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Revelation 20:4-15

When Christ Shall Reign

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • February 4, 2018

The events we’re studying that come after the Tribulation are the 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth, the judgment of believers at the judgment seat of Christ and the great white throne judgment of unbelievers. Satan is released for one final battle and then he is cast into the lake of fire.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Transcription
  • Scripture
When Christ Shall Reign

Revelation 20:4-15 

Much of the book of Revelation has to do with the seven-year period when God’s wrath will be poured out on the earth – the Great Tribulation. But in the verses we’re studying today, we come to the events that happen after the Tribulation.

First, as we studied last week, Satan is bound immediately after the Tribulation so that he deceives the nations no longer. But now let’s understand other events that also happen immediately after the Tribulation.

The events we’re studying today that come after the Tribulation are the 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth, the judgment of believers at the judgment seat of Christ and the great white throne judgment of unbelievers. Satan is released for one final battle and then he is cast into the lake of fire.

I. There will be a Thousand Years of Peace

  • The 1,000-year period after the Tribulation is the millennium, named after the thousand years that Christ reigns on the earth.
  • Though there are not many verses here about these 1,000 years when Christ reigns on the earth, other scriptures give more detail. We know it will be a time when Christ shepherds the nations. They will recognize Him as King of kings and Lord of lords.

A. First, a bit of theology

  • Not all bible teachers agree on how to interpret bible verses about the millennium. No one will be disqualified from heaven by having an incorrect view, but it is important to understand how these verses have been interpreted and then study them for ourselves.
  • This would be a good time to emphasize the importance of diligence in bible study. Paul wrote that the believers in Berea were more noble-minded than the believers in Thessalonica because they studied the scriptures for themselves to verify the things they were learning.

Acts 17:10-11, The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonian, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

  • Paul also wrote of the importance of rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15, Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

  • There are three theological views on the millennium; the main question has to do with when Christ will return to the earth.
  • The three main schools of thought are called - post-millennial, amillennial, and pre-millennial.

Post-millennial view – This view teaches that Christ will return at the end of a 1,000-year period, but they don’t know when it starts. There are not many who hold to this view today. This position teaches that the church will influence the world to become a better and better place to the point that Jesus finally returns at the end of a 1,000-year period to a utopian world. He would then bring forth a new heaven and a new earth. This view was common in the 19th century, but with all the wars and troubles of the 20th century this view diminished

A-millennial view – This view teaches that there is no specific 1,000-year period, that it is symbolic of the period we are living in now. They believe that Satan is now currently bound because of Christ’s work on the cross. They believe that Christ will return when it is time to judge the world and bring forth the new heaven and new earth. One problem with that view is that it teaches that Satan is bound now. If he is, he must have a very long chain! Secondly, this view teaches that God is done with Israel. But God is most certainly not done with Israel! 

Pre-millennial view – This is the view that I hold; it teaches that there will be a literal seven-year Tribulation period of God’s wrath poured out and after that, Christ will come physically to the earth at the beginning of a literal 1,000-year period to shepherd the nations with a rod of iron. 

  • The reason I hold this view is because it is the one which takes the scriptures as they are. I believe we should read scripture literally when we can and symbolically when we can’t.

B. We will reign with Christ

  • The scripture teaches that the church returns with Christ at the end of the Tribulation, therefore we will be with Him to rule and reign during the 1,000-years.     (See also verse 6.)
  • Verse 4 says that those who came to Christ in the Tribulation will come to life and will also reign with Christ for a thousand years.
  • It was God’s intent from the beginning that we should have authority; it’s part of the image of God.

Genesis 1:26, Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and… let them rule… over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth…”

  • In the gospel of Luke, Jesus gives a parable that shows that God rewards faithfulness by giving authority in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 19:11-12, Jesus went on to tell a parable because He was near Jerusalem and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself and then return… When he returned, he ordered that his servants be called to him so that he might know what business they had done.The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over 10 cities.’”

  • In other words, how we live now will impact our eternal future.

C.The earth itself will be changed

  • The earth is out of order. There are wars, deception, hatred, sickness, and on and on. Those in the world retreat into drugs, or parties, or the pursuit of material things, but one thing is important to remember… for the non-believer, this earth is as good as it gets, but for the believer in Jesus Christ, this is as bad as it gets.
  • There is not much discussion in Revelation about what actually happens on the earth during the reign of Christ on the earth, but we read about that in other places of scripture.
  • There will be peace – among men.

