not forsake those that hope in Him, but gives up such as depart from Him to punishment [kolasis] and torment” (XI).

Punishment implies consciousness. It would be absurd to describe those who no longer exist as being “punished.” The wicked will be “tormented” with the fire of Gehenna (cf. Rev. 14:10-11). Torment certainly implies awareness (cf. Rev. 9:5; 11:10).

Finally, we would raise this question: If the condition of the rich man in Hades was one of “anguish” (odunao – “to suffer pain”), though it involved only the soul, does it seem likely that the ultimate punishment of Gehenna, which involves both body and soul, would entail less?

H.M. Riggle in Beyond the Tomb writes this on hell: [9]

We shall come then to the direct question: What will the eternal punishment of the lost consist in and of, or what will be its nature? We believe the Bible clearly teaches that it is a state of endless, irrecoverable misery and conscious suffering.

First, torment.

“And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:28-29).

In Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon basanizo, the verb form for the Greek noun translated “torment” is: “To vex with grievous pains of body or mind, to torment.” Torment— “That which gives pain, vexation, or misery. Extreme pain, anguish, the utmost degree of misery, either of body or mind. To torture, hence to put to extreme pain or anguish, to inflict excruciating pain and misery.”—Webster. The text describes a man possessed with a legion of demons. At the approach of Christ, the devils cried out, “Jesus, thou Son of God: art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” On this Dr. Adam Clarke remarks: “They knew there was a time determined by the divine Judge, when they should be sent into greater torment.” Torment awaits these devils beyond the judgment, and this text proves that they are fully cognizant of the fact. That is why they “tremble” (James 2:19). They did not say to Jesus, “Do not annihilate us,” but “I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not” (Mark 5:7). Further proof that this will be their awful punishment is found in Rev. 20:10: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

This hell of torment was “prepared for the devil and his angels,” and the wicked will be cast into the same place and state (Matt. 25:41). So, torment, and not obliteration, awaits the guilty. After death, the Rich Man “lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23). He cried for mercy, begged for water, and said, “I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24). He called his abode “this place of torment.” Hell, then, is not a state of non-existence, but a place of torment, suffering. This was not said of the moldering corpse that had been buried on earth, but it was the state and condition of a man whose spirit was alive in the eternal world. …

Second, tribulation and anguish.

“But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil” (Rom. 2:8-9).

Paul’s theme here is the “righteous judgment of God” that all men must face in the final “day of wrath.” Read the context. The Divine penalty upon the ungodly is “indignation and wrath,” and its effect upon them is not annihilation but “tribulation and anguish.” Tribulation here means pressure—extreme anguish and excruciating pain. The anguish simply intensifies the other. The idea conveyed is that of extreme suffering. …

Fifth, suffering vengeance of the Almighty, who is a consuming fire.

“Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). This is the opposite of blotting out of existence. When God rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah, the buildings, etc., were reduced to ashes; but the wicked inhabitants of those cities who committed fornication, “going after strange flesh” (Jude 7), are “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” The fire of Divine wrath is upon them and will be forever. This is not annihilation, but a perpetual suffering.

Sixth, the punishment of loss, or deprivation.

“Depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23). “What a terrible word! What a dreadful separation! Depart from me! From the very Jesus whom you have proclaimed, in union with whom alone is eternal life to be found. For, united with Christ, all is heaven; separated from him, all is hell.”—Dr. Adam Clarke. “Depart from me, ye cursed” (Matt. 25:41). “And these shall go away” (Matt. 25:46). “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 22:13).

In life salvation was within their reach; they could have secured it and have become qualified for the enjoyment and companionship of God, and of the good and pure of all ages: but they disdained it, refused it, and disqualified themselves for the holy society of heaven. Now, since by their action such chose to be separated from the holy and redeemed hosts of heaven, they must be associated with the impure and unholy in both character and doom. An utter severance and banishment from the presence of the Lord, and an abode and association with demons and the refuse of all ages is the necessary consequence of all the workers of iniquity, and this is the eternal misery of the damned.

There is for them no other alternative. This doom is deprivation of eternal life, endurance of God’s displeasure, and an utter rejection and banishment from the society of Jesus and the blessed in heaven. This state is final. He shall “sever the wicked from among the just” (Matt. 13:40-43, 48, 50). Eternal separation from God. “This is the second death” (Rev. 20:14). “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou has taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out” (Luke 13:25-28). “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Matt. 25:10-12). Barred from heaven forever. Here we have a glimpse of the soul’s eternal loss.

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without [outside] are dogs [the morally impure], and sorcerers [those who practice occult crafts, use altering drugs, etc.], and whoremongers [sexually immoral, fornicators, molesters, adulterers], and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Rev. 22:14-15).

Here are some of the saddest statements to be found in the Bible. The place is where time and eternity meet and eternal destinies are apportioned to all men. “They that were ready went in,” “through the gates into the city”—heaven. Then “the door was shut,” and the whoremongers, idolaters, liars, and all characters of the lost were “thrust out,” left “without,” lost, ruined, cursed, damned, and in torment. “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” What a disappointment and sense of misery when heaven’s door, the door of mercy and opportunity, is forever closed, and the lost hear the awful sentence, “depart,” and find themselves in “outer darkness.”

