by S.J. McBride, N. Ireland
This publication is presenting glorious truth relating to the person of our Lord Jesus and so this chapter will concentrate on His judgments. However, it would be incomplete without first of all reminding ourselves of the full scope of judgments presented in Scripture. Any consideration of the solemn doctrine of Divine judgments must, if it is to be coherent and Scriptural, reflect a correct grasp of dispensational truth. This will avoid the common misunderstanding so prevalent in Christendom of combining all the future judgment scenes of Scripture into one "last judgment" wherein all humans of all ages will be judged. Dispensational teaching on these matters has been a distinguishing feature of assemblies for over 170 years. Now as much as ever, this truth needs to be re-emphasised to another generation.
It is interesting to note the importance that Scripture affords to the doctrine of God’s Judgment. It is part of the "core curriculum", and not something that can be regarded as an unessential or marginal element of doctrine. Hebrews ch.6 includes the doctrine of "eternal judgment" as a foundational teaching, being part of the "beginning" of the doctrine of Christ. Paul, as he reasoned concerning the gospel with Felix the governor, structured his dialogue under three headings, sin, righteousness and judgment to come. It would be so interesting were we given access to a transcript of that encounter. But God has decided to withhold the finer details, since we should know sufficient about these doctrines from elsewhere in Holy Scripture. Felix trembled. This was a measure of the impact of Paul’s reasoning on these subjects. Power in the preaching is however no guarantee of the sinner’s acceptance of the Gospel. Felix didn’t repent and believe. Alas, he procrastinated, Acts 24.24-27. The Gospel preacher today needs to have a good grasp of the doctrine of judgment to come, and view it as integral to a balanced presentation of the Gospel message.
Accordingly, it is very helpful to remember W. W. Fereday’s statement, "Grace and forbearance characterise the Divine dealings in the present age; judgment will mark the ages that are to come." The dispensation of grace, sometimes referred to as the "Church Age", is characterised by the withholding of God’s Judgments, and the promulgation of the Gospel of God’s grace. The Church’s exit from the world (at the rapture) will end the hindering role of the Church and the Holy Spirit that prevents the emergence of the Man of Sin, 2 Thess.2.7. Divine activity in judgment is dominant in all God’s dealings with the world thereafter.
Nevertheless, it is salutary to consider that God’s judgment is not absent during the present age. The Judgment of God is operational in two spheres. These are the Church (i.e. the Assembly) and the world. The N.T. makes it clear that there is a responsibility devolved upon those in the Assembly of God to carry out judgment when this becomes necessary. Otherwise Divine intervention in judgment may supervene. Paul remonstrates with the Corinthians about their sluggishness in carrying out the judgment that they should have done.
We may suppose that in their defence, some of the Corinthian factions might have pleaded, "Oh but we are reluctant to judge. Doesn’t the Scripture say that we should ‘judge not that we be not judged’? And again don’t we learn that we shouldn’t be first to cast a stone at the accused?" Such sentiments are not unknown in contemporary assembly life, and it is fashionable to shy away from discharge of responsibility in maintaining scriptural practice and discipline in the modern "embrace everything and judge nothing" culture that so pervades the realm of evangelical Christendom.
But the N.T. is very clear. There are inescapable issues that face assemblies in general, and elders in particular. None of the issues is new, and all may be identified in the Epistles and Acts of the Apostles. However, the exact complexion of the problems tends to vary from age to age, so that history doesn’t repeat itself exactly. However, the same practical diligence and faithfulness to the standards of God’s Word are required of contemporary saints if assembly testimony in the English-speaking world is to survive to a later generation.
Even so serious an act of discipline by an assembly as excommunicating one of its members is viewed as an act of judgment, and judgment that carries Divine approval. Paul informs the Corinthians that he has already judged the man (the fornicator) as if he were present. He calls upon the Corinthian assembly to ratify this judgment by implementing the discipline. Failure to do so brings disgrace upon the testimony among the unsaved, and makes the assembly liable to God’s intervention in direct judgment.
