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THEOLOGY > Future > The Final Judgment > One Judgment   


The Scriptures are most definitive when it comes to establishing the unity of judgment. In both the Old and New Testaments the oneness of the final judgment is consistently affirmed; following is a sampling of the teaching:

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just (Gen. 18:25);

He has established His throne for judgment (Ps. 9:7);

But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment (Eccles. 11:9);

For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Eccles. 12:14);

It will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you (Matt. 11:22; see v. 24);

 On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak (Matt. 12:36);

For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done (Matt. 16:27-28);

An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (Jo. 5:28-29);

He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world (Acts 17:31);

We will all stand before the judgment seat of God (Rom. 14:10);

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10);

It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment (Heb. 9:27);

The angels who did not stay within their own position of authority . . . He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day (Jude 6);

Then I saw a great white throne . . . and I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books . . . and if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).

The Bible emphatically teaches the fact of a future judgment. There will be a day of judgment, and “the day of judgment” is the fact of judgment. God will judge all people and all things (see: Universal Judgment) in one decisive judgment.

In his reflective moments man senses that he is accountable for his deeds, and he is aware that somewhere at some time to Someone he will give account for the conduct of his life, that is, for the thoughts and acts of life one must be answerable. Man knows this to be true, however flawed and corrupt his knowledge of it may be. In his heart man is convinced of judgment, and knows that he deserves judgment.

As discussed in another article the multiple details of judgment found in Scripture are not to be interpreted as descriptions of judgment, but rather as details that teach the truth of judgment (see: Reality of Judgment).

For instance, the Scriptures speak of “the judgment seat of God” (Rom. 14:10), “the judgment seat of Christ” (II Cor. 5:10), and “the great white throne judgment” (Rev. 20:11-15). If the interpretation is guided by the idea of details, then the following questions become pressing: Are there three judgments, are there three places of judgment (two different seats and one throne), are both the Father and the Son judging, at different times from different places of authority, and what is the location of each of these judgments?

Is the approach of trying to determine how many judgments and when they occur doomed because of the underlying approach that seeks to make very literal the details of judgment, coupled with a desire to establish a proper chronology of judgment? Is it possible that the text is being used for the wrong purpose, a purpose not intended by the text?

On the other hand, if the interpretation is not guided by details, then the details becomes incidental and are understood as the means or vehicle for teaching a truth, the fact of judgment. Rather than attempting to fix all of the details into a scheme, the details should be viewed comprehensively, and the point that they are making in their united voice should be sought.

When this is done, hopefully without the guilt of feeling that one is attacking the plain teaching and authority of Scripture, then the fact of judgment and the fact of a single judgment come into focus. It must be noted that this is not a misunderstanding nor a denial of the full truthfulness and authority of Scripture, but is an attempt to understand, to grasp the message of Scripture. Questioning the above texts over the issue of the relationship of details to message is in no manner an indication of an inferior view of Scripture (see: Revelation, Truth, Authority).

The concept of judgment in the  Scriptures is not multiple but single; the Bible constantly affirms a judgment, the judgment. It is the judgment that is eschatological. It is the judgment at the end-time, when destinies will be revealed: judgment is the manifestation of the individual’s destiny—it is not the determination of the destiny. Worded differently, judgment is the disclosure by God of the actions of life and the attitudes of heart; it is the final revelation of the true character of the person to the person. And the revelation occurs at the moment of resurrection (see: Reality of Judgment).

The one judgment is the judgment of the resurrection. Passages in both Testaments associate resurrection and judgment: Dan. 12:2; Jo. 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:12, 13. A proper understanding is to affirm that the judgment is instantaneous, synonymous with resurrection, whenever the particular individual’s resurrection takes place, at the first or second resurrection (see: Reality of Judgment). In this sense, there is one judgment.  

Return to: The Final Judgment; Next Article: The Judge 

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