Isn’t it interesting that Hebrews 9:27 mentions one very specifically in reference to death, but not to judgment? That’s because every man, woman, and child will face two judgments. Let me explain. Whether we die before or not, Jesus Christ is going to return. 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 5 tells us that the Eastern sky is going to break open, the trumpet of God is going to sound. All those who have died as Christians are going to be reunited with their resurrection bodies, and those Christians who are alive are going to be called up to meet him in the air. The fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation tell us what’s going to happen next. Jesus is going to take his future bride home to glory. We are going to gather around the throne of God and receive our judgment. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body (be recompensed for his deeds in the body), according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Some say that our reward is simply going to heaven and hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Honestly, that would be enough for me, but some say that they are going to be in the shape of crowns. As I read my Bible, I find mention of five types of crowns: the incorruptible crown for those who have lived a disciplined Christian life; the crown of rejoicing for those who are soul winners; the crown of righteousness for those who look forward to Christ’s return; the crown of life for those who have given their lives for the sake of the Kingdom; and the crown of glory for those called of God to shepherd His sheep.
The Lord Jesus Christ is going to judge His people. Imagine standing before our Savior with all the other saints while all their deeds are read and their crowns are given. What a joyous time that will be! For some. How are you going to feel as all of your deeds are broadcast to all of these saints? All of them tested as if by fire to see if they were truly done to bring glory and honor to the Father. How many will be burned away as nothing but selfish ambition, self-glorification, and just plain self working in order to look like you are serving the Lord? That will be an eye-opening experience for some, but what a blessing to be able to take those crowns we receive and place them at Jesus’ feet in worship — acknowledging once and for all that He alone is worthy of praise.
There is another judgment, however, that is going to be far worse for those who have never trusted in Jesus Christ. That is the Great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20. After Satan has been bound and cast into the hell that was prepared for him, God is going to judge mankind. Notice John writes, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God….” The dead are the lost of all ages. Christians won’t face this judgment because they are already alive, resurrected with Jesus. Everyone who has gone to his grave without professing Jesus as Lord of his life will be there. It doesn’t matter how good they were. It doesn’t matter how rich they were. Nothing matters other than their relationship with Jesus Christ, because the dead, small and great are going to stand before Him in judgment. When the apostle Paul said that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, that is the day it will happen. The hard-hearted as well as the hard-headed will know then that the Lamb of Calvary is the Master of the Universe, but then will be too late.
Look at what John says next. “And the books were opened….” One of these books holds the deeds of men’s lives. There has been a lot of speculation as to how God is going to do this. Some say he is going to flash all of those deeds across a giant movie screen and everything that you thought was hidden and secret will be known. Every sin that you have committed will come flooding back into your mind. Every opportunity you had to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be there haunting you and you will say to all, “Why didn’t I listen then when I had the chance?” It will be there.
But the verse says that “the books were opened.” The other book is the Lamb’s book of Life. In that book is the name of every child of God written in the blood of Jesus Christ. But let me tell you a little secret. Every human being that ever lived had his name in that book before they died. But once their lives were over, if they had not received the gift of eternal life by believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection and if they never confessed with their mouths in this lifetime that Jesus Christ is Lord, their names are blotted out of that precious book. Moses knew that in Exodus 32. The Psalmist wrote about it in Psalm 69:28. But because He is a God of grace and mercy, because He is a God of justice and holiness, He is going to check that book again looking for the name of that lost person, but it isn’t going to be there. There is only one way to keep your name in the book of life. Jesus said, “I am the Way.” Paul said in Romans 10:9, 13 (NKJV) “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The time to call upon him is now. Today is the day of Salvation. Now is the accepted time. Tomorrow may be too late to be sure that your name remains written in that Book of Life.
Judgment is going to come. When God searches the Book for your name and it isn’t there, judgment will come. Verse 15 says, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Judgment is complete. Judgment is final. There is no appeals court. There is no purgatory. There is no way out.
But that isn’t quite the end of the story. Look over at chapter 21 verse 4. “God shall wipe the tears from their eyes.” Brother, God isn’t going to wipe the tears from the eyes of the lost. He is going to be wiping the tears from the eyes of the saints in heaven. There is going to be sorrow on that day because husbands and wives are going to be separated for all eternity. Parents and children, brothers and sisters will never be together again. Friends will no longer be seen. There are going to be tears of sorrow on that day as Christians wonder what more they could have done to win that loved one to faith in Jesus Christ. But then it will be too late. Now is the time for tears. Today is the day to witness. Tomorrow may be too late to share Jesus Christ with that lost person.
Maybe you’ve been praying for years that someone you love would come to know the Lord. When was the last time you shared the gospel with them? I’m not talking about inviting them to church; I’m talking about showing them from God’s Word how much He loves them and how they can enter that relationship with Jesus if they only believe.
Lost Friend, what are you going to do with Jesus? If you are lost, if you have never asked Jesus Christ to come into your life and save you, you are destined for hell. If you were to die right now, you would go to hell. But you don’t have to. You can change your destiny with a simple prayer. Just pray to God, “Father I am a sinner. Forgive me of the sins I have committed. Jesus, I know that you died on the cross for my sins, and on the third day, you rose again. I confess that you are Lord of the universe, and now I want you to be Lord of my life.” And then thank him. The Bible says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, so if you do this, welcome to the family of God. Find you a pastor that you can talk to about this decision, and let him guide you through your next steps. But let me know that you’ve made this decision so that I can pray for and rejoice with you.
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