More bad news – Judgment, Hell and the Lake of Fire in closer detail

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From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 8 – More bad news – Judgment, Hell and the Lake of Fire in closer detail

Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness And the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98:9 (NASB)

because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Acts 17:31 (NASB)

9Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. 10For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising and the moon will not shed its light. 11I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and lay low the haughtiness of the ruthless.           

Isaiah 13:9-11 (RSV)

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

Romans 2:5 (NASB)

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.

John 3:36 (RSV)

26“For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;  27and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.  

John 5:26-27 (NASB)

Many people have heard the phrase ‘the Day of Judgment’. It is not surprising that most people view it as just one single event.  It is actually much more complicated than that. There are a number of separate judgments which take place at different times, for different reasons and for different groups of people.  We need to work briefly through each of these judgments and distinguish them from each other.  In particular we need to remember that Christians will be judged separately from non-Christians, and on a different basis.  So, firstly, God will separate out the Christians from the non-Christians:

40Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 41The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 13:40-43 (RSV)

49So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.

Matthew 13:49-50 (RSV)

His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Matthew 3:12 (NIV)

The last two verses illustrate the difference between the judgment for believers (wheat) and the final judgment for unbelievers (chaff) at the end of time.  However, there are other aspects and stages of God’s judgment as well, which occur much earlier.  The first type of judgment God brings has already been experienced.  Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, and the sins of all of us since then, the natural world itself has been cursed by God:

17To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
18It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”  

Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV)

Instead of being the paradise that was originally created for the human race, the world is now a place of pain, suffering, death and injustice.  All of this is because of sin.  That curse is, in itself, a form of immediate judgment here and now.  The difficulties we experience in the natural world are the direct and indirect consequences of our sin, which are rebounding on us.  We are already experiencing this judgment or curse right now, during our mortal lives.  However, there will also be a number of other future judgments.  These will be covered in greater detail in subsequent books in this series but the major one, for non-Christians, is the “Great White Throne Judgment”.

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