There was once a time in my life where I never enjoyed reading or writing. I never enjoyed (and still do not enjoy) reading fictional books or long pointless novels about things that neither relate to me nor have any real significance to reality. I’m boring when it comes to reading. I read for the purpose of learning and understanding something better. BUT, once upon a time, when I was in high school and college, it wasn’t reading those meaningless books that were my greatest source of displeasure. It was having to write a long boring paper on what those long meaningless books were about. WHAT A WASTE OF INK! I’m kidding. It wasn’t that bad. But one thing I never quite understood was the “revise and edit” stage of the draft. Never was there an opportunity to simply hand in your paper as is. Nope, it was labeled as the “first draft”. Then there would be a “second draft”. And sometimes even a “third draft”! In between those drafts was often the dreaded peer review phase. During those times we were paired up with another student and exchanged papers to do corrections. And during these peer reviews, there were always three types of pairs:
- The pair of 2 smart people who both do a healthy amount of corrections, to which both people benefit from.
- The pair of not so smart people who both take one good look at each other’s papers and determine that it is a work of art. Little to no corrections made. No one benefits.
- And the pair with one smart person and the other not so much. One paper is completely covered in red pen from top to bottom with corrections. And the other has a few uplifting comments and scattered opinionated remarks, rather than actual grammatical or spelling corrections, to make them feel as if they did something. Both people benefit nothing, being either assured in their paper’s quality, or overwhelmed by the number of changes needed.
In my opinion, the greatest power move during these English classes was giving someone back their paper covered with corrections and notes. And the most humiliating thing was to be on the receiving end of that heavily corrected paper. I remember having a fair share of both those experiences.
I’m in a position now where I can read and write basically whatever I desire. All those fictional books and novels are a thing of the past. Now I can fully enjoy reading and writing about boring, but awesome theology and apologetics. And during this time, I have become very accustomed to the revision process to a much greater extent than I ever have before. I have more incomplete drafts than I do blog posts. I have revisions over revisions. I’ve completely scrapped entire posts just to start them over again to be written a different style using different tones or analogies. But I never completely do away with the post before I start new. I always extract the content out before I do. There is still value that will be rolled over into the final draft. To do that requires judgment. What is good and what is bad? What will I keep and what will I scrap?
Creation is like God’s English paper, (bear with me here). The difference is that God’s first draft was already perfect. Every sentence was clear and articulate. Proper grammar kept it smooth and gave it a nice natural flow. Not a single spelling error in all its entirety. Like that one really smart kid in our class that you got paired up with for peer review; there’s really nothing you could possibly do to make it any better. That was God’s Creation. It was good. But mankind has an ego. Mankind wanted to appear as if we did something to contribute. We believed we knew better. So we scribbled in red pen all over his creation. We slipped in our opinionated remarks. We said, “It would look cooler to put a semicolon here; because I know better than God. In fact, maybe that serpent was right. We could be like God!”
With no true error of His own, God’s creation has become covered in red pen from the sin of the world. His paper is a mess. And just like any revision stage, a judgement needs to be made as He prepares for his final draft. What here is salvageable? What is good? What is bad? What can I keep, and what do I scrap?
Without Christ, that decision would have been quick and easy. The moment Adam and Eve sinned, God would have had every right (because he is God) to roll up creation into a ball and throw it all into the trash. He could have just recreated it exactly as it was before; perfect. But God, in His foreknowledge, determined a redemptive path through his son by which a remnant of his creation could be saved.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:16-18
The gift of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has added value where no value was. Mankind was already condemned. Mankind was entirely deprived of any and all worthiness to be counted as good. But Christ, the Son of God, the ultimate source of life and goodness, by his grace has placed His seal upon those who believe and trust in Him. There is now goodness within those who truly believe that now qualifies them and counts them as worthy enough to carry over into God’s final draft. We, believers, are given unto eternal life, being no longer condemned. We are saved through the provision of Jesus Christ, who knew redemption could take place.
Though we are made Holy and set apart by Christ, we still remain along the same existential creation lines as unbelievers. They continue to smear their red pen over God’s creation. They remain condemned. They remain unworthy of the final draft. Finally, at the conclusion of the Millennial Kingdom, where Christ rules with an iron rod for 1000 years, the final division of good and evil will take place.
Matthew 25:31-34. 41, 46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
These words, spoken from the mouth of Jesus himself, present us with an image of what this great final judgment will look like. Right now, Jesus sits on a throne of grace at the right side of the Father. It is a throne that believers may come boldly to, being purchased by the blood of Christ. But then, He will sit upon a great throne of glory with the purpose to Judge all of mankind from all nations and all times. He will separate the sheep from the goats, the believers from the disbelievers, his true followers from the fakers, and followers of Satan. It does not say that He will place the educated in his right hand, and the uneducated on his left. It doesn’t say the rich on his right and the poor on his left. Not the republicans on the right and democrats on the left. It says the godly sheep on his right and the ungodly goats on the left. All other divisions and categories to which people are separate today will be completely abolished and rendered meaningless. The eternal state of a man will only be based on their internal identity and reality as either lost or found.
The outward appearance will in no way be considered in this judgment. The inward condition of the heart will be brought to light. But who knows with absolute certainty the state of the heart? Who could make such a precise divide? God, and God alone. The Lord knows who his children are. The division of people will be so precise that not even the worst Christian will be lost amidst the crowd of unbelievers. It will be so exact that not even the most reasonable or considerable nonbeliever will be able to hide among the children of God.
