Tag Archives: Heaven

Final Judgement: Do Not Take Lightly

There is no getting around it–the Bible speaks of a coming day of ultimate and final judgement.

A day when Jesus will proclaim the eternal destinies of all people:

“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, according to what they had done.” 

This will be the event where God determines everyone’s spiritual condition–alive or dead.

It will be the ultimate separation of good and evil at the end of history. The Christian does not need to fear this moment. The unbeliever should.

The Biblical Fact of the Final Judgment

The Bible does not shy from the topic of a final judgment. Among all the details given on the final judgment, Jesus gives us one of the most vivid.

On the Mount of Olives he concludes his sermon with an explanation of the former parables [ and ]:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 

This is the scene of the final judgment. An event that will occur at the end of history, after the millennium. All individuals and nations will be judged. John :

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.

All the dead and the living–from the beginning of time to the end of time–will be judged.

Who and What Will Be Judged?

No man is excused from this judgment. Each of us will . Believer and unbeliever alike will stand before the his judgment seat.

For the unbeliever, their deepest  and  on the table–whether good or evil. Based on these deeds, Jesus will measure out .

But the most condemning piece of evidence against the unbeliever will be their persistent rejection of God’s salvation.

Believers, on the other hand, will be judged out of The Book of Life–a list of all who accepted God’s mercy through Christ.

Indeed, all their deeds will also be judged. But they will be judged to bestow degrees of reward–not on their justification. For those who trust in the Lord, repent of sin and walk in his ways will : ”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Who Will Judge?

The Bible is quite clear: the judge will be Jesus.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom. 

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 

Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. 

God gave the son this right to judge:

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 

Jesus’ death is a unique judgment where God paid the price justice demands for mankind’s sin. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the foundations on which sinners are saved. So it is significant that he is chosen to be the judge.

The Necessity of the Final Judgement

The final and ultimate judgment at the end of history is simply the culmination of redemptive history and God’s frequent judgment on his people. From the earliest of time, .

In the Old Testament God brought abundant blessing on mankind but he also visited judgment on them, too, for their constant rebellion and unfaithfulness.

Think the Flood, the tower of Babel and Sodom and Gomorrah. And to this day  and idolatry and unfaithfulness.

Judgments throughout history serve as warnings for the consequences of unbelief, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”

In this way God’s historical judgment and the future, final judgment reflect his character. It reveals his holinessjustice and wrath.

Yet, if believers pass from death into presence with God and unbelievers into a state of separation from God, why does God have a time of final judgment at all?

Simple. It serves the purpose of displaying before all rational creatures the declarative glory of God in a formal, forensic act.

Final Judgement Should Not Be Taken Lightly

The Bible’s message of God’s grace is set against the backdrop of a just God before whom we live. A just God who demands the satisfaction that crimes against him [for that is what sin is] be paid in full.

Crime demands justice. God’s judgment of unrepentant criminals naturally flows from this. On the other hand, his justification of repentant criminals flows from his grace. And this accomplishes one, very important thing…

In the end, all human history–from creation to the final judgment to heaven and hell–glorifies Jesus.  He will be glorified through both grace and judgement.

For the believer, falling down before God’s throne to worship him will be a privilege. It will be all misery and torment for the unbeliever.

Let’s do what we can to make sure we bring as many believers with us.

Purgatory: How Catholics Prove It Exists


The history of purgatory in ab0ut 805 words.

Ever wonder how Roman Catholics prove the doctrine of purgatory?

Yeah, me too.

That’s why I did a little digging recently.

Here’s what I found.

Purgatory: The Essentials

First, let’s define purgatory.

In a nutshell, purgatory is a place where redeemed souls go to purge their load of venial [forgivable] sins.

It’s a process of purification before they enter heaven.

Here’s what the :

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

How long does a redeemed soul spend in purgatory? From what I can find, as long as it takes to purge those  sins.

Two days. Two millions years. Just depends.

See, your success in purgatory depends on you. That means you can fail purgatory. No one guarantees you’ll persevere.

Not even God.

However, the good news is that the living can affect your duration. They can pray for you. [See point below.]

So how does one get purged? Fire. It’s a good guess this is a metaphorical fire, but the point is purification–and pain.

Much of what we understand about purgatory originates from Dante’s –depicted as a mountain in the southern hemisphere with Jerusalem at the top, for instance [image above]–is sheer imagination.

Beautiful, but make believe. Which brings us back to our original question.

Purgatory: The Catholic Proofs

So, how do Catholics prove purgatory exists?

Well, for starters, it’s good to know that purgatory is inextricably wedded to the doctrine of . That means you can’t talk about one without talking about the other.

This is how it works.

Both doctrines have their seeds far back in certain pagan religions.

After that, a prayer for the dead can be found in the Old Testament. The catholic Old Testament. The  to be exact. In the context of Maccabeus leaders praying for the dead.

Then, early Christian church catacomb inscriptions bear witness to prayers for the dead.

Next, Catholics find proof in the New Testament. The two main texts used occur in  and .

After that, the doctrine gets it traction in the early church fathers–think Augustine, Bede, Jerome. This is the argument from tradition.

Protestants Reject Purgatory

The doctrine wasn’t seriously challenged until 1,000 years later–early 1500s–when the Reformers rolled up on the scene.

What was at stake? Justification by faith alone–Luther’s pivotal beef with the Catholic church.

The Catholics defended that justification was a life long process as demonstrated by the long history–from pagan to early church to present–of the doctrine.

But the Reformers disagreed.


Not to be rebuffed, the  affirmed that purgatory is necessary to blot out the full debt of venial sins.

What Luther and Co. argued was purgatory amounted to justification mingled with sanctification. Basically justification equals prayer and fasting in this life…fire in the next.