Isaiah 65:21-22, They will build houses and inhabit them; they will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They will not build and another inhabit, they will not plant and another eat;

  • There will be peace – even among animals.

Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent's food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 11:8-9, The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand in the viper’s den.They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Illus – That sounds awesome; “Mom, I’m going to play with the cobras for a while.” “Okay, have fun, be back in time for dinner.”

  • People will live long and prosper.

Isaiah 65:20, No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought to be accursed.

  • There will be healing for the nations.

Isaiah 35:5-6, Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah. The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.” 

II. There is a Day of Judgment Coming

  • John wrote that he saw thrones and judgment was given to those who sat upon them.
  • Judgment is certainly part of the last days as we would expect, but there is confusion about who will be judged and when this will take place.
  • There are essentially two major judgments of God; a judgment for believers and a judgment for non-believers.

A. Christians are only judged in Christ

  • Every believer in Christ is judged in Christ. In other words, the judgment which we deserved already fell upon Him on the cross because of the great love He has for us.

Isaiah 53:5, He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

Colossians 2:13-14, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

  • That being said, there is a time of judgment of believers. It is called the “Judgment Seat of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 5:9-10, Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

  • The judgment seat of Christ is not a judgment of punishment or paying back for sins, but rather a judgment of rewards. An awards ceremony you might say…

1 Corinthians 3:13-15, Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.If any man’s work which he has built remains, he will receive a reward.If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.

Illus – When the major earthquake of 1993 was happening, what I wanted most was my kids and my bathrobe. The first thing is getting through it, after that it’s knowing what remains.

B. A great white throne judgment

  • This is a judgment that comes to everyone who rejected the offer of life in Christ.

John 12:48, He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

  • Vs 12-- Books are opened – that suggests that everything people do is recorded and will be revealed at the Day of Judgment.

Illus – I was a waiter at a high-class restaurant while I was going to Bible College and worked with a non-believer. Knowing that I was a Christian, we got into an interesting discussion about hell. To him it didn’t seem fair.

But God is completely righteous in His judgment and in that day, all who are judged will know that have been judged righteously.

  • There is a book of life and everyone who believes in Jesus has his name written there. That is a great reason to rejoice!

Luke 10:20, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

  • These scriptures should cause us to be very concerned for those who have not yet believed. Keep praying, keep sharing your faith!! 

When Christ Shall Reign

Revelation 20:4-15

February 3-4, 2018

Much of the book of Revelation has to do with the seven-year tribulation period, where God's wrath is being poured out. What comes after that is so important, and so glorious. We've been speaking about it. We want to look at it today, because it culminates in the return of Jesus Christ, Who will rule, and reign over the nations. It's interesting, and important. We spoke about this last week that, at the beginning of that thousand-year reign of Christ, Satan is bound, and is cast into the abyss, which is the place of holding of demons, and such, for a thousand years.

We have to see, then, what happens, during that millennial reign period. We are going to look at that, today. We also see, in these verses, that there's a judgment that comes. There is a judgement for believers, which is called the Judgement Seat of Christ, and there's a judgement of non-believers, which happens at the Great White Throne judgement. They're two different ones. We want to understand what happens. Also, at the end of the thousand years, Satan is released, for a short time. Then there is one final battle, at the end of that thousand-year period of time.

Let's read these verses. It's very intriguing. Beginning in verse four, "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given to them. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus, and because of the Word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast, or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead, or upon their hand. They came to life, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years." What he means that they came to life, he's talking about the bodily resurrection.

The glorified bodies that he is speaking of, because when we die, when they die, the soul goes immediately into the presence of the Lord. He is speaking here, that bodily resurrection, by which they are going to then, physically be on the earth to rule, and reign with Christ. He says, verse five, "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were complete." He says, "I'm speaking here about the first resurrection." In other words, there is a second one, which we'll speak of later. "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection. Over these, a second death has no power."

Okay, he's going to explain that so follow along. "They will be priests of God, and of Christ, and will reign with Him for a thousand years." What a glorious declaration is that. "Then, when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations, which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog." We're familiar with Battle of Armageddon. This is one that comes at the end of the thousand years, the battle of Gog and Magog. We'll look more in detail on that on Wednesday.

