It’s a well established fact in the Scriptures that every person will face God’s judgement at the end of this life, to give an account of the lives they lived on earth, and to be judged for their deeds/misdeeds. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that it’s appointed unto men to die once, and after this comes judgement. So, God’s judgement is surely awaiting everyone at the end of the road! That’s very clear, and should make us live soberly and carefully, as people who will give an account of their lives someday. However, what’s not so clear to most people is whether saints and sinners will undergo the same type of judgement before God. In this study, we shall examine the Scriptures to understand the different types of judgements saints and sinners will undergo at the end of the ages.
Hebrews 9:27 People are destined to die once and then face judgment (CEB).
The Acts 17:30 God overlooks ignorance of these things in times past, but now directs everyone everywhere to change their hearts and lives.
The Acts 17:31 This is because God has set a day when he intends to judge the world justly by a man he has appointed. God has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (CEB).
Let’s start with the judgement of unrepentant sinners. The Scriptures teach very clearly that sinners who die without remission of their sins will go to hell to await the second resurrection and final judgement at the end of the ages. During the final judgement which will take place at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, all the wicked and unrepentant sinners in hell will come up before Christ in their resurrected bodies, to be judged according to their works. For rejecting God’s grace and salvation through Christ Jesus, they will be judged for their unremitted sins. Sinners will thus be judged according to their works, to determine if their works can atone for their sins and procure salvation for their souls. But, because the best of any man’s righteousness is just like filthy rags before God (for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory), none of the inhabitants of hell standing in judgement before God will be justified, simply because their sins are unremitted, and the wrath of God abides on them perpetually, for rejecting God’s provided way of escape from the penalty of sin. Because the sinner standing before God in judgement was not saved in his lifetime, his name was not written in the book of life, which is the divine record of the redeemed of all ages. All sinners standing in judgement before God will be declared guilty of sin, because their names are missing in the book of life, and they will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. This is the prophesied outcome of the final judgement for all sinners whose sins were not remitted in their lifetime by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 20:11 I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them.
Revelation 20:12 I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and hell gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works.
Revelation 20:14 Death and hell were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:15 If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire (NHEB).
St. John 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
St. John 3:15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
St. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
St. John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
St. John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
St. John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
St. John 3:20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
St. John 3:21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God (NIV).
St. John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.
St. John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them (NIV).
Isaiah 64:6 We have all become like the unclean;
all our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag.
All of us wither like a leaf;
our sins, like the wind, carry us away (CEB).
Thus, we see from the Scriptures that sinners will stand in judgement for their unremitted sins, and that the outcome of this judgement for sin is the second death in the lake of fire. This will be the final destiny of all men and women who died without making peace with God through his son Jesus Christ. Now, what kind of judgement will believers in Christ face, seeing from the Scriptures that they too will undergo judgement before God? What’s the purpose of the judgement believers are to undergo before Christ, and what are the possible outcomes of this judgement? Let’s examine the relevant Scriptures to answer these questions.
It’s important to understand that the believer’s judgement for sin took place vicariously at Calvary some 2000 years ago, when Christ took upon himself the sins of the whole world and became a sin offering, to appease God’s wrath and reconcile sinful men back to God. As many as believe in this substitutionary sacrifice for sin and accept Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour are justified from all their sins and are reconciled completely with God. Christ received the full punishment for the believer’s sins at Calvary. Therefore, no believer shall come into judgement for his sins again, because he is already justified and in right standing with God. There is no condemnation again for anyone in Christ. The believer in Christ has already passed from death to life and cannot be condemned again! God cannot condemn again a man he has justified and adopted as his own son!
2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;
2 Corinthians 5:15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
2 Corinthians 5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation (ESV).
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 5:2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
Romans 5:4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
Romans 5:10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Romans 5:11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (NIV).
John 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,
John 5:23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
John 5:25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.
John 5:26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,
John 5:27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
John 5:29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
John 5:30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me (NKJV).
Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,
Romans 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Romans 8:15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Father.”
Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
Romans 8:34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us (NIV).
Since the believer is not appearing before the judgement seat of Christ to be judged for his sins, what then is the purpose of this judgement? The Scriptures make it clear that believers will appear before the judgement seat of Christ for the evaluation of their works and service to God, in order for them to be properly rewarded for their labours. During this judgement, Christ will unveil the motives of our actions and will bring to light everything done in the dark. The sincerity and honesty of our actions and intentions, our sacrifices for the sake of the Lord, the quality of our services, etc, will all be exposed for all to see. The Lord will also judge our faithfulness with the skills, talents, and abilities he gave us to use in his service and in the service of humanity. If our works are found satisfactory, we will receive appropriate rewards from the Lord. If, however, our works are found wanting, we will lose our rewards for service. But, it will not affect our salvation, as salvation is a free gift of grace and not a reward for our works. Our positions in God’s kingdom will be the rewards for our labours, but entering God’s kingdom is entirely by grace, and is totally dependent on faith in Christ Jesus, and not on any works of righteousness which we have done.
