Great White Throne Judgment
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #35
December 30, 2014
"Father, we’re also very grateful for all the many blessings that You’ve given us for the way in which You supply all of our needs and the way that You’ve given us so much in Christ. And Father, above all we’re thankful for salvation based on faith alone in Christ alone; that works are not the issue at the point of salvation. The only issue is Jesus Christ and trusting in Him and Him alone. Father, tonight as we study we pray that You’d help us to understand the things that we’re focusing on that they may enable us to understand more fully Your final judgment as well as the glories of our salvation. We pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen."
Tonight may or may not be our last class (slide 1) on God’s Plan for the Ages. It depends on how far I get in this material. There is one area that we have left to cover in understanding the final dispensation of the Millennial Kingdom or the dispensation of the Messiah, age of the Messiah. This is the last dispensation and its length is 1,000 years. It’s sort of phase one to eternity. The Kingdom begins, as I pointed out, with some judgments and the second coming of Christ, as He comes to establish His kingdom on the earth; and it will end with a rebellion led by Satan. He is released after a 1,000 years of confinement and leads a rebellion against God and then that is completely quashed by God. Then there will be the final judgment. So we are looking at this final judgment, the great white throne judgment (slide 2). A lot of people do not understand and comprehend the significance of the great white throne judgment.
There are several judgments in Scripture. We have eight judgments and four resurrections (slide 3). A lot of times people think that there is just one judgment. That has been influenced by amillennial theology that teaches that this age is coterminous or synonymous with the kingdom. It’s a spiritual form of the kingdom. In amillennialism a term that means “no millennium, no literal 1,000-year reign.” In amillennialism when Jesus ascended to heaven He sat at the right hand of the Father, which in the idiom of the New Testament (NT) period, sitting at someone’s right hand was a position of honor. It’s not a position of authority. It’s a position of honor. Unfortunately, that was later in the development of amillennial theology misunderstood that Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father and He is ruling there from David’s throne.
Now you screw up your face a little bit and say, how could that be David’s throne? David ruled from a literal throne in a literal city called Jerusalem. Yes, if you interpret the Bible literally, where the words mean the same kind of thing that you would assign the meaning to from everyday language, then yes, David’s throne would refer to a literal throne ruling over a literal kingdom centered in the literal city of Jerusalem, and that is what we believe. We believe there will be a time when Jesus returns to the earth and then He sits on His throne, the Davidic throne in Jerusalem. But in amillennialism they interpret things on the basis of allegory. One of the reasons that we know that allegory is wrong is because when we find within Scripture prophecies that are given in Scripture and also fulfilled in Scripture, we know that they are fulfilled literally. Those prophecies are not fulfilled in some sort of spiritualized allegorical manner.
When the prophet Micah foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, he wasn’t using the term Bethlehem as a reference to some sort of idealized small village. He meant literal Bethlehem that had been founded by a man named Ephrata or Ephrathah. That is exactly how it is described. So many times we have these prophecies in Scripture that are literally fulfilled. That is how we know that prophecy should be literally fulfilled. Unfortunately, within certain systems of theology what they’ve done is they’ve come along and they’ve taken these verses that haven’t been fulfilled yet and they’ve allegorized them or spiritualized them so they no longer refer to something that is literal. But everything that has been fulfilled they interpret literally.
So when we look at an amillennial or even a post-millennial system, all we have is one future judgment for believers and unbelievers and that would be the final judgment. That’s how they would interpret it. But what we see in our study of Revelation 20 is that the final judgment, the great white throne judgment is for unbelievers. It is not for believers. So there are these other judgments. Let’s just review these other judgments. We see that there’s a judgment that takes place in heaven following the Rapture. At the end of the Church Age there’s an event known as the Rapture of the church when all believers in Christ, whether they are alive or dead, will be resurrected from the dead, raptured to heaven, and there we will be with the Lord. And there is a judgment seat there, referred to as the BEMA, which is a Greek term that describes an elevated platform where a judge at an athletic event or a judge in a civil or criminal court would sit on that raised DIAS, and this was called the BEMA, the judgment seat of Christ.