"He comes to gather them together for the war. The number of them is like the sand of the sea shore. They came up on the broad plain of the earth; they surrounded the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. But fire came down from Heaven and devoured them." God sees to it that they are defeated in swift order. "Then, the devil who had deceived them, was thrown into the lake of fire," that is Gehenna otherwise known as hell. That is the classic understanding of hell, the lake of fire. "The devil, who deceived the nations, was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast," that's the Antichrist, "and the false prophet were already thrown. They will be tormented day and night, forever and ever."

And he said, "I saw a great white throne, and Him who sat upon that great white throne, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Books were opened." Now this is a key verse here, books, plural. Books are opened. "There is another book that was opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged, from the things that were written in the books, according to their deeds."

In other words, what we are reading here is that, all the things that a person does in his life is written down and recorded. There's an accounting of a person's life. Now, that's not surprising, but it's interesting to see confirmed in writing before our eyes. Then it says, verse 13, "The sea gave up the dead, which were in it. Death and Hades gave up their dead which were in them, and they were judged, every one of them, according to their deeds. Even death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire."

He is explaining now, what that means. It's the lake of fire. "And if anyone's name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." These are really important verses. It has so much to do, of course with us. We're in the story. It has to do with eternity. It's a really important passage for us to understand.

I. There will be a Thousand Years of Peace

Let's look at it, beginning with this understanding, that there will be a thousand years of peace. He is going to come. He is going to rule and reign over the nations. He will shepherd the nations, with a rod of iron, and it will be a time of peace.

What a glorious thought. They will beat their swords into plowshares, no more wars, rumors of wars. It will be the glorious time of peace. This thousand-year reign, though there's not a lot of detail here, in these verses, there are other places in the Scripture that actually adds quite a bit of detail, to what actually happens during that thousand-year millennial reign of Christ, which I want to look at.

A. First, a bit of theology

First, before we look at that, first a bit of theology. I want us to look at this from a theological perspective, because it's important to recognize that not all Bible teachers agree on how to interpret Bible verses about the millennium. Having said that, I also want to say that no one is going to be disqualified from Heaven by having the wrong view about the millennium. It is important for us to understand, to interpret rightly, to study these things for ourselves. Now, having said that, maybe this is a good time to emphasize how important it is to have a good Bible study.

God wants us, He emphasizes the importance of diligence in studying the Bible, for believers today. In fact, when Paul was on his missionary journeys, at one point, he comes to this town called Berea, and he commends them because they are more noble minded because, they studied the Scriptures for themselves Let me just read it out of Acts 17. He said, "The brethren immediately send Paul and Cyrus away by night, to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word of God with eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so."

He commends them for that diligence, in studying the Word of God for themselves. I think this is important for believers to grasp. We need to be students of the Word, not just students, but rightly dividing the Word for ourselves. That's what it says in 2 Timothy chapter 2. Paul writes it this way, "Be diligent." He's talking to believers, right? "Be diligent, to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed rightly dividing the Word of Truth." That's why it's so important. We emphasize the importance of verse by verse, chapter by chapter, studying the full council of God's Word.

It's so important today, because when I look at the church, and I don't mean this church -- I mean, this is Calvary Chapel, right? This is verse by verse study. When I look at the church, in general, I see that there is not an interest in the in-depth study of God's Word, like there needs to be. God wants us to be good students of His Word, and for ourselves. Having said that, let's look at these, there are three theological views, in regards to the millennium. The main question has to do with when Christ returns to the earth. These three schools of thought, I'm going to speak to right now, and explain them.

I also want to say, they are in your notes. If you don't have the sermon notes, they are in the app and make sure you can know that they are there to read, and review, anytime you would like. Let's start looking at these three different views of the millennial reign of Christ.

The first one is called the post-millennial view. Post means after. This is a view which believes that Christ will come at the end of a thousand years, the beginning of which they don't know when is. They believe that the church will influence the world, more, and more, and more, that it would become a better and better world, because of the influence of the church. And at the end of that, the culmination of that influence of the church, Christ will return to a utopian world and will usher in a new Heaven and a new earth. That was very popular, until the 20th century hit. Then the wars and the rumors of wars, World War I, and World War II, and the Vietnam war and all the tumult that comes and has come to the world, pretty much made that view untenable.

