It is important to realize that we are not now living in a period of time known as Judgment Day as the Watchtower teaches. However, this doesn’t mean that there will be no judgment as the politically correct New Age do-gooders teach either. It just means that since the Cross, the human race has been living under an arrangement called God’s Grace governed by the precept, “for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”
Nevertheless, reducing Judgment Day to an evaluation of how people respond to Watchtower literature has the same net result as teaching that a God of love won’t judge sinners. That result is this: Little or no fear of God.
Think: If God has the power to judge and punish sinners but never does so, would not that make him an irresponsible judge and an even an enabler of sin?
I believe we all start out in trouble with God for at least 4 different reasons.
1. PERSONAL - We have all broken Gods laws in the Ten Commandments. God must mete out the punishment prescribed for each offense. Someone must pay the fines.
2. ANCESTRAL - We are under the SIN of Adam and are born outside of God’s family into a race that has been deemed God’s enemy. (Col. 1: 21)
3. COLLECTIVE - “GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH” was betrayed and murdered by not only his own covenant people, but by gentiles as well; hence, a representation of all mankind, Jew and Gentile. So, by extension we are also his executioners because we are all opposed to God’s authority according to our fallen human natures. You and I are the ones who shoved that spear into his side. You and I are the ones who shoved that crown of thorns down onto his head. You and I are the ones who cried out, “We have no king but Caesar”!
4. ETHICAL – Even if God were to set aside all his laws on Judgement Day, pay the ransom due for Adam, and forgive our collective guilt, we are still faced with our own violations of personal creed. How many atheists have said to themselves that they do not want to lie, steal and cheat and then go on to do just that on occasion? How many of us who are guilty of ever stealing something, called the police and demanded justice when we were defrauded? Surely justice demands that we receive the same punishment that we would personally mete out to others, wouldn’t you agree?
By my measure, our guilt runs very deep and wide. There does not seem to be room for a righteous, holy and just God on the one hand and also room for mankind on the other.
The road to Judgment Day is this: The bible teaches that originally when all people died, their spirit went to a place called Hell. Initially, there were two major parts to it…one was a place of paradise and the other was an uncomfortable place of varying degrees of torment. (Luke 16:23). The Paradise portion was emptied after the Cross (Ephesians 4:8). Now, when a believer dies there is no waiting or delay. His spirit is commuted immediately and directly to the Lord’s presence. (2 Cor. 5:8)
So, Hell has never been nor was intended to be the final destination for unregenerate mankind. It is not the “lake of fire” (gehenna) either. Hell is like a holding cell that defendants are kept in until their trial. For a believer, their trial was declared, “it is finished” upon the Cross itself. For the unbeliever, they must continue to wait in Hell until the appointed time of Judgment. I am quite sure that the Rich Man of Luke 16 is still there and is still just as uncomfortable.
Prior to each man or woman’s trial, and after the Thousand Year reign of Christ on earth, the total person including his or her body is resurrected. This is part of the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.
…the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished – Rev. 20:5
In your own resurrected body, all men and women will physically “stand” before God and receive His judgment:
Saved, born again people will stand here to receive judgment on their performance as Christians (This judgment does not determine salvation. That was settled on the cross):
… we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ – Rom. 14;10
Unsaved people will stand here after the Thousand Year Reign of Christ:
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; …And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: …the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. - Rev. 20: 11-13
That no flesh should glory in his presence – 1 Cor. 1:29
…that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. – Romans 3: 19
All of your works have been recorded just as all of God’s laws have been recorded. At Judgment, all violations will be addressed and all accounts will be balanced and forever settled. For the believer, the issue of salvation and eternal life was settled on the cross. For the unbeliever, that issue is still unsettled. At the Great White Throne (GWT) judgment, just as our appointed judges in our traffic courts do not want to hear all of your good works when determining if a traffic violation has occurred, so too your “good” works will be irrelevant to the evidence presented against you concerning your violations of God’s laws as given to Moses and further clarified by Jesus. (Matthew 5: 28)
To avoid the embarrassing and devastating consequences of such a trial, God has provided a Savior to intercede and pay the fines in full that are due each sinner. Case dismissed. However, if that provision is rejected, then the GWT trial must proceed accordingly.
"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust from under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the Day of Judgment, than for that city." (Mark 6:11)
Things run a little differently in Heavenly Court than many earthy courtrooms. Jesus is not only your court appointed lawyer, He is also your Judge. So, if you were to enter into a “plea” agreement with Him NOW, you can be absolutely sure that it is acceptable to the Judge as well, since they are one and the same.
Anyone who has ever faced a trial knows that a good attorney is critical to a favorable result. Jesus is man’s attorney and advocate… his Mediator. It would be the height of all possible foolishness to turn his services down and attempt to represent yourself, or try and gain acquittal by means of another mediator who is just as guilty as you are, if not more. (Matthew 15:14)
References to a final Day of Judgment are sometimes missing in new bible versions. New Agers teach that, since God is love, He does not judge anyone. This of course would make God partially responsible for lawlessness. The pointing out of this faulty logic doesn’t seem to stop much of post-modern man from scoffing and being offended at the very idea of accountability and punishment, although he demands as much from his neighbor.
If the reality of personal guilt and an actual judgment day is removed from our consciousness, then our Godly fear is minimized and so is the impetus for sinners to look for a way out of their predicament. Of course, realization of the reality of guilt and punishment will logically drive a sinner to their knees to the foot of the cross where they should be, to accept God's vicarious judgment for them.