by Leland M. Haines
Satan's Final Defeat
The Final Judgment
The Bases of Judgment
The Eternal Punishment
The Eternal Reward

Satan's Final Defeat

After the thousand years have passed, "Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle" (Revelation 20:7, 8). Apparently not all who live under Christ's rule will be strong believers. When Satan is loosened for a short period of time after the thousand-year reign, he will find many people who are ready to rebel against the kingdom of God, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea" (v. 8).

In John's vision these rebels gather in a great army to come against and surround "the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city" (Revelation 20:9). But their efforts come to a quick end. "Fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them." Not only are their armies destroyed, but "the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (v. 10). The one who deceived man in the garden and throughout history meets his end and will never deceive man again.

The Final Judgment

John next tells of seeing "a great white throne, and him that sat on it" (Revelation 20:11), and the dead standing before it. These dead are the dead not raised in the first resurrection. Earlier John told about them, "The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished" (v. 5). These who did not share in the thousand-year reign and those who followed Satan's rebellion stand together before the throne to be judged (v. 11). None of "the dead, small and great" (v. 12), will miss this final judgment. John saw them all standing before the throne. The sea, death, and Hades "delivered up the dead which were in them" (v. 13).

The teaching concerning the resurrection of the dead to face judgment is not unique to the Book of Revelation. Jesus spoke of it during His earthly ministry:

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth. John 5:25-29

At another place Jesus spoke of this coming judgment in a parable and explained:

    The tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matthew 13:40-43

He explained this further: "At the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just" (v. 49).

In the Gospel of John, Jesus spoke of the coming resurrection, but in terms of the believers only. He will "lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. . . . Every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:39, 40). This resurrection of the last day was spoken of at several other places (vv. 44, 54; 11:24).

In the Olivet Discourse Jesus spoke of a coming judgment, but there is disagreement as to when this will occur. Some view it as being the "great white throne" judgment. Others see it as a judgment associated with the Rapture since He comes "in his glory, and all the holy angels with him" (Matthew 25:31), and other details appear different from those of the great white throne judgment.

Perhaps we need not know when this judgment occurs. Since it occurs in our future, we can learn about a judgment many will face, no matter if it occurs at the time of the Rapture or if it is the same as the great white throne judgment. In this judgment, "before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left" (Matthew 25:32, 33). This great separation will be based on how the individuals treat those who are "the least of these my brethren" (v. 40) who are hungry, thirsty, sick, and in prison.

The Bases of Judgment

The great white throne judgment will be based on what is found in the "books" or "the book of life" (Revelation 20:12). "The dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. . . . and they were judged every man according to their works. . . . Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (vv. 12, 13, 15).

It is a fact that only one book is required to name the righteous and books to name the wicked. This was implied in Jesus teaching, "wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction . . . strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13, 14). The basis of judgment given here is works. This basis is mentioned in other Scriptures.

    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord. . . . And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:22, 23; cf. Luke 13:27

    The Son of man . . . shall reward every man according to his works. Matthew 16:27

    Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil. Romans 2:6-9

    We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. II Corinthians 5:10

    Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:7, 8

    He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. Colossians 3:25

    To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. Jude 15

    All the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. Revelation 2:23

The Scripture not only speaks of works as being a basis of judgment, but tells us that man will also be judged according to how he responds to Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

    Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Mark 8:38; cf. Luke 9:26; Matthew 10:33

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24

    I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. . . . He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. John 12:46, 48

    The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. II Thessalonians 1:7, 8

Are these two bases of judgment in conflict? How can one be judged according to works and also according to his response to Jesus Christ and the Gospel? The answer to this question is that good works follow when one responds and believes the Gospel. When one repents and believes the Gospel and has faith in Jesus Christ, he is born anew and from then on seeks to do God's will. This doing of God's will results in the good works that are the basis of judgment. There is no conflict between looking for these works or one's response to Jesus Christ, since these works are the result of a positive response to the Gospel.

Christ, at the end of the parable on service, told what the Christian's response should be at judgment. He said, "When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10). The Christian did not earn anything but only did what the grace of God and the Holy Spirit worked in his life.