During the Church Age, in the world of human affairs, God’s judgment is not lacking, though His dealings are predominantly those of grace and mercy. For example, it is evident that the degradation of society depicted in Romans 1 is a contemporary portrait of God’s judgment. During World War II, Mr. Harry Lacey wrote a fascinating book, "God and the Nations" in which he outlined Scriptural principles illustrating God’s ongoing sovereign activity from the days of the Old Testament until now, showing that God still judges and rules among the nations. Mr. Lacey refers to the "realm of Providence and moral government in which God, by means of circumstances, rules in an apparently indirect way …".
Judgment is unavoidable. Every human being has to face Divine judgment. This is unwelcome and a common reaction is to mock or ignore the issue. It is clear that God will judge the world, Acts 17.31, and the nations, Joel 3.12, and even angels, 2 Pet.2.4. Individual assessment is an essential feature of God’s judgment, regardless of any corporate aspect relating to national or other collective entities.
God’s judgment can be considered as past, present and future. The main stress of this article is future judgment, but it is well to notice something of what the Holy Scriptures say about past and present judgment.
Those who are saved can enjoy the blessed reality that for them the judgment is past. That question of Divine judgment against our sin is over. The penalty has been borne by another, and we are free. We "shall not come into condemnation (judgment), but are passed from death unto life" Jn.5.24.
The unbeliever, however, is viewed as having been already judged. Jn.3.18 records, "he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." The perfect tense in this verse conveys both a past sense of judgment having taken place, and the present continuity of it, "the wrath of God abideth on him."
Hence the solemn fact that the Gospel preacher highlights in his faithful ministry, namely, the awful division between those who are saved and those who perish, 1 Cor.1.18. To the saved, the preachers are a savour of life unto life, and to the perishing, a savour of death unto death, 2 Cor.2.15-16. No wonder Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" 2 Cor.5.11.
Three great judgment scenes are yet to take place. In chronological order they are:
- The Judgment Seat of Christ
- The Judgment of the Living Nations and of Israel
- The Great White Throne Judgment.
In addition, the Great Tribulation as a time of God’s judgment will be noticed.
The Judge has been appointed and His identity publicised. All judgment has been committed to the Son of God, and His resurrection is God’s guarantee to the world that the Lord Jesus Christ will carry out his role as Judge, Jn.5.22, Acts 17.30,31.
Some of the great underlying principles that are common to all God’s future judgments are as follows:
- All God’s Judgment is right in every particular. One of the earliest mentions of Divine judgment is Abraham’s wise expostulation "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" Gen.18.25.
- Righteousness is frequently ascribed to God’s Judgment:
- It is according to truth, Rom.2.2.
- There is no respect of persons, Rom.2.11, and this is equally true for the Judgment seat of Christ, Col 3.25.
- All secrets will be disclosed, Eccl.12.14, 1 Cor.4.5.
- Deeds will be revealed from God’s records, Ps.50.21; Dan.7.10; Rev.20.12.
- There will be nothing to say on the part of those judged. They will be convinced, 1 Sam.2.9; Jude 15.
The Judgment Seat of Christ
This is the final assessment of the saints of the present age. It excludes Old Testament saints. The two passages that contain the term "the Judgment Seat of Christ" are Rom.14.10 and 2 Cor.5.10. One often finds the word "Bema" used for this judgment. That is because Bema is the Greek word for "Judgment Seat" and refers to a kind of platform where the adjudicator would sit in Roman times either to judge a case, Acts 18.12, or preside over major athletics events to assess the competitors for prizes. This association with the athletes’ games and the requirements for participants to abide by the rules; the need for dedication and discipline in preparation; the endurance to persevere to the finish, all are used figuratively by the Apostle Paul in his exhortations to Christians regarding conduct of our lives in view of our coming assessment and reward.
