Judgment and Hell

What does the Bible say about judgment?

Romans 8:1 teaches that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. In other words, there will be no punishing judgment for believers.

The Great White Throne Judgment mentioned in the book of Revelation is a punishing judgment; therefore, believers will not go through this judgment.

Believers who stand before the judgment seat of Christ should know that this will be a judgment of reward. Romans 4:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 both mention this judgment seat. 1 Corinthians 3 does not mention the judgment seat, but it explains it well. Verse 15 states that this judgment does not deal with salvation, but with reward. It will be a review of worthy and unworthy attempts to serve God. There may be some embarrassment or tears for a loss of reward, but it is a reward judgment.

Some will receive recognition and some will not. There will not be punishment for those who do not receive rewards at this judgment.

Righteousness and eternal life are rewards that all believers receive when they are given salvation. The rewards at the judgment seat of Christ may have something to do with the level of responsibility we receive in the eternal state.  A parable used to support this would be “The Parable of Money Usage” in Luke 19:11-27. The servants were given charge of cities because they handled the money well.

The exact nature of the rewards believers will receive in heaven is not very clear.

The Great White Throne Judgment will be reserved for non-believers, and it will be a time when there will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those who have rejected Christ will be cast into the eternal lake of fire at this judgment. No one’s works will be worthy of exemption from this judgment, because no one is capable of doing enough good to satisfy or avert the wrath of God.

The concept of eternal judgments should call us to do two things. First, it should motivate us to share the Gospel with nonbelievers because we should not desire that anyone be cast into the eternal lake of fire. Second, it should motivate us to further the kingdom of God now, causing us to work diligently for the Lord. We should not set our hopes on recognition of men, but so that God will reward us in heaven for doing things for His glory now.

What does the Bible say about believers receiving Crowns?

Many people think that the rewards we get are crowns. However, crowns as rewards seem to be symbolic language. James 1:12 states that we receive the crown of life. 1 Peter 5:4 states that we will receive the crown of glory. In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul states that the crown of righteousness is in store for him. Paul also considers other believers to be his crown (1 Thessalonians 2:19, Philippians 4:1). 1 Corinthians 9:25 notes that we strive for a crown that will last forever. Taken as a whole, these passages suggest that our crown is eternal life. In eternal life we will have glory, righteousness, and community. I am not convinced that actual crowns will be our rewards, but the imagery of receiving crowns is helpful for us to keep in mind.

What does the Bible say about Hell?

For unbelievers, the Final State is described as the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:7).  In the Bible, four different Greek words are translated into the English as Hell, but only the Lake of Fire is the place of eternal punishment (2 Peter 2:9).  The Beast and the false-prophet will be the first cast into the pit of Hell, followed by those in Hades.  This will take place at the Great White Throne Judgment as described in the book of Revelation.  Hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked.  It is real, and it is not temporary.  Today, those who die apart from God are not in Hell, but where they currently reside is unpleasant (Lazarus and the Rich Man).  This brings up the question, “Where are the dead?”

Where do the dead reside now according to the Bible?
What happens between death and the Second Coming of Christ?  Where are the dead? Read 2 Corinthians 4:16 and 2 Corinthians 5:7-8, and 11:24-29. For believers, there is a separation at death between the body and the soul.  When we are absent from the body, we are incomplete; while it may be better than living in a corrupted fallen state, it is not perfect.  Jesus told the thief that “today” he would be in paradise.  That very day, the bodies of Jesus and the thief were still in the grave. 

The soul leaves the body and goes into the presence of the Lord.  The body is buried and eventually turns to dust.  The soul is instantaneously in the presence of God.  When the body dies, the soul still functions. 

Now, what about the unbelievers?  They go to Hades or Sheol, the place of the dead (Luke 16).  For unbelievers, this is a place of punishment and fire.  Hades is not a euphemism for Hell.  There is a great gulf fixed between Heaven and this place called Hades.

Matthew 25 says that Hell was originally created for Satan and his demons.  There is no doctrine in the Bible for Purgatory.

Do you have further questions about Hell or judgment? If so, put them in the comments section of this post and I will answer them all personally. If you don’t want your comments to be made public, send them to me in an email to drscottshiffer@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.