Clifton H. Rodriquez is a certified public accountant (CPA) by profession, but a passionate Bible scholar. He believes in studying the Word.
Why Is A Final Judgment Necessary?
God has appointed a time when he will judge the great and the small. All with a very few exceptions must stand before the Almighty God to give an account for the deeds done in the body, and to be judged for those deeds, whether good or bad. The Bible accepted as the Word of God states that it is appointed once for a man to die and then the Judgment (see Hebrews 9:27). Because God has set aside a time to judge man; everything that man does while on the earth, whether good or evil, is recorded in "Spiritual Journals" which the Book of Revelation refers to as "the Book of Life" (see Revelation 14). This judgment of man is necessary because of God's Law. Man is notorious for breaking God's Law which is generally punishable by death (i.e., capital punishment). Any person who is tried and found guilty of violating God's Law cannot be pardoned unless they are covered by the Blood of the Lamb. Thus, if they are not covered by the Blood of the Lamb, then at the Final Judgment they will fall short of God's glory, and will not be eligible to receive the ultimate reward of eternal life. Thus, their eternal punishment will be a "Second Death" in the Lake of Fire & Brimstone (see Revelation 8:21 and 14:1-20). The Final Judgment is necessary because of the Law of God. It is also necessary because the Wicked must be judged prior to their condemnation and punishment. God Almighty is righteous and just and will not punish anyone until they have had their "Day before God".. Even Christ admonished his disciples during his ministry that on that "Great Day", there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth because many who thought that they were "right" with God, will be disillusioned and condemned (see Matthew 7:21-23).
It Is Appointed Once For A Man To Die
Hebrews 9:27 states very clearly that it has been appointed once for a man to die and then the Judgment. There is nothing in between man's physical or biological death and the "Final Judgment". No intermediate punishing in the proverbial "Hell" where Satan and his demon followers torture and torment the dearly departed who did not ascend to Heaven. This deception came out of the Middle Ages and was largely invented and perpetuated by the Catholic Church in an effort to secure wealth from the European royalty and nobility. The theology largely relies upon a person having an immortal soul (consciousness which survives biological death-see Luke 16:19-32) which descends to this fictitious Hell, or "Spiritual Holding Prison". Satan denied being in Hell in the book of Job, Chapter 1. He told God that he roamed the earth to and fro supposedly looking for victims to deceive. This is what he will continue to do until he meets his fate in the Lake of Fire & Brimstone.
Man's Conditional Immortality
Prior to Adman and Eve's initial sin against God, they had been granted conditional immortality. In effect, God had decided not to grant man immortality until He was absolutely certain that men would not be rebellious like some of the angels whom God had granted eternal life upon creation. Upon their creation, men had been granted free moral agency (i.e., the ability to choose right from wrong). God would have granted them this ability in due time, but Satan persuaded them to disobey God. Thus, the knowledge of good and evil was prematurely granted to them, and it cost them their conditional immortality (i.e. prior to man disobeying God, they were warned about the consequences of death). Nevertheless, God provided a path for man to be reconciled to him and overcome the death sentence that the Law imposed. God used Jesus Christ as a Sacrificial Lamb to reconcile man back to Him, and grant man the eternal life that he so badly desires (see John 3:13-16, Romans 6:23, John 6:54).
Where Will the Final Judgement Be Held?
The "Final Judgment" will be held right here on the earth. The scene of the Final Judgment is depicted in Revelation 20. The writer of Revelation clearly paints a picture of a time when all will stand before the Creator to be judged. He writes:
"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. and the books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:11-15, New International Version, NIV)
During his ministry on earth, Jesus gave greater details on what it will be like at the Final Judgment. He stated in Matthew 7:21-22 that many will come to him and claim that they had done his bidding, but he will only acknowledge them as "evil doers". Christ later said that men will rise up and accuse each other in an effort to save themselves. However, everything will be displayed in God's spiritual journals. The evidentiary material will be the convincing evidence that will condemn them to the Second Death in the Lake of Fire & Brimstone.
Will Christ's Elect Be Judged Before God?
Christ's Elect is the body of faithful Christians who never waivered while living on the earth. Like Christ, they carried out the will of the Father and performed their duties and responsibilities as Ministers of Reconciliation. Christ stated in Matthew 24:22-30 that the Elect in effect saved the rest of mankind from utter destruction. The Elect will not have to stand before the Judgment because they will be granted eternal life (immortality) at the time of their resurrection on the "Last Day" (see John 5:24-29 and 6:40, 44 & 54). Thus, those who have been granted eternal life will not need to stand before the Judgment. The Elect will be judged by Christ after the resurrection. That Judgment, however, will not be the same as the Final Judgment. Christ Judgment will be similar to a "rewards ceremony" (i.e., those who diligently worked and worked for the Kingdom will be granted their holy crowns for all to see). The Apostle Paul was probably advised about this ceremony and probably was inspired to write in Romans and other New Testament books about the Judgment. However, some theologians argue that in Romans 14:10-13, the Apostle is addressing the Final Judgment because of the implicit admonition. He writes as follows:
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.' So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
Who Will Be Cast Into the Lake of Fire & Brimstone?
The Bible is very clear on this topic. The Lake of Fire & Brimstone will be built with a dual purpose. Its main purpose would be to punish Satan and the rebellious angels. In addition to the one third that followed Satan in his rebellion, other angels rebelled against God. They have been cast into prisons and kept in chains until their day of judgment. However, they already know their fate. Their fate will be eternal punishing in the Lake of Fire & Brimstone. These spirits as the Bible refers to them are immortal beings who cannot die. However, they can be controlled by God. They have to obey God and follow any direct commandments that God imposes upon them. They tremble in fear because they know that their date of reckoning is very near. Many of them will be bound and cast into the Lake of Fire & Brimstone just as Satan will be.
Finally, the Lake of Fire & Brimstone will be used to punish wicked, but mortal men. Because they are not like Satan and the rebellious angels, they will quickly succumb to the flames which will consume their mortal flesh. Thus, the Bible accurately refers to the process as the Second Death. This Second Death is for mortal men, but the immortal beings will undergo eternal punishing in the Lake of Fire & Brimstone.
Conclusion: Avoiding the Second Death In the Lake of Fire & Brimstone
The Second Death is an optional death. The Bible states in Hebrews 9:27 that it has been appointed once for a man to die (because of Adam's sin). Furthermore, Christ made it possible to avoid the Second Death in the Lake of Fire & Brimstone (Read John 5:24-29, 6:40, 44 & 54). Christ's death on the cross of Calvary redeemed man from the Second Death from which no resurrection is possible. But, man must accept God's amnesty prior to undergoing their biological death.