This is not to determine who will go to heaven or who will go to the Lake of Fire. It is for believers, for Christians only, and it is an evaluation of the present life to determine what of eternal value was accomplished in this life, whether it was done by the Spirit or by the sin nature. We accomplish things in the flesh. They may be good and moral and wonderful, but they have no eternal value. If they were accomplished by walking by the Spirit, then they have eternal value. The key passage for the judgment seat of Christ is found in 1 Corinthians 3. If you were here on Sunday morning I read the passage out loud and it beings in 1 Corinthians 3:12, “Now if anyone builds on this foundation.” The foundation in context is the gospel of Jesus Christ. “If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw.” Six items are mentioned. This is a descriptive; this is sort of a metaphor, as literal, those who believe in literal interpretation, we believe that there is the use of everyday figures of speak and language that doesn’t deny symbols, but it’s clear from the passage what are representative ideas.
Gold, silver, and precious stones has to do with that which can survive fire. They are purified by fire. Wood, hay, and straw represent things that cannot withstand the purifying fires. And so our life is compared to that. We produce a lot of different things in life, whether we’re walking by the Spirit or walking by the flesh. We can’t always tell the difference. We do not always know. Just because you pray everyday, if you are not praying in fellowship then it’s wood, hay, or straw. The Lord said in Psalm 66:18, that “If we regard iniquity in our heart the Lord will not hear,” because we’re not walking in fellowship with God. In the NT we need to walk by the Spirit. It’s one or the other. We may be out of fellowship and we can witness, we can pray, we can memorize Scripture, we can read our Bible from cover to cover, but it has no eternal value. It’s on the level of morality.
On the other hand, if we are in fellowship, whatever we are doing out of Christian service or just to help somebody, or be kind to somebody, this has eternal value. So how do we tell the difference? Well, we don’t. We can’t look at our own lives, much less anybody else’s life, to see if what they’re producing has eternal value. We’re told in 1 Corinthians 3:13, “each one's work will become clear” future tense. It will become manifested, “for the day will declare it.” Now that is a term that is related to another phrase, “the day of Christ,” which is a term for this judgment seat of Christ. “The day will declare it because it will be revealed by fire and the fire will test (or evaluate) each person’s work.” So the metaphor here is that of a refiner’s fire. A refiner’s fire is to burn off the dross, to burn off the impurities, to expose that which has value, not to expose that which does not have value. So the purpose of the judgment seat of Christ is not to expose our failure, but to expose what’s been accomplished in our life that has enduring value.
Obviously, we are going to be able to tell that some people don’t have a lot, because when they get done they can walk away holding everything in their hand. Some people won’t be able to carry it away in a freight train. They will have had a spiritual life focused on the Lord and God the Holy Spirit would have worked a tremendous amount of fruit in their life. So the text goes on to say, 1 Corinthians 3:14–15, “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.” So that which endures; that which survives the evaluation. It burns off the wood, hay, and straw, which is that produced in the flesh, the morality that is produced in the flesh. “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved.” So there is one who has something that survives and for that they are rewarded; and those who will end up with nothing won’t lose their salvation, because salvation isn’t based on works.
Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” In Titus 3:5 we are told it’s “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Salvation is not by works, but rewards are based on works. Works are what we accomplish through obedience, walking by the Spirit after we are saved. So this is the judgment seat of Christ. Then, there is the Tribulation, and at the end of the Tribulation Jesus Christ returns to the earth with the saints. We’ve been rewarded in heaven at the judgment seat of Christ. We’ve received our rewards. Revelation 4 depicts casting those rewards, those crowns before the Lord as a sign of gratitude and obedience to Him. Jesus returns at the Second Coming.
All of this is described in the Scripture as the first resurrection. The first resurrection has three elements to it that are described almost as if you would indicate three platoons within a company, four ranks that come out in that first resurrection.
