The Book of Revelation
“The Judgment of God”
By Ed Young
April 24, 2016
It’s a common accusation in today’s world. “Don’t judge me, man!” People say this in response to something wrong being pointed out in their lives. But what does true judgment look like?
In this message, Pastor Ed Young opens the book of Revelation to reveal the only true Judge there is – Jesus Christ. As we look at the ultimate form of judgment, for Christians and non-Christian, we discover that God’s judgment is perfect. And when we understand His judgment in heaven, we discover how to get the most out of life on earth.
“Don’t judge me. That’s right. Don’t judge me. Don’t tell me what I’m doing wrong. Don’t point out anything negative in my life.”
That’s such a popular phrase, isn’t it, in our culture? Our politically correct, non-confrontational, soft culture. Don’t judge me! What are we saying when we say don’t judge me? Basically we’re saying don’t point out the stuff in my life that’s wrong, that’s bad, that’s negative, especially don’t call it sin. In reality that statement, don’t judge me, is ludicrous. Because we can’t judge other people. I can’t judge you, you can’t judge me. Because we’re not God. I can point out things in your life when you respect me enough and love me enough, and when there’s enough affinity. I can point out things in your life that you need to work on, or inconsistencies, or maybe blind spots. So you’re telling me when I say that to you I’m judging you? Heck no. Heck no. So that whole thing is a bunch of bunk. That statement is crazy. That line of thinking is false. For the most part when I say don’t judge me, I’m making a statement of judgment when I make the statement.
Well today we’re talking about a very controversial subject, a subject that you don’t hear discussed very much. You’re not going to see this on coffee mugs, or on little signs above the kitchen sinks, or on t-shirts. I’m talking to you today about the judgment of God.
We’re in a series on the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is about the final things. It’s the book of the reveal. What’s Revelation about? Jesus. Who is it about? Jesus. Why, what? Jesus. The Bible is about Jesus. The book of Revelation is about Jesus. Notice in the other Scriptures, specifically the Gospels, you’ve got Jesus as the Savior. You have him as Lord. Now in the book of Revelation in many times, in many circumstances, you have him as the righteous judge. You have him as our sovereign leader. Now all the returns are in. Now all of the accountants are making their final deductions. It is it. It is over. And we can tell, can’t we, by just the way the world is going, we’re moving toward the end. We’re moving toward the judgment.
We all have that judgment chip in our lives. We have that thing about us that says wrongs need to be right. I mean, someone has got to pay for what’s happening. We have that within us. I’m going to talk about two aspects of judgment. Again, this is not popular but this is Bible. It is prolific. It’s something that every single one of us needs to understand and download into our lives. I am going to talk to you about judgment, specifically the judgment of judgment of Christians.
“Ed, did you stutter?” No, no, no. The judgment of believers. That’s right. The Bible talks, and specifically the book of Revelation, talks about the judgment of believers. I’m not talking about whether I go to Heaven or not. Because when I make that decision, that faith decision, I’m saved by grace through faith. Once I make that step, once I make that decision to open the lid up of my life and allow the Lord Jesus to come in, I’m a believer. I have a home in Heaven. I’m talking about a beautiful home on a cul-de-sac in Heaven. I’ve got my security for eternity locked. I’m not talking about that. But I am talking about the fact that all of us will stand before God, even those of us who are believers. We will have to give an account of everything we did with what we were given. That’s a heavy, heavy concept to even think about. It’s called the bema seat. It’s called specifically the judgment seat. We die, we move from this life to the next. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we all must appear …” It’s not some of us. That means pastors, poets, priests, politicians, professional athletes. “… we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” Again, that’s the bema seat, the judgment seat. “… that each one of us may receive what is due to him.”
