God's judgment of mankind is an important factor in Eschatology. Before God's redemptive work with man and earth is completed, sin must be removed; sinners must be destroyed; God's character must be vindicated. God's Kingdom will be glorious, not merely because of what will be included, but also because of what will be excluded. The Bible describes God's Tomorrow by listing, not only what the future will contain, but also that which it will not contain. Sin, the cause of all imperfection, must be removed before the perfect age can be a reality. In the new earth, therefore, there will be no more sin.

I. Necessity of Judgment

The necessity of divine judgment is based upon the character of God and the nature of sin. God's holiness, righteousness, and justice require that sinners must be judged and that sin must result in death. Because God is holy, He cannot sin, approve sin, nor tolerate sin. If God were to approve sin, He thereby would cease to be holy. Sin is contrary to God's nature; therefore, sin is anti-God. God is life; sin, consequently, is anti-life. The result of sin must be death. This fact is not an arbitrary divine arrangement; the universe is constructed on this principle. God must either condemn sin or violate His own character. God cannot change His character, however, because He is unchangeable. Sin, therefore, must result in death.

The penalty for every sin committed in the universe must be paid. Sinners will pay the penalty for their own personal sins by being destroyed in the eternal second death. The penalty for the believer's sins was paid by the sinless Jesus in His sacrificial death.

When God forgives the believing sinner who is properly related to Christ through conversion, He does not act contrary to His own holy character. The wages of sin were met through the sacrifice of Christ, the sinner's Substitute. (Rom. 3:24-26.) God can continue to be holy and just while He forgives and justifies the believing sinner because the demands of His holy nature were met at the cross.

Romans 1:32


Worthy of death

Romans 2:6


Render according to his deeds

Romans 6:23


Wages of sin is death

Romans 8:6, 13


To be carnally minded is death

Galatians 5:19-21


Excluded from kingdom of God

Galatians 6:7-9


Reap what we sow

Revelation 21:8


Sinners destroyed in second death

Future judgments will vindicate God's holiness. They will reveal Him in His true nature. Today, through His grace and long-suffering, God withholds complete punishment of sin so that sinners may have opportunity to accept His plan of salvation. (2 Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:4-6.) Because God does not strike sinners dead today the moment sin is committed, some persons think that sin will never be punished. (Eccl. 8:11-13.) War, crime, social injustice, prosperity of the wicked, and persecution of the saints cause some men to question the holiness and justice of God. They ask, "How can God be holy and permit these things to happen on earth?" This question can be answered by the fact that today we are living in the age of grace. Punishment of sin is postponed until the future judgment so that man today can repent and experience salvation. Some day, however, the age of grace will be succeeded by the age of judgment. Sinners will be judged and punished; the righteous will be rewarded. God's "books" will be balanced; wrongs will be made right. God's character will be revealed in its true nature. (2 Thess. 1:6; 2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 15:3, 4; 16:5, 7; 19:1, 2.) The key phrase of the book of Ezekiel is "that they may know that I am God." Through future judgments, Israel and the nations will recognize God in His true nature.


II. Certainty of Judgment

Future judgment is certain. Paul warned, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:7, 8). In Athens, Paul declared: "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 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 17:30, 31).

Psalm 103:8, 9


He will not always chide

Ecclesiastes 8:11-13


Sentence not executed speedily

Ecclesiastes 11:9


Bring thee into judgment

Ecclesiastes 12:14


Bring every work into judgment

Matthew 12:36, 37


Words basis of judgment

Acts 17:30, 31


An appointed day

Acts 24:25


Judgment to come

Romans 2:2-11


No respect of persons

Romans 14:10, 12


Give account of self to God

1 Corinthians 4:5


Bring to light hidden things

2 Corinthians 5:10


We must all appear

Hebrews 9:27


After this the judgment

Hebrews 10:27


Fearful expectation of judgment

1 Peter 4:5


Give account to him

2 Peter 2:1-9


Unjust reserved unto judgment


III. Historic Divine Judgments

Although the final judgment of sinners will not occur until the last resurrection and the second death, God has visited the earth with judgment at various times. The eviction of Adam and Eve from their Edenic home was a divine judgment. The Flood during the life of Noah revealed God's wrath against sin. The dispersion of nations and the changing of languages at the Tower of Babel were divine judgments. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues against Egypt, and the captivity of Israel were historic judgments of God. The prophets of Israel predicted and recorded God's judgments against various ancient nations. Christ's death for sinners (John 12:31, 32) revealed God's judgment against sin. Calvary is the judgment seat for sin and the mercy seat for sinners. The reality of future judgments is assured by these historic revelations of God's judgment of sin. (2 Pet. 3:3-10.)

IV. Earth's Future Judge

God, the Judge (Isa. 33:22; Heb. 12:23), will perform His work of judgment through His Son, Jesus Christ. God will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained. (Acts 17:31.) The fact that God raised His Son from the dead makes certain a future day of judgment. In Romans 2:16, Paul warned men concerning "the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." In the home of Cornelius, the centurion, Peter preached that the risen Christ "is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead" (Acts 10:42). Our Saviour explained, "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:22, 26, 27, 30). Prophecies concerning details of the future picture Jesus in the position of Judge. Jesus has the right to be man's Judge because He is the sinless Son of man and Son of God. By His constant submission to His Father's will, by His spotless life, and by His sacrificial death, Jesus showed that He is worthy to judge mankind.

V. Future Periods of Judgment

The major time period around which prophecies concerning the future center is the Millennium. The Millennium is a period of one thousand years during which Christ and His glorified Church will reign on the earth in the future. Postmillennialists and Amillennialists advocate the erroneous view that there will be a general resurrection and a general judgment of all mankind when Jesus comes. They picture the future judgment as a single event, which will occur after the Millennium. The Bible, however, teaches that the second coming of Christ will occur before the Millennium and that Christ's future redemptive work will include many aspects and will require a period of time for its completion. Future judgments can be classified as those judgments which will occur before or at the beginning of the Millennium and as those which will occur after the Millennium. Judgments before the Millennium include the rewarding of believers, the judgment of Israel, the judgment of the Beast and False Prophet, and the judgment of the nations. Judgments after the Millennium include the judgment of the revolting nations, the judgment of Satan, and the judgment of the wicked dead.


(Adapted from Systematic Theology, by Alva Huffer, published by Church of God General Conference, Oregon, Illinois 61061, U.S.A.)

© Church of God General Conference. This lesson may be reproduced without change for non-commercial purposes without prior permission.