We’ve looked at what it means to stand before a throne upon which the Lord Jesus Christ will sit. The bema, or judgment seat of Christ, was, in earth time, one thousand or more years earlier. It was experienced by all believers of the Church Age, or Age of Grace.
This judgment took place immediately upon all believers—those who lived and died during the Age of Grace—going to Christ when He called (Revelation 4:1). Rapture removed all who accepted Christ as Savior so they wouldn’t have to endure the Tribulation, which would put on trial or test the whole world of rebels (Revelation 3:10).
Their Lord, symbolically called their “Bridegroom,” then whisked them to His Father’s House, Heaven, where He had been preparing “dwelling places” for them. As a matter of fact, they will sit down to a huge marriage supper—the marriage supper of the Lamb. It will be for Jesus and His Bride, the Church, for which He died to redeem from sin. This will be their eternal homes, where they will forever be with the Savior and, symbolically, their Bridegroom.
Upon entering Heaven, at some point, these believers will individually stand before the bema. The heavenly dimension is outside of time. It has no beginning and no end. So, it is not tied to a specific date as an event is in earth time. We believe the Tribulation will be taking place on earth during this great event in Heaven.
The bema will be for bestowing rewards on all Church-Age saints. There is no punishment whatsoever meted out at this judgment. Any sin is forgotten, because, for those who have repented of sin and accepted Christ as Savior, Jesus paid all sin debt when He died on the cross at Calvary. God no longer remembers their sin since the moment when Jesus said while suspended between Heaven and earth, “It is finished!”
Now, however, we look at a judgment that is 180 degrees opposite of the bema. This is the most terrible fate that could befall any living being. It is final in every respect. There is no avoiding it once one stands before this great white throne.
Jesus will be the Judge in this judgment seat, too. But, this time, He won’t be the loving Savior, Advocate, and Bridegroom. He will at this eternal moment be both judge and jury. He is prosecutor, and the one who will hand out the punishment to those who are already condemned. They wouldn’t stand before this judgment bar if they were not guilty as charged. Each will have his or her life examined by the piercing, omniscient eyes of God the Son. His all-knowing gaze will look into the very soul of every person. All will stand before Christ in resurrected bodies that are made for eternal destruction. The fires of their destination will not consume these indestructible bodies. At the same time, in some way the infinite mind can’t grasp, their bodies will be in a constant state of dying. And this state will last FOREVER.
To us, the authors, this is the least desirable part of all of God’s prophetic Word to have to examine and relay to you the reader. But it is absolutely essential that we do so. Your very fate hangs in the balance.
How you respond to the truth found in God’s Holy Word about this matter will determine whether you on one eternal day will stand, condemned, before the great white throne. We see this most terrible event for the unrepented-of sins of mankind in the following verses:
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11–15)
We have looked at Adolf Hitler’s attempt to carry out his Final Solution. This volume has examined Antichrist’s coming genocidal Fourth Reich that will be an even more intensive attempt at the Final Solution. God has his own Final Solution in mind—the Final Solution to the rebellious evil of Satan and God-rejecting mankind.
Dr. Dwight J. Pentecost writes about the place of eternal torment for the lost souls of human history:
Before the great white throne appear all “the dead” (Rev. 20:12). Those resurrected unto life have all been called out of the grave a thousand years earlier (Rev. 20:3–6). Those resurrected here are to be judged to be appointed unto the “second death” (Rev. 20:14), that is, eternal separation from the kingdom of God. This is the final act in the program that was enacted “that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). Since this program has been developed previously it need not be repeated here. The summary of Kelly suffices:
The dead were judged, but not out of the book of life which has nothing to do with judgment. “The dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works.” Why then is the book of life mentioned? Not because any of their names were written therein, but in proof that they were not. The book of life will confirm what is gathered from the books. If the books proclaim the evil works of the dead that stand before the throne, the book of life offers no defense on the score of God’s grace. Scripture records no name whatever as written there among those judged. There was the sad register of undeniable sins on the one side; there was no writing of the name on the other side. Thus, whether the books or the book be examined, all conspire to declare the justice, the solemn but most affecting righteousness, of God’s final irrevocable sentence. They were judged, each one, according to their works. “And if any one was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.” Thus the only use that seems made of the book is negative and exclusive. Not that any of those judged (and the scene described is solely a resurrection of judgment) are said to be written there: we are shown rather that they were not found in the book.
