QUESTIONS concerning what theologians term the “final” or the “general” judgment often arise in, and often greatly perplex, the mind of the ordinary believer.  It is the purpose of this study to answer these questions, and thereby give comfort to many a perplexed spirit.






1. Immediately after death the soul is placed at the bar of God and judged.  “Individuals are treated according to their desert, and this is done immediately after death (Dr. Dick, Theology, p. 339.)  “The soul, at death, goes immediately to its place of eternal happiness or misery, according to its moral character (Ms. Lects. of Dr. L. P. Hickok.)  Hence -



2. The sentence of God assigns the righteous to heaven, and they enter at once on an everlasting inheritance.



3. The same sentence assigns the wicked to everlasting fire.



4. At the resurrection, both the righteous and the wicked are brought from their respective abodes, when they are judged a second time, and are returned to the place whence they were brought, to remain forever.  “The judgment passed upon each individual at the termination of his life will be solemnly ratified at the end of the world.” (Dr. Dick.)  It thus appears, and this is the accepted orthodox view, that the final judgment is merely confirmatory of that which was passed at death, and not that there has been another chance.  This is no scheme of an “Eternal Hope



A general judgment “seems necessary to the display of the justice of God - to such a manifestation of it as will vindicate His government from all the charges which impiety has brought against it (Dr. Dick, p. 38.)



1. “Such a judgment will be a more glorious display of God’s majesty and dominion



2. “The end of judgment will be more fully answered by a public and general than only by a particular and private judgment



3. “It is very agreeable to reason that the irregularities which are so open and manifest in the world should, when the world comes to an end, be publicly rectified by the Supreme Governor (Edwards’ Works, Vol. iv., pp. 205, 206.)



“There will be such a revelation of the character of every man, to all around him, or to all who know him, as shall render the justice of the sentence of condemnation or acquittal apparent.” (Hodge, Theology, Vol. iii., p. 849,)



“At the judgment of the last day, the destiny of the righteous and of the wicked shall be unalterably determined (Idem, p. 850)



“The grand end of the judgment is therefore to stop every mouth, satisfy every conscience, and make every knee bow to God’s authority, either willingly in love, or necessarily in absolute conviction (Dr. Hickok.)



The sum and substance of all reasons for a general judgment is, in some way, a vindication of God.  “God would show Himself holy and righteous in all His functions of sovereignty.” (Dr. Hickok.)



The marked absence of Scripture quotations, or even reference, is worthy of note, in all these reasons for a general judgment.



That it may appear how unsatisfactory, to their own minds, are their supposed vindications of the divine dealings, I add one or two quotations from themselves:



Dr. Hodge, Vol. iii., p. 849: “Every man will see himself as he appears in the sight of God.  His memory will probably prove an indelible register of all his sinful acts, thoughts and feelings.  His conscience will be so enlightened as to recognize the justice of the sentence which the righteous Judge shall pronounce upon him  These things being so, we may ask, What possible need of vindication can there be?



Dr. Dick: “Among the multitude of the condemned, however severe may be their punishment, and however impatiently they may bear it, there will not be one who will dare to accuse his Judge of injustice.  In the mind of every man a consciousness of guilt will be deeply fixed; he will be compelled to blame himself alone and to justify the sentence which has rendered him forever miserable  “The declaration of the Judge concerning those on His right hand that they are righteous, and concerning those on His left hand that they are wicked, will be sufficient to convince all in the immense assembly that the sentence pronounced upon each individual is just



Thus, while these writers maintain the necessity of a general judgment for the vindication of the divine character, they themselves proceed to show that no such vindication is necessary.