The Judgment Seat of Christ occurs just after the rapture, for Paul says "Judge nothing before the time until the Lord come" 1 Cor.4.5. James reminds us of the imminency this event: "Behold the Judge standeth before the door" Jms.5.9. The Church appears in public to the world as the glorified Bride of Christ in Rev.19.8 at His triumphant return to the earth to conquer His enemies, deliver Israel and commence His millennial rule. All the rewards have been given already, the wonderful presentation of the spotless Bride has taken place in Heaven, and the world will see the final glorious outcome of Christ’s love for the Church and the admiration of all will be evident, cp. Eph.5.27; Col.3.4; 2 Thess.1.10.
We know that "there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus" Rom.8.1, so the future judgment of believers is to do with giving an account to God of our service and life for Him. "Every one of us shall give account of himself to God" Rom.14.12.
Some Matters Assessed At The Bema
Conduct In The Local Assembly
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" Heb.13.7.
The overseers carry an onerous responsibility – watching for the souls under their care in the assembly. This nothing to do with being intrusive or nosey and will never be associated with tittle-tattle. It is rather in pursuit of their God-given responsibility for which they are accountable to Him. The success of this oversight ministry is attended with joy at the great account giving; its failure is marked by grief. However, the warning of this verse is not just to the overseers, it is to the rest of the assembly since a grief-inducing account given by the overseers is "unprofitable for you". That implies the prospect of a negative assessment at the Judgment seat or other loss of reward for those who fail to follow the godly guidance of these conscientious overseers. The term "them that have the rule over you" Heb.13.7,17, principally implies the idea of "your leaders or guides", and naturally coincides with the shepherd-motif of assembly oversight characterised by anxious care for the flock and duty to seek out and lead the flock to appropriate pasture, while securing the safety of the sheep from external threat. This thought should bring a note of solemnity to proceedings in each local assembly, and should encourage believers in assembly fellowship to follow the godly example of an earlier generation of teachers and leaders, whose careers were characterised by faithfulness to God’s Word. It should likewise motivate both overseers and congregation to shun unscriptural innovations in worship and service – a re-emerging threat against our duty to maintain fidelity to New Testament standards among assemblies in our own day.
Our activity in the local assembly as we build upon the apostolic foundation requires our utmost care in light of the Judgment Seat of Christ, see 1 Cor.3.10-17, for the whole of our effort in so building will be tested by fire. "The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is." The burning up of the man’s work will entail loss, yet his salvation is not in doubt, "he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." A reward (here unspecified) awaits those whose work withstands this fiery test. The phrase in v.13, "The day shall declare it", refers to the same day that Paul looked forward to in 2 Tim.4.8, speaking of the crown of righteousness which "the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day." Again it is obvious that the value God places upon local assembly testimony is something to which we should take more heed, for the incentives and warnings are so solemn and important.
Duties In Life
The full gamut of earthly relationships and our duties therein will come up for assessment and reward. In Col.3.17 we read, "whatsoever ye do in word or deed", which is a very comprehensive term. It goes on to say, "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" and this we are to do heartily. However, the meaning of Col.3.17 is not left as a sweeping general exhortation. Specific examples are given. Areas of life included are marital, parent-child and master-servant relationships. The promise of reward is included. "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." The next verse is very solemn and raises the prospect of loss at the Judgment Seat. "But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons with God" Col.3.24-25. Some centuries ago there seemed to be a great emphasis by godly writers and commentators on the theme of Christian duty and our obligations to perform all our various duties conscientiously before the Lord. Perhaps we are relatively deprived today of this theme in ministry, which is surely much needed in a day when individual pleasure is more highly valued than duty – as the trends toward breakdown in so many areas of relationship eloquently testify.
Judgmentalism Or Walking Charitably?
Rom.14.1–15.7, which is one of the key passages dealing with the Judgment Seat of Christ, is written against a background of the potential outbreak of disputation and friction arising from such issues as the eating of meat and observing of days etc. The two main positions represented are the "weak brother" and "we that are strong". Space forbids a detailed treatment of this passage, but we should notice the instructions that we are given, for this would tend to produce a balance in attitude and conduct towards fellow-believers that is acceptable to God, v.18. We should avoid the danger of judging one another –something to which the weak brother with his scruples is particularly prone, while a corresponding danger should be avoided, that of despising or setting at nought the weak brother. We should not cause a brother to be grieved – that is not walking charitably (i.e. according to love), nor should we trip him up. The example of Christ is brought forward in 15.3. Who did not please Himself. Paul ends this section of Romans with the prayer, "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." The whole passage is one that induces heart searching with respect to our conduct towards other believers, for this will certainly be assessed and judged.