“Here we have the misery of the unjust and impure, and the happiness of the righteous and holy. It connects time with eternity. The character wherewith we sink into the grave at death is the very character with which we shall reappear on the day of resurrection. The moral lineaments [distinctive features or characteristics] which are graven on [deeply imprinted or carved into] the tablet of the inner man, and which every day of an unconverted life marks deeper and more indelible [cannot be removed] than before, will retain the impress they have received unaltered by the transition to the future state of our existence. Propensity is strengthened by every new act of indulgence; any virtuous principle is more firmly established than before by every new act of resolute obedience to its dictates. Then the hell of the wicked may be said to be already begun, and the heaven of the virtuous. The one has a foretaste of the wretchedness before him, the other of the happiness before him. The inward sense of dishonor which haunts and humbles the sinner here is but the commencement of that shame and everlasting contempt to which he shall awake hereafter. In stepping from time to eternity he carries in his own distempered bosom [sinful or sick heart] the materials of his coming vengeance along with him. He will carry his unsanctified habits and unhallowed passions thitherward. When probation is over, character is unalterably fixed, and there is but one probation.”—T. Chalmers, D.D.

Eternal torment, tribulation, anguish, damnation, shame and contempt, suffering the vengeance of Almighty God, cast into outer darkness, barred from God’s presence and heaven forever, weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”—such is the Bible description of the nature of future punishment. What the realities will be, only fallen angels and the wicked shall ever know.

“Pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).

One last point about hell needs to be stressed: it is eternal in duration. This is also a topic that many don’t like to discuss or preach on – yet Scripture is clear. In fact, the same Greek word that is used to describe the eternal duration of the saints in heaven is also used to describe the duration of the punishment of the wicked in hell. No one argues that the saints won’t have eternal life in heaven, yet they argue that the very same word when used referring to the wicked in hell doesn’t mean the same thing! This is horribly inconsistent logic. H.M. Riggle writes in Beyond the Tomb: [10]

THE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED WILL BE TO ALL ETERNITY

Eternity is well expressed in the following text: “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Ps. 90:2). There are three words which in our English Bible in their true sense signify eternity and are so used in the Scriptures. They are everlasting, eternal, and forever, from the Greek aionios. Forever is also translated from aiona.

I shall here submit the definition of aionios by some of the standard Greek lexicons:

  • “Everlasting; perpetual; eternal.”—Pickering
  • “Without end, never to cease, everlasting.”— Thayer
  • “Everlasting, eternal.”—Liddell and Scott. Also Donnegan
  • “Everlasting, perpetual.”—Youge
  • “Without end; perpetual and interminable.”—Schleusner
  • “To eternity.”—Cremer
  • “Indeterminate as to duration; eternal; everlasting.”—Baxter
  • “Unlimited as to duration; eternal, everlasting.”—Greenfield
  • “Ever enduring; perpetual; everlasting; implying eternity; without end.”—Robinson
  • Aiona— “forever,” is defined by Robert Young in his Analytical Concordance— “To the ages of the ages.” From this we learn that when our translators rendered aionios as “everlasting” and “eternal,” and aiona as “forever,” and they had solid grounds for doing so.
  • Everlasting— “Lasting or enduring forever, eternal, endless.”—Webster
  • Eternal— “Everlasting, endless, immortal.”—Webster
  • Forever— “Throughout eternity, endless.”—Webster

I shall now give a number of texts where the Greek word is aionios and the English rendering is everlasting:

  • The righteous “shall inherit everlasting life” (Matt. 19:29).
  • “In the world to come, life everlasting” (Luke 18:30).
  • “The end everlasting life” (Rom. 6:22).
  • “The everlasting kingdom” (2 Pet. 1:11).
  • “The everlasting God” (Rom. 16:26).
  • Now, we read— “Some to shame and everlasting (Greek Septuagint—aionion) contempt” (Dan. 12:2).
  • “Cast into everlasting fire” (Matt. 18:8).
  • “Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
  • “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous unto life eternal” (Matt. 25:46).

As long as God Himself shall exist, and as long as He shall have dominion and a kingdom, the wicked will suffer “contempt and shame everlasting”; “everlasting punishment” in “everlasting fire.” The same word that measures the endless existence of God Himself, of His kingdom, dominion, gospel, and the life and felicities of the righteous in heaven, measures the duration of the punishment of the wicked in hell. There is no appeal from this fact.

IS ETERNAL PUNISHMENT FAIR?

Many refuse to believe that a loving God will sentence anyone to eternal punishment in hell. As I’ve written, we grossly underestimate the nature of sin; we will see sin for what it truly is on Judgment Day. We are thinking from the standpoint of our puny, finite human mind; we do not see sin as God sees it. We also tend to stress (or focus on) the fact that God is loving, while dismissing the fact that God is also righteous and just – and He therefore must bring all sin into judgment.

We must also remember that God desires that “none be lost” and He has provided a way for each and every person to inherit internal life; it is only by their own free-will choice that anyone ends up in hell. God doesn’t send anyone to hell – they send themselves! It must also be recognized that hell will also have varying degrees of punishment. Wayne Jackson writes: [11]

Many religionists who deny the biblical teaching of the eternal, conscious torment of hell do so strictly on emotional grounds. They reject everlasting punishment — not because they have carefully studied the scriptural evidence, and have arrived at their convictions on an intellectual basis — but because, in their view, eternal punishment just “doesn’t seem fair.” How could a just God punish forever someone who has only rebelled a brief period on earth?

There are several things to be said in response to this.

First, how could a just God eternally reward someone who has only served him the limited span of an earthly existence? No one seems to have a problem with that!

Second, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that our loving God has never been of the disposition to delight in the possibility of a single soul ending in hell.

    “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

He does not wish that anyone perish. The term “wishing” (ASV) or “willing” (KJV) reflects a present tense participle, emphasizing a sustained benevolence on the part of the Creator. Note that.

The fact is, hell was initially prepared for Satan and his angels (Mt. 25:41), not humans. The Lord has made every possible provision so that humanity might avoid eternal punishment. Who can fault the justice of God in the light of Christ’s death?