Dick: “The proceedings will take place in the sight of angels and men  “Countless millions will be assembled to hear their final doom.  All nations shall be gathered before the Son of Man



Edwards: “In the great and general judgment, all men shall together appear before the judgment seat to be judged;” “the whole world, both angels and men, being present to behold



Hodge: “The persons to be judged are men and angels  “This judgment, therefore, is absolutely universal; it includes both small and great, and all the generations of men



Hickok: “All fallen angels are to be publicly judged;” “also, all the human family



On the disclosures of the judgment, opinions seriously differ.  Thus Edwards: “The works of both righteous and wicked will be rehearsed  “The evil works of the wicked shall then be brought forth to light  But then he adds: “The good works of the saints will also be brought forth as evidences of their sincerity, and of their interest in the righteousness of Christ. As to their evil works, they will not be brought forth against them on that day; for the guilt of them will not lie upon them, they being clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ



On the other hand, Hickok, as we think, well insists that “the sins of Christians will be brought to light in the judgment,” for various reasons; and, as if answering this thought of Edwards, on the ground that “the grace of Christ in their final sanctification can not be fully exhibited without it



If there is to be such a general judgment, as is generally supposed, then there would seem to be no good reason to doubt that all the deeds, both good and evil, of all who have lived, both good and evil, must then be disclosed.  The physical phenomena of a general judgment are a source of no little trouble.   Dr. Hodge avoids it by utterly ignoring questions which will force themselves upon the reader of Scripture.  Dr. Dick’s troubles appear in the following quotations: “The place where the judgment will be held is this world; and, as it is said that the saints shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, it should seem that the wicked should be left standing upon the earth  “The saints being caught up into the clouds by the ministry of angels to meet the Lord in the air, and the wicked being left on the earth, the judgment will proceed



And Dr. Edwards: “They shall all be brought to appear before Christ, the godly being placed on the right hand, the wicked on the left  “Besides the one standing on the right hand, and the other on the left, there seems to be this difference between them: that when the dead in Christ shall be raised, they will all be caught up in the air, where Christ shall be, and shall be there at His right hand during the judgment, nevermore to set their feet on this earth; whereas, the wicked shall be left standing on the earth, there to abide the judgment



According to this representation, the righteous have been judged before the judgment begins, for they have been assigned to the right hand, where they remain “during the judgment,” while, only the wicked really “abide the judgment  Now, according to the Scriptures upon which these writers depend to prove their general judgment - viz., Matt. 25: 31-46 - the assemblage of the universe is to be a promiscuous assemblage, whom, after they “shall be gathered,” the Son of Man “shall separate one from another;” whereas, they both agree that the separation takes place in the process of gathering.  But certainly it does not.  The result, according to their view, is a most singular physical phenomenon, viz.: the saints “on His right hand in the air,” the lost “on the left standing upon the earth.” It is no quibble which makes these suggestions.  They deserve to be considered.



One other declaration of Dr. Hodge deserves a moment’s notice: “At the judgment of the last day,” he says, “the destiny of the righteous and of the wicked shall be unalterably determined  By “destiny” he must mean “ultimate fate  Webster defines “determined” as “ended, concluded, decided, limited, fixed, settled, resolved, directed  Which does Dr. Hodge mean?  In truth, his proposition can in nowise be maintained.  All orthodox theologians agree that for the believer “to die” is “to depart and be with Christ and for the unbeliever it is to “go away into everlasting punishment;” but the “destiny” may be fixed long before that, and, so far as we have experience or knowledge, is never fixed “at the judgment  “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life,” but “he that believeth not is condemned already.” (John 3: 36, 18.)  The “destiny” of every soul is “unalterably determined” on the moment of his final acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ as a Saviour.



What is the meaning of the term judgment?  Webster answers: “Theologically, the final punishment of the wicked; the last sentence  It should arrest our thought that, in Webster’s mind, only the “wicked” have place in judgment.