Then, there is the a-millennial view. Now interestingly, that is the view of the Catholic Church, in case you didn't know. And the denominations that came out of the Catholic Church, through the Reformation. This is commonly known as "reformed," out of the Reformation, reformed theology. A-millennialism believes that there is no distinct thousand years, like "a" meaning "not." There is no distinct thousand-year period of time. What they believe, is that it's symbolic for the period that we are now living in, and that, when it speaks of Satan being bound, what that means, in their view, is that Satan was defeated on the cross, and therefore he is bound for the entire period of time that we have. And then, at the end of the age He comes back to usher in a new heaven in a new earth.

Now I don't hold that position. I disagree with that position, for several reasons. One being, that they believe that Satan is bound. Well, if Satan is bound, he must have an awful long chain, because we're seeing a tremendous amount of spiritual warfare, and we cannot attribute it to anything else other than the demonic world, in regards to what we're seeing in spiritual battles today. Therefore, I have an issue with that particular view, and also I differ because that view teaches that God is finished with Israel, and that the promises given to Israel are null and void, but they're now transferred, or given over, to the church.

Well I have a problem with that, because I believe that when God made promises to Israel, I just happen to believe that they are eternal promises, that God is not finished with Israel and that the promises will be seen. That Christ will return. At the end of the age, Christ will return and Israel will receive their Messiah, and will come under the grace of the blood of Jesus Christ, and will come together with the church, and will gloriously be in a place of peace, with the church. I don't know about you, but that's a very wonderful thought. And, the understanding, of course, is that we are seeing prophecy unfolding before our eyes, because you see those promises actually being fulfilled, right before us.

I disagree with that particular view, because particularly, their view of Israel.

Therefore, we're left with the pre-millennial view. It means Christ returns pre, or before, or at the beginning of the thousand-year reign, thousand-year millennial time period. And that's the view that I hold, and it teaches that there will be a literal seven-year tribulation period, by which God's wrath is poured out on the earth. At the end of that period, Christ returns which begins, then, the thousand years, literally, of Christ ruling, and reigning, shepherding the nations. Now, the reason I hold that view is because it's the correct one.

I just wanted to put that out there. No, I'm kind of half kidding. The reason I hold that view, thank you, for those who got that. The reason I hold that view, is because it's the view that takes the Scriptures as they are. We don't have to symbolize away things that are right before us. We take the thing as we read it. I believe Scripture should be read as it reads, unless -- if you cannot read it as it reads, then symbolically, then, we should look. But our first approach should be, "let's read it as it reads." Amen?

B. We will reign with Christ

Having said that, and again, they're in the notes, you can look them up later. Let's look at the millennial reign of Christ. Let's start with this, where he tells us, "We will reign with Christ." The Scriptures teach that the church returns with Christ, at the end of the tribulation, therefore, we will be with Him to rule and to reign, he speaks about that in verse six. Verse four says that, "Even those who come to Christ during the tribulation," which there will be many, there will be a revival during the tribulation, "they also will rule and reign with Christ, for that thousand years." And, may I say, that from the beginning it was God's intent that we should have authority.

It was part of the Imago Dei, the image of God, from the beginning. In fact, let me give you Genesis chapter 1:26. God said, "Let Us make man in our image, according to our likeness." And then what's the very next thing He says? "And let them rule." It's part of Imago Dei, it's part of the image of God. And He said, "Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over the cattle, and over all the earth." Therefore, there's the fulfillment of that, when we rule and reign with Him. Then, interestingly, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus gives this parable, and He shows in this parable that God rewards faithfulness by giving authority, in the future kingdom of God.

It's important to see; now it's a very long parable, I'm not going to quote all of it, but some key parts of it. Here is this parable. Luke 19, "Jesus went on to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the Kingdom of God was going to appear immediately." And that was their hope; they thought who can overthrow the Romans better than He, who can cast out demons, who can raise a man from the dead. Clearly, he has the power of God upon him.

Therefore, surely he would overthrow Rome, and usher in the kingdom of God, but that was not God's purpose. Jesus came that He might pay the penalty, be the sacrifice in the offering for sin at the cross of Calvary, but that He will come at the end of the age and bring forth the kingdom of God during the millennial reign of Christ. He gives this parable. He was near Jerusalem, and He gave the parable because they supposed that the Kingdom of God is going to appear immediately.