Third, eternal separation from God is a matter of human determination. Paul defends the justice of God in imposing destruction upon rebellious men in his letter to the Romans:

    “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction” (Rom. 9:22).

The apostle describes the inmates of hell as “vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction.” Albert Barnes notes that “fitted” suggests that these subjects of divine wrath are those “whose characters are such as to deserve destruction.”

Further, if “fitted” is viewed as a middle voice form (which is possible; cf. Vine), then the sense would be that these folks “prepared themselves for destruction” (Arndt & Gingrich, Greek Lexicon, 419). Note these points.

Fourth, God’s justice is evidenced in the fact that judgment of hell will be rendered proportionate to the degree of one’s guilt. Consider the following passages:

    “But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? thou shalt go down unto Hades: for if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which were done in thee, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (Mt. 11:22-24).

    “And that servant, who knew his lord’s will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more” (Lk. 12:47-48).

    “…of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29).

“Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment” (Jas. 3:1).

Fifth, it appears that the fate of the wicked is justified in that even punishment seems to produce no change in their character. It is amazing that the rich man, in a state of torment (Lk. 16:23ff), though requesting relief, and soliciting a warning for his earthly brothers, never expresses a word of repentance for his disobedience, nor does he plead for the opportunity to leave his abode in order to dwell with God and his people. That speaks volumes. Make a notation to that effect.

THERE IS NO “SECOND CHANCE” AFTER DEATH

There are only two great families on Earth, and everyone who has ever been born and will be born belongs to one or the other. You are either in the family of those who are “of their father the devil,” or the family of those who are of God through Christ. You belong to one family, or the other; there is no other option. In fact, if you say to yourself: “Well, I’m just not going to choose either…” you’re only deceiving yourself, for by default, when you do that, you are of your father the devil for he is the ruler of this world. By not choosing, you have chosen to remain in sin and therefore implicitly chosen who you follow. You can choose to be a friend of Jesus in this life if you want; but realize that if you do not want Jesus in this life, you won’t have Him in the next life either – which is eternal.

Also know that your spiritual state (your eternal state of sin or righteousness before God) is fixed (set in stone, permanently unchangeable) at the time of your death for all eternity and determines your eternal destiny. If you die before Christ returns, it was fixed at the time you died; if you are alive when Christ returns, it will be fixed when Christ appears on the Day of Judgment. If you are covered by the blood of Jesus, your sins are forgiven and forgotten, as “far as the east is from the west,” blotted out for all eternity. If you are not covered by the blood of Christ, you will have to be your own attorney and plead/argue that you are holy and righteous before God Himself; no one is holy and righteous, “not even one.” Even one little teensy tiny sin ever committed by you will condemn you as guilty of sin. Remember, nothing can be concealed before God at that time.

As mentioned, Jesus will be your judge (remember He is God), for “all Judgment has been given to Him.” Why? Because He became a man unto death (the man Jesus Christ), and He was tempted in all things as we are, so he knows what we have gone through here in this fallen world. This makes Him our mediator (between man and God) and also a fair judge. He experienced what we do in this fallen world and yet He remained perfect and sinless unto death. He was victorious over sin and death and the power of the devil – He defeated sin, Satan and death at the cross, for us!

God will make no errors in judgment. Jesus’ judgment on that great Day will be perfect, righteous and true. His justice won’t be flawed like human vengeance. Neither will He be swayed by claims of innocence or excuses, nor clever arguments of counsel, nor the subtle twisting or even omission of facts as so often happens in the courts of this world. Claiming ignorance will not be an excuse either, for we are all called to rightly divide the Word of Truth and this is why Scripture admonishes us strongly to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord,” which we do by reading the Bible (see Acts 17:22-32, Romans 4:15, Leviticus 5:17-18, 2 Peter 3:18, 2 Timothy 2:15). And no, the “devil made me do it” excuses won’t hold on Judgment Day either, for God is not mocked.

Furthermore, there are no “second chances” after you die. There will be no continued appeals process after the verdict is read, as there can be in the courts of this world. You either die in sin or in righteousness, period. Those who are in sin (unrighteous) at the time of death will remain in sin for eternity; those who die righteous at their death will remain righteous for all eternity. You must prepare to meet God while you are alive in this life, not after you die.

JUDGMENT WILL LAST FOR ETERNITY

Remember, your spirit lives on forever, it is eternal, the only unknown is whether it will live on in heaven or hell. The judgment rendered by God on this great Day will stand unchangeable for all eternity – and eternity is a very (very, very, very…) long time! Our finite human minds simply cannot begin to comprehend it properly. The best words we can find to express it can only begin to touch on the enormousness of eternity. Matthew Henry writes: [12]

Note, the reason why people are so eager in the pursuit, and so entangled in the pleasures of this world, is, because they do not know, and believe, and consider, the eternity which they are upon the brink of. Did we know aright that all these things [of this material world] must shortly be dissolved, and we must certainly survive them, we should not set our eyes and hearts so much upon them as we do.

H.M. Riggle in Beyond the Tomb writes this about eternity: [13]

In Isaiah 57:15, it is said that God “inhabiteth eternity.” This is the only text in the Bible where the word “eternity” occurs. It is one of the greatest and most comprehensive words in any language. In life, we are the subjects of Time. We are told, however, that the day is approaching when an angel shall swear “by him that liveth for ever and ever that there shall be time no longer” (Revelation 10:6). This means eternity.