Cremer’s answer (in Theological Lexicon, under krisis):



“Specially in judicial procedure, and primarily without particular regard to the character of the decision  “Then of a definite accusation or prosecution, guilt of some sort being presupposed by the judicial procedure.  This precise use of the term, as equal to judicial process, judgment directed against the guilty, and leading on to condemnation, is comparatively rare in profane Greek, whereas it is almost the only one in the New Testament  And he cites (Matt. 5: 21, 22): “Whosoever shall kill, or is ‘angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment and (Mark 3: 29) the blasphemer against the Holy Ghost ‘is in danger of eternal judgment.’”  Further:



“It is characteristic of judicial process, especially of the divine judgment to which krisis mostly relates, that it is directed against the guilty.” “1 John 4: 17: Hemera, kriseos.  In Mark 5: 15, 11: 22-24, 12: 36 (and others), krisis denotes the final judgment of the world, which is to bring destruction upon the guilty  “In Rev. 14: 7, 16: 7, 19: 2, the word likewise denotes the judgment, the act of judging, which discerns and condemns the guilty  And again, under krima, “the decision of a judge, judgment (Rev. 20: 4), the judgment concerning them is given in what follows. ... Elsewhere in the New Testament throughout, as in later Greek, the word always denotes a judgment unfavourable to those concerned - a punitive judgment, involving punishment, as a matter of course  And he cites 2 Peter 2: 3, “whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not with Rom. 3: 8, “whose judgment is just and Rom. 5: 16, “for the judgment was by one to condemnation  “For the cognizance of the judge,” continued Cremer, “to say nothing of his judgment, implies a coming short



This is a very vital point in our discussion.  If the New Testament usage of the term judgment implies guilt, and has but one natural sequence - condemnation - then we effect at once a very large exclusion from the numbers of those for whom a final judgment is intended; no righteous can be there, and such a thing as a general judgment must be forever unknown.  It is easy to show, by citation of numerous passages, that Cremer is right, both as the term is used in reference to man and God.



1. The use of “judge” when applied to man.



“Doth our law judge any man before it hear him?” (John 7: 51.)  Pilate said: “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your law.  The Jews said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death” (John 18: 31), as if that were the only possible sentence. (See Acts 13: 27-46, 23: 3-6, 24: 6-21.)  Festus said to Paul: “Let them go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged. ... Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment-seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews I have done no wrong(Acts 25: 9, 10, 26: 6.  See Rom. 14: 3, 4, 10, 13, 22; James 4: 11, 12.)  “The men of Nineveh, the Queen of the South, shall rise up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it.” (Matt. 12: 41, 42.)  It is a remarkable fact that in all these cases (few only are cited) “judge” is used in the sense of condemn, and in some instances strikingly so.



2. The use of “judge” when applied to God.



Luke 19: 22: “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant



Acts 7: 7: “The nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, saith God



Rom. 2: 12, 16: “As many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law ... in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ



2 Thess. 2: 12: “That they all might be judged who ... had pleasure in unrighteousness



Hebrews 9: 27, 28: “As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear ... unto salvation Manifestly “judgment” and “salvation” stand over against each other.  The world was under judgment, and this meant condemnation, for in judgment they were “judged every man according to his works  Justice is inexorable, and, since all have sinned, no one who comes into judgment can escape.  Hence the divine mercy interposed, and, “as” judgment was the original doom, “so” - that is, “to meet this very exigency of their case;” to arrest judgment and offer salvation - “Christ was offered



“Those that look for Him” are, of course, believers, who, though “by nature children of wrath,” have been “quickened together with Christ“raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2: 5, 6), and that certainly is far above fear of death and judgment.  For such there remaineth no “fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries(Heb. 10: 7).  Not to quote a burdensome number of passages, the reader will find the term “judge” used in the sense of condemnation in John 3: 17, 18, 5: 22, 24, 27, 29, 30, 12: 31, 47, 48, 16: 8, 11 (see Greek and R. V.); also, numerously in the Apocalypse: Rev. 6: 9, 10, 11: 18, 16: 5, 7, 18: 8, 10, 20, 19: 2, 11, 20: 12, 13. James 2: 13: “For judgment is without mercy to him that showeth no mercy; mercy glorieth against judgment  Very striking are the passages (Pet. 2: 4, 9): “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 and “the Lord knoweth how ... to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished and (3: 7) “the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men See also Jude 6, 15.