He said this, "A nobleman went to a distant country, to receive a kingdom for himself, and then returned. When he returned, he ordered that his servants be called to him, so that he might know what business they had done," you know, while he was gone. "And the first appeared, saying 'Master, your mina.'" A mina is an amount of money. This is a parable, a picture, spiritually, "'Your mina has made 10 minas more.'" Well, that's some really good investing, that's really good business acumen. It's just a spiritual analogy, but it shows that he has done well, with what the master had given to him. "

He said to him, 'Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over 10 cities.'" That's a great parable to show that God rewards faithfulness, by giving authority in the future kingdom of God. Now, one of the key things that we should get out of that parable is that, how we live now matters, that the way we're living now has an impact on eternity, our eternal future.

C. The earth itself will be changed

Now, looking more at the millennial period of time, also, we should understand that the earth itself will be changed. It's like, there's this transition period, from the earth, as it is now and then, of course, we know at the end of the age, a new heaven and a new earth, but there's this transition period, where the earth itself is changed. Because the earth, today, is that order. In fact, Romans chapter 8, you can read that chapter, it's amazing, because of the insight that it adds, here.

Romans 8 says that "The world itself has been subject to corruption, the world itself has been subject to corruption, and that is," of course, "because it is under the authority of men who have sinned." We're going to look at that in Genesis, but it's a tremendous understanding. "And that it is waiting for the redemption of the sons of God, at the end of days that it might be free from that corruption." The earth today now is out of order, right? Wars, lying, deception, hatred, sickness, on and on, the world itself is out of order, and those in the world they retreat into drugs, or parties, or pursuit of material things. And so, let's look at it from this perspective.

From the perspective of the nonbeliever, this earth as it is, is as good as it gets. I mean this, is as good as it gets, for a nonbeliever right here. But, for the believer, the earth as it is, is as bad as it gets, because it's all glorious from here. And it's a great picture for us to understand. A little perspective is very helpful. There's not a lot of discussion here, in Revelation, but in other places, we understand that the earth itself has changed. One of the things we understand is that, there will be peace, yes, He will rule over the nations, and there will be peace in the nations, but there will be peace even amongst men.

Let me give you some verses. Isaiah 65, "They will build houses, they will inhabit them, they will also plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. They will not build and another inhabit. No one will come, and confront, and dispute, and take. No, they will not plant and another eats. Interestingly, they'll be peace amongst men, and there will be peace even among animals, in this time period of transition, some of the famous verses that we've come to know and love in the Scripture Isaiah 65, "The wolf and the lamb will graze together." One of the lion and the lamb laying together, the wolf and the lamb will graze together, "and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and the dust will be the serpent's food, and they will do no evil, or harm, in all My holy mountain, says the LORD."

Here's another one, Isaiah 11, "The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra." What a day is that coming, right? "And the weaned child will put his hand in the viper's den, and they will not hurt or destroy, in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." What a picture. What a glorious day. Don't you look forward to that? It reminds me, like a scene unfolding. "Mom, I'm going to go play with the cobras for a while." She's like, "Okay, have fun; make sure you're home for dinner."

Isn't there something inside of you that wants to play with a lion? What a glorious day it will be. It reminds me of when we were in Mexico, Jordi, and Aviah, and I, were on a short little vacation, and we were going through, I think it was Ensenada, and we're walking through the streets, and what should we see, but a tiger on a chain, with a guy on a bench. And you can come up, it's a real live tiger, full grown, adult tiger, and you can come up, and take the picture for money. And I'm thinking, “Yes, that's great, this is not an everyday thing, let's take a picture." And then he says, "Oh, no, you come here, and take the picture with the lion." To which I said, "Yes, honey, you do that." And she did it.

She did it, and I took the pictures to prove it. I was safer behind the camera.

What a glorious thought is that? And then, it also tells us something else. Another aspect of the millennial time period is that, people will live long and prosper. I thought that was clever. People will live long and prosper, literally. It says, in Isaiah 65, "No longer will there be an infant, who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days, for the youth will die at the age of 100, and the one who does not reach the age of 100 will thought to be accursed." People will live long in those days, and they don't even need kale.

They live long in those days. And interestingly, there will be healing for the nations, like no disabilities. What a glorious day he's describing for us. Isaiah 35, "The eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be unstopped, the lame will leap like a deer, the tongue of the mute will shout for joy, and waters will break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert, in the Arabia, and life will come, life will flow." He's giving us this picture. It's a glorious thing to understand, that millennial period that's coming, that thousand years when Christ rules over the nations, but He also wants us to see, that there is also a day of judgment coming.