1. There is the resurrection of Christ.
2. The resurrection and Rapture of the Church Age believers.
3. There is the taking of the two witnesses to heaven at the midpoint of the Tribulation, and then there is the resurrection of the Old Testament (OT) saints and Tribulation saints at the end of the Tribulation. These are the believers, OT saints who died and of course and are buried, and Tribulation saints who were martyred, who died during the Tribulation, not the ones who survived, but the ones who were martyred during the Tribulation period.
Then there will be a judgment for those who survive [the Tribulation]. It’s described as the sheep and the goat judgment. This is an evaluation of the Gentiles individually. One of the ways that is depicted in Matthew 25 has to do with their treatment of the Jews who are under persecution and under attack during the Tribulation period. The Antichrist is judged and he is thrown into the Lake of Fire. The false prophet is also judged and he is thrown into the Lake of Fire. Surviving Gentiles and surviving Jews are evaluated and the believers go into the Millennial Kingdom and those who don’t [believe] will go into Torments. OT saints and Tribulation saints that were martyred will also be evaluated at this particular time. So we have: the first judgment, the BEMA seat; the second judgment is Antichrist; third is the false prophet; fourth and fifth are the sheep and goats; sixth and seventh are the OT and Tribulational saints.
Then we have a second resurrection that occurs at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. That is the one we are talking about with the great white throne judgment. This is the second resurrection, the unsaved who are judged at the great white throne judgment. It is after that that Satan is sent to the Lake of Fire. Now I believe that based on some study that we’ve done in Matthew and some other places; that when it talks about Satan being confined, it is not just talking about Satan. I think that refers to all of the fallen angels. That they are confined during the Millennium and they are released at the end of the Millennium. So it is not just speaking of Satan as an individual, but Satan and all of his fallen angels are confined during that 1,000-year reign of Christ. They are released at the end. They foment the rebellion and then they are destroyed and Satan is judged. So these are the judgments and the resurrections that take place. And then we go into the eternal state.
So let’s go back and look at our passage (slide 4), Revelation 20:7–8 “Now when the 1,000 years have expired,” the Millennium is over with, we’ve been studying that for some time; we’ve focused on the millennial temple and all that was involved with that. “When the 1,000 years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison”. His prison is the abyss. This is in Revelation 20:3 that he is confined to this place called the abyss. Now remember, if you do (Matthew 8:28–31), the episode where Jesus is casting the demons out of the demoniacs and He cast them into the swine? When He’s going to cast them out what was it that those demoniacs said? He said is it now that you are going to destroy us before our time? Are you going to cast us into the abyss? See that is why I believe that they are in the abyss along with Satan during that time and this is where he is confined.
In Revelation 20:1–3, “and I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit,” that is the abyss, “and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, who is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, so that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were completed: but after these things he must be released for a little while.” Revelation 20:7–8, “and when the 1,000 years have expired then Satan will be released form this prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.” So this is his final operation of deception. John equates Gog and Magog with the four corners of the earth, which indicates that it is not limited to one particular geographical region. It is talking about the whole world following a pattern of a previous rebellion of Gog and Magog.
Satan deceives. He gathers probably billions of people to his standard and they are going to wage war against God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Their number is identified as the sand of the sea. Now remember earlier in Revelation there are a lot of different very large numbers that are given. There are the 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes, 144,000. There are the 200 million demons that are released from under the Euphrates; so that is a very, very large number. This is an even larger number. This is a number that they don’t put a number to it; it is so great and so large. So that is how many are going to b deceived. There is going to be all these people who are born during the Tribulation period. They have sin natures. They have volition and many of them are going to reject, in the midst of the greatest testimony on earth.
I am not going to ask for a show of hands. Every one of us has done this. We said I just wish so and so, my friend, would understand and accept the gospel. I wish there would just be some miracle. I wish Jesus could appear to them, something supernatural. What do we find? In the Scripture Jesus performed all kinds of miracles in front of all kinds of people and many of them rejected Him. Miracles won’t do it. The perfect environment of the Millennial Kingdom won’t do it. We can’t imagine that. Here it is going to be perfect. There’s not going to be Satan. There’s not going to be the activity of the demons. All we’ve got is our own little internal enemy, the sin nature; and there will be a vast number of people who are solely influenced by their own little sin nature. It won’t have anything to do with their education; we can’t say, all those poor people, they just weren’t educated. We do that today and we’re wrong to do it today because education isn’t the problem. The problem is the sin nature. That’s what God is demonstrating. We can’t say, oh, those poor little people; they just don’t have any money. If they had enough money then they wouldn’t have to deal with all those worries about survival and they could really focus on the gospel.