Romans 14:10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Romans 14:11 For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”
Romans 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way (NKJV).
1 Corinthians 3:4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
1 Corinthians 3:5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe —as the Lord has assigned to each his task.
1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
1 Corinthians 3:7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.
1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.
1 Corinthians 3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
1 Corinthians 3:13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
1 Corinthians 3:14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
1 Corinthians 3:15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved —even though only as one escaping through the flames (NIV).
St. Matthew 25:14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.
St. Matthew 25:15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
St. Matthew 25:16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.
St. Matthew 25:17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.
St. Matthew 25:18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
St. Matthew 25:19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.
St. Matthew 25:20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ’Master,’ he said, ’you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
St. Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
St. Matthew 25:22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ’Master,’ he said, ’you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
St. Matthew 25:23 “His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
St. Matthew 25:24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ’Master,’ he said, ’I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
St. Matthew 25:25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
St. Matthew 25:26 “His master replied, ’You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?
St. Matthew 25:27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
St. Matthew 25:28 “’So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.
St. Matthew 25:29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
St. Matthew 25:30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (NIV).
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God —
Ephesians 2:9 not by works, so that no one can boast (NIV).
The Lord promised to reward every labour of love done in his name and for his sake. Even a cup of cold water given to someone who belongs to him will not go unrewarded. Every toil, deed and action to promote the cause of Christ on earth is being noted in God’s book of remembrance, and will be rewarded accordingly. It’s at the judgement seat of Christ that the believer will receive the rewards of his service to the Lord during his lifetime. This is the judgement that believers in Christ will undergo- the judgement to evaluate and reward their labours in God’s vineyard. It is a judgement to determine the position of power and authority believers will occupy in God’s kingdom. Some believers who are little known here and relatively unsung will surprisingly occupy the highest positions of honour in heaven after this judgement, because of the quality of their work in God’s vineyard, which, though not noticed by man, was well documented and recognised in heaven. Similarly, some notable names who are considered first here by men will be last at the end of Christ’s judgement of our labours. We need then to be careful and heaven-minded as we serve God and his people, for our ultimate reward will come from God, not man! Let us then do our work as unto the Lord, and not unto men!
1 Corinthians 4:1 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.
1 Corinthians 4:2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
1 Corinthians 4:3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
1 Corinthians 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God (NIV).
St. Matthew 10:40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
St. Matthew 10:41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.
St. Matthew 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (NIV).
Hebrews 10:32 Don’t ever forget those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.
Hebrews 10:33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things.
Hebrews 10:34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail. When all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew you had better things waiting for you in eternity.
Hebrews 10:35 Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you!
Hebrews 10:36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
Hebrews 10:37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
Hebrews 10:38 And a righteous person will live by faith. But I will have no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” (NLT).
Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name.
Malachi 3:17 “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts,
“On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.”
Malachi 3:18 Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him (NKJV).
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
Colossians 3:24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (NIV).
St. Matthew 19:27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
St. Matthew 19:28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
St. Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
St. Matthew 19:30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first (NIV).
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.
1 Corinthians 9:27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (NIV).
Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (ESV).
In conclusion, the Scriptures teach that all men will stand before God in judgement at the end of the ages, to give account of their lives and deeds done in the body. Thus, a time of reckoning awaits every man at the end of the road. While all men will face God’s judgement, the nature of the sinner’s judgement is entirely different from that of the saint’s. The sinner will be judged for his unremitted sins, having rejected God’s pardon for sin in his lifetime. The wicked will thus be judged for their sins, and since the wages of sin is death, they will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. That’s the fate of all sinners who were not reconciled to God in their lifetime, through a faith relationship with Christ Jesus. As for the saint, because his sins were remitted in Christ, he will not appear before Christ for judgement on account of his sins, as Christ had already paid the price for the believer’s sins on Calvary some 2000 years ago. The believer has already passed from death to life and cannot come into judgement again for sin. The judgement the believer will face will be to evaluate his services and labour of love in order to determine the reward such labours deserve. The judgement of the believer is thus to determine his reward, position and authority in God’s kingdom, following a lifetime dedicated to the service of God. It’s a judgement of rewards for works, not punishment for sins. No believer will lose his salvation following that judgement, even though some will lose their rewards, because their services will be deemed unsatisfactory. May we then strive to make peace with God through his son Jesus Christ, that we may escape the judgement for sins. May we also, as believers, endeavour to serve faithfully and diligently in God’s vineyard, because our rewards are determined by the quality of our service, as God is no respecter of persons, but will reward each one according to his works.
Revelation 22:10 And he said to me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
Revelation 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Revelation 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie (AKJV).
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