To sum up, under the term krisis, or judgment, it occurs forty-eight times in the New Testament.  In forty-one instances it is translated “judgment,” three times “damnation  In more than thirty places it may refer to what we term the last judgment; and, in every one of these cases, it does not appear that any but the guilty are involved in the judgment, and, in nearly every instance, it is evident that the righteous are positively excluded. In those instances in which other than the last judgment is spoken of, the judgment is still only that of the ungodly, and in no case can it be shown that the godly are brought into judgment.  And if we look at the close-related word krima, which is also translated “judgment” and “damnation,” it is evident, in every instance in which it can be applied to the last judgment, that only the ungodly are included, and judgment is to condemnation.  These facts are very striking, and throw a flood of light upon the question of the judgment, which is a terror to so many of the Lord’s people.



But then the question arises, What is to be said of those texts which, upon their face, seem to teach that there is to be a general judgment at which all shall be gathered, such as: (Acts 17: 31) “He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world;” (Matt. 25: 32).  “Before Him shall be gathered all nationsand especially (2 Cor. 5: 10) “We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ”?  This first: When we find the true interpretation, these Scriptures with the others, there will be no contradiction.



What, then, are all the facts concerning the believer?  For 2 Cor. 5: 10 refers to him.  It is said, then, “We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ  The Greek for judgment-seat is bema, and occurs twelve times in the New Testament.  It is derived from baivo, “to go, walk, tread, step  The first definition, both in the classical and New Testament lexicon, is a “step  In this sense it is used but once: viz. (in Acts 7: 5), “Gave him none inheritance in it, not even ‘a bema of a foot’”- a step of a foot, a foot breadth; or, Authorized Version, “not so much as to set his foot on



The secondary meaning is an elevated place ascended by steps. (a) A tribune, to speak or read from.  In this sense (Acts 12: 21), Herod “sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them (b) The tribunal of a magistrate or ruler.



In this sense it is used of Pilate, (Matt. 27: 19) “when he sat down on the judgment-seat;” (John 19: 13) Pilate “sat down on the judgment-seat:” of Gallio, (Acts 18: 12) “the Jews made insurrection against Paul, and brought him to the judgment-seat.” (18: 16) “he drave them from the judgment-seat;” (18: 17) they beat Sosthenes “before the judgment-seat:” of Festus, (Acts 25: 6) “the next day, sitting on the judgment-seat, commanded Paul to be brought;” (25: 10) “I stand at Caesar’s judgment-seat;” (25: 17) “sat on the judgment-seat  The other instances of its use are in this connection: “We shall all stand” (Rom. 14: 10); “we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5: 10).



In ten of these twelve cases the Greek word is rendered in the Authorized Version “judgment-seatand the Revised Version agrees in every instance.  In one case the word, both in the Authorized Version and the Revised Version, is rendered “throne,” while even here the Revised Version gives the marginal reading “judgment-seat  In every instance Alford agrees with the Authorized Version.



It is worthy of note, in this connection, that in not one instance in which persons are represented as brought before the judgment-seat is any one of them found guilty, or condemned, by the one who occupies the bema. This, of itself, might suggest the more consistent rendering of Rotherham in nine of the twelve instances, “tribunal,” while, also, it should raise the question against himself, why he did not so render in the two cases which refer to Pilate.



Now, it is affirmed of the believer that he must appear before the bema of Jesus Christ.  For what purpose? Paul has answered: “That everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5: 10).  All this said concerning those who “know (verse 1) that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, eternal in the heavens” - i.e. believers, and believers only.  What does it signify?  Precisely what is set forth in 1 Cor. 3: 12-15: “Every man’s work shall be tried  “If any man’s work abide ... he shall receive a reward  This is said only of the believing man, for only such a one is a “labourer together with God” (3: 9); and of the one thus tested, it is affirmed that though his “work shall be burned,” “he himself shall be saved” (3: 15).  All works of the believer are to be tried, that it be made manifest whether or not “they are wrought in God” (John 3: 21).  For this trial all are gathered before the bema - the ungodly [and unregenerate] are not there, but they are all believers.  Some will receive a great “reward” for efficient service and many good works; some a less reward; others less still; and some none at all, their works being done only in the energy of the flesh, being counted utterly worthless and cast into the fire; yet, by reason of a true, though it may be feeble, faith, they do not miss [eternal] salvation; and thus it is that “every man’s work shall he made manifest,” and its true value be determined.  But of “judgment,” of which we have seen that it leads on to condemnation [and ultimately ‘the lake of fire’], into any such scene the believer shall not come.  This is the very word of our divine Lord: “He that ... believeth ... hath everlasting life, and shall not Come into judgment where the word is the very same which Paul uses when he says, after death “judgment



