Christ qualified to be our righteous Judge by being "made like unto His brethren" "in all things," and by being "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 2 17; 4:15. The Father has "given Him authority to execute judgment . . because He is the Son of man." John 5:27.
By "the judgment," in this lesson, we refer to the entire process by which God intervenes to bring the course of this world's history to a halt, to separate the righteous from the wicked, and to mete out to each group the reward for which it has qualified. To be sure, God needs no judicial procedure by which to determine a person's eligibility for eternal life. The Bible writers make use of the human judicial process to illustrate the fact that God is not "arbitrary'' in deciding individual destiny, but infinitely fair and just. God's own people stand before His judgment bar that their right to eternal life may be authenticated _ the wicked, that God may demonstrate their characters to be irreformably out of harmony with the principles of heaven.
Part 1: The Day of Judgment
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)
God's purposes know no haste and no delay. The record of God's dealings in past history make it clear that He has a designated time for each of the major events in the plan of salvation. Jesus came in "the fullness of time." The day Pentecost occurred precisely at the time prefigured in the type and so did the killing of the true passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul assures us that there is also a day appointed for the judgement of the world. As with all God's purposes this day will surely come to pass at the appointed time.
What evidence is there that the "day of judgment"is much longer than a literal twenty-four hour day? Compare Dan. 7:26; Rev. 20:4; Rev. 20:12. See also Zechariah chapter 14.
In Daniel chapter seven we have a description of a judgment which takes place before the return of Christ. During this judgment "they shall take away his (the beast's) dominion to consume and to destroy it unto the end." Then during the millennium we are told that "judgment was given unto the saints. Finally in Revelation 20:12 we find the dead small and great standing before a great white throne to be judged. Thus we see that the judgement day really embraces a period which covers at least a thousand years. Zechariah 14 also describes events to take place during the "day of the Lord," which do not seem to make sense unless we realize that it is a panoramic view of events which take place during this thousand year period. The description is of events to take place on that "day" but not necessarily in chronological order. This day of judgment is referred to in many places as "the day of the Lord." The book of Revelation is basically a description of this "day" and it describes in detail the events which will take place during this judgment.
When would this day of judgment begin, according to Daniel? Dan. 7:10,11 (compare Dan. 8:14)
Daniel chapter seven does not give us a specific date for the beginning of this judgment. However, this chapter makes it clear that this judgment begins before Jesus returns to this earth. Chapter eight is a parallel of chapter seven and when we compare both, we discover that the event which parallels the judgment in Daniel seven, is the cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel eight. This gives us the starting point of the judgment, which is the end of the 2300 days.
We are presently living in the "day of the Lord." God gives us this awareness so that we might be adequately prepared for the events which are about to happen.
Part 2: The day of the Lord
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. (Isaiah 13:9)
As we look at the condition of the world today, it seems that evil has taken full control of the earth. The vilest passions of humanity run riot without restraint. To many it seems that God has abandoned the earth or lost His power. However, the word of God tells us that God will have His day. There is a time appointed when God will once again rise up to intervene mightily in the affairs of this planet. This period is referred to as the "day of the Lord." It is the Lord's day because it is the period in which He will have His say. Until that time, men may be allowed to exalt themselves and to resist His authority with seeming impunity. But the word of God assures us that "the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night," at the moment when men least expect it. Among the events which the Bible declares will take place during this day, are the following:
• The heavens will disappear with a great noise (2 Peter 3:10)
• The earth and its works will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10)
• The Lord will plead with all flesh with hail and brimstone (Isaiah 28:17; Psalms 11:6)
• The beast will be judged (Daniel 7:11,26)
• Judgment will be made in favour of the saints (Dan. 7:22)
• The feet of the Lord will stand on the mount of olives which will become a great plain. (Zechariah 14:4)
What statements made by Peter and Moses suggest that the day of the Lord may be at least a thousand years old? Psalm 90:4; 2 Pet. 3:8
The Bible does not state specifically that the day of the Lord is a thousand years. However, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that in redeeming mankind God has chosen to use a thousand years to represent one of the days of creation. The earth is approximately six thousand years old as we come to the last moments of time, and the book of Revelation makes us know that we will spend a seventh thousand year with Christ in heaven. This thousand year period parallels the Sabbath, the literal day of the Lord and suggests that the events surrounding and including this millennium are those described as taking place on the symbolic "day of the Lord."
How does Zechariah show that the "day of the Lord is an extended period of time which involves several events? Zech. 14: 1-9; (Compare Rev. 1:10)
Part 3: The Judgment of The Beast
And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. (Revelation 18:21)
Since the fall of man, the great forces of this planet have always been directed against the people of God. Satan has laboured with determined and unceasing effort to erase the knowledge of God from the earth. His greatest success has been with the establishment of the Papacy. In this institution he created a monstrous evil with great potential for deception because it bears the name of a Christian institution. No one can calculate the great harm done by this power, not only in the deliberate persecution and destruction of the people of God, but also by the multiplied millions who have been deceived by her doctrines. The word of God assures us that this will come to an end at last. Babylon will be thrown down with "violence," and shall be found no more at all. The overthrow of Babylon will mark the end of the power of evil on this earth forever.
What is the main reason for the condemnation of the beast according to Daniel? Daniel 7:11
The beast is finally condemned because of the words of the little horn. This shows us that the little horn is an integral part of the beast which cannot really be separated from it. It also reveals the fact that in spite of the merciless persecutions of the little horn, the greatest condemnation is that it has blasphemed the name of the God of heaven.