II. There is a Day of Judgment Coming

Now, we would expect it. That is in our understanding, that there is a day and Paul says, "There's a day fixed, where God will judge the world." He says, "I saw thrones, and I saw those who sat upon the thrones, and judgment was given to them." Judgment is certainly part of the last days, but there's confusion about who will be judged, and when that will take place. What we see, is that there are essentially two judgment events, one for the believers, which is called the Judgment Seat of Christ, and one for nonbelievers, which is the Great White Throne Judgment, which he's describing for us, here. Let's look at each of them, starting with Christians.

A. Christians are only judged in Christ

It's important for us to recognize that Christians are only judged in Christ. Now, what I mean by that is that the judgment that we deserve did not fall upon us, but rather it fell upon Him, on the cross of Jesus Christ. So, He took our punishment upon Himself. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation, for those who are in Christ Jesus." It's an important understanding. Take hold of that. Lock that into your understanding, about who you are in Jesus Christ. There is no condemnation. Can we even say it more boldly? There is no damnation, which is a very bold word, for that eternal condemnation of judgment.

"There is no condemnation, for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of Life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Isaiah 53 is one of those examples in the Old Testament. In fact, when you do an Old Testament study, which we're going to do soon, there are so many beautiful pictures, of this very thing. It all points to Jesus Christ, and Isaiah 53 is one of those beautiful places. "He was pierced through, for us, for our transgressions, He took our transgressions. He was crushed for us, for our iniquities, the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, we are healed."

That's important. The judgement that we deserve fell upon Him. That's why we are judged only in Christ. We are saved, because we're in Christ. Colossians chapter 2, "He made you alive, together with Him. Having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt," it's been cancelled. "That certificate of debt, consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us, He's taken it all away, having nailed it to the cross. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus."

Now, having said that, there is a time of judgement for believers, called the Judgment Seat of Christ. Where does that come from? It comes right from Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5. "Therefore," Paul writes, "we also have, as our ambition, whether at home or absent," meaning, whether we're in this body or not, "to be pleasing." Our ambition is to be pleasing to Him, "for we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."

In other words, there is an accounting of our lives, of a believer's life, of the deeds done, while we are living on this earth. Now, this is important for us to understand, because I think there are Christians who have the thought in their minds, that it's all about salvation, and only about salvation, and once I get my salvation, that it doesn't matter what I do from there, right? I've got my salvation, I've got my forgiveness of my sins, he forgives all of my sins, I've got my ticket punched, I know I'm going to heaven, so it doesn't matter what I do anymore.

Now that is a wrong thought, because it does matter what we do, and in fact what does the Scripture say in Galatians chapter 6? "Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. That which a man sows, he shall also reap. If a man sows to the flesh he will of the flesh reap corruption, but if a man sows to the Spirit, he will of the Spirit reap life, even eternal life." Now, we need to recognize what that means. There is a judgement of believers. How we live matters, but the Judgment Seat of Christ is not a judgement of punishments, or condemnation. That matter is settled, that matter is, in fact, settled.

It's not a paying back for sins, but rather it is a judgment of awards, like an award ceremony, you might say. In fact, one of the Scriptures that really adds clarity to this, has got to be 1 Corinthians chapter three, where he writes it this way, "Each man's work will become evident." What does it mean, work? Every man, what he does, what he does with his life, every man's work will be evident, "for the day," that day at the end, when there's an accounting, right? "For the day will show it, because it is revealed by fire." He says, "The fire itself will test the quality of each man's work." He says, "If any man's work which he has built remains," in other words, eternal things, "then, he will receive a reward."

There are rewards in heaven. It's one of the great, glorious things to really understand, God has in store rewards in the kingdom of God to come. But he says, "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss." He is not burned up, his works are burned up. "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, now he himself will be saved, but yet as though through fire." It's a good picture for us. When I think of this, it reminds me of the earthquake that we had here in Oregon, in 1993. It was, I think, the largest earthquake that I remember happening, in Oregon. Anybody remember 1993? The earthquake that was there?

Oregonians, I think, responded differently than Californians on this. We're not used to this. I, particularly, was not used to this. In fact, I had just been in California, and had driven up straight through from Southern California, and I got to bed, like 3:30 in the morning, or something, and I think the earthquake hit just after five. I was in a really deep sleep stupor thing and my head just -- are you giving me some compassion?