Now that’s interesting. We all will receive different awards. Maybe that’s the reason we’re so infatuated by awards and trophies and Grammys and Emmys and All-American lists and the top prospects. And I’m #1 and you’re #2. We’re very, very into rewards and raises and perks. Maybe, just maybe that’s given to us by God. “So each of us may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
I’ve got a date, you’ve got a date with deity, that we can’t put off, that we can’t table, that we can’t say, man the traffic was bad or I got food poisoning. We all have a date with deity. The bema seat, the judgment of Jesus Christ. Let me say it again. Believers go to Heaven. We’re saved by grace through faith, yet we have what’s coming to us. We’re due certain things.
ILLUS: When I was a third grader I played on a peewee football team, the Brookwood Forest Bulldogs. I wasn’t that great, I really wasn’t. It was my first year. I was kind of afraid of getting hit. However, the next several years I improved and did a lot better but the first year I was pathetic. We had this awards banquet. I was so happy, even though I didn’t play that much, to go to the awards banquet because I knew every single person was going to get a trophy. And Coach Holden, I’ll never forget him, he went through every single person on the roster and tried to say something good about every single player.
He came to me and he said, “Ed Young…” and I was sitting on the edge of my seat. I remember it like it was yesterday! It seemed like thousands of people were there. And he was like, “Ed Young, he… well he showed up every game, and he made most practices, and he smiled a lot. Ed, come up here and receive your trophy.”
I remember moving from my table with my parents to the podium, to the head table. It was like I was levitating. It was like I was floating, I was so happy. He had the trophy in his hand and when I looked at the trophy I was so mesmerized by it I just took it from his hands. Everyone laughed. I didn’t really know why they were laughing.
As I was making my way back to the table Coach Holden said, “Wow! Ed really wanted that trophy, didn’t he?” Yes, I really wanted that trophy.
I have a desire for trophies, so do you. I didn’t do very much on the Brookwood Forest Bulldogs with what I had been given. I didn’t really take responsibility and ownership for really using some speed and some strength I had in the third grade to do what I could have done. I didn’t really do that great. And my award, my trophy, wasn’t that great. Fake wood, fake gold. I just got it for showing up. And looking back on that, I mean, I was sort of disappointed because I could have done, I should have done, much better. Between that next year and that year I really improved. I began to do some things and I began to toughen up and I played a lot better when I was in the fourth and fifth grade. I understood what it meant to hit somebody and to be aggressive, but looking back, the Brookwood Forest Bulldog days, I just didn’t do that much with what I had. I was one of the fastest guys and one of the strongest guys, I just wasn’t tough enough.
What has God given you? Again, I’m talking to believers. If you’re not a Christian just count ceiling tiles, just kind of… you know, whatever. What has God given you? What kind of strengths? What kind of abilities? What kind of compassion? What kind of passions has God given you? What are you doing with what God has given you? God has given you the ability to make money, so what do you do? Stack up more and more stuff? Stuff has a way of getting between ourselves and God. It’s not bad theoretically to have stuff. Do you have stuff or does stuff have you? Some here, when you face God in the judgment seat, will drop your head in shame.
Because God’s going to say, “I gifted you to do this! I gave you the ability to start that business, to invest. I put you in the right spot at the right time to make millions and millions of dollars, but you squandered it. But you just threw pocket change God’s way.” And God will judge you. He will judge me based on how we handled worldly wealth. Based on how we handled the stuff that God had bestowed upon us to give to the church. That’s not some guilt trip, I’m just talking Bible.
Others here, maybe you have the gift of leadership. And God’s going to say you squandered your leadership. Jesus is going to say you had an opportunity to step up, to influence, to lead that group, to be that man, to be that woman, yet you blew it! You didn’t do it! And here’s what I wanted to give you but you didn’t utilize your strength and your speed.
It could be in the realm of worship and singing. It could be in the realm of sharing Jesus with others. That’s going to be heavy. There’s going to be, to quote Eric Clapton, tears in Heaven on that day. Because many of us, myself included, will see things. Wow, I could have, should have, would have. I had opportunities but I blew it. We’re going to see that and we’re going to see the rewards we could have had.
On the other hand, some of us will go, whoa! Man, I didn’t realize it! And because we were faithful with our talent, because we were faithful with relationships, because we were faithful and righteous in our marriage, with our kids, the rewards are going to be phenomenal!
