Posts Tagged ‘Great White Throne’

The Different Judgments In Scripture

June 30, 2011 Comments off

Just as our legal system has many courts, so in God’s word we see many different courts, or judgments.  We have our federal courts, state courts, and even local county or city courts.  Not all cases and not all people face justice in each court.  So when it comes to understanding the Bible, we are not to jump to conclusions and assume that all the mentions of judgment are referring to one single future judgment.

In looking at Matthew 25:31-46, S. Lewis Johnson points this out, and briefly lists the different judgments set forth in scripture:

1.  The Judgment that Christ bore, paying for our sins at Calvary
2.  The Believer’s Self-Judgment, spoken of by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11  (see also 1 John 5:16-17)
3.  The “Bema Seat” judgment of all believers, for our rewards — reference 1 Cor. 3:12-15
Good resources concerning this topic:  John MacArthur’s Believer’s Rewards and S. Lewis Johnson’s The Believer’s Judgment

4.  Judgment of Living Israelites, for going into the Messianic Kingdom (Isaiah 65:8-16, Zephaniah 1, Zechariah 13)
5.  Judgment of Living Gentiles, for going into the Kingdom (Matt. 25:31-46)
6.  Judgment of the Fallen Angels  (Rev. 20)
7.  Judgment of the Unbelieving Dead — The “Great White Throne” of Revelation 20:11-15

I was aware of some of these, but had never heard them listed out.  From some googling, though, I found additional information including a Walvoord book, “Major Bible Prophecies: 37 Crucial Prophecies That Affect You Today” which also describes the many different judgments found in the Bible.

Many believers (especially amillennialists and postmillennialists) have concluded that the Sheep and Goats judgment is the same event as the Great White Throne, a single general judgment of all believers.  A recent blog from Michael Vlach especially compares these two judgments, noting nine important differences between these accounts.

S. Lewis Johnson likewise noted that the historical church position was to view the account in Matthew 25 as describing a single general judgment, a parallel to the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation 20.  But as with many things in this overall category of doctrine, more thorough study shows the differences.  Just as the resurrection will take place in phases, first the resurrection of the just followed by a time gap of 1000 years before the resurrection of the wicked, so too God’s word reveals many phases in God’s judgments upon His creation: the great judgment put upon His son, and the many judgments to the living and the dead, of both the just and the wicked.

The Salvation of Infants That Die: Scriptural Evidences

January 24, 2011 Comments off

Nearly a year and a half ago I first blogged on the doctrine of the salvation of infants who die.  I had only recently considered this, a new subject to me, and now after further thought feel even more certain, from a scriptural basis, concerning the matter.  I also see a great contrast between those who understand the mercy of God displayed here, versus those who lack such understanding of God’s character.

Here, in summary, are several scriptural evidences:

1.  The case of David’s infant son that died, versus Absalom’s death — I first heard this from MacArthur, but recently learned that Spurgeon also noted this contrast.  MacArthur expanded a few sentences on the point, but perhaps he originally learned of this example from Spurgeon’s sermon.

2.  The frequent mentions in the gospels, that you must be like little children in order to see the kingdom of God.  The statement is a comparison, that the believer must be “like” little children — but the thing being compared to must agree for the comparison to make any sense.  If little children are only awful sinners that will only go to hell unless they grow up and receive Jesus, then why make a comparison between believers and “little children”?

3. The nature of the Great White Throne judgment:  those at the judgment are judged according to their works, and they understand why they are sentenced; infants would not understand why they are in hell and suffering torment.

4.  Ezekiel 16:20-21 is an interesting account that Spurgeon noted.  The Israelites had been sacrificing their infant children to the pagan god Moloch, and God speaks of those dead infant children as “My children,” saying “you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them?”  This one I find especially compelling — for God, throughout the Bible, clearly distinguishes between the wicked and righteous, even among the people of Israel.  If these children were merely “baby snakes” that must go to hell for their infant-sinfulness, then why does God refer to these now deceased infants as His children?

