05 – One Judgment by God? Or, multiple?

Only One Judgment?

Will There Be Only One Judgment?

Many people believe that, after death, there is just one judgment – the Great White Throne Judgment mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15. They believe that everyone (in either body or soul) is gathered together at that time and God chooses those that can go to heaven and sends the rest to hell (or the lake of fire). Is that Biblical? Or, are there multiple judgments by God?

As I mentioned in a previous post (What Happens When I Die?), people at funerals frequently assume that the deceased is “in a better place.” But, if the Great White Throne Judgment (GWTJ) does not occur until at least 1000 years later, how can that be? Read more

04 – Ultimate Judgment – Will it be just?

judgment

Ultimate Judgment – Will it be just?

Judgment

For many people, just the mention of the word brings a chill in their being! And, many Christians visualize God’s judgment as a time of uncertainty and fear. It is like (only infinitely more fearful) standing in a courtroom today, waiting for the jury to announce their verdict. It is especially fearful, knowing that you are guilty but hoping that the prosecution did not prove it to the extent that the jury will convict you. Read more

03 – Why God Judges Us

Why God Judges Us

Why God Judges Us

The cause of Judgment and death

It just seems that life is not fair. Some folks are smart, rich, and beautiful while the rest of us have little or nothing to brag about. Our jobs are dead-end and our lives are a rat race. Our financial problems lead to family problems which end in divorce and pain. All the while, there are people who inherited money, good looks, and ease. Why do I deserve this? Life is not fair! And after all this life’s problems, we die! WHY?

Why God judges us

Why God judges us is a question that demands an answer.

Read more

02 – Where Do We Go At Death?

Where do we go at death?

Where do we go at death?

At any point in time (since the cross), God views humankind in at least three classes:

  • The blessed dead: Made up of glorified O.T. saints and the souls of saints temporarily kept under the altar awaiting their glorified bodies. (Few – if any – of the N.T. Saints have yet to receive their glorified bodies.)
  • The living: Made up of unbelievers, Jews (chosen but have not accepted Christ as Messiah), Laodicean christians (churches and people who are part of the church but for some reason, they are not ready to be caught away at the coming of Jesus), and Philadelphia saints (rapture ready). There are other classes of living persons after the rapture.
  • The unforgiven dead: These are tormented souls who are physically dead, living in unimaginable suffering, in hell, waiting on the Great White Throne Judgment and the second death.

For the present, each person alive on earth is a triune being, consisting of body, soul & spirit (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:23). It may seem strange, but each element of our being is dealt with differently at death and, the destinations are also different. All who have less than all of these elements are anxiously awaiting their resurrection (see Note 1, “Reunion of Body and Soul”).

Regardless of our spiritual standing with God, when we die, our BODY is buried and eventually returns to dust. It may be burned beyond recognition or buried at sea or even melted in an atomic blast but, one way or another, it returns to the earth. This is just a visible reality of life. It is often rehearsed by a priest or minister as the undertaker lowers a casket into the ground and they drop soil into the grave, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (from the 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer). This is clearly why Solomon would (wrongly) declare in Ecc 3:19 that “the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both… (v.20) All go to the same place.” (To understand why this verse is in error, read our article on “Understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes“. Each time we visit a funeral, we are reminded that our existence in this body is limited to a few short years of increasing pain.

But there is a resurrection! And the bodies of those who have been “born again” are miraculously changed! They will no longer be just mortal “dust” but these become the immortal (eternal) bodies that will never again experience pain or suffering. (For more about this, see our article on the “Rapture”.)

The SPIRIT (of life) returns to God who gave it. In the Bible, the words “spirit” and “wind” (or “breath”) are often used interchangeably. (If you read the original languages, you will understand that they generally are just different translations of the same original word.) Jesus used the two words in John 3:8 to describe being born of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples (in Acts 2), they described the event as including a sound of a “rushing mighty wind.”

In Ezekiel 37:9, it was the spirit/breath/wind that brought the dry bones back to life. At the creation (Gen 2:7), God breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul. (See John 5:21 to understand that all life is given from God the Father, or the Son). So, when He chooses, God can withdraw His spirit (breath) and we die (physically).

We have no real control over when or how we die, where our body will be buried, or the return of the Spirit to God. Our family determines where and how our body is “put to rest.” Someone might say that we can control the time and manner of our death – we can kill ourselves. But I am not so sure that is absolutely true. It appears from Scripture (See Note 2, What is the #1 cause of death?) that God can keep people alive even if they try to die.

In the larger scope of things, God chooses when we stop breathing the breath of life. And, since He gave the spirit of life, He can reclaim it at any time. In Ecclesiastes 12:7 (see Note 3, How to study the book of Ecclesiastes), Solomon wrote a profound truth, “the dust [body] returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit [of life] returns to God who gave it.”

In summary, the Judgment of Actions states that since all have sinned, then we will all die a physical death. At death, the body is buried and returns to dust. And the spirit of life (or breath) returns to God the Father who gave it. That just leaves us with the soul‘s destination:

Where does the SOUL go at death?

The question of where our soul goes when we die must be answered if we are to have peace in this life. The Judgment of ACTIONS is involved but, I believe that the soul’s eternal destination is determined in a separate judgment, the Judgment at DEATH.

Logically, the next article is “Why God judges us“.


Notes

Note 1, Reunion of Body and Soul. There are many references in the  Bible to Resurrection. Although some near-death experiences may differ, TRUE resurrection is the point where a person’s soul is reunited with their body. The process varies for different groups, so we will deal with it more completely in a future article.

Note 2, What is the #1 cause of death? An interesting thought was revealed to me a few years ago… We do not die of heart attack, stroke, or cancer – we die because God withdraws His spirit, or breath of life (Rev 9:6).

Note 3, How to study Ecclesiastes. See our article here about how to study the book and see this article about how to use context to understand the Bible better.


 

01 – What happens when I die?

What Happens When I Die

 What Happens When I Die?

I have made a very unscientific study of what goes on at funerals. According to the religious preferences of those involved and according to the societal influence, the style and tone of funerals may vary widely. Some are short and sweet (well, maybe not “sweet”) while others are long and drawn out affairs. Aretha Franklin’s funeral in 2018 lasted eight hours! Some are very formal while others seem to be off the top of the head. Some are restricted to just the family and others are community events. But one thing that is common to all is what people say.

In every funeral that I have ever attended (regardless of whether the deceased was a “saint” or a self-proclaimed atheist), more than a few people said, “He/she is in a better place.” Has there ever been a funeral where that phrase was not uttered? I think not. Read more