The day of judgment is the dividing line between time and eternity. On this side, things are temporal. On the other side, they will be eternal. The fact for serious consideration here is the finality of the judgment and the everlasting nature of things beyond. Things of earth change, and the earth itself must pass away. The souls of men now change in character, so that their destiny is uncertain. But uncertainty will disappear after the judgment as eternity closes upon all mankind.
The Finality Of The Judgment
Questions and doubts now arise, and even in the judgment many deceived and lost persons will say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matt. 7:22). Without a judgment, some questions might go on into eternity, but the judgment will settle all questions with such a finality that every lost person will thereafter be as the man without a wedding garment— speechless (Matt. 22:12).
Not only will everyone know what his eternal destiny is, but why it is so, and God’s eternal justice will be manifested. The various choices of this life, then, should be made, not thoughtlessly, but with the clear understanding that when the judgment passes, the momentous consequences of these choices will become final and eternal.
Possibility Of Change
Though God’s nature and purpose are unchangeable, in times past His unchangeable purpose or plan brought various changes in His laws, institutions, and people because the plan was designed to improve humankind.
After the judgment, God’s purpose will undoubtedly remain the same as always, but important changes in people may still continue. For instance, the souls of infants may change or mature. Though we can never know in this life just what changes may occur in eternity, we can know that whatever occurs will be right and just.
Consequences For The Saved
Regardless of any changes after judgment, we can be quite sure there will be no reversions. The saved will stay saved, and none will revert to a lost state. Though we can imagine various things which might be possible, God knows that all changes will be improvements, for if there were backslidings, regret and sorrow would be inevitable. Since there is to be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, we must be equally sure that there will be no backsliding and that, for the righteous, the consequences of the judgment will be eternal blessedness.
This fact is basic, certain, and consoling: Salvation after judgment is to be eternal. Paul says “the saints will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). We cannot be lost and still be with the Lord forever.
Again, we are taught that in the better world, God will dwell with His saints, they shall see His face, and they shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 22:3-5). In all this, there is a clear tone of finality. In the picture presented by John, we see none of the shifting uncertainties such as we know on earth. Instead, we see the steady certainty of saints in their eternal state, where time is not measured by years. Moreover, this state begins immediately after the judgment, for both the righteous and the wicked shall go away— from the judgment—into their eternal habitations (Matt. 25:46).
The Christian’s preparation for judgment is complete when death comes (Matt. 25:10-13), but one does not go into his eternal abode until after the judgment. Members of Christ’s kingdom must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10). Thus, it seems self-evident that a person is not in his eternal abode as long as he is not there eternally, but is subject to being called back for judgment.
That saints are held in reservation between judgment and death is evident from Revelation 2:9-11. The saints here pictured are clearly between death and the judgment. They are rational, knowing they are justified, yet they are waiting for the final reckoning. The judgment is necessary to settle all questions about justice and to prepare the way for entrance into everlasting abodes.
Consequences for the Lost
The consequences for the lost are just as eternal as the consequences for the saved. There is a great gulf between the saved and the lost (Luke 16:26), so there is no passing from one side to another.
That the consequences of sin are eternal is also taught in Matthew 25:46, where Christ says, “these shall go away into everlasting punishment.” In Mark 9:44, it is said of the wicked that, their “worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched,” and in Matthew 25:41, we are told that the wicked are to go “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” The punishment of the wicked will be severe, but after the judgment the justice of all this will be fully known.
Since the consequences of the judgment are eternal for all, and since the life we live in this world determines how we shall stand in the judgment, no one can be too careful. Truth alone can guide a person properly. But no one can live according to the truth without knowing it, (John 8:32), and no one can know it except from the Bible—our only source of divine revelation (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Seeing that eternity is never-ending, and that the consequences of the judgment are so great, each of us is obligated in justice to prepare himself against that day. Judgment is coming. Have you obeyed the Lord? Prepare now by obeying the Gospel. Believe that Jesus is the Son of the living God, (Acts 8:37), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess your faith in Christ before men (Matt. 10:32) and be baptized in Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38).