5.  We know that God is capable of putting His spirit (new birth, regeneration) into even young children, even in those still in the womb as in the case of John the Baptist.

6.  The vast number of saved souls in heaven, as described in Revelation, at least implies the salvation of many more people than can be accounted for from just the known adult believers throughout world history and even the Church Age.  Spurgeon often noted this, including in his sermon about the salvation of infants that die.

While this doctrine is admittedly one of the “lesser points,” still the root of it points to one’s conception of God, one’s understanding of how we are truly saved (by God alone, nothing on our part) and of God’s mercy.  Consider Spurgeon’s very strong words to those who would charge Calvinists as ascribing such cruelty to God:

As for modern Calvinists, I know of no exception, but we all hope and believe that all persons dying in infancy are elect. Dr. Gill, who has been looked upon in late times as being a very standard of Calvinism, not to say of ultra-Calvinism, himself never hints for a moment the supposition that any infant has perished. He affirms of it that it is a dark and mysterious subject but that it is his belief and he thinks he has Scripture to warrant it, that they who have fallen asleep in infancy have not perished, but have been numbered with the chosen of God and so have entered into eternal rest.

We have never taught the contrary and when the charge is brought, I repudiate it and say, “You may have said so, we never did and you know we never did. If you dare to repeat the slander again, let the lie stand in scarlet on your very cheek if you are capable of a blush.” We have never dreamed of such a thing. With very few and rare exceptions, so rare that I never heard of them except from the lips of slanderers, we have never imagined that infants dying as infants have perished—but we have believed that they enter into the Paradise of God.

It seems that many of today’s Reformed-Calvinist believers have forgotten many basic things of their forefathers, including a full understanding of God’s sovereignty in election along with His mercy.  For instance, a certain pastor I’ve mentioned before (messed up theology in many areas), when asked about the salvation of babies who die, cited the then-recent case of the woman who killed her five young children because she believed that babies would go to heaven if they die.  He added that, if that’s true (what the crazy woman believed) then “the sooner the better” and we should go out and kill all babies so as to guarantee their ticket to heaven.   Here I can only think of Paul’s words in Romans — “God forbid!” in the King James language, or “By no means!” — in response to a similar careless attitude that we should just sin all the more so that grace will abound more.

In my original post on this, I noted a correlation between this topic (salvation for infants that die) and understanding of a future salvation for Israel, and listed several names under each category.  I now can add several more names, to only confirm that correlation:  Hyper-calvinist John Gill, as well as S. Lewis Johnson and J.C. Ryle, who understood the salvation of both groups.

On the other hand, today’s amillennialists with no future for Israel, seem to have an especially hard time with the issue of God’s sovereignty in election (kind of like Arminian free-will thought), which touches on both matters.  They somehow still only want God’s election for themselves:  Gentile adults of every race who come to awareness of their own need for God and receive Christ.  But (for them) somehow it’s not fair that infants and young children automatically “get a free ticket” or that descendants of Israel (and again, not every single one of them, but a large number of them as scripture clearly teaches) automatically get special favor.

Perhaps some amillennialists out there — those who see no future salvation, much less a kingdom for Israel — do hold to the salvation of those who die before the age of accountability.  I haven’t met any, but certainly welcome them — but the two issues do seem to correlate.

The Seven Last Things: Revelation 19 – 21

August 16, 2010 Comments off

S. Lewis Johnson, in the last set of messages in the Divine Purpose series, mentions the seven last things associated with our Lord’s return, as described by John in Revelation:

1.  Christ Returns — Revelation 19:11-16
2.  Final Conflict with the Beast and the False Prophet — Revelation 19:17-21
3.  The Binding of Satan — Revelation 20:1-3
4.  The Kingdom of the Messiah — Revelation 20:4-6
5.  The Last Conflict — Revelation 20:7-10
6.  Great White Throne Judgment — Revelation 20:11-15
7.  New Heavens and New Earth — Revelation 21

Are Dispensationalists Really the Pessimistic Ones?