It is not an economic issue. It’s not a political issue. All those poor people living under the tyranny of the communists in China, living under the tyranny of Putin in Russia, living under the tyranny of all of the Islamofacists around the world. You know, those are just secondary issues. Those are just circumstances. What the Scripture says is the reason they are rejecting the gospel is because of their own sin nature. It’s not related to environment. It’s not related to politics. It’s not related to education. It’s not related to economics. It’s just related to your own rotten little sin nature. Some people choose truth. Some people choose to reject it and it won’t matter what the evidence is. Here they are with the Lord Jesus Christ ruling over the planet with perfect government, where they can see angels, the elect angels. They can see resurrected Church Age believers. They can hear all the stories. They will have the best doctrinal teaching in history during the Millennial Kingdom; and billions will still reject because they choose to in hostility to God.
The description of the rebellion is given Revelation 20:9 (slide 5), “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city.” The beloved city is the New Jerusalem. The beloved city is the center of the earth, as we are told many times in Scripture. It is where the temple is located, the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they will surround the beloved city, and fire at that point comes down from God out of heaven and devours them. They will be incinerated in an instant and that will be it. Then, Revelation 20:10, “the devil, who deceived them, is cast into the Lake of Fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are.” At this point they are the only ones who are there. Now they are joined by Satan and then they’ll be joined by the rest of the fallen angels. “And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” The language in the Greek emphasizes this as eternity.
Now sometimes “forever” in the Bible doesn’t mean forever. It just means for a long time. There are some people who have come along and they attempt to argue that on the basis of the fact that “forever” in some passages just means for a long time or until the end of the age, that there is no eternal punishment for unbelievers. That they are punished for a long period of time and then there will be something called soul annihilation and they will just disappear. Their existence will end. But that is not what the Bible is talking about. When you have this kind of a figure where you have day and night forever and ever and you pill up these terms together it emphasizes that this is something that goes on forever and ever and ever.
Now following this there will be a judgment again. This is the last judgment. John says, John 20:11 (slide 6) “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it.” It is a white throne because that emphasizes purity and holiness and righteousness. “I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it.” This is the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 5:22 and John 5:27 the Lord says that all judgment will be given to Him from the Father. The reason He is the One who judges is because He is the One who has become a man. He entered into human history and took on true humanity so that the human race is not judged by God the Father. They are judged by another human being. They are judged by the Lord Jesus Christ who is sitting upon the throne; and He is the One who was judged for the sins of the whole world. He’s the One who paid the penalty for their sins and He is the One who will judge them. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who is sitting upon the great white throne.
Then we are told, “whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.” This indicates fear; that they are afraid of this judgment because of its severity. “But there is no place found for them.” Meaning that they couldn’t escape. There is no place to go, nowhere to hide. When it is the time for that final judgment you need to be ready. That’s the issue. The question we all need to ask at some point is: Are we ready? Do we have the kind of righteousness that God demands?
Now that is a key word, “righteousness.” We go back into the OT and we go to Genesis 15:6 and we’re told that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Not that Abraham was righteous in and of himself, not that he did righteous deeds, not that he was moral, not that he was spiritual, but he believed God and that faith was what counted for righteousness. The righteousness of God is imputed to him. It is credited to his account. So that is the issue.
