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1. Who must appear in God’s heavenly court? 2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV
“For must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
There is no escaping the divine summons. “Each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). God’s people welcome the judgment. Their decisions to accept His grace and live for Him will be rewarded; and all the injustices and crimes of the lost will be punished. Justice will finally prevail!
2. When does God’s great judgment begin?
a. “And the of the dead, that they should be judged…. Then the
of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.” Revelation 11:18, 19 NKJV
b. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth – to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people – saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’” Revelation 14:6, 7 NKJV
God appointed a definite time for judgment to begin—when the way into the Most Holy Place opened in the heavenly temple. He set this date in Daniel 8:14 “for two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” We’ve seen in previous lessons that the 2,300 days were fulfilled in A.D. 1844 when earth officially entered the last judgment days before Jesus returns.
This “present judgment” introduced a new era to the world. Up until A.D. 1844, God’s people put the judgment in the future. The apostle Paul pointed his hearers to “the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25; 17:31). Solomon and others put it in the future (Ecclesiastes 3:17). John, however, is shown a place on the prophetic timeline when the everlasting gospel proclaims to the entire world that “the judgment has come” (Revelation 14:7). This could only be said after A.D. 1844. This is exactly where we live in time—the judgment hour!
3. What are the three phases of every impartial court?
Phase 1: Investigation.
“The court was seated, and the were opened.” Daniel 7:10 NKJV
Phase 2: Verdict.
“He who is unjust, let him be still; he who is filthy, let him be still; he who is righteous, let him be still; he who is holy, let him be still.” Revelation 22:11 NKJV
Phase 3: Sentencing.
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” Revelation 22:12 NKJV
Every fair judgment has a three-phase process to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. First, there is the investigation of the facts. Witnesses are called and records are consulted as all the evidence is presented. In the heavenly courtroom, the record books contain a detailed impartial account of the exact events of our life. After all the facts have been considered the judge announces the verdict—guilty or not guilty. Just before Jesus returns, He announces the verdict of every person—they are either saved or lost. The sentencing comes soon after the verdict. Then every person’s case will have been decided.
Jesus quickly returns with His rewards to either take the saved to heaven or leave the lost here on earth. Let’s look at each of these phases in more detail to better understand this judgment hour in which we live.
4. How does Daniel describe the start of the judgment? Daniel 7:9, 10 NKJV
“I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated… His
throne was a fiery flame, its a burning fire… A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The was seated, and the books were opened.”
In 1844 God’s throne moved on “its wheels” of burning fire into the Most Holy Place to call the court to session and signal the final countdown of earth’s history. Innumerable thousands of holy angels were present for the solemn occasion.
Do you remember how in lessons 4 and 5 we discovered that the prophecies in Daniel 7 and 8 are parallel. We saw the beasts in each instance represent the kingdoms of Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. In both chapters, the judgment is the next event to occur after the Roman little horn receives its deadly wound in A.D. 1798. This again demonstrates how God uses one prophecy to repeat and enlarge the other. Daniel 7 introduces the event of the judgment and chapter 8 enlarges our understanding by pinpointing the time judgment starts.
5. What happens during the investigation phase of the judgment? Daniel 7:10 NKJV
“The court was seated and the were opened.”
The decision to bring a person to heaven is not made arbitrarily. We are judged by the choices we make. This is why the verdict says, “He who is.. .let him be still” (Revelation 22:11). Whatever we choose, God will let us be—He will honor our decisions. In the judgment, God and angels consult heaven’s books to see what we’ve chosen. These books must be much more sophisticated than ours. Perhaps they are a hi-tech mixture of video, audio, text, and heart/mind/motive recordings. Whatever they are, they contain it all, “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Let’s look at the categories of books used in the judgment.
6. Whose names are in the Book of Life? Revelation 21:27 NKJV
“But there shall by no means enter it [heaven] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of “
The Book of Life contains the names of all who will receive eternal life. If our names are not in it, we will be forever lost. You can make sure your name is there by doing the following.
(1) Repent of your sins, confess them to Christ, and accept Jesus as your Savior; unrepentant sinners will be blotted out of the book (Exodus 32:32, 33).