It is not difficult to show by irresistible Scripture proof that no believer shall ever stand in other judgment than this.  Because:



1. The general idea of the judgment supposes that the sins of the believer are to be brought there and judged.  But this is certainly a mistake.  For, though “all we like sheep have gone astray.” “the Lord hath laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53: 6), and He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2: 24).  When Christ thus bore our sins, He “condemned sin in the flesh.” (Rom. 8: 3).  He “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Heb. 9: 26.)  The believer’s sins have, therefore, been judged and condemned already.



“Thy sin was judged in His flesh  For “He died unto sin once (Rom. 6: 10.)  “He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53: 5.)  Hence, so far as his sins [of ignorance]* are concerned, the believer looks back to his judgment, and not forward.


[* See Heb. 10: 26, 27, R.V.]



2. The oneness of Christ and the believer testifies to the same fact.  Every believer can truly say, “I was crucified with Christ.” (Gal. 2: 20.)  I was “buried with Him by the baptism unto death” (Rom. 6: 4); hence what Christ’s death expressed, it expressed for me.  “If one died for all, then all died (2 Cor. 5: 14) Under the old dispensation, the sins of the Jews were dealt with on the day of atonement.  God dealt with the sin, and sins of all time, on Calvary.  The awful judgment of God against sin there awoke, was there expressed, and there it smote; and, so far as His people are concerned, that was its final expression forever.  The judgment is passed, the sentence executed.



3. Expose the believer to be judged according to his deeds, and you insure his condemnation.  “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant,” prays the Psalmist (Ps. 143: 2), “for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified  No one with whom God enters into judgment can be saved, for justice is inexorable.  And not only have all sinned, but they continue to sin, and, therefore, if sins were brought into judgment, one’s doom would be inevitable.  “No one will be safe who is to have his eternal destiny determined by his own deeds.” (Albert Barnes, Commentary on Rev. 20: 12.)



There remains a further consideration of most serious and solemn moment, viz.:



4. To bring the believer into judgment would make the judge the accused.  The judge is Christ. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son and “hath given Him authority to execute judgment also.” (John 5: 22, 27.)  “It is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead(Acts 10: 42.)  But Christ, the Judge, has stood for us.  To bring the believer into judgment, therefore, would be to question the worth of what Christ has done to bring an accusation against Him.  It would bring Him down from the place of judgment, strip from Him the ermine of the Judge, and place Him before the bar as a culprit.  He died for us, for our sins.  Did He make sufficient propitiation?  Did His work meet the demand?  If so - if His offering was adequate to the purpose - then the believer is justified; and how can one be brought into judgment of whom the divine testimony already is - “there is therefore now no condemnation” (Rom. 8: 1); he is “justified from all things” (Acts 13: 39)?



And, further, what greater insult could be offered to Jesus than to bring into judgment one for whom He has stood?  To judge such would be but to judge Himself.  “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Shall God that justifieth?  Who is He that condemneth?  Is it Christ that died?” (Rom. 8: 33, 34.)



The judgment must, therefore, deal with Him before it can reach them.