Neither the sea nor the unseen world could longer hide their prisoners. “And the sea gave up the dead that [were] in it, and death and hades gave up the dead that [were] in them: and they were judged, each one, according to their works.”
Again, Death and Hades are said to come to their end, personified as enemies. “And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.” Thus was concluded all dealing on the Lord’s part with soul and body, and all that pertains to either. The race was now in the resurrection state either for good or for ill; and thus it must be forever. Death and Hades, which had so long been executioners in a world where sin reigned, and still did their occasional office when righteousness reigned, themselves disappear where all traces of sin are consigned for ever. God is “all in all.”
God’s purpose in the judgments prior to the millennium was to “gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:41–42). God’s purpose in the judgments at the end of the millennium is to remove from the eternal kingdom “all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.” By this judgment God’s absolute sovereignty has now been manifested….
The destiny of the lost is a place in the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14–15; 21:8). This lake of fire is described as everlasting fire (Matt. 25:41; 18:8) and as unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43–44, 46, 48), emphasizing the eternal character of the retribution of the lost. In this connection Chafer well observes:
In attempting to write a comprehensive statement of the most solemn doctrine of the Bible, the term retribution is chosen in place of the more familiar word punishment since the latter implies discipline and amendment, which idea is wholly absent from the body of truth which discloses the final divine dealing with those who are eternally lost. It is recognized that, in its earlier and broader meaning, the term retribute was used for any reward, good or evil. The word is used…of the doctrine of hell only as reference is made to the eternal perdition of the lost. 9
Concerning the retribution of the lost, it is important to observe that the lake of fire is a place, not just a state, although a state is involved.
As heaven is a place and not a mere state of mind, in like manner those reprobated go to a place. This truth is indicated by the words hades (Matt. 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Rev. 1.18; 20:13–14) and gehenna (Matt. 5:22, 29–30; 10:28; James 3:6) a place of “torment” (Luke 16:28). That it is a condition of unspeakable misery is indicated by the figurative terms used to describe its sufferings—”everlasting fire” (Matt. 25:41); “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44); “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8); “bottomless pit” (Rev. 9:2); “outer darkness,” a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12); “fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:17); “furnace of fire” (Matt. 13:42); “blackness of darkness” (Jude 1:13), and “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (Rev. 14:11). In these instances a figure of speech is not a license to modify the thought which the figure expresses; it is rather to be recognized that a figure of speech, in these passages, is a feeble attempt to declare in language that which is beyond the power of words to describe…. It is well to observe, also, that nearly every one of these expressions fell from the lips of Christ. He alone has disclosed almost all that is revealed of this place of retribution. It is as though no human author could be depended upon to speak forth all of this terrible truth.
The student will find that “THE grave,” taken literally as well as figuratively, will meet all the requirements of the Hebrew Sheol: not that Sheol means so much specifically A grave, as generically THE grave. Holy Scripture is all-sufficient to explain the word Sheol to us. (v.) If we enquire of it in the above list of occurrences of the word Sheol, it will teach (a) That as to direction it is down. (b) That as to place it is in the earth. (c) That as to nature it is put for the state of death. Not the act of dying, for which we have no English word, but the state or duration of death. The Germans are more fortunate, having the word sterbend for the act of dying. Sheol therefore means the state of death; or the state of the dead, of which the grave is a tangible evidence. It has to do only with the dead. It may sometimes be personified and represented by a coined word, “Grave-dom,” as meaning the dominion or power of the grave. (d) As to relation it stands in contrast with the state of the living, see Deut. 30:15, 19, and I Sam. 2:6–8. It is never once connected with the living, except by contrast. (e) As to association, it is used in connection with mourning (Gen. 37:34–35), sorrow (Gen. 42:38; 2 Sam. 22:6; Ps. 18:5; 116:3), fright and terror (Num. 16:27–34); weeping (Isa. 38:3, 10, 15, 20), silence (Ps. 31:17; 6:5; Eccles. 9:10), no knowledge (Eccles. 9:5–6, 10), punishment (Num. 16:27–34; I Kings 2:6, 9; Job 24:19; Ps. 9:17, R. V., RE-turned, as before their resurrection). (f) And, finally, as to duration, the dominion of Sheol or the grave will continue until, and end only with, resurrection, which is the only exit from it (see Hos. 13:14, etc., and compare Ps. 16:10 with Acts 2:27, 31; 13:35).