(2) Overcome through God’s saving grace and power (Revelation 3:5; Titus 2:11-14).
(3) Accept Jesus’ righteousness and live for Him (Psalm 69:28; 1 John 2:28, 29).
7. What does the Book of Remembrance contain? Malachi 3:16 NKJV
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.”
The Book of Remembrance records our relationship with God, how we love to think and speak of Him, and our good deeds (Nehemiah 13:14). While none of this can earn salvation, God records them because they are evidence that we accept His gift of grace and love to serve Him (1 John 5:1-4).
8. What is the Book of Sins? Isaiah 65:6, 7 NKJV
“Behold, it is before Me: I will not keep silence, but will repay—even repay into their bosom—your and the iniquities of your fathers together.”
Here is a frightening thought. The Book of Sins records all the sins ever committed: pride, idolatry, using God’s name in vain, murder, envy, rage, child abuse, vengeance, lust, marital infidelity, perversion, stealing, lying, gossip, judgmental/critical attitudes, covetousness, drug and alcohol addictions, life destroying bad habits, gluttony, sloth, and much more! Thank God that if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He writes the word “forgiven” beside all our sins.
His blood covers our guilt and blots the sins out (Psalm 51:1, 9; Isaiah 43:25). We have two options in life—either have our sins blotted out by choosing to follow Jesus or have our names blotted out of the Book of Life. What is your choice?
9. How does the Book of Environment affect the judgment? Psalm 87:4-6 NKJV
“The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: ‘This one was there.”‘
God takes into consideration where we were born and live. Some people have little opportunity to learn Bible truth. Others grow up where Bibles are abundant. God will examine the opportunities we had to learn and obey His truth. If He finds we didn’t walk in the light He gave us, then “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:16). This book also records the faith and sacrifice it took for us to serve God. These sacrifices are all written down and God will richly reward us for them (Psalm 56:8).
10. What standard of law does God use in the judgment? James 2:11, 12 NKJV
“For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’… So speak and so do as those who will be by the law of liberty.”
We are judged by the Ten Commandments. But no one can earn eternal life by perfect commandment keeping. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Conversion is what the law measures—Is Jesus in our hearts? If He is, we will love and obey Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).
11. Who is the prosecuting attorney in the judgment?
“The Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth… the of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:9, 10 NKJV
Satan is the accuser who magnifies our sins before God (Zechariah 3:1-7). But Satan delights to portray God as the angry One looking to find the least excuse to condemn us to the flames of hell. Nothing is further from the truth. Jesus died to save us and does everything to pass us in the judgment. Satan has slandered God’s character for too long. The judgment will vindicate even God. When the books are opened it will be seen that God is fair and loving (Romans 3:3, 4).
12. When does God announce the verdict and hand out the sentences? Revelation 22:11, 12 NKJV
“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he
who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am quickly, and My is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.”
The verdict is announced shortly before Jesus returns. He awards the sentences of eternal life or death at His second coming. This means the investigation phase concludes before He comes. The judgment process began in A.D. 1844 and finishes when Jesus presents the rewards at His return.
13. Why is there a need for a judgment? Doesn’t God know who is saved and lost?
Matthew 7:21-27 NKJV
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who the will of My Father in heaven.”
Yes, God knows who to save. However, the process opens God’s decisions to the inspection of the universe so that all can see He is fair. Furthermore, it assures sinless angels that the people God is bringing into heaven are safe and will not spoil its happiness. God won’t allow people into heaven who don’t do His will. It doesn’t matter if we call Him “Lord” or do many wonderful and miraculous works in His name. What counts is if we love God supremely and choose to do His will instead of our own.
The judgment is a prophecy of hope. It assures us God has provided salvation for all who believe. It promises justice will prevail and everything will be made right. The best thing about the 2,300 days prophecy is it tells us that we live in the last days when Jesus will come soon to take us home. Don’t let anything stand in your way of being ready. Give your life to Him right now or renew your commitment to follow Him (1 John 5:11-13).
14. Do you have the assurance your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?
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