Approved Or Disapproved?
Paul describes the diligence and self-discipline of the contestants in the Greek games, and points out that they do all this to obtain a corruptible crown – a mere laurel wreath, 1 Cor.9.25. "But we an incorruptible" he says, showing that so much greater care and dedication is well spent in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was aiming to be approved, not a castaway (disapproved). Similar language is used in 2 Cor 13.7, where Paul appeals to the Corinthians regarding their conduct in light of the Bema. "Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates [disapproved]." Here he shows that his motivation is, above all, that the right thing should be done for its own sake rather than merely the future reward that he expects for good results attending his ministry as proved by the Corinthian assembly’s good conduct.
Stewardship, 1 Cor.4.1-5
Paul depicts himself and fellow-labourers as ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this passage Paul emphasises how irrelevant he feels it is for other believers (e.g. in Corinth) to busy themselves judging him in his service. In fact, he refuses even to judge himself in such matters, since for the day of assessment is coming, and that is the important thing. These two words "ministers" and "stewards" indicate the idea of service involving delegated responsibility to promote the agenda of the master with the understanding that there will be an account-giving assessment of the service rendered. Hence faithfulness is stressed as a key attribute of such a servant, particularly since a steward bore responsibility for running the household in the master’s absence. Each servant will be assessed, it will be individual, and each will have praise of God, v.5. But the assessment will be most thorough. Hidden things will be brought to light, and the counsels of the hearts will be made manifest. Thus it behoves the servant of God to shun all worldly-wise managerial stratagems and the commonplace axioms of politicians. The idea that the "end justifies the means" does not accord with Paul’s view of Christian service.
A future reward or prize is held out before us as something to which we look forward expectantly. Paul alerts the Colossians of the danger of being cheated of the prize, "Let no man beguile you of your reward" Col.2.18. The snare here was a mystical mixture of esoteric Judaism, asceticism and gnosticism. Paul calls it "the rudiments of the world" and its protagonists are "not holding the Head", Col.2.19, which means they were unsound as to the doctrine of Christ as the exclusive Head of the Church.
The award of crowns is certainly part of the reward. In addition to the incorruptible crown of 1 Cor.9.25, already mentioned, there is the crown of righteousness. This Paul looks forward to receiving "at that day" from "the Lord the righteous judge" 2 Tim.4.8. We are assured that this award is not unique to the Apostle, but it is for "all them also that love His appearing." Other crowns that are promised as rewards include the crown of life, Jms.1.12, and the crown of glory, 1 Pet.5.4. Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are "our crown of rejoicing" ... "in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming", thus showing the joy of the evangelist fulfilled in that coming day of reward, 1 Thess.2.19. Similarly, adherence to godly ministry of the Word brings a full reward, 2 Jn.8. Our crowns and all the regalia of glory accrued by members of the Church will shine as a reflection of the splendour of the Saviour as He comes to reign. Hence if our highest motivation is our Lord Jesus Christ’s glory, we will strive to optimise our rewards – for it glorifies Him.
Great Tribulation Judgment
The Great Tribulation, otherwise known as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble and Daniel’s 70th Week, takes place during the Day of the Lord. This will be a time of unparalleled judgments upon "them that dwell upon the earth" and the book of Revelation details three groups of seven-fold judgments. These are the Seven Seals, the Seven Trumpets and the Seven Vials. Space forbids detailed treatment of this seven-year period, but we must notice that it is characterised by God’s righteous judgment on the world which has rejected His Son, and set up an anti-God global government that aims to liquidate the Jewish problem once and for all. The Great Tribulation will culminate with the return of the Lord Jesus to earth as triumphant Messiah and Saviour and there will be the sanguinary scenes of Armageddon. Isaiah reminds us that, "it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance and year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion" Isa.34.8. That the Great Tribulation is a time of judgment is clearly enunciated in the angelic proclamation of the Everlasting Gospel, which runs thus, "Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." There is no record of any repentance or belief following this Gospel message – in fact shortly afterwards we find men tormented by the judgment-plagues actually blaspheming the name of God, "and they repented not to give him glory" Rev.14.6,7; 16.8,9.