It’s not going to be some fake gold and fake wood given out by Coach Holden. No, no. We’re talking about given to you and given to me by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
So friends, that should motivate us to do what God wants us to do! We have a date with deity! You want accountability? We’ve got it. You want responsibility? You’ve got it! Look what God has given you! Look what God has given me! We’ve got to utilize that in this one and only life. Because the banquet is coming. The ceremony is going to happen. For we must all appear, ALL appear, before the judgment seat of Christ (I’m talking to believers again), that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Let that verse soak in. Let that just marinate in your spirit.
If you look at the original language, for example, it’s a picture of the Greek games. The judge would have the best seat in the house and the judge would give awards based on the performance of the athletes. The athletes were in the game. They were in the contest. Yet certain ones got certain rewards. We’re in the game, as believers, but certain ones of us will have certain rewards. That’s the first thing I want to talk about, the judgment seat for believers.
Now the second part of judgment is going to be the Great White Throne. This is for nonbelievers. The first judgment would be for believers, the second judgment will be for those who chose to keep Jesus at an arm’s length distance. It’s like the Heisman trophy, you know, to keep the football metaphor going. A lot of people, a lot of people keep Jesus at a distance. And they throw out, oh don’t judge me, man! Don’t say this! Don’t say that! But in reality they’re going, I don’t want you up in my face. I don’t want you smelling my cologne. I don’t want you in my business. I want to do what I want to do. And basically at the end of the hunt, when we clock out, when we take our final paycheck on planet Earth, we move from this life to the next. We face ultimately the judgment of the Lord.
So if you kept God at a distance on this earth, when we meet Jesus, he’s going to say, “You know what? That’s what you wanted to do on planet Earth? Now I’ll give that to you throughout eternity. I’ll give you an eternal distance from me.”
I want you to notice something. God does not hurl anybody to Hell. God does not slam dunk anybody to Hell. We make that choice. Hell is not made for man. Hell is made, and we’ve seen this through the entire study of Revelation, Hell is made for the devil and the demons. It’s not made for you and me. So for you and me to go to Hell, we’ll have to go against the will of God. I do believe, though, and the book of Revelation talks about this and other places the Bible discusses this, I do believe that believers will be able to see the nonbelievers being judged. I do believe we’ll be able to see some of our coworkers that we loved so much being judged, yet we didn’t share with them. We were silent as opposed to being a witness. I believe family members that we’ll see, we’ll see them judged. And we had an opportunity and we’ll see them being judged.
Others maybe we shared with, others we prayed with, others we invited maybe even to Fellowship, yet we’ll watch them go to Hell. Because the Bible says every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I’ve often thought, why does the Bible say that? I mean, what’s up with that? How can everyone? I believe even those who reject Jesus, when they see his brilliant blaze, when they see his glory, when they see his sovereignty, when they see he is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, they will bow but it’ll be too late. So either bow now, or bow later.
In the book of Revelation 20:11, “Then I saw a great white throne (this is John talking, again from the island of Patmos) and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them.”
We must understand again the holiness of God. God cannot wink at sin. He cannot look at sin. Jesus took our sin upon his life, died on a Roman cross, rose again, giving us an avenue, and opportunity to receive him. God, though, again must judge sin. And for those who have not applied the blood of Jesus into our lives, we’re under the judgment of God.
I think we need to think about this, Christians. In the first judgment, the bema seat, I’m not talking about (nor is the Bible talking about) punishment. The Bible is talking about judgment. So for believers it’s not punishment. Jesus took the punishment. It’s about judgment. Here, though, the great white throne, it is judgment and because we rejected him, we’re going to Hell and punishment forever and ever. Forever and ever is a long time.
Look at verse 12, “and I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life, the Lamb’s book of life; the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”
The moment we become a Christ follower, the Bible says our names are recorded in the Lamb’s book of life. So your name is either in the book or not. It’s not something you can go, well, I’m not sure. Let me think about it. It’s either there or not. If it’s there, Heaven is locked. We have a mansion on the cul-de-sac. If it’s there everything will be judged. Every thought, I’m talking to Christians once again, every opportunity, every innuendo, every outburst of anger, every lustful issue, every time we dealt with grief, everything will be laid bare before God and we’ll have this award ceremony. That’s for believers.