April 16, 2010 Comments off

Over at Dr. Reluctant, Paul Henebury responds to a claim that dispensationalists are pessimistic regarding the future, expecting that “the present age will end in apostasy and divine judgment” (Walvoord) and that “almost unbelievably hard times lie ahead” (Charles Ryrie).  That post points out the truth concerning what the Bible has to say regarding our glorious future and optimism, as distinguished from confidence in the Church:

Our confidence in the Church is less ebullient.  There is a big difference between what the Church is called to be (Matt. 5:14-16; Phil. 2:15; cf. 2 Cor. 3:2-3) and what it often is (1 Cor. 1:10-11; Gal. 5:15, 26).  The Church has spent most of its history underachieving.  We see no good reason why this sorry trend should not continue.  While fully recognizing the truth of the Great Commission, we do not see in it any guarantee that the Church will “Christianize” the earth.  … We believe the sanguine expectation expressed by some regarding the institution of the coming kingdom in the continued absence of the King is due to poor exposition of biblical texts and the effects of supersessionist theology on their interpretations.”

I have found in my own discussions with amillennial preterists, though, that one’s attitude towards Christ’s Second Advent is linked to one’s eschatology — and it is actually the non-futurist, non-dispensationalist that has the more negative view.  After all, if someone thinks that all Bible prophecy has been fulfilled except for Christ’s return, and thinks of Christ’s return as a simple, single event in which Christ shows up and immediately starts the Great White Throne judgment for all souls, the natural tendency is to associate the return of Christ with judgment, and judgment only.  The reaction to this idea is to desire that this world continue so that we can keep building up the Church, building up the Kingdom of God now, and save as many as possible — because once Christ returns it’s all over, it’s too late for anyone to be saved.  Another consequence is for such a believer to look at the dispensationalist, full of hope and desire for Christ’s return … and suppose that the dispensationalist is being negative and desiring God’s judgment on the ungodly.

Granted, Christ’s return does include judgment on the ungodly.  Yet it includes so much more, many wonderful things foretold in the New Testament.  The NT epistles abound with references to our blessed hope, to our eager anticipation of His coming for us; we are to expect His return at any time.  Further, the detailed events — which our God has felt it important to reveal to us — tell us of the vast multitude of saved believers coming out of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7) as well as the many future believers during the Millennial Kingdom before the final judgment preceding the Eternal State.  As Spurgeon said of this:

Nor let it be forgotten that the multitudes of converts in the millennial age will very much turn the scale. For then the world will be exceedingly populous, and a thousand years of a reign of grace might easily suffice to overcome the majority accumulated by sin during six thousand years of its tyranny. In that peaceful period, when all shall know him, from the least even unto the greatest, the sons of God shall fly as doves to their windows, and the Redeemer’s family shall be exceedingly multiplied. . . . We admit that the number of the damned will be immense, but we do think that the two states of infancy and millennial glory will furnish so great a reserve of saints that Christ shall win the day.

A biblically grounded view of the future actually gives us the greater optimism, a hope that agrees with what we actually observe in this world, so that we need not fret over the continual troubles in the world and the continual and escalating failures of the Church.  We eagerly await the resurrection / rapture, at which we will receive our glorified bodies, rejoicing also that the creation too will be delivered from its bondage to renewal  (Romans 8).  The preterist / amillennialist looks at the pending judgment as the main event when Christ returns, and supposes to himself —  well, the resurrection will be nice when it comes, but meanwhile I’d rather just stay here and help build up the Church and this (present) kingdom of God, because then it will be too late, the show will be over for everyone not yet saved.  Yet we can look at the whole picture as biblically presented, understanding with the apostle John that the Second Advent involves both the bitter and the sweet part of the scroll (Revelation 10), and say in full agreement with John, “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).