I thank you. My reaction to it was, just shocked. I know Californians were different. Californians were in their bed going, "What do you think that is honey? About a 5-2, maybe a 5-5. I don't know. What do you think?" Not bothered at all. But I jump out of bed, and you can feel the house, and the lights are swinging, and the shades are swinging. The there’s two thoughts in my head. Number one: Get my kids. I wanted to get my kids. Number two: I wanted my bathrobe.

You're following me on this, right? I had it all figured out in my head. "I'll get the kids, you get the bathrobe. I'll meet you outside." But all I could say was, "We have to get out of here," and I pointed to the closet, because that's where my bathrobe was. "We have to get out of here." And she says, "In the closet?" "We have to get out of here." Can't you read my mind? I'll get the kids, you get the bathrobe. I'll meet you outside. I kept saying that, "We have to get out of here." and she say, "In the closest?" We did this several times, until finally, it stopped shaking, and then, we woke up.

But it is a picture. It is a picture of this, if you -- an earthquake or a devastating fire, what is the first thing? We got to survive. We got to survive. And my loved ones, got to survive. In the last days, if you have Jesus Christ, if you've asked Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, you're going to survive. You will survive, and you'll have a robe, too. You'll have a robe of righteousness. But then, what remains? That's the question. And then what remains? Everything will be tested by fire. What remains?

If your house burned up, God forbid, wouldn't you pick through it, to see if anything remained? Wouldn't you try to find the jewelry case, to see if the rubies that you gave your wife for Valentine's Day are still going to be there? They'll be there. It survived. It survived. There are things that will survive. Those are the things which are eternal. Jesus said, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal." Don't you want to have a life where something survives? What a tragedy, if you survived, but had nothing to show. Had nothing to show for your life.

B. A great white throne judgment

Because there's a day coming, when we give an account. It’s like, "What did you do? What did you do with the life I gave you? What did you do with the opportunities that you had?" Life is a precious thing. Life is a valuable thing. What did you do with that life? Use it for God's glory. Use it for His glory. But then, He tells us there will be Great White Throne Judgment. This is the judgment of nonbelievers, those who have rejected the Lord. Jesus said, John 12:48, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him, and the word that I spoke is what will judge him at the last day."

There's accountability to the Son. "I sent My Son with My heart, My words, My offer of life. What did you do with My Son?" Then it tells us, in verse 12, "Books are opened." Everything people do is written, recorded, written in books, and relieved at the Day of Judgment. What an ominous, powerful thought. I remember, when I was going through bible college, I was working as a server in a restaurant, and before the customers come, we'd set up things and whatever, and we'd have time to talk.

One day, I'm there and there's a nonbeliever, and we engage in this conversation, and he knows who I am, and what I believe in, what I'm about, I'm not ashamed to admit who I am, and I want people to know who I am. We get in this conversation and he says, "I suppose you want to know my view of eternity." I go, "Yes." He says, "I do have a problem." "Well, what is it?" He said, "My problem is hell." I said, "That's your thing? That's your issue?" "Yes. My problem is hell." "So, what is your problem about hell?"

"It's not fair," he says, "It's not fair. Someone lives their life, okay. They reject God, they live the world, they do the thing, and then for eternity. For eternity? It's not fair." And I said, "You know what? I can understand that. But, may I say that you think that, because that's your view. Let me ask you a question. If there was a God in heaven, is that God not just?" He said, "Yes." "Would that God not be righteous, all together?" "Yes." "Then His judgments are also right."

And I said, "One day, when you stand before God, because you will, you will see Him as He is, and you will see His holiness, and all of His radiance and glory. And in that day, you will see your sin very differently than you see it today, for then, you will see it in the light of His glory and grace. And then, in that day, you will have no complaints, because God is a God Who is just, and His judgments are right, all together. If there's a God in heaven, He is right." And he said, "You know what? I have never heard a discussion about hell, like that." And I said, "Then wouldn't it be right for you to reconsider your life?" And he said, "I'm not quite there."

But isn't it right for us to plant those seeds, and to help people to see the right perspective? Because there is a book, and everything is written. There's a day of accounting, but there's also a Book of Life, and rejoice that your name is written in the Book of Life. Rejoice on that, and live your life to the glory, and the honor of God. For how we live matters.

Revelation 20:4-15       NASB

4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
 
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
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