Time has a beginning and ending. It is a fragment of eternity. It might be likened to a small island in the midst of the ocean. Gradually its sands are washed away by the mighty billows [waves] which sweep against its shores. By degrees it is being washed away until at length—God only knows how soon—the billows of eternity will sweep over and wash away the last sands of time, and nothing will remain but eternity.

Time is a measured portion of duration. Moments, hours, days, weeks, months, years, centuries, and ages, measure time. But eternity! No cycle of years can measure it. It is a boundless ocean, a shoreless sea, or as Paul expresses it, a “world without end.” It is without beginning or ending. It takes ten hundred thousand years to make a million; a thousand million to make a billion; a thousand billion to make a trillion; a thousand trillion to make a quadrillion; a thousand quadrillion to make a quintillion; a thousand quintillion to make a sextillion; a thousand sextillion to make a septillion, a thousand septillion to make an octillion; a thousand octillion to make a nonillion; a thousand nonillion to make a decillion (which when expressed in numerical form looks like this very, very large number: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). But even this vast number does not express eternity.

Let us suppose that a bird comes from a far distant planet, making one trip in each decillion years. It carries away as much water in its tiny beak as it can contain. The length of time required by that bird thus to transfer to the distant planet all the waters contained in the springs, rivers, lakes, and oceans, would not measure eternity. After carrying away all the waters, suppose the bird still continues its journeys to earth, coming but once in a decillion of years, and carries away in its tiny beak a grain of sand from the seashore, or a bit of dust. That bird could carry away the entire globe on which we live, and yet eternity would not be measured.

Dear reader, you are going to eternity. We shall all soon be there. Death is the gateway each of us must pass through, and death fixes our destiny either in heaven or in hell. You are now forming a character for eternity. You are sowing seed, the harvest of which you must there reap. Now is the only time to prepare.

God inhabits eternity; it is His palace. When we attempt to span the marvels and glories of this divine dwelling-place, with its illimitable [without limits] corridors of space, we are lost in amazement. In the “high and holy place”—heaven—beyond galaxies, and stretching into immensities and infinities, God “inhabiteth eternity.” As already expressed, the only way we finite creatures can form an idea of eternity is by going step by step up to the largest measures of time we know of, and then on and on, till we are lost in wonder. Eternity is vaster than the vastest.

  • “A perpetual duration which has neither beginning nor end.”—Charnock
  • “Beyond is all abyss, eternity, whose end no eye can reach.”—Milton
  • “Oh, if we could tear aside the veil, and see but for one hour what it signifies, to be a soul in the power of an endless life, what a revelation would it be.”—Horace Bushnell
  • “Eternity has no gray hairs. The flowers fade, the heart withers, man grows old and dies, the world lies down in the sepulcher of ages, but time writes no wrinkles on the brow of eternity.”—Bishop Heber
  • “Sow the seeds of life; and in the long eternity which lies before the soul, every minutest grain will come up again with an increase of thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold.”— W. Robertson

 

To the above, I add my own comment on eternity:

The strange thing about eternity
is that it rushes at you very slowly at first,
almost imperceptibly…
and then suddenly,
all at once it’s here!

FALSE TEACHINGS ABOUND IN THIS AREA

Many people (and even most Christians!) are looking for more signs and wonders to appear so they will know when the end-time is drawing near. You will therefore hear it loudly (and repeatedly) proclaimed that all these events must happen before Judgment Day arrives:

  • The Secret Rapture of the Church: the taking away of believers into heaven while the lost will be “left behind” here on earth, along with
  • A Coming Antichrist World Nationalistic/Political Figure,
  • A New “Third Temple” in Jerusalem,
  • The New World Order/One World Government,
  • The Mark of the Beast (i.e., 666, tattoo, barcode, chip implant, or whatever), and a
  • “7-Year Great Tribulation” period where the Antichrist world forces battle Israel, and then further
  • The “Battle of Armageddon” (often portrayed as a planet-wide nuclear war), and all that, still further followed by
  • A Thousand-Year Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth from Jerusalem where the nation of Israel rules over the entire world.

Or if not those, then something like these:

  • We are still waiting for the “great apostasy” (falling away) referred to by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 to happen first, or
  • “Worldwide peace on earth” must happen before Christ returns, or
  • Other fantastical mystical prophecies of man, such as the arrival of “Planet X” or “aliens in Antarctica,” or
  • Insert {whatever political or worldly event you want} here

These are all false teachings – every single one of them! Sadly, many people believe them as the truth of what the Bible says. And even sadder, many professing Christians who claim to know Scripture also believe them. As indicated in the book of Revelation, there will continue to be endless wars, famines and pestilence at various times and places until Christ returns; but such are simply due to the continued sinful behavior and actions of fallen man. The false teachings above have no basis in Scripture.

It is also not surprising that on this topic (Christ’s return and Judgment Day) you encounter a veritable avalanche of false teachings, for they are all designed to trick you out of eternal life. They are created by Satan and furthered by those men who do his work here on earth. The false teachings pose a grave danger to both the non-believer and also the believer – for they cause one to procrastinate. For the non-believer, the false teachings may cause you to procrastinate in accepting Christ for salvation, as you think to yourself: “Well, when I see you ‘raptured away’ then I’ll start to take all this Bible and Jesus stuff seriously.” For the believer, the false teachings may cause you to procrastinate in sharing the gospel message in urgency with your friends and loved ones, for you may also think to yourself: “Well, when you see me ‘raptured’ away, then you’ll finally start to take all this Bible and Jesus stuff seriously.” So, the false teachings are all traps, created to deceive man into thinking there is always more time…just a little more time…and still more time. But one day, Judgment Day will have arrived, and you will not be ready.