The Eternal Punishment

"Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). Fire is frequently used to describe the place where the wicked are punished. The term Gehenna is commonly used in the New Testament to describe this place of punishment. Gehenna is one of the Greek words translated "hell" in our English Bibles. Another Greek term, Hades, is also translated "hell," especially in the King James Version.

The Valley of Gehenna, just south of the city, was where Jerusalem's garbage and the dead bodies of criminals were burnt. Because of wickedness associated with the valley, its name was used for the place of final punishment of the wicked. Hell is often associated with fire, as the following Scriptures show: "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12); "hell fire" (5:22); "shall cast them into a furnace of fire" (13:42; cf. v. 50); "to be cast into hell fire" (18:9); "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (25:41); "hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched" (Mark 9:43; cf. v. 48); "and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments. . . . I am tormented in this flame" (Luke 16:23, 24); "if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (John 15:6); and "the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7).

One of the most awful aspects of the punishment of the wicked is their eternal separation from God the Father and Jesus Christ. On judgment day many will hear the words, "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:23; cf. Luke 13:27), and "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). On that day there will be a great separation: "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment" (v. 46); "Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed" (Luke 16:26); "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (II Thessalonians 1:9).

Other passages describe this separation in terms of being cast into darkness. Since God is described as light, darkness would describe a complete and total separation from Him. Scriptures using the term darkness are: "shall be cast out into the outer darkness" (Matthew 8:12; cf. 22:13; 25:30); "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (II Peter 2:4); "mist of darkness" (II Peter 2:17); "blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 13).

Those in the lake of fire will remember for eternity their banishment from the presence of God. They will have seen the Judge, Jesus Christ, whom they rejected at their judgment. They will be haunted by the memory that they rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior. Perhaps too the thought of the glories of God and heaven that they will be missing will haunt them for eternity. They will remember the opportunities they had to respond to the truth, but they will realize they turned from their opportunities to follow their own sinful desires.

Other Scriptures show hell will be a place of great suffering. Scriptures showing this are: "to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not" (Mark 9:45, 46), and "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 8:12; cf. 13:42; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). The fire conveys the idea of external suffering, and the worm the idea of internal suffering. The weeping is due to the sorrow, grief, and anguish of being in hell. Those in hell will experience a complete loss of happiness and will weep bitterly when they think of their condition. The gnashing of teeth and the grinding of the teeth together suggest mental anguish.

These terms darkness, fire, worm, weeping, gnashing of teeth, etc., used to express the great suffering in hell, should not be tampered with. No interpretation of them should take away from the awfulness of hell. Hell is a dreadful place, and these words describe its awfulness only in part.

Those in hell will not all suffer the same; there are degrees of punishment in hell. The punishment the wicked suffer depends on the opportunities they had to know the truth and how they responded. When Jesus sent out His disciples to preach the good news, He said, concerning those who rejected them, "It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city" (Matthew 10:15). A little later Jesus condemned the Jewish leaders' unbelief: "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes" (Matthew 11:21, 22; cf. Luke 10:13, 14).

Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees that the results of their missionary efforts were not what they expected. "Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves" (Matthew 23:15). In a parable Jesus told about a faithful steward and an unfaithful steward and said, "That servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:47, 48).

These Scriptures all show there will be degrees of punishment in hell. God is just, and even unbelievers will be treated justly. Those who had little opportunity will receive lighter punishment than those who had great opportunity to accept redemption but refused.

The Eternal Reward

Following the scene of the great white throne, John described a vision of "a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea" (Revelation 21:1). God will dwell with His people, and they will be together. John saw the coming of God to dwell with His people. "I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (vv. 2, 3). This city was mentioned near the beginning of this book, "the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God" (3:12).

John wrote that he "heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Revelation 21:3). Being with God is incomprehensible to us, but we know His dwelling with His children will bring righteousness and joy to man. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (v. 4). These things are part of the fallen world, and since "the former things are passed away" (v. 4), they will not be in heaven. God promised that He would "make all things new" (v. 5). We have this hope because "he [God] that sat upon throne" told John, "Write: for these words are true and faithful" (v. 5).

God promised to "give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely" (Revelation 21:6). Not everyone will drink from this fountain. Unbelievers, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (v. 8).