Purgatory: The Protestant Objection

With a formidable case for purgatory, why would any Protestant in his right mind reject it? Several reasons.

First, sola scriptura.

Affirming purgatory–with it’s rich, deep roots in tradition– otherwise compromises the very  as the Protestants rule of faith.

And what does that rule of faith teach? You guessed it: Justification by faith alone.

Take Paul’s defense in  as an example:

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

Then there’s Jesus’ parable of the . Jesus states that the tax collector is “justified” before God.

Or what about the ? Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Instant justification by faith alone. There was no more work to be done. That’s why Jesus, on the cross, said, “It is finished.”

What was finished? The work of atonement and propitiation.

In essence, sanctification is a result of justification. Not a prerequisite. And justification is an event that occurs at the moment of faith:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Our justification is an accomplished fact. Not an unfinished project. That’s the Protestant stand. What’s your stand? And did I miss anything? Look forward to your thoughts.

This post was inspired by a reader question. Got a question? Email me.

Heaven: My Most Speculative Post to Date


How do you think you’ll respond when you realize you’ve made it to heaven? My answer surprised me.

Not long ago, on a small hillside east of St. Louis, MO, I was cutting grass.

Naturally, my mind was a million miles away from that small hillside…

Somewhere between a lump of books in a library and a white-sand beach watching the sun set with my sweetie by my side.

Eventually my mind wandered to more weightier matters, though, like heaven…

More specifically, how I would respond when I got there.

My Likely Reaction to Heaven

I think I know how I would WANT to react: Happy, but eager to hunt down anyone who could tell me, from the beginning, the history of mankind.

But then it struck me: That’s not how I would respond at all.

Something more profound would occur in that tiny moment: When I blink my eyes after death and the reality of where I am settles in, I would probably curl into a ball and weep.

All I can think of is, “I’m home. I made it. It’s real.”

Why Heaven?

In  Paul announces the devastating loss it would be if he spent his life always on the edge of death, starvation and abuse if in fact the dead were not raised to life. If in fact Christ was not raised from the dead.

Pointless. That’s what it would amount to. His vigorous defense and proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would have been an exercise in futility.

Why not just eat and drink and die?

Truth is, , “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” because he knew we would wrestle with doubt.

He knew we would struggle. And more.

Speculating on Paul’s Trip to Heaven

But in the end, though, Paul wrote “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” a letter he wrote towards the end of his life. A letter he wrote while in prison. A letter who’s dominant tone is joy, a joy grounded in the .

I can only speculate that Paul, after death and in heaven, blinked, and when the weight of where he was sunk in, he sighed and wept on his hands and knees.

What about you, saint: How do you think you’ll respond when you realize you’ve made it to heaven? Share your thoughts.

Omnipresence: Does God Lounge Like a Man Lounges?


Where a lounge chair is used as a prop to demonstrate God doesn’t have a body. Yeah, blasphemous, I know. 

What does God’s omnipresence have to do with a man spread out on a lounge chair?

Frankly…absolutely nothing.

Yet, millions of people make the mistake–often innocently enough–of imagining God with a human body, throwing his feet upon the earth as a footstool, settling back in a great throne that is heaven.

But the biblical doctrine of God’s omnipresence is in direct opposition to this mistake. Let’s see how.

Omnipresence: Two Things It Isn’t

Omnipresence means that God is present everywhere…at once. There is nowhere that God is absent.

Think .

But, it doesn’t mean that God is the world. That is . Neither does it mean God dwells in all things. That is .

And as the indivisible, simple God…all of God is everywhere. Not this part here, that part there. He is at every point of space. But he is not space. He is all present, in all places, at all times.

Furthermore, God’s omnipresence–though part of a cluster of classical attributes like omnipotence and omniscience–is not an attribute. It’s a way to describe how he relates to his creation. Thus, if there was no creation, God would not be omnipresent.

Omnipresence: What the Bible Says

The word omnipresence never appears in Scripture. Yet, it is implied everywhere.

For example:

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built! 1

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

True, the early Old Testament writers describe God as coming and going in language that might be used of a human. But it does not follow from this that the writers who do so think God is subject to space.

Historical Support for God’s Omnipresence

From early church fathers to the modern age, theologians throughout history have tried to counter the crude idea that God had a body like a man–a serious obstacle if God is omnipresent.

 said people do not understand the expression “heaven is his throne and earth his footstool.” They make the mistake of imagining God lounging like a man lounges.

“All though heaven is called his throne, not even there is He contained,” says .

The truth is, he doesn’t need heaven or earth. But,  said, “He fills them both with His presence and His power.”

The classical argument against God having a body comes from .

When Jesus said “God is spirit,” , “he was seeking to disabuse the Samaritan woman of the idea that there could be only one right place for worship, as if God were locally confined in some way.”

Jesus’ point is that while we, being flesh, can be present in only one place at a time, God, being spirit, is not so limited.

Why God’s Omnipresence Is Important to You

God’s omnipresence is of great practical importance to your religious life–both from a personal and salvation point of view.

Personally, the nearness of God means you can communicate and enjoy him anywhere and everywhere.

Salvation wise, God’s omnipresence assures you that God will rescue, protect and preserve you from dangers like .

God is here and everywhere. He’s not confined to a stump or mountain or a river. But he’s free in the universe. Near everything, next to everyone. And through Jesus Christ, immediately accessible to every loving heart.

What Do You Think?

So: Have you made the mistake of thinking God had a body? Does it upset you to think that he doesn’t? Does it scare you that God is everywhere at all time? Concern you? Comfort you? Share your thoughts.

**Part of The Nature of God series.**