And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from its presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both the great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the book of life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. and all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:11-15
At first glance of this passage, it may be discouraging to not hear faith being the basis by which people are judged. Rather, it appears to be by the deeds people have done in the course of their life. At this point, we must remember that all believers were caught up in the first resurrection of Christ already, and even until this point in time, they remain justified. To a certain degree, the separation of the goats and sheep would have already partially taken place. But the full number of believers would not quite be realized yet. There remain many mortal beings that lived and died during the 1000 year reign of Christ that need to be accounted for. Most Biblical scholars agree that there will probably be many who come to know the Lord and receive his salvation during the Millennium. They too will be among those who awake at this time. Verse 15, says, “And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” The condition by which your name was written into the Book of Life has always been faith. While we do have all these books by which people will be judged, this passage is very clear that the book of life is still in play. If faith in Christ remains the condition, then it is safe to assume that by faith, more names will be written in the pages of the Book of Life when Christ reigns on earth, teaching all people himself. There are also other passages that describe there being a remnant of His people present during this time that I won’t get into now, but in short, this indicates that there will be believers living and breathing during the Millennium.
But anyway, back to the books: commentator Matthew Henry describes these books as representing God’s omniscience. There is a book of God’s remembrance for all the good and bad. There is a book of the sinner’s conscience, which remained an unexposed secret until then. Opened also is the book of the scriptures containing the standard or rules by which people are to be judged according to. You could say that the scriptures contain matters of what is right, and the other books present evidence of the things that are factual and true about people. The last book, the Book of Life, assure us that just because deeds are being judged, deeds alone do not have the final say in regard to the fate of people. To those who are unbelieving, yes, their works will be what condemns them because mankind is already inherently condemned by our sinful nature. But for believers, the books recording our works will provide evidence that we truly belong to Christ. They will serve as a public confirmation that Christ resides in them, and faith is what drives them. If you live and die during the Millennium, you are not doomed to face an unwinnable trial by which works are the only basis you are judged. Faith in Christ’s redeeming grace is still the blueprint to obtaining salvation. We cannot infer that any good work or lack of bad works grant us access to eternal life. That purpose was of Christ’s incarnation. Christ’s literal reign on earth does not grant people the ability to surpass the need for grace. Mankind remains in need of Christ as their savior even then.
For those whose name is not found in the Book of Life, they will be thrown into the lake of fire; the second death. Some people might not like what I have to say regarding this, but it’s simply irrefutable. This is the same lake of fire that we see Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet thrown into in Rev 20:10 just a few sentences before. We also see that this is an eternal torment. It says in verse 10 that, “There, they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” I’d love to believe as some try to suggest, that unbelievers merely cease to exist once they are cast into the lake of fire. But I, and you, ought to trust God’s Word much more than we trust our own. The Bible is very clear and consistent in describing the punishment of the unrighteous as being eternal torment. I will merely list out references and include the keywords regarding the eternal nature of their punishment alongside it. By all means, please look up these passages yourself for greater context.
Isaiah 66:22-24 – “Undying worm, whose fire will not be quenched.”
Daniel 12:1-2 – “shame and everlasting contempt”
Matthew 18:6-9 – “Eternal Hell Fire”
Matthew 25:31-46 – “Eternal Punishment”
Mark 9:42-48 – “Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”
2 Thess 1:5-10 – “Punishment of eternal destruction”
Jude 7 – “Punishment of eternal fire”
Jude 13 – Eternal reservation for the blackest darkness
Revelation 20:10 – “Smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night”
We show such great arrogance when we try to suggest that sin is worth less than eternal torment. We demonstrate such pride to suggest that annihilation better serves justice for sin than what God says in His Word serves it properly. If our desires conflict with God’s Word, then it is we who need to change, not God.
This should cause believers to burn inside their hearts to preach the gospel even more because if the true love of Christ resides in us, then it should not be our desire for anyone to burn for eternity, as it also is not Christ’s desire. But this truth remains; the infinitely rewarding gift of Christ’s salvation is in response to an infinitely terrible demise: eternal torment. The warning of spiritual death and eternal damnation is just as important as the offer of spiritual eternal life. People need to understand they are lost before they will recognize that they need to be found. And they need to understand that being lost is to be on a path that leads to something no person wants to find themselves in or would ever wish upon even their worst enemy. That needs to be what wakes us up in the morning. Not our alarm telling us it’s time to start thinking about what you need to wear for the day. Not our passion to go out and make more green paper. Not for fame, status or recognition. Check your heart. Me included. We should be waking up, falling to our knees, and begging God to use you to share the Gospel and save souls today! That should be our motivation and drive as Christians. Anything less and we have fallen short of our calling and need to ask Him to renew our minds, that we be more aligned with Christ and his desires.
I can’t end it there. This isn’t a “fire and brimstone” message, though it may seem. This is merely the whole truth. Though this is one individual blog, everything I have written regarding end times are connected in one way or another. I URGE YOU to go back and read where it started, at “Terms and Conditions”, and read all the way through, including the few breakdowns along the way. Have your Bible open when you do so. You are missing out if you isolate these very important blog posts. And please share this message with others who are maybe too hesitant to read the Bible but would read something like this. Maybe this can be the kickstart to opening and studying the Word for the first time. Just share it with anyone because the truth regarding end times is so seldom preached. And lastly, to send you off with hope and encouragement; this is not the end. The message does not end with a fire and brimstone message. It ends with a beautiful picture of what’s to come. Therefore, so will I end (to the best of my ability) with a slight glimpse of the beautiful future believers are promised will experience in the new Heaven and New Earth. The story goes on and so will I. I hope to see you all there.