Later on as we go through the OT what we discover is passages like Isaiah 64:6 where Isaiah says that all of our works of righteousness, not our works of unrighteousness, not our bad deeds, but all of our works of righteousness are as filthy rags, the best we have. If you wanted to list the ten best deeds that you have in your life that you think should count for your salvation, if you list those God’s going to say those are filthy rags. That doesn’t count at all. How do we get righteousness? We’ve got to go back to Abraham. We trust in God for our salvation. In the NT it is clear that it is trusting in Christ; and that is accounted to us as righteousness. The issue at the great white throne judgment, with all these people, as I said earlier, they’re all unbelievers, and the issue is going to be do they have enough righteousness to get into heaven? Do they have the right kind of righteousness?
If we had a scale of values here and the ceiling represented something that was absolutely perfect righteousness, some people will have righteousness that might come three inches off the ground. The very best of us might have righteousness that comes six inches off the ground. Others will have righteousness that you’ll have to get a microscope out to find. It’s not going to be there. But what God says is that that righteousness has to reach all the way to the top. It has to be perfect, like His righteousness is perfect. If we don’t have that, then we are not going to be able to get into heaven. He is going to evaluate the righteousness. Titus 3:5, which I quoted earlier, says that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
So they’re going to flee before Him, and John says in John 20:12 (slide 7) Then “I saw the dead” this is those who are spiritually dead. They had probably died physically, but now they are alive in some interim body before God. But they are all dead spiritually because the only way to become spiritually alive is to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. That is what Titus 3:5–6 is talking about. That we are saved by the mercy of God through the washing of regeneration, a term that means to be born again. So “the dead”, these are all spiritually dead, “the small and the great.” We might put it this way; these are the insignificant and the significant. These are the people who are poor to the people who are rich. It doesn’t matter what their position was in life, all the spiritually dead are going to be there standing before God and the books are opened.
We have this plural word, “books were opened.” This represents the books of works, which contains a list of everyone’s morality, everyone’s good deeds. It is not just their sins. Remember, their sins were paid for just like yours were paid for, right? This is all their righteousness and it is going to be evaluated. Then another book is opened. It is called the Book of Life. The Book of Life has listed in it those who have trusted in Christ as Savior and received eternal life. Now “the dead” are judged or evaluated according to his works. So the salvation here, what we are looking at is: are they going to be saved? Do they have enough righteousness? So “the dead are judged according to their works, by the things which are written in the book.” Do they measure up to that high standard of God?
The reality is that they won’t. God is not saying you have the wrong kind of righteousness. He is giving them the benefit of the doubt. He says even if it is the right kind of righteousness it doesn’t measure up. It doesn’t matter how many times you went to church. It doesn’t matter how many times you were baptized. It doesn’t matter who baptized you, what church you went to. It doesn’t matter how much money you gave to charity. It doesn’t matter how many nice deeds you did for people. It doesn’t measure up to the kind of righteousness that God is looking for. Revelation 20:13 (slide 8), “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.” So that is everybody who has been in their interim bodies in punishment, in torments; everything delivered up. Everyone now stands before the Eternal Judge of the universe. “And they were judged, each one according to his works.”
It doesn’t say evil works here. It doesn’t say their bad works. It just says all their works. He’s going to say, okay, we’re piling up all your works and they’ve got to measure up to here (pointing to the ceiling), but nobody ever gets any higher than this (hands at 6 inches). So it just isn’t enough. In Revelation 20:14 (slide 9) we are told, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death.” All of those who died don’t have the right kind of righteousness. They’re cast into the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:15 (slide 10) “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.” Now what do you have to do to get written in the Book of Life? You have to have righteousness. You have to have perfect righteousness, something we can’t get on our own. We can only get perfect righteousness by trusting in Christ. Scripture says, “He who knew no sin was made sin for us.” That is Jesus Christ, He bore the sin penalty on the cross. Why? “So that the righteousness of God could be found in us.” We have to have His righteousness.
Let me use this chart (slide 11) to show how things are going to go. Here we have sheol in the Hebrew and HADES in the Greek. The former Paradise is no longer occupied because those were OT believers who were taken to heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ between His burial and resurrection. There is a great gulf and then there is torments. Torments was where the OT unbelievers went; and then there’s a prison for fallen angels. They are going to give up the dead and they are going to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. There is going to be the Book of Life and the Book of Man’s Works as the basis for the evaluation and they don’t measure up to righteousness, so they are then sentenced to the Lake of Fire. That’s the great white throne judgment.