The Judgment Of The Living Nations
This differs substantially from the Great White Throne Judgment, though the two judgments are often confused and conflated by anti-dispensational teachers.
The scene of the judgment is upon the earth. We are even given a specific geographical reference – the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is at the base of the Mount of Olives. This judgment is conducted by the Son of Man, seated on the Throne of His Glory. The timing is after the Great Tribulation and at the start of the Millennial Reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those judged include both saved and unsaved, and there are three classes identified in Matthew chapter 25, namely sheep, goats and "My brethren". Considering the massive death toll amongst human beings that occurs in the Great Tribulation, most of those who enter the Great Tribulation will die, and the unsaved among them will not appear for judgment until the Great White Throne judgment. Only those alive on the earth at the time of Christ’s glorious appearing and return to the earth will undergo this judgment. Judgment is individual and personal. The criterion that marks out each person as a believer (or not) in the Lord Jesus Christ, is his/her treatment of "My brethren".
Allegiance to Christ is the key determinant, "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward" Mk.9.41. The sheep are separated to the Judge’s right hand and the goats to His left. This is an eternal separation with no further "chance" thereafter. The solemn words "these shall go away" have an awful echo of endless continuity. The "going away" seems as if these cursed ones are launched out on a course of endless motion away from God and all the blessings of His Kingdom. It is quite possible that there could be some persons appearing at the judgment scene who failed to accept the Gospel in this present Day of Grace and who survive the Great Tribulation to appear at last amongst the goats. May this never be the case with any reader of this book.
The Judgment Of Israel
The Old Testament believers looked forward to a time when God would judge the world, and also judge His people Israel and reward the righteous and punish the wicked. This truth was precious to early saints such as Enoch, Abraham, Moses and Hannah.
Greater details emerge with the later Old Testament books and we can glean the following.
Psalm 50 sets the scene of God’s Judgment of His people. "He shall call to the heavens above and to the earth that He may judge His people." This judgment takes place upon the earth and Ezek.20.33-38 suggests that it will be in the wilderness. It will involve the gathering together of all those who were scattered, and judging the flock, punishing the oppressors amongst them, which seems to have particular reference to those Jews who are collaborators with the Antichrist regime. Hence the reference to "sinners in Zion" being afraid Isa.33.14. It is interesting to consider how correct was the answer of the Chief Priests and Pharisees to the Lord’s question at the end of His parable of the vineyard, "When therefore the Lord of the vineyard cometh, what will He do unto those husbandmen? They say unto Him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men and let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen …" Matt.21.40,41. They had condemned themselves in their answer, having studiously avoided answering the earlier question about the origin of John’s baptism. The theme of separating the wicked and just, wheat and tares, good and bad fish at "the end of the world", is plainly taught in the Kingdom parables of Matthew chapter 13. This refers to these judgments of those alive upon the earth, whether Jew or Gentile, at the time of Christ’s return to set up His Kingdom in glory. The angels are the agents who do the gathering and the separating and in the case of the wicked, the casting of them into the "furnace of fire." This judgment will be where the reckoning takes place concerning the talents distributed by the Master to His servants. The wicked servant who is manifestly devoid of faith is cast into "outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" Matt 25.14-30. Rewards are given for faithful service by the believing remnant. Isaiah looks forward to the judgment of Israel in light of the reward, "Behold the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold thy salvation cometh; behold His reward is with Him, and His work before Him" Isa.62.11. The Lord Jesus Himself makes several references in the Gospels to the future reward. "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you … for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" Matt.5.11,12. In Matt.6.1-18 with regard to prayers and alms, the disciples are promised, "your Father who seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." This rewarding of the disciples takes place when "the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels: and then He shall reward every man according to his works" Matt.16.27. This is clearly NOT the Judgment Seat of Christ. These passages are principally concerned with the Remnant of Israel in the future dispensation after the Rapture of the Church.