At what time will the beast as a system be condemned? Dan. 7:25,26
For nearly 2000 years this persecuting power has exalted itself to the pinnacle of human greatness. Even during the periods of its greatest weakness the Papacy has exercised more power than most political kingdoms could command. At the present time she once again stands close to the peak of earthly greatness, commanding great respect and influence in the highest circles of religious and political power on this planet. Yet the word of God declares that during this period of time in which we live, they shall take away the dominion of the beast to consume and destroy it unto the end. Daniel 7:26.
It is during the period of time in which we live that this haughty power will finally be overthrown. Even now as the judgment sits, the elements are being put in place which will result in the destruction of this power.
Part 4: Judgment of the church
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10)
The idea that the people of God would one day be brought to judgment is one that has been vigorously resisted by many Christians. They question the necessity of God judging His people since He already knows the destiny of all men, and reason that since Christians have already been justified and in Christ have received eternal life, they have passed fromcondemnation and therefore any further judgment of Christians would be a denial of the fact that salvation is a gift, freely bestowed. While this may seem like sound reasoning to a superficial reader of the Scriptures, the plain statements of the Bible to the contrary cannot be ignored. Over and over again the Bible speaks of a judgment using terms which make it clear that this judgment will include the professed people of God as well as those who make no profession of faith in Christ.
What evidence is there that the church as well as the world will be judged? Matt. 12:36,37; 2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 22:10-14; Matt. 18:23-35
These passages of Scripture as well as many others reveal clearly that in the wisdom and providence of God all who are saved will first pass the scrutiny of the judgment.
Why is it necessary for God to judge even Christians who have committed their lives to Him? Matt. 7:20-23
Ultimately it is God who is being judged and justified in the great controversy. It is His character that Satan attacked from the very beginning, accusing Him of being a liar (Gen. 3:15) and accusing Him of being unfair and showing favouritism (Job 1:9-11). The story of Job is a good illustration of the reason why there is a necessity for even the people of God to be judged. Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10) and his purpose is to destroy the reputation of God's people by seeking to show that their faith in God is not real. That they only seek to serve God from impure motives. While profession may be false, the testimony of our deeds cannot be denied. Jesus said His followers would be known by their fruits, or by the fact that they did the will of His Father in heaven. In the work of saving human beings, God will demonstrate clearly to the universe that those who are finally saved are saved, not because He shows favouritism, but because these people have willingly and voluntarily and wholeheartedly turned from the way of Satan to the service of God. It is the judgment which will demonstrate this clearly.
The judgment will reveal clearly what we are. Only those who truly know God will be able to live lives which will pass the scrutiny of the judgment.
Part 5: The Investigative judgment
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:10)
"Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies, and there appears in the presence of God, to engage in the last acts of his ministration in behalf of man,--to perform the work of investigative Judgment, and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.
". . . . in the great day of final atonement and investigative Judgment, the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. "Judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?" [1 PET. 4:17.]
"The books of record in Heaven, in which the names and the deeds of men are registered, are to determine the decisions of the Judgment. Says the prophet Daniel, "The Judgment was set, and the books were opened." . . . . _ The Great Controversy, p. 480
In what way was the importance of the investigative judgment shown to John? Rev. 5:1-4
The scene in Revelation chapters four and five is the same as that revealed in Daniel 7:9,10.
• In both places we see a throne set in heaven on which God takes his seat
• In both places we have the opening of books (in Revelation they are referred to as seals in one book)
• In both places ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands stand before God.
How does the book of Revelation clearly reveal the fact that many of God's people will be shown to be righteous, when the books are opened and while many of them are still dead? Rev. 6:9-11
White robes represent the righteousness of Christ. How can God's people receive this when they are dead? Is it not when we believe that we are justified and covered with Christ's righteousness? Yes, but clearly these Christians are shown to be righteous at this time. This represents the fact that their characters are shown to be that of genuine Christians in the investigative judgment. While the term "Investigative Judgment is not found in the Bible, yet the idea is clearly taught in many places in the Scriptures.
Do my deeds reveal that I have truly received the righ
Part 6: the Basis of The Judgment
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14)
"There is a record also of the sins of men. "For God shall bring every work into Judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." [ECCL. 12:14.] "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of Judgment." Said the Saviour, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." [MATT. 13:36,37.] The secret purposes and motives appears in the unerring register; for God "will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts." [1 COR. 4:5.] "Behold, it is written before me, . . . your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord." [ISA. 65:6, 7.]
"Every man's work passes in review before God, and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of Heaven is entered, with terrible exactness, every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel." _ The Great Controversy, p. 481-2
According to Jesus, how may the genuineness of a person's Christian experience be determined? Matt. 7:16_20
"By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20), the Saviour declared. All the true followers of Christ bear fruit to His glory. Their lives testify that a good work has been wrought in them by the Spirit of God, and their fruit is unto holiness. Their lives are elevated and pure. Right actions are the unmistakable fruit of true godliness, and those who bear no fruit of this kind reveal that they have no experience in the things of God. They are not in the Vine. . . ." _ Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, p.329
What is the standard by which our works will be assessed? James 2:11,12
"The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the Judgment. Says the wise man: "Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into Judgment." [ECCL. 12:13, 14.] The apostle James admonishes his brethren, "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." [JAMES 2:12.] _ The Great Controversy, p. 481-2
There is no true faith without works. While faith cannot be seen in itself, our works will reveal the true state of our Faith