Let’s go back to this issue of righteousness. God is perfectly holy. Holiness is usually a representative of two of God’s attributes, His righteousness and His justice. His righteousness represents the standard of His character, the perfection of His character. Justice is the application of that righteous standard to His creatures. Now (slide 13) as human beings we lack righteousness (-R). We do not have perfect righteousness at all and so we cannot have a relationship with God (+R) because righteousness cannot love unrighteousness. As Isaiah 64:6 says, our righteousness are a filthy garment. And 2 Corinthians 5:21 (slide 13) Christ was made sin “so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” So as our sin, our unrighteousness is imputed to Christ on the cross. He paid that penalty on our behalf. That means, whether you accept it or not, it is paid.
If you and I go out to dinner, and we go to the finest restaurant in town, and we have the finest food on the menu, and the bill comes, and I paid the bill while you went off to the bathroom, and you come back; the bill has been paid. You can’t do anything about it. The bill has been paid. You may not want to accept it. It is a real payment. Now that analogy breaks down a little bit because in reality in salvation we can reject that payment; actually, we can’t reject the payment. The payment is true for everybody. But that is not the only issue to get into heaven. This is justification. Our righteousness, when we trust in Christ, His righteousness (+R) is imputed to us (slide 14) so that we are declared righteous by God. But you see there are three problems, three problems. If you like baseball you can say this is the three strikes against each one of us. There are three basic problems:
Problem #1 is that we are spiritually dead. We are born spiritually dead.
Problem #2 is that we don’t have the right kind of righteousness. We don’t have the right kind of righteousness.
Problem #3 is that we are under condemnation by God and possess the spiritual death imputed to us from Adam for Adam’s original sin.
At the cross Christ paid the penalty for that sin. He paid it in full. That takes care of that third strike. So the penalty is paid. But what is the problem? The problem is that we are still spiritually dead and we still lack righteousness. The only way to get righteousness is to trust in Christ. The only way to be regenerate, so we’re no longer spiritually dead but spiritually alive, is to trust in Christ. He paid the penalty. If you are an unbeliever He paid your penalty. The issue isn’t sin at the great white throne judgment. The issue is works! Are your works good enough? Well the only way your works can be good enough is if you have the righteousness of Christ and have His perfect works, and then God will save you. But if you don’t have His perfect righteousness, there’s no salvation. Christ had a true substitutionary death on the cross. He paid everyone’s penalty for sin. That doesn’t save anybody though because they are still spiritually dead and they’re still unrighteous. It is only when they trust in Christ are they regenerate and receive Christ’s righteousness that they can have eternal life (slide 15) and then God is free to bless us.
Now this is exactly what the Scriptures teach in Colossians 2:13ff (slide 16). This is a passage we’ve gone over quite a bit and to me it’s one of the clearest passages, but it gets a little fuzzy when we look at it in English. The Greek really helps. With the Greek grammar and hopefully these slides will help with that. Paul begins by saying “And you” that is you, Colossian believers, who are now believers, who are now spiritually alive. “And you” and then that phrase “being dead.” It should be understood as a sort of a temporal participle there, “when you were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” “When you were dead” the parallel in Ephesians 2:1 says, we were born dead in our trespasses and sins. We’re born spiritually dead, without hope, without eternal life, no place to go.
So that’s what Paul is describing here. You, when you were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him. That was our condition. We were spiritually dead. We believed in Jesus, nonmeritorious, all the merit was on the Cross, not in the faith. When we trust in Christ “He made us alive together with Him.” That is regeneration because He had forgiven us all trespasses. Golly, when did He do that? Did He forgive us of all of our trespasses when we were saved? When we trusted in Him? Let’s see what the passage says. “He has made us alive together with Him, (because, causal, He has) forgiven you (of) all trespasses.” And then it is temporal, Colossians 2:14, “When He wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us.” Other translations say, “When He wiped out the certificate of debt against us.”