- The second word to describe the place of the dead is Hades. In the New Testament this word is practically equivalent to Sheol, translated “hell” in every instance but one (1 Cor. 15:55, where it is translated “grave”). Generally this word has in view the unsaved dead, who are in misery, awaiting the resurrection unto the great white throne. On Hades it is observed:
If now the eleven occurrences of Hades in the New Testament be carefully examined, the following conclusions will be reached: (a) Hades is invariably connected with death; but never with life: always with dead people; but never with the living. All in Hades will “NOT LIVE AGAIN,” until they are raised from the dead (Rev. 20:5). If they do not “live again” until after they are raised, it is perfectly clear that they cannot be alive now. Otherwise we do away with the doctrine of resurrection altogether. (b) That the English word “hell” by no means represents the Greek Hades; as we have seen that it does not give a correct idea of its Hebrew equivalent. Sheol. (c) That Hades can mean only and exactly what Sheol means, viz., the place where “corruption” is seen (Acts 2:31; compare 13:34-37); and from which, resurrection is the only exit.”
Scofield is representative of many who distinguish between the abode of departed saved individuals before and after Christ’s resurrection. He says:
(1) Hades before the ascension of Christ. The passage in which the word occurs make it clear that hades was formerly in two divisions, the abodes respectively of the saved and of the lost. The former was called “paradise” and “Abraham’s bosom.” Both designations were Talmudic, but adopted by Christ in Lk. 16:22; 23:43. The blessed dead were with Abraham, they were conscious and were “comforted” (Lk. 16:25). The believing malefactor was to be, that day, with Christ in “paradise.” The lost were separated from the saved by a “great gulf fixed” (Lk. 16:26). The representative man of the lost who are now in hades is the rich man of Lk. 16:19-31. He was alive, conscious, in the full exercise of his faculties, memory, etc., and in torment.
(2) Hades since the ascension of Christ. So far as the unsaved dead are concerned, no change of their place or condition is revealed in Scripture. At the judgment of the great white throne, hades will give them up, they will be judged, and will pass into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:13–14)[i]
New Heaven and New Earth
Following the Millennium, the heavens and the earth will be dissolved. God will then create new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). The new earth will be to fulfill promises to Israel. God will by a specific act of creation call into being a new heaven and a new earth.
This creation will be the scene of His eternal theocratic kingdom of God.
His promise to Israel guaranteeing He will keep His covenants that the people will forever inherit the land will thus come to fruition. He has promised a national existence, a kingdom, a king, and spiritual blessings in perpetuity. He will create an eternal earth to fulfill these promises.
That Israel will be brought into the new earth out of the old earth is the promise:
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)
The creation of the new heavens and new earth is the final preparatory act anticipating the eternal kingdom of God. It is now true that God has a kingdom “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
Whereas the Church is assured of an eternal place in relation to a person—the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom—the nation Israel is pledged an eternal, recreated, pristine earth. The promise of a place is a fantastic thing to contemplate (John 14:3); that promise is overshadowed, however, by the Person into whose presence the Church Age believer is taken.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:3)
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO:
Is The DESTROYER Coming To America?
The Person of the Lord Jesus is the great promise the Bride of Christ longs for. The place is thus secondary in consideration of the glorious future we look toward.
