What Do We Know about the Final Judgment?
- Dr. Roger Barrier Preach It, Teach It
- 2018 8 May
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In November 2017, Iran and Iraq suffered the deadliest earthquake in modern history. The 7.3 magnitude quake caused the ground to undulate like a waterbed disturbed from its calm serenity by a child jumping on it to play. Can you imagine the terror and fear every man, woman, and child experienced in those moments?
Buildings crumbled by the hundreds, bridges collapsed, roads and sidewalks split apart, and more than 8,000 victims died or were injured. Some were buried alive. They were not prepared for such devastation.
In Jude, verses 14-15, he described a horrific crisis to come, much like this earthquake, but infinitely more intense… the Lord’s judgment.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Let me summarize the statement Jude is making: “God is attracted to a godly life and repulsed by an ungodly one.”
Paul gives us the same truth in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “God says that a beautiful Christian life is like a sweet-smelling aroma rising up to His nostrils” (my paraphrase).
Or I might say, “a beautiful Christian life is like the fragrance of a juicy steak grilling on the barbecue.”
What is the opposite of that juicy, grilled aroma? Well, I know.
Julie and I went on vacation and returned home to open the refrigerator door. The compressor had failed—at least two weeks earlier. The putrid, decaying meat aroma was overpowering. We had to tie on bandanas to go near the open door.
So what happens to the ungodly… those who refuse to follow Him, instead acting selfishly on their own evil desires?
Jude hearkens back to a prophecy made by Enoch, who was just seven generations after Adam. This prophecy was made about 900 years before the worldwide flood came!
Four times in this passage, Jude quotes Enoch using the word ungodly. He says it so many times it becomes a rather awkward thing to read. Nevertheless, we cannot mistake his meaning; this strong word describes a total moral and spiritual breakdown.
The contrast here is between these ungodly people back before the flood and Enoch himself! Enoch was a godly man. This godly man was selected to pronounce the prophetic judgment upon the ungodly people.
Enoch appears in Genesis 5:21-24:
“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
Notice that Enoch did not die, but like Elijah, was transported directly to heaven.
I love this retelling of the story, imagining what that day was like:
One day Enoch and God took a walk together. They walked and talked and walked until Enoch said, “Oh, my. God, it is getting late. I’d better go home.”
And the Lord said, “Enoch, we’ve been walking so long together, I believe we’re closer to my home than to yours. Why don’t you come home with me tonight?”
So Enoch went on home with God.
Why did God take him on to Heaven? Hebrews 11:5 reads, “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”
Our Father is attracted to a beautiful, lovely life.
After Enoch became the father of Methuselah, he walked with God.
When his son was born, Enoch was given the amazing revelation that when this child should die, every living creature upon the earth would be destroyed by a universal flood. So, he named his child accordingly. “Methuselah” means “when he is dead, it shall come.”
As Enoch watched his son grow, every time this strange name was spoken, the terrible prophecy of God was repeated: “When he is dead, it shall come.” The life of all men hung upon the life of this one man, Methuselah.
According to the chronology of Genesis 5, it happened exactly as God prophesied. When Methuselah died, judgment from God was sent. The fountains of the deep opened up and the rains began for the next 40 days, washing over all the earth and only sparing Noah and those on the ark he built.
Now let me teach you a lesson. Who was the oldest man who ever lived? Methuselah.
How old did he live to be? 969 years! See the point?
This is evidence of God’s grace. God extended the life of Methuselah for 969 years to provide maximum opportunity for people to repent and turn to God.
He gave them grace, and what they did not deserve—time to repent. And in mercy, God held back from giving them what they did deserve—judgment.
But seven days after Methuselah died the time for grace and mercy were over. And the crisis began. The rain began to fall. Judgment had come.
It’s happening again.
2 Peter 3:9 reads, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
God is now extending grace and mercy to mankind. But judgment will come to the ungodly in our world.
Now let’s talk about this coming judgment.
Let’s look at Jude 14-15 again:
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (emphasis added)
There are numerous judgments mentioned in the Bible, involving fallen angels, the earth, the nations, cities, Christians, non-Christians—which occur at different times and places.
Jude is specifically referring here to what theologians refer to as the “Great White Throne Judgment” from Revelation 20:11-12, 15. The apostle John writes:
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books… If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
The Book of Life is the listing of all the persons who settled their cases with God before they died. John’s words mean that no Christian will be judged at the Great White Throne. Christians settled their case out of court with God a long time ago.
But if your name is not in the Book of Life, you will be judged on your behavior on earth. God will look in the books of works at your life. And if you have ever done just one thing wrong, you will be judged as unfit for Heaven and cast in punishment into the Lake of Fire (hell).
Remember this; every single one of us has sinned. Every one of us. We are all condemned. We deserve God’s judgment.
But through His sacrifice, Jesus paid the price for everything we’ve ever done wrong. And according to John 5:24, Jesus said "Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
Two brothers were convicted of stealing sheep, and in accordance with the brutal punishment of the day, were branded on the forehead with the letters “ST” which stood for “Sheep Thief.”
One of the brothers, unable to bear the stigma, tried to run away to a foreign land. But people would ask him about the letters on his forehead. He wandered from place to place, full of bitterness, died, and was buried in a forgotten grave.
But the other brother, who repented of his misdeed, decided to stay at home. He said to himself, “I can’t run away from the fact that I stole sheep, so I will stay here until I regain the respect of my neighbors and myself.”
As the years passed, he gained a reputation for respectability and integrity. One day a stranger in town saw the old man with the letters “ST” branded on his forehead and asked a local what they signified.
After thinking for a little while, the villager said, “It all happened a long time ago, and I have forgotten the particulars; but, I think the letters are an abbreviation for the word, ‘Saint.’”
Yes, that is the grace and mercy of God designed to change us from the ungodliness of sin into people of honor and beauty before God.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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