While the “evolution” false teaching is primarily brought to you by the secular God-denying world, be aware that many of the false teachings related to Christ’s return and Judgment Day are brought to you by those who appear to be Christians: Christian churches, denominations, pastors, publications, books, movies, etc. They are what Scripture calls “wolves in sheep’s clothing”; and they can be just as deadly to your eternal life! If you listen to what modern (liberal, apostate) Christianity is teaching on this subject, or even worse, what is blaring out in stunning and deafening volume from the secular media world, you will be deceived. Even those who do not even believe the bible and haven’t ever read it seem to want to tell you all about Bible prophecy and what it means. It is amazing to watch Christians listen to and then believe what secular sources give as their interpretation of Scripture, and in particular Bible prophecy! Astounding!

These false teachings are covered in more detail in the Beware the Wolves chapter, but I want to mention a few of them here, so you are aware of them. Let us now proceed with the truth about Christ’s return and Judgment Day…

JUDGMENT DAY WILL ARRIVE WITHOUT WARNING

Because of the many false teachings which abound, many are under the false belief that they will have more time to prepare for the coming of Judgment Day – that they will be able to see more “signs and wonders” in the skies and heavens (and on earth) and thereby know when it is getting closer, so they can start to take all this “Jesus stuff” seriously. But is this what Scripture actually says? It is written:

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. – 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which [that very day, not 7 years, or 1000 years later!] the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. – 2 Peter 3:3-10

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 24:36-51

We see that Scripture tells us that Christ’s return will be like “a thief in the night” and that Christ will return “at an hour you do not expect” and in which (that very day) “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” Scripture is abundantly clear that this great Day of Judgment will happen on the same day as Christ’s next return (His Second Coming, i.e., advent).

The first time Jesus came to Earth, He came humbly and meekly, as a suffering servant, to die on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for our sins; the next time He comes/returns, He will come in full power and glory as Lord God Almighty to execute judgment. And when Jesus returns, it will not be to start a “1000-year millennial” reign on here earth; no, the great Day of Judgment will have arrived! For it is written: “At His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father.” The time of this Day has been fixed beforehand by God, and only He knows when it will occur. You have read that only those who have prepared ahead of time (during their own lifetime) to meet the Lord on that Day can stand with the hope of eternal life; there are no “second chances” after death!

There will be no more signs or wonders to seek, or other specific political, social, economic or nationalistic agendas, wars, or specific natural disasters before Judgment Day arrives. There will be no more signs and wonders in the heavens (sun, moon, stars) or anything else to come along which will reveal the nearness of Christ’s return and Judgment Day. If you are looking to the stars, blood moons, mystical signs and wonders (i.e., astrology) or false teachings of man, you will be deceived and not ready for it! I’m here to correctly tell you that there is a not a single Bible prophecy remaining to be fulfilled before Christ returns! No further warnings, nor signs, nor wonders in the heavens or on earth will be given before the “Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire” for all to see by everyone alive on the Earth and even those under the earth and under the sea (the living and the dead), “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” – when the Day of Judgment has arrived. It could be today, or tomorrow, or the next day!

Again, I say, all Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled, even from the book of Revelation, except for the events of (and subsequent to) Christ’s return – which is also the great Day of Judgment. Said differently for the avoidance of any doubt: the very next prophetic Bible event to occur will be Jesus appearing in skies of fire above for all to see at the start of the great Day of Judgment. Be not deceived! Yes, you read that right. Sadly, that statement will come as a shock and surprise even to many professing Christians and pastors who claim to know scripture. Were Christ to appear today in skies of fire, the vast majority of the Christian church (at least from what I’ve seen of it here in America) would be just as surprised as the lost! Brother or sister in Christ, that just should not be!

Again, I say, be not deceived by the wolves and false teachers which abound today trying to trick you (and your friends and loved ones) into thinking there is more time, always just a little more time… These false teachings are designed (by Satan) to trick you into thinking that you can just wait until the next {…insert whatever national, political, or social event you choose here…} happens, and then you can choose to take all this “God and Bible stuff” seriously. But there will not be more time. When Christ returns, it will be for the great Day of Judgment.

The chapter of Matthew 24, referred to as the Olivet discourse, is often grossly misinterpreted to support the false teachings.  Matthew 24:1-35 apply only and specifically to the events of A.D. 70 and the great tribulation of the Jews under the Romans (the destruction of Jerusalem). Separately, Matthew 24:36-51 and Matthew 25 (given below) refer to the end of time, which is at Christ’s second coming, which is also the Day of Judgment. Please read this Scripture carefully, noting the repeated warnings that Christ’s return happens unannounced, and quickly, like a thief in the night. Any teaching to the contrary is false.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-46

THE WORLD IN AWFUL SLEEP (“As in the days of Noah”)

We are also told that Christ’s return (and Judgment Day) will be just “as in the days of Noah.” In the days of Noah, by the Spirit of Jesus, Noah preached the coming judgment by flood for 120 years; while God patiently waited for others to come to repentance! All the while Noah was building the ark – but no one listened! That’s right: not one single person (outside of his own family) listened to the warning given over 120 years until it was too late! One day, the skies opened, and the flood began: “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” It is exactly the same prelude today – we are preaching that Judgment is coming, and that in fact it grows very near. But is anyone listening? Similarly, in Sodom and Gomorrah, one day started just like all the rest had for as long as they could remember, but then suddenly fire rained down from heaven on them in judgment.

Wayne Jackson writes on this critically important subject: [14]

Jesus teaching regarding the Second Coming

The illustrations introduced by Jesus to insure preparedness for his Second Coming preclude the possibility of signs being given to determine the time of that event.

In a number of vivid historical illustrations, the Lord declared that no time indicators would be given to signal his Return; rather, the Judgment Day would catch men unawares.