What is that? That’s that death penalty. When did He wipe out the death penalty? Look at the last sentence. “He has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross” or a better translation would be: He took it out of the way when He nailed it to the Cross. When did He nail it to the Cross? This is the indictment against you that says you are spiritually dead. That’s the penalty for Adam’s sin. When did He nail that to the Cross? The Cross happened in A.D. 33. He nailed that certificate to the cross in A.D. 33. When He did that, it wiped out that certificate of death. He forgave you. That word “forgive” means to cancel a debt. He cancelled the debt of your trespasses in A.D. 33 when He nailed that indictment to the Cross. That’s when your sin was paid for; not when you believed in Jesus. It was paid for for everybody, believer and unbeliever, for Mohammad, for Buddha, for Joseph Smith, for every reprobate that has ever lived that never trusted in Christ. There sin was paid for on the cross, but that didn’t make them spiritually alive. They don’t become spiritually alive until they trust in Christ.
So that is the point (slides 17–19) Colossians 2:13, “He has made us alive together with Him BECAUSE He cancelled in the past all the legal guilt of our trespasses; that was at the Cross. (Slide 20) He did that when He “wiped out the handwriting of requirements which was contrary to us. And He has completely lifted out of the way by nailing it to the cross. All that happened at the cross. John 3:18 (slide 21) says, “He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who believes not is condemned already.” What’s the difference between the condemned and the not condemned? Works, church membership; they were Americans. No! It’s faith! The one who believes is not condemned. Believes what? Believes on Him. That is believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. “He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son.”
He’s not condemned because he has sinned. He is not condemned because he committed adultery. He is not condemned because he committed mass murder. He is not condemned because he was a racist. He’s not condemned because he committed genocide. None of those things. He’s not condemned because of sin. He is condemned because he didn’t believe in the name of Jesus Christ. Now a question comes up: well what about people who didn’t believe? Aren’t they punished at the great white throne judgment for their sin? No; Jesus actually paid for it so it is out of the way. He’s the question (slide 22): what about statements that say that a person dies in their sin? You have passages like John 8:24, where Jesus tells the Pharisees that if you don’t believe you’ll die “in your sins.” Does that mean for your sins? Get a dictionary. Look up the word “in” and look up the word “for.” They don’t mean the same thing. But I know some people who want to say that this is what this says. “In your sins” is not the same thing.
One day I did a search and started looking at this phrase “in your sins.” In 1 Corinthians 15:17 we read, this is the section where Paul is talking about the resurrection of Christ, and he says we are the most foolish of all if Christ didn’t rise from the dead. Then he says, “if Christ is not risen,” if He did not rise from the dead, then “your faith is futile;” your faith is empty; “you are still in your sins!” What does this phrase “in your sins” mean? Well he uses it in Ephesians 2:1, that “you were born dead in your trespasses and sins.” There he joins two words. He’s got a compound object. What does it mean to be “in your sins”? It means to be spiritually dead. In the passage we just looked at, in Colossians 2:12, he doesn’t say in your trespasses and sins. He says “in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,” which is the same thing as “in your sins.”
So “in your sins” is not the same as “for your sins.” “In your sins” is just an idiom for being spiritually dead. If you don’t trust in Christ you die “in your sins.” You die spiritually dead. If you are spiritually dead you are going to show up at the great white throne judgment (slide 23) at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. Here we have a look at our final overview. The judgment seat of Christ is for Church Age believers only. At the end of the Tribulation period OT saints will be resurrected and that is when they are judged. Tribulation saints who died during the Tribulation will be resurrected. That’s when they’ll be judged. The surviving Gentiles and Jews are judged at that point. Those who are believers go into the Kingdom. Those who aren’t go probably to HADES. Then, we have the judgment of the false prophet and the Antichrist. Next we have the Millennial Kingdom where Satan and his demons are imprisoned in the abyss. Then at the end of the Millennial Kingdom HADES gives up all the dead of all the ages and that’s when the unbelievers are judged and then they are sent to the Lake of Fire.