For the unbelievers it’s not pretty. Tears are going to be shed. And it says in verse 13, “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.”
Here’s the take-home phrase: Born once, die twice; born twice, die once. You see, if I’m born once my birthday physically, I’m going to die and then when I hit eternity I’m going to die again, this eternal death in Hell. But if I’m born twice, I have a physical birthday, March 16th (remember that), and I’ve got a spiritual birthday, about 10 years later, I was born again. So I’ve been born physically, I’ve been reborn spiritually. I die once because I’ll live forever and ever in Heaven.
Revelation 21:4-6 continues, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes…” that’s you and me. That’s believers. “… there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain; for the old order of things has passed. He who is seated on the throne said, ‘I’m making everything new.’ Then he said ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost for the spring of the water of life…’”
Wow. We have something amazing in store for us. Yet, what are we doing with what God has given us on planet Earth? Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the knee of Jesus every knee should bow in Heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
Let me tell you again. You either bow now or bow later. And if you bow now, what are you doing with the things God has given you? What are you doing with this one and only life?
Maybe you’ve not bowed the knee to Jesus. Maybe you’re waiting for all these questions to be answered, all these concerns to be definite. Hey, you’re not going to have every question answered. I still have questions, and I will not get those answers until I get to the other side. Make the decision by grace through faith, make it. The time is now for you. You’re facing Heaven or Hell. You’re facing eternity. What you decide, because we’re made in the image of God, we have a choice, on this side determines where you’ll spend forever.
But here are several things I believe this study will help us in. The first is justice. Justice. We have to know and we do know, because of this series, that God is a just God. We don’t deserve a thing. We deserve eternal separation because of our fallen-ness and fallible-ness, and our sinfulness and our moral turnovers. That’s what we deserve. But because God loves us so much, because he cannot wink at sin or hydroplane over wrongdoings, he sent his Son to live and to take all of the junk in your life and mine upon himself, to die in our place, to conquer death, thereby giving us this opportunity to receive him, and satisfying God’s demands for justice by this indescribable gift. And because we’ve been justified through Christ we should live a life that helps others do that.
Notice something else, not only justice, forgiveness. As a believer I should walk in forgiveness. As a believer I should receive forgiveness and ask people for forgiveness in life. I’ve been greatly forgiven, so I should greatly forgive. Who are you holding a grudge against? Who haven’t you released? Because if you’ve not released them, they’re still controlling you. Forgiveness, the guts of the gospel.
Another thing, justice, forgiveness, righteousness. Righteousness. We should live a righteous and holy and pure life. We have the righteousness of Christ in our lives. We can tap into that. Jesus works best out of righteousness and with righteousness. Life is done better with righteousness. We’re not saved by righteousness, it is, though, the result of salvation. That’s why we’ve got to live that sort of life.
The last one, after justice, forgiveness, and righteousness, is being evangelistic. Fellowship, we’re an evangelistic church.
Why are we evangelistic? Why do we have our children’s ministry? Why do we do so much with our men’s ministry? Why do we have prison campuses? Why do we have a campus in Miami, here, there, and yonder? Why do we have an online church? Why do we have all the things? I’ll tell you why. Because of Heaven and Hell. Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? If there wasn’t a Hell we wouldn’t do what we do. Is there a judgment? Yes. Believers will be judged. Is there a judgment for nonbelievers? Yes, nonbelievers will be judged. We’ll be judged, believers, based on what we did with what God has given us, in Heaven. But those who are not believers will be judged and ultimately they will choose, you will choose, the highway to Hell. So let’s do it God’s way. Let’s take what we’ve learned from the book of Revelation and let’s apply it and let’s think about the great awards and rewards that God has for us. And if you’ve not made this decision, you can make it right now. Would you bow with me?
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]