Note the following:

  1. As the people of Noah’s day continued business as normal “until the day” that the flood came, “so shall be the coming of the Son of man” (Matt. 24:38,39).
  2. The people of ancient Sodom were unaware of the impending disaster until “the day that Lot went out from Sodom,” even so “after the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed” (Lk. 17:28-30).
  3. Christ declared that he would come at an unexpected time, even as a thief does. “If the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through. Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:43,44; cf. 1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10).
  4. The parable of the virgins in Matthew 25 surely teaches the lesson of constant preparation, for the bridegroom will come at the most unexpected time [the midnight hour — a most surprising time for a wedding!].

There is nothing in Matthew 24 that lends support to the theory that Christ gave some signs that would herald the end of the world.

Jesus own words

One of the most persuasive points demonstrating that the Lord gave no signs by which the end of time could be calculated is the affirmation of verse Matt. 24:36. “But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.”

The argument is devastating: though Jesus gave the signs of Matthew 24:4-14 [pertaining to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70], not even he knew when the time of his Second Coming would occur. It must therefore be obvious to anyone (save those totally deceived) that the signs of Matthew 24 [verses 1-35] can in no way be employed to figure the time of the Lord’s Return!

Does it not seem odd that modern “prophets” can read Matthew 24 and predict the time of the end of the world; yet not even he who spoke the message was able to so decipher it?!

There are no signs concerning the time of the end of this age. Let us strive, therefore, to be always prepared for the Lord’s Return, or death, whichever comes first.

It is exactly similar today; I repeat again to be abundantly crystal clear without any ambiguity whatsoever: no further warnings will be given! Why am I being so adamant about making this point? It is because by far and away the biggest danger I think people face today is complacency! In addition to the false teachings previously mentioned, the abundance, comforts and convenience of modern life which abound in large measure today (though not in all places of course) can lull you into complacency (on top of procrastination) about ensuring your own eternal destiny – always thinking to yourself, well, there’s more time, more time, always more time. Remember, Satan and his forces of evil are very real, and they mean to totally destroy you! You are falling directly into their trap by thinking that! That trap leads to eternal death!

In times of the early church and its persecution (under the Roman empire and also under the Papacy), when you were going to be thrown into the lion’s den, sawed in half, burned at the stake, or torn to pieces by wild beasts if you confessed Christ, you very quickly and surely sorted out your true faith and allegiance, and you did so with finality! [In a side note, it is well worth reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to learn more about the persecution Christians faced in earlier times.] With the comforts and conveniences of modern life, a person today can easily procrastinate in coming to a decision to accept Christ – delaying it one day at a time and relying on false teachings which say there is “more time” before Jesus returns, until one day, it will be too late. For you will either have died or the great Day of Judgment will have arrived suddenly, and you will not be ready to stand before God. We don’t have any sense of urgency today.

God speaks to us through His Word. In prior times (dispensations), God spoke through visions, dreams and prophets. As God’s instruction and prophecy had ceased for the approximately 400 years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, in similar fashion today, all prophecy (secret or otherwise) and explicit communication and new revelation from God to the world has again ceased until Christ’s second coming. We are not to expect further messages, communications or revelations from God, nor secret visions or prophecies or new prophets – the canon of Scripture has been sealed up and completed, Genesis to Revelation. Just as we are not to look for another yet to come (Christ was It), we are not to look for any new revelations from God. Therefore, if someone today claims to have a new “secret” message or revelation from God, they are a liar.

And as in the days if Noah, when he preached about the flood judgment to come, today we preach the message of truth to all who will hear. One day however, Christ will appear in skies of fire as the Great Day is Judgment will have arrived. You are getting all the warnings and signs right now that you will ever get, from reading this book and also hearing others preach the message of truth to you. We are also not to look for another to come, for Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the Savior – in Him God was fully revealed to us.

Please don’t keep waiting for the next worldwide cataclysm event to be “sure” that the Bible (and Christ) is for real. Scripture is abundantly clear that in the last days (which is this gospel/church age we are now in), the world will simply continue to get worse and worse, with men growing colder and colder, meaner, more hateful and sinful, with wars, famine and pestilence occurring from time to time and in various places:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also…Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. – 2 Timothy 3:1-9,12-13

Yes, the world is in awful sleep regarding all of this; it’s staggering to see people go to great pains and effort to plan their next weekend sporting event or vacation, but they won’t even lift a finger or spend the smallest amount of time to plan and prepare for their own eternity. The verses above match the world today exceedingly well, as the world marches on in awful sleep, ignoring and blatantly mocking God, pursuing its own worldly self-interests, lusts, desires, idols, fame and fortune and the ways of man, and suppressing the truth of Jesus Christ. Matthew Henry writes: [15]

We find the world of mankind here very careless: All the earth sits still, and is at rest, while all the church is made uneasy, tossed with tempests and not comforted. Those that are strangers to the church are secure; those that are enemies to it are successful. … It is sad to think what a deep sleep the world is cast into, what a spirit of slumber has seized the generality of mankind, that are under God’s wrath and Satan’s power, and yet secure and unconcerned! They sit still and are at rest.

H.M. Riggle writes in Beyond the Tomb, about the “red lights of warning” that God waves in front of us, warning them about hell: [16]

Sin acts on the soul as deadly drugs do on the body. Opium, cocaine, morphine, alcohol and chloroform deaden and numb the sense of feeling. People under the influence of these drugs are not conscious of pain and are dead to the things about them. Just so, sin hardens the heart and turns it to stone. “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath” (Rom. 2:5). “They have made their hearts like an adamant stone” (Zech. 7:12). We read of some whose conscience is “seared as with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2), and who are “past feeling.” This well describes the condition of multitudes all about us, unawakened and impenitent. The solemn exhortation to the church is: “Let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:6).