The present heaven and earth were corrupted by Satan, sin, and evil. It is an unfit place for the eternal kingdom of God. The old heaven and earth will pass away, and a new heaven and earth without sin and evil will replace it. The passing of the present creation is found in several Scriptures (Psalm 102:25, 26; Matthew 5:18; Mark 13:31; II Peter 3:12). The statement that there will be "no more sea" (Revelation 21:1) shows the new earth is drastically different from the present one. We are not told why there is no sea. Because the sea is symbolic of the nations in turmoil and unsettledness, perhaps its absence shows in the new earth there will be no disunity or ethnic distinctions.

This new heaven and earth are described by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. Speaking for the Lord God, Isaiah wrote, "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying" (Isaiah 65:17-19). Later he wrote, "For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain" (66:22). God's children in heaven will live in joy and have no recollection of the present evil world.

In the New Testament Peter wrote about the coming of the Lord. He wrote that after the Lord's delay to give time for men to repent:

    The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. II Peter 3:10-13

What will this new heaven and earth be like? We do not have a complete picture but are given glimpses of it. Paul, although not writing about heaven, told of our incomplete view: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know" (I Corinthians 13:12). John gives a similar view: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (I John 3:2, 3).

The Scriptures quoted from Peter's writing about the new heaven and earth reveal one aspect of heaven. Righteousness dwells there. The sin and evil so prevalent in our present world will be replaced by an atmosphere of righteousness. Thus God will no longer need to be separated from His people but can again dwell with them as He did in the beginning. This explains creation's waiting for "the times of restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21). Paul had this in mind when he wrote, "The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:21, 22). This deliverance will mean that "the righteous [shall] shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43).

The Book of Revelation gives us another glimpse of heavenit will be a place of joy. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4). Isaiah wrote similarly that death shall be swallowed up in victory and that "the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it" (Isaiah 25:8). Later he said to be "glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying" (65:18, 19). The psalmist wrote, "In thy presence is fulness of joy" (Psalm 16:11).

In heaven the saved will not exist in bodies like our present ones but will have new and glorious bodies. It is not known completely what these bodies will be like. But as mentioned earlier, "we shall be like him" (I John 3:2). There obviously will be a drastic change in our bodies since our present ones have been affected by sin, and our new ones shall be like His.

Paul drew a similar contrast between our present bodies and our heavenly ones. "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." The reason saints will bear a new image is that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (I Corinthians 15:49, 50).

In I Corinthians 15 Paul established the doctrine of the resurrection. In doing so he answered the objections some might raise by questioning, "How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" (v.35). In the answer he gave to these questions, we learn that our resurrected bodies will be different from our present bodies.

We see these differences illustrated in our present experiences. When a person plants a seed, the seed dies (ceases to be a seed) and sprouts into a new plant. That which is sown is "not that body that shall be, but bare grain. . . . But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body" (I Corinthians 15:37, 38). Just as each seed sprouts into its own form of life, this variety in bodies is found in other areas of our experiences. There is variety in animal life. "All flesh is not the same flesh" (v. 39). Men, beasts, fishes, and birds all have different kinds of bodies. There is also variety among heavenly and earthly bodies (vv. 40, 41).

"There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body" (I Corinthians 15:44). The first comes from the first man, Adam. The second is brought about by the last Adam, Jesus Christ. He is the quickening Spirit, the One from whom Christians get their new spiritual bodies. "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (v. 49). Our present bodies bear the marks of the first Adam, but the dead in Christ shall be raised in His image.

Jesus mentioned one important difference these new bodies will have. He said they shall "neither marry, nor [be] given in marriage; but [be] as the angels which are in heaven" (Mark 12:25; cf. Matthew 22:30; Luke 20:35). In heaven there will be no need for reproduction and child bearing; therefore sex and marriage will not be needed.

Christians will be rewarded for their obedience to God's will and service. Jesus said that Christians who are reviled, persecuted, and falsely spoken against will receive a "reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12). He also said that those who give false alms will receive "no reward of your father" (6:1) and referred to a "righteous man's reward" (10:41) and to those who love their enemies and lend, that their "reward shall be great" (Luke 6:35).

This is from Chapter 7 of the book, Redemption Realized Through Christ, © copyright 1997 by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI.

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January 29, 2001