Consider, too, the incongruity of Christ judging His own bride.  Many of them will have been saints in heaven for thousands of years, and how can such ever be put on trial?  No; all believers will be gathered at the judgment-seat of Christ for one sole purpose, to receive the reward for their works, each “according as his work shall be.” (Rev. 22: 12.)  And a reward is not a gift.  The believer has [already] received the latter; “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 6: 23.)  The former awaits him at the bema.  And it should be noted for the comfort of every believer that the bema is not set to determine, or even consider, the question of [eternal] salvation.  That is forever settled, when, as one “believeth so he “hath everlasting life.” (John 3: 36).  But it is set to determine the value of Christian service and the reward therefor.  The judgment-seat of Christ is not for the judgment of the person, but of his works.  There is to be determined the value of a “cup of cold water” given in the name of Christ.  “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints and do minister,” (Heb. 6: 10.)  “Whatsoever good thing any man doeth, he shall receive a reward.” (Eph. 6: 8.)  Oh, pity to him who, though “he himself shall be saved shall yet “suffer loss” (1 Cor. 3: 15) at the judgment-seat of Christ, for such loss will be [millennial (Lk. 20: 35) or, in the case of the unregenerate,] eternal!  It is a solemn thought that what we lose here, in the matter of Christian service and good works, eternity can never make good.  The voice of him who is barely “saved, yet so as by firewill never sound so loud, his harp will never be strung so rapturously, nor his palm be waved so victoriously [by the overcomer (Rev. 3: 21, cf. Rev. 2: 10, 11, R.V.)] in [the coming kingdom or in] heaven, as will fall to the blessed lot of him who has “abundant entrance



Oh, joy to him on whose labour, when “the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3: 13), there shall be no “smell of fire,” but all his work, either “gold, silver or precious stones,” shall abide the test, and whose “reward” shall be great.  It is surely worth an effort to stand well at the judgment-seat of Christ.



The considerations above urged are opposed to the common idea of a general judgment.  What then, shall we say to Matt. 25: 31-33?  “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory. ... before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them from one another, and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left



This passage is constantly quoted and relied on in proof of a general judgment, and is supposed to be parallel with Rev. 20: 11-15: “And I saw a great white throne and Him that sat on it. ... And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; ... and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books. ... And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hades delivered up the dead which were in them etc.  The sound of the two italicized phrases in the last two quotations will easily mislead one who is careless respecting details, when a careful consideration of them will show that these passages can not be parallel, and must, therefore, refer to entirely different events.  The following facts stand in proof of the last statement:



1. The passage from Matthew contains not one word to indicate a resurrection; that from Revelation plainly declares a resurrection (20: 13).



2. In Matthew the dealing is with “nations  What nations?  The answer is in Matt. 24: 14: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all the nations  Then, “When the Son of Man shall come, ... before Him shall be gathered all the nations” before specified.  They come as nations.  In Revelation the dealing is with individuals.  “They were judged every man according to their works” (20: 13).  Coupled with this there follows the third fact, viz.:



3. Matthew evidently speaks of nations living when “the Son of Man” appears, as in Zech. 14: 2.  Revelation specially designates the nations of the “dead



4. In Matthew we find among the gathered “nations” two distinct classes, viz.: “the sheep” and “the goats and apart from them a third class, viz.: the “brethren” (25: 40-45).  The two former classes are separated on one sole ground, viz.: their treatment of the third class - the brethren.  It were absurd to suppose that the sheep were rewarded for what they had done to themselves, or the goats punished for what they had done to the sheep, in the face of the distinct affirmation that the one class is rewarded and the other punished for their treatment of a class entirely distinct from either of themselves.  Evidently, then, to constitute them either praiseworthy or blameworthy, they must have known them as the brethren of Christ.



In Revelation we find but one class - no separation, but all “judged out of those things which were written in the books” (20: 12), not “the book” - consigned to the lake of fire, and among them are many who never heard of Christ, and to whom the language in Matthew could not apply.



Now, certainly, it is most remarkable and unaccountable that, if the church, or believers, are to have a place in this stupendous scene, not one word is said concerning them, and the doom of the lost alone appears as the result of the grand assize.



Our study of these passages reveals, therefore, the following facts, viz.: that there is to be a judgment of the living nations, and a judgment of the “great white throne and these are distinct and separate in time and place.