Satan, like “a strong man armed keepeth his palace [the unregenerate soul of man]” (Luke 11:21). He is a “prince of this world” (John 14:30), “ruler of the darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12), the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), and holds dominion over countless millions of human beings. He reigns in their hearts and lives, controls, holds fast, destroys, ruins, blights, disqualifies, and throws over them his hellish opiates and lulls them to sleep in carnal security. He hangs up the curtains of deception and delusion decorated with unclean visions, and fills the affections with worldliness, pride, and vanity. Here in the human heart is his throne, and here he is exalted, served, and yielded to, so that he sways his scepter over the mind, heart, and life.

He keeps possession by blinding folks so they do not see themselves. He pulls down the blinds and shuts out the light so that his subjects are insensible to the gracious things of God and to their own danger. “For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed” (Acts 28:27). Such folks are very much alive and active in worldly affairs and in the business of sin but they are dead to God. God speaks in thunder-tones, but they hear not. He swings red lights of warning across their pathway, but their eyes are closed. A thousand blessings fall around them, but they have no taste nor desire for these, unconscious to the “things that belong to their peace.” With the transplendent light of the gospel shining all about them they “sit in the valley and shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4). [Editor’s note: We are to walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, not sit and stay and dwell there!]

This is a state of great danger and of grave peril. A person sound asleep cannot defend himself against the thief or assassin. In a burning building, unless awakened, he is sure to perish. Every lost sinner is in a worse condition than a sleeping man in a structure all in flames. He is blind to eternal dangers. Deaf to the Spirit’s voice, deaf to the roar of approaching storm, deaf to the rumblings of hell beneath. The thunder and lightning grows more loud and vivid. Death is at the door. Satan, the murderer of souls, is ready to strike a dagger at his heart. The casket in which he will be buried is now in the undertaker’s rooms, and the tools that will dig his grave are waiting; and yet he slumbers on. Great God, awaken the slumbering souls of men.

Yes, we are on the very brink of eternity. It could happen the very day you are reading this. I have explained that you cannot prepare for your eternity after you die – for your spiritual state is sealed at death. You must prepare right here, right now, in this life. I cannot help you once Jesus returns, I can only help you now by warning you and showing you in upcoming chapters of this book how to be saved to eternal life through Christ. I can only help you today, not when you see me on the great Day of Judgment. The preaching of this message of truth is the only warning you will get. If you, or your friends or loved ones, have not yet accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, it is written that “now [today] is the day of salvation”; “let him who has ears to hear, hear”! Use today wisely knowing you may not get tomorrow – as the great Day of Judgment may have arrived. Please do not delay in your contemplation of this matter of eternal moment.

I hope you are sensing my urgency and outright emotional plea in this chapter; I can do no more than that to encourage you to take all of this seriously and do so today. We read in 2 Peter 3:3-10 (above) that the only reason that the Day of Judgment has not come already and you are still able to read this book at this time on this day is because the Lord is (unbelievably) patient towards mankind (and me, and you) out of His abundant lovingkindness, mercy and slowness to anger. His judgments are delayed so that more people can have time to come to repentance and turn to Him – so that you can still have time to turn to Him.

But, as in the days of Noah and in the days of Sodom, the time will come when Time itself is up and Judgment Day arrives. Matthew Henry writes on Revelation 22:20-21: [17]

If any say, “Where is the promise of his coming, when so many ages have passed since this was written?” let them know he is not slack to his people, but long-suffering to his enemies: his coming will be sooner than they are aware, sooner than they are prepared, sooner than they desire; and to his people it will be seasonable. The vision is for an appointed time and will not tarry. He will come quickly; let this word be always sounding in our ear and let us give all diligence that we may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless…It is an awful thought, and enough to make the hole world to tremble, that eternal damnation immediately follows upon the death of an impenitent sinner.

THE EVENTS OF THAT DAY WILL HAPPEN QUICKLY

And finally, in the book of Revelation, we read several times that Jesus says he is “coming quickly”:

“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” – Revelation 22:7

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” – Revelation 22:12

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. – Revelation 22:20

You have already read that Jesus’ return will be sudden and unexpected and will catch many unprepared. The word “quickly” in the verses above is the Greek “tachu,” which conveys the idea of swiftly, with haste or suddenly (by surprise). That admonition here is that we should prepare now, today, this very day for Jesus’ return and the Great Day of Judgment. We must not procrastinate or delay in making sure that we can stand before God holy and blameless on that Great Day. For if you have not prepared beforehand (either before death or before Christ returns), there will be no time to prepare later. When Jesus is revealed with all His holy angels in skies of fire, it will be too late to prepare.

The use of “quickly” does not mean, as some falsely teach, that the great Day of Judgment and Christ’s return was to occur right after (temporally) the apostles lived (i.e., that Jesus return and the Day of Judgment already happened in A.D. 70); that is the false teaching of “preterism.”

OUR HOPE

So far in this book, we have seen how God’s creation came about along with the origin of humanity. We then saw the disobedience of man and the introduction of sin, suffering and death into the world – and we saw that we are all sinful. In this chapter, we have looked forward to the great Day of Judgment – the climax of humanity and the end of time itself. It might be at this point you are feeling a little discouraged, like there is a heavy weight or burden placed on you and there is no hope; we have been under the bondage of sin heading towards inescapable judgment. You might be thinking: if we are so sinful, fallen and separated from God, what can I possibly do?