Dwight J. Penteconst writes further:
It has already been demonstrated from passages such as Revelation 21:3 that the Lord Jesus Christ will be dwelling with men on the new earth in the eternal kingdom. Since Scripture reveals that the church will be with Christ, it is concluded that the eternal abode of the church will likewise be in the new earth, in that heavenly city, New Jerusalem, that has been especially prepared by God for the saints. Such a relationship would be the answer to the Lord’s prayer for those God had given Him: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me” (John 17:24). Since the eternal glory of Christ will be manifested in the eternal kingdom, in his eternal rule, it is natural that the church should be there to behold that glorification of Christ forever.[ii]
Heaven is the magnificent place all believers long to one day live. All Christians want to enjoy the fantastic things the Lord has promised we will inherit for eternity. One day we will be given entrance into that place of incomprehensible beauty where every tear will be wiped away forever, where we will be reunited with those we’ve been apart from because of death, where all evil and temptation will be thrown into the abyss of forgetfulness.
Our mortal eyesight and earthly cognitive abilities and imaginations will never in the slightest grasp Heaven’s infinite glory. But one day, those of us who are born-again Christians will know this beauty, where all pain, suffering, and tears will be absent! Revelation 21:4 tells us:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
There, we will hear a constant, increasingly euphoric praise by a chorus of angels continually proclaiming “Holy! Holy! Holy!” in exaltation of the One who sits on the throne. Angels surround the glorious, heavenly seat of power and authority as God reigns over all that is. Some of the angelic creatures are described as beasts, full of eyes, with six wings who don’t rest day or night in proclaiming God’s holiness (see Revelation 4:8–11).
Although from an earthly perspective, we can’t know what Heaven is like, God has put it in our spiritual senses to trust that He tells the truth about that glory we’ll one day experience:
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
That we will forever be in the presence of our God and Savior will doubtless outweigh every other consideration in the matter of the glorious future that awaits us. Heaven will be a place of perpetual light. God, Himself, will negate the need for any artificial lighting. The same, dynamic Light that exploded from His omnipotence at the Creation and at the resurrection of His Son will provide illumination throughout the streets and structures of pure, translucent gold.
The river of life will flow from the throne throughout all of His creation in perpetual purity.
Today, we might, from our earthly thoughts and understanding, think our Lord will be just a holy figure in Heaven that we see from a distance—like one of our pastors. Nothing will be farther from the truth. We’ll talk with Him, ask Him questions…be close to Him at all times.
How will that be possible with the millions and millions of saints and heavenly creatures that will no doubt inhabit that realm? It will be limitless in terms of space available. And, if our God can create all that is out of nothing, with only a Word from His mouth, will He have any difficulty being able to talk and be personal with each of us at all times? Will a God who knows every hair on our heads and how many grains of sand are on every beach have any problem at all being up close and personal in that eternal sphere?
When the heavens and earth are dissolved and remade, the Holy City, New Jerusalem, will descend and be situated on the earth, which, we have heard it said, will be greatly increased in size. Why? Because the New Jerusalem will be so massive that if it sat upon the present earth, its base would extend out over the earth’s curvature.
That city will be 1,500 miles, in, most likely, a cubed configuration—i.e., it will be 1,500 miles wide at its squared base and 1,500 miles high its squared top. Revelation 21:1–2 describes this magnificent city:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
John’s comprehensive description of the city that gives a look into the glory of Heaven should cause thrilling anticipation for the child of God.
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.
The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:10–27)
The very tabernacle of God will dwell among men at that time. Heaven is any place where God is.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)
Revelation 21 offers the most complete description of Heaven in God’s Word. Its glory can’t be encompassed by human words or understanding. Yet God has given us what He wants us to know about the place those who know Him as Heavenly Father will spend eternity.
Eternity, itself, is something that can’t be fathomed by the mortal mind. The instant we see Jesus Christ at the Rapture, or the moment we open our eyes following death, we will begin to at last comprehend what it means to have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
The world of religionists and philosophers tell Satan’s lies when they say there are many ways to God. This growing blasphemy is leading men, women, and children to the place prepared for the devil and his angels. Sadly—tragically—Hell will be these victims’ eternal place of torment if they refuse to accept God’s great grace gift of salvation.
That gift is found only in Jesus the Christ, who said:
I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father except by me. (John 14:6)
Jesus, who willingly hung on the cross and died so that people can be redeemed from sin that otherwise forever separates human beings from God, also said:
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.
I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come.
And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:16–20)
[i] ).***[ Endnote 1 Dwight J. Pentecost, Things to Come ]***