Any questions? [Question:] If you are entered into the Book of Life at birth then your name is only blotted out….
[Answer:] It doesn’t say that anywhere. It does not say that. No, it doesn’t say that. That was one way to explain what I took a lot of time to explain Sunday and the time before on a LITOTES. When Jesus said in Revelation 3:4–5 that “I will not blot your name out.” That is not saying that He ever blotted anybody’s name out. That is affirming a positive that their name is permanently in the Book of Life. The interpretation that tried to handle that by saying that they’re born with their name there, misunderstood that whole idiom in Revelation 3:4–5 and that is LITOTES and that’s where that comes from. It is not related to that. If you want to connect that to the death of infants, it’s another issue. The death of infants is covered because they never reach the age of accountability. They can never exercise volition toward God positively, so they are automatically saved by the grace of God. But it doesn’t have anything to do with the Revelation 3 passage.
Any other questions? [Comment:] At one point I was troubled at the idea that these people who had never heard of the name of Jesus would end up in the Lake of Fire; but what has helped me is to understand how a billion or more do know of Him and still reject Him. That is the greater mystery to me.
[Reply:] That is a great point. He made an observation that was that he, like many people, have had a problem with what do you do with the millions and billions who allegedly “never heard”? Many of them allegedly never heard and they rejected. But here you have billions and billions in the Millennial Kingdom who did hear. Another part of that is that nobody never heard. Everybody is given nonverbal revelation called general revelation in the creation – that the heavens and the earth declare the glory of God. Romans 1:19-20 make it very clear that there is more than enough evidence in the creation to hold people accountable for accepting God. If they turn toward God in positive volition on the basis of general revelation and say Lord, I look at the stars. I look at the earth. This couldn’t have happened by chance. I want to know who made this. I want to really understand if there is a God, then God will give you more revelation and more specific revelation. But if at that point of God awareness or God-consciousness you say, well, I really am just going to worship this tree. That satisfies things for me. I am going to worship the rock or the lizard, or whatever; then God’s not going to give you anymore revelation. You’ve rejected what He has given you. He’s not going to give you more. But even though what He’s given you is not enough to save you; if you want to know more He will give you more. So everybody’s got a level of accountability.
[Comment:] God is not willing that any should perish.
[Reply:] That’s right. God is not willing that any should perish. He gives everybody enough so that they can in turn seek more.
[Question:] Was the judgment of Christ on the cross considered a judgment?
[Answer:] Not in the sense of the judgments on the human race.
Now I wanted to cover one more topic. I’m going to wait until I come back from Kiev. There’s one other topic in dispensationalism I want to cover and that is the issue of progressive dispensationalism (slide 24). Progressive dispensationalism, for those of you who don’t know, is what I believe is an aberration. It is not in the stream of the development of dispensational thought that was given birth to by several Dallas Theological Seminary graduates in the 1980s. It has caused quite a commotion. It’s interesting. In the 80s and the 90s all of this stuff was a big issue and now it’s not. I don’t ever hear people really talking about it much anymore. But it is very important from several vantage points. A lot of people sort of assume it in a lot of ways; and you will hear it at times, and so people need to be aware of that. We will look at that. That will be our final lesson in the series of God’s Plan for the Ages.
Let’s bow our heads and close in prayer.
"Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to look at them and to be reminded of Your grace. That You’ve provided more than enough evidence of Your existence. You’ve provided a worldwide witness through many believers time and time again, century after century. That the gospel has gone out throughout the world yet people reject it because of their own negative volition; not because environment, not because of economics, or politics, or empires, or education, or any other human factor. It’s just a matter of personal volition. And Father, we need to be reminded that eventually we as Church Age believers will be evaluated on the basis of how we use that which You’ve given us, the grace You’ve given us, and how we have used our time in terms of walking by the Spirit and redeeming the time so that maximum amount of time in our life contributes toward glorifying You and that only comes as we grow to spiritual maturity. So Father, we pray that You will challenge us with those things, and we pray that in Christ’s Name, Amen."