Editor's note: This column is part 10 in a series about the biblical end of days and the book of Revelation.
Much is said about the judgment day, but not all is understood. The Bible tells us, "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). However, death will not be experienced by those who are alive at Jesus' second coming.
Who will be the judge? There will be two judges -- God and Jesus. God is one (Romans 14:10), Jesus is the other (2 Corinthians 5:10), but God puts Jesus in charge of the judging (John 5:22, 27).
Where will the judging occur? In the angelic heaven where angels live and God and Jesus sit on their thrones (Romans 3:21). We studied the "angelic heaven" in earlier lessons. In the moment after our death, our souls will be perfect and happy, but we'll not be in our final state of the new heavens and new earth.
We'll be in a temporary state. The best will be yet to come. We call this the intermediate state. What will be lacking in our angelic-heaven state? We will be without a body as we enter the angelic heaven. Like people still alive on Earth, we will be waiting for the second coming, the day of resurrection, the day of judgment and our final heavenly home. That will be the day we get our new bodies and will live in final heaven, forever.
The souls of all the dead saints are in this heaven. On the day of the second coming Jesus will gather his saved souls. They will all appear in the sky in the second coming. Then follows the resurrection of the dead and raptures.
Next, everyone re-enters the angelic heaven and divine throne room where the final judgment happens. Everyone who has ever lived will be there in their resurrected bodies. Jesus separates the sheep on his right; the goats on his left (Matthew 25:32, 33).
There is but one judgment day (Revelation 11:18). Both the saved and lost will be judged (Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10). Our works both good and bad will be judged (Ecclesiastes 12:14, 2 Corinthians 5:10).
How will our works be judged? Our thoughts will be presented for us to see and possibly for everyone else to see also.
The purpose of our judgment is not to decide whether we are saved or lost. We should already know whether we are lost or saved. We are saved by God's grace. See Matthew 21:1-16.
So, what is the purpose for the judgment? All the sheep -- the saved -- will not receive the same heavenly reward and the goats --the lost -- will not receive the same degree of punishment. We will all be judged according to our works. See Luke 12:47-48 and Matthew 11:22-24 and Matthew 23:23. God will reward some with greater blessings than others, according to their deeds -- see Luke 19:11-19 and 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. There are other places this is taught in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 18 and 2 Corinthians 9:6.
Again, there is only one judgment day, but Revelation 20:11-15 tells us the judgment process has two stages. In the first stage, we are all judged from the books according to our works. These are either the books of the Bible or the record books or our life's deeds. We all fail at this point. But because of God's grace, there is a second judgment stage when all are judged according to the book -- the Lamb's Book of Life. The determiner of whether one goes to heaven or hell is whether his or her name is in this book.
Your name is in this Book of Life if you have accepted Jesus as your lord and savior by obeying the gospel.
"There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
Jay Craig of Shelbina, Mo., has worked with Shiloh Christian Children's Ranch for nearly 40 years. He's a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Craig attended Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Mo. He can be contacted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.