But know there is good, even great news ahead, for God desires all to have eternal life with Him. The Bible explains how we each can become “without sin” and stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment holy and blameless through grace and the gift of God. In fact, it’s not at all about what you need to do or about what can you do of yourself; it’s about what Someone has already done for you! I think you can guess by now, that Someone is Jesus Christ. We’ll cover shortly how you can know Jesus and decide to accept Him as your Lord and Savior (if you want to) – for it is He alone who can save you from sin and judgment. And only He can give you eternal life.

In the next section of the book, we therefore start on the path of hope, towards redemption from sin and eternal life – the “good news” part of the gospel message. I hope very shortly you will come to see the relentless love of God towards you as it is written:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

So, let’s get started on the path to redemption and eternal life…

[Note: But first, I hope you notice the veritable AVALANCHE of false teachings below that center on the topic of Christ’s return and Judgment Day! Someone or something (hint: Satan) really, really, REALLY doesn’t want you to take Judgment Day seriously…this should make you start to wonder a bit if there really is something to all this God, Heaven and Hell stuff after all…yes?]

FALSE TEACHING(S) YOU WILL ENCOUNTER:

RELATED SCRIPTURE:

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man [Jesus] whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” – Acts 17:30-31

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. – Hebrews 9:27-28

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. – 2 Corinthians 5:10

“Truly, truly, I [Jesus] say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him [Jesus] authority to execute judgment, because He [Jesus] is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” – John 5:25-29

For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. – Romans 14:10b-12

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 3:2

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him [Jesus], and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:9-11

Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops. – Luke 12:3

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. – 2 Chronicles 16:9

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. – Romans 2:4-8

“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Matthew 3:11

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. – Romans 1:18-25

For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. – Ecclesiastes 12:14

But the Lord abides forever;
He has established His throne for judgment,
And He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. – Psalm 9:7-8

For the Lord is our judge,
The Lord is our lawgiver,
The Lord is our king;
He will save us. – Isaiah 33:22

God is a righteous judge.
And a God who has indignation every day [against the wicked]. – Psalm 7:11

He summons the heavens above,
And the earth, to judge His people. – Psalm 50:4

And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
Surely there is a God who judges on earth!” – Psalm 58:11

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
Before the Lord, for He is coming,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in His faithfulness. – Psalm 96:11-13

And the heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is judge.   Selah. – Psalm 50:6

You caused judgment to be heard from heaven;
The earth feared and was still
When God arose to judgment,
To save all the humble of the earth.  Selah. – Psalm 76:8-9

Rise up, O Judge of the earth,
Render recompense to the proud. – Psalm 94:2

It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” – Jude 1:14-15

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” – Matthew 16:24-27

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. – 1 Thessalonians 4:16

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. – Hebrews 12:25-29 [Note: Sin will be consumed, destroyed, at the end of time (this church, gospel age) on the Day of Judgment, for God is holy]

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:31 [Note: This verse applies to those who die in sin, who are not covered by the righteousness of Christ on the Day of Judgment. This is explained in upcoming chapters.]

And the devil who deceived them [all those who followed him instead of Christ] was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Then I saw a great white throne [on the great Day of Judgment] and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:10-15

…and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it [New Jerusalem], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. – Revelation 21:27

“Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” – Revelation 22:11

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. – Galatians 6:7-8

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish. – Psalm 1

The Lord is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
The Lord keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy. – Psalm 145:17-20

Let the sea roar and all it contains,
The world and those who dwell in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy
Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth;
He will judge the world with righteousness
And the peoples with equity. – Psalm 98:7-9

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. – 1 Corinthians 15:20-24

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” – Mark 13:31

[1] Jackson, Wayne. “Why Would a Loving God Send Us to Hell?” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: March 9, 2019. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1563-why-would-a-loving-god-send-us-to-hell
[2] Jackson, Wayne. “The Use of “Hell” in the New Testament.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: March 9, 2019. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/406-use-of-hell-in-the-new-testament-the
[3] Pinnock, Clark (1987), “Fire, Then Nothing,” Christianity Today, March 20.
[4] Smith, F. LaGard (April, 1988), “A Christian Response to the New Age Movement,” Pepperdine University Lectureship, Tape 3. See: Christian Courier, Oct., 1992, 21-22.
[5] Morey, Robert (1984), Death and the Afterlife (Minneapolis: Bethany).
[6] Vine, W.E. (1991), Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Iowa Falls: World).
[7] Thayer, J.H. (1958), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark).
[8] Arndt, W.F. & Gingrich, F.W. (1967), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: University of Chicago).
[9] Riggle, H.M. (1929/2018), Beyond the Tomb, (The Gospel Trumpet Company/Holy Spirit Prints).
[10] Riggle, H.M. (1929/2018), Beyond the Tomb, (The Gospel Trumpet Company/Holy Spirit Prints).
[11] Jackson, Wayne. “Romans 9:22 – Is Eternal Punishment Fair?” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: March 9, 2019. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/617-romans-9-22-is-eternal-punishment-fair
[12] Henry, Matthew. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, London. 1706-1710/1721.
[13] Riggle, H.M. (1929/2018), Beyond the Tomb, (The Gospel Trumpet Company/Holy Spirit Prints).
[14] Jackson, Wayne. “Are There “Signs” of the Second Coming of Christ?” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: March 9, 2019. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/551-are-there-signs-of-the-second-coming-of-christ
[15] Henry, Matthew. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, London. 1706-1710/1721.
[16] Riggle, H.M. (1929/2018), Beyond the Tomb, (The Gospel Trumpet Company/Holy Spirit Prints).
[17] Henry, Matthew. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, London. 1706-1710/1721.

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