Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 96 of The Berean Manifesto brought to you by The Ekklesian House.  This is Pastor Bill and over the next 15 minutes, or so, we are going to wrap up our series on the elementary teachings of Christianity with this, our sixth installment.

I would encourage you to start at the beginning of this series, if you didn’t already, back in season 2 episode 91 where we talked about baptism.  The topics in this series are the milk of Christian theology.  These are the things we understand to be the very first basics that you should teach a new Christian when you are discipling them.  We don’t see a lot of discipling going on anymore, so a lot of Christians haven’t been taught this stuff.  This list does comes straight from Hebrews 6:1-2 CSB, “[1] Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, [2] teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”  In this installment we will be taking about eternal judgment.

In the modern Christian mind, when we read the term eternal judgment, most likely what pops into your mind as the intended meaning of the author is hell.  That instinct can get you in trouble when reading the bible, because not every instance of the word judgment means “guilty verdict.”  By eternal judgment the author could just as well be indicating that there will be a trial and that the final decision of the judge will be eternal.  We have to take the original language to find out which, the word is:

G2917 κρίμα krima kree'-mah From G2919; a decision (the function or the effect, for or against [“crime”]): - avenge, condemned, condemnation, damnation, + go to law, judgment.

In this instance the word used in the original language does in fact mean guilty verdict and is therefore talking about Hell.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, the deciding factor in this judgement is based off one fact, and one fact alone.  Did you truly believe in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God who died in your place, and did you confess that faith in front of others?  If you did then you will be found not guilty, but if you rejected the sacrifice of Christ then you have been guilty from the beginning.  This isn’t a judgment passed by me, or a condemnation by God, or even a fear tactic to get you to line up and behave.  It’s a warning that Hell is a very real place and without faith in Christ everyone is already headed there.

Now, when we read through the New Testament, we find several references to the coming “day of wrath” or the “judgment” or the “judgment seat of Christ.”  More or less, all of these reference the same event that Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 5:10 CSB, “[10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”  He references it a little different in Romans 2:5-10 CSB, “[5] Because of your hardened and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. [6] He will repay each one according to his works: [7] eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; [8] but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness. [9] There will be affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; [10] but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.”

We haven’t talked about Hell yet, but we’re getting there.  It’s important to build up the scriptural base work before just jumping straight to Hell.  At this judgement we’ve been talking about, it makes sense from all that we know of God that, that He would reward good works.  Why though, separate from Hell, do we see wrath and anger, affliction and distress for evil done?  Isn’t Hell going to be enough?  Well, first off, everyone goes through the judgement and will have to answer for every act they took during their life, good or bad regardless of their final destination.  Everyone going on to eternity with The Lord goes through this same judgement and will have to answer for all the good and the bad they did in their life.  It’s both sides.  I think Enoch put it well in the first book of Enoch chapter one verse nine, but since we don’t quote extra biblical text on this format we’ll settle for Jude quoting the same text in Jude 1:14-15 CSB, “[14] It was about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied: “Look! The Lord comes with tens of thousands of his holy ones [15] to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly concerning all the ungodly acts that they have done in an ungodly way, and concerning all the harsh things ungodly sinners have said against him.”  That word convict there in “to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly.”  That’s in the idea of internal conviction or to convince, to fully persuade.  The idea is that the Lord will take time to fully persuade, to convince you, that the things you did in your life that He deems as bad were actually bad.  It’s not unsimilar to a psychiatrist walking a disturbed victim through accepting their trauma so that they can begin healing.

Alright, up to this point including the last episode, we’ve covered that the Lord will return to resurrect the dead believers and at that same event believers who are still alive will meet the Lord in the air.  Both the dead and the living who are taken up will receive new incorruptible bodies.  We’ve also covered that at some point there will be a judgement.  This brings us to Revelation 20:10-15 CSB, “[10] The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. [11] Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. [12] I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. [13] Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works. [14] Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. [15] And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”  That lake of fire and sulfur is what we refer to as Hell.  In this passage we see that all the dead that weren’t resurrected before and all that have died since are resurrected, the books recording all works and the Book of Life with the names of all believers are opened.

Let’s pull one more scripture excerpt in here in Matthew 25:31-46 CSB it’s recorded that Jesus taught, “[31] When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. [32] All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. [33] He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. [34] Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. [35] ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; [36] I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ [37] “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? [38] When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? [39] When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ [40] “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ [41] “Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! [42] For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; [43] I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’ [44] “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help you?’ [45] “Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ [46] “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

All those questions about, “you didn’t feed me,” “you didn’t clothe me,” “you didn’t come visit me in prison,” “you didn’t take care of me while I was sick.”  I believe this is Jesus drawing on allegory to draw out the most important aspects of Jewish culture and that the whole interaction is those books of works being opened and gone through.  That this is Jesus trying to be relatable to the crowd and not go over their heads like so much of what He preached regularly.

Once again, Hell isn’t a scare tactic to control you and get you to be good.  I’m not saying that no one has tried those tactics, but that’s not what Hell is.  Hell is the eternal consequence of being separated from God, first by the failure of Lucifer to overcome his imperfection and then Adam who failed in the same way.

Having set reality in motion it would seemingly defy the nature of God to just snap His fingers and undo the consequences of those actions.  Jesus came as the only legal answer to the problem and died in our place.  Stepping into covenant with Christ redeems us from the eternal consequence that is Hell.

This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”

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