Where, then, will be the church while these judgments proceed?  “With the Lord  Their case is set forth in 1 Thess. 4: 16, 17. “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout; ... and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up ... to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord This is the first signal of Christ’s second coming.  Hence these great events, which have so often been regarded with nothing less than terror by the Lord’s dear people, will not concern them in the least, save as spectators of what their Lord and Master does.



One other inquiry - partly curious - will prepare the way for the general conclusion.



When will the “judgment-seat of Christ” be set?  We may not dogmatize, as we have scarcely more than hints upon which to base a conclusion.  This much is sure: when the Lord comes with a shout, the dead saints will be raised; the living saints will “all be changed in a moment” (1 Cor. 15: 51, 52); the corruptible will put on incorruption - the mortal, immortality.  This, of course, marks the resurrection - “sown in dishonour, raised in glory;” “sown in weakness, raised in power;” “sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15: 43, 44.)  Now, in the Revelation (22: 12), we find Jesus saying, “Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (1 Cor. 3: 13, 14.)  And in Luke 14: 13, 14, He says, “When thou makest a feast, call the poor. ... the blind, and thou shalt be blessed for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just These passages may indicate that the time of the church’s “reward” is quickly to succeed their resurrection.



Bunyan: “Now when the saints that sleep shall be raised, thus incorruptible, powerful, glorious and spiritual, and also those that then shall be found alive, made like them; then forthwith, before the unjust are raised, the saints shall appear before the judgment-seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, there to give an account to their Lord, the Judge of all the things they have done, and to receive a reward for their good according to their labour



It is evident from all that has been said that the only judgment of the believer is that which attaches to his works, wherefore he receives greater or less reward, or may be none.



The final doom of the wicked is also according to his works.  (Rom. 2: 6; Gal. 6: 7; 2 Pet. 2: 12, 13. Rev. 2: 23, 11: 18, 20: 12.)  There is, however, a worldwide distinction in the two classes of works.  “Then said they unto Him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God?  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6: 28, 29).  Eject this special “work of God” from the lives of the ungodly, the “work of faith and labour of love” (1 Thess. 1: 3), and there is left but a harvest of whirlwind from the sowing of the wind.



To set down our general conclusion in a word, the Scriptures teach that there are four judgments:



1. A judgment already passed of the sins of the Lord’s [redeemed] people. These have been judged – condemned and the sentence upon them executed in the person of our substitute on Calvary; therefore the believer “shall not come into judgment.” (John 5: 24.)



2. A coming tribunal of Christ, before which all believers must stand, for the testing of all their works and service.  If any are present, other than saints, they can be only the angels of God.



3. A coming tribunal of Christ, when He sits upon “the throne of His glory.” (Matt. 25: 31).  Before Him shall be gathered at that tribunal “all the nations” then living, for His final adjudication concerning their treatment of Him in the persons of His “brethren*


* They will be gathered as nations, representatively; they will he judged as nations for what they have done as nations; they will be punished as nations, with national calamities and ruin, and be destroyed as nations. J. R. G.



4. A coming judgment of the “Great White Throne  This is the only proper judgment, in the sense of the Scripture, viz.: guilt being present and leading on to condemnation.  There are present at this scene only “the rest of the dead.” (Rev. 20: 5.)



Previously to this the [‘accounted worthy’ (Lk. 20: 35)] saints have been gathered in the “out-resurrection,” that from among the dead (Phil. 3: 11), to be “forever with the Lord;” and now the remaining dead [including those named in “another book” – “the book of life” (Rev. 20: 12, R.V.)] are raised for judgment.  This is the “day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3: 7), into which the “unjust” have bee “reserved” - “to be punished” (2 Peter 2: 9). Then shall the “Son of Manto whom all judgment is Committed, “execute judgment upon all ... that are ungodly.” (Jude 15).  Then, too, “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of His Son, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” “shall He come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe ... in that day.” (2 Thess. 1: 7-10.)  The saints will be there, but neither as culprits nor accused.  “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13: 43), and this will be the “day of judgment” of many Scriptures.  Amen.