The Righteous Dead
There are some teachers who maintain that all the Old Testament saints will be raised at the rapture along with saints who have died during the Church age. This view does not take adequate account of the fact that as Paul Benware states, the "rapture involves those who are "in Christ", which is to be understood as a designation only for those who have been baptized into the church, the body of Christ. The believers of the Old Testament do not have that position." This view is supported by Rev.11.17-18, where we read, "we give Thee thanks O Lord God Almighty, which art and wast and art to come, because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power and has reigned. And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them that destroy the earth."
This linkage of living members of the Remnant with the Old Testament saints "Thy servants the prophets" reminds us of the similar linkage in Matt.5.12 (see above). The time of judging the righteous dead, both of Old Testament and of the Tribulation martyrs is here spoken of (as also in Rev.20.4), for the wicked dead "live not again until after the thousand years." Here is the resurrection hope of Job 19.25-27; Isa.26.19 and Dan.12.2. (This latter reference; "some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt" incorporates the Millennial gap between the resurrection of the Just and that of the Great White Throne).
Satan And The Fallen Angels
Satan’s career has always been downward. The Lord Jesus Christ testified, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven" Lk.10.18. This can be taken as a summary statement of Satan’s entire history. Isa.14.12-17 and Ezek.28.12-19 depict Satan’s initial rebellion. In Revelation chapter 12 he is cast down into the earth as a result of the war in heaven. At the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth, Satan is imprisoned in the Bottomless Pit throughout the Millennium. His final activity against God and His people culminates in the Gog and Magog rebellion after the Millennium, Rev.20.7-10. This results in him being finally apprehended and cast into the Lake of Fire where the Beast and the False Prophet are (and have been throughout the Millennium). 2 Pet.2.4 and Jude 6,7 tell us of the fallen angels, that they are currently in chains of darkness reserved unto the judgment of the great day. We are not given further detail on this, though Paul tells us that saints will judge angels, 1 Cor.6.3, though whether this refers to punitive judgment of evil angels or future administrative supervision of heavenly angels is unclear.
The Great White Throne Judgment
This is the last of the great future judgments, and occurs in the period between the end of the Millennium and the start of the Eternal State. The description of this judgment is one of the most solemn passages in the whole of Scripture. The A.V. translation is of high literary merit and bears a dignity of language that befits its subject. Reading it aloud in a Gospel meeting has a solemnising effect. The Great White Throne Judgment occurs after the Millennium has ended, Rev.20.5. In v.11 the "heaven and the earth fled away", which parallels Peter’s description of the start of the Day of God, 2 Pet.3.10-12. The location of this judgment is undefined in space, since there is no longer any topographical reference point apart from the throne of God Himself, the heaven and the earth having fled away. All who appear before the throne for judgment belong to the category of unsaved dead, but have been raised from the dead specifically for this judgment and its aftermath. They come out of the sea, death and hell (Hades). Although the judgment is according to their works, this judgment is not held in order to decide their eternal destiny. That has been decided by their rejection of the Saviour during their lifetime. There is no separation of saved from unsaved at this judgment. All those who are saved have prior to this been resurrected, or directly entered alive into Kingdom of God, and are at this juncture in the enjoyment of full salvation in the eternal state.
There is an abundance of reference in Holy Scripture to the theme of God’s Judgments. No article can treat such a solemn theme with the thoroughness nor gravity that it merits, but may the reader, if saved be thankful that the judgment of our sin is past and vigilant in light of the Judgment Seat to come. To the unsaved the message must be "Flee from the wrath to come" Lk.3.7, remembering that, "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation" 2 Cor.6.2.
In conclusion, it is appropriate to exclaim with the Apostle Paul, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" Rom.11.33.