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    THE TIME OF THE JUDGMENT

    Many, in their theories at the present time, claim that “at death the souls of all men go immediately to Heaven, and are judged; those found worthy of Heaven are permitted to remain, while the souls of the wicked are thrust down to hell, to receive their punishment. At the time of Christ’s second advent, the souls of the righteous, which have been happy in Heaven, receiving their reward, perhaps thousands of years, are called together; then the souls of the wicked, which have been wailing in torments, perhaps the same length of time, are summoned to appear before God. The several bodies which were tenanted by these souls while living here, are then raised from the dead; the souls are united with them, and again they stand before God.” For what? We are informed that the day has come that God appointed, in which to judge the world, and these souls must there stand and receive their doom, or the welcome, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”HPGO 45.1

    What necessity is there of judging these persons at the resurrection, if judgment was passed upon them at death, and they have been receiving their reward or punishment for thousands of years? Can it be that an all-wise Being has made an oversight, and that they are judged again, to detect errors that may have been made at the first sentence? Who would dare take such a position?HPGO 45.2

    But we inquire, Do the Scriptures state that men are judged at death? We know of but one text that is brought forward to substantiate that point, and that text does not affirm that the dead are judged at death. It is Hebrews 9:27, 28: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the Judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” This text does not state that they are judged as soon as they die. If they are judged at death, we should expect that they would immediately enter upon their reward; but the text tells us that Christ will appear the second time unto-or for their-salvation. If the position were correct, that all men are judged at death, how can it be said, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust to the day of Judgment to be punished” 2 Peter 2:9. If men are judged at death, then we have been in the Judgment since the first man died, and there would be no propriety in the apostle’s pointing to a Judgment day in the future, as men are being judged all the time. Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.” Acts 24:25.HPGO 45.3

    John says: “The seventh angel sounded,” and voices were heard declaring, “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 to them that fear thy name, small and great.” Revelation 11:15-18. Here we see that the time of judgment is at the time when the reward shall be given. The reward is not given at death, but at the coming of Christ.HPGO 46.1

    There is no promise in the Bible of a reward at death, and but one text we know of that could be claimed as such a promise, that is Revelation 2:10: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” This text is not speaking of the time of the reward, but is a sure promise that they shall have a reward. The death here, you will notice, is a death by violence from the hand of their persecutors. It is not, “Be faithful until you die,” but, “Be thou faithful unto death.” Be faithful, though by so doing it costs you your lives. Be willing to “lose” your lives for Christ’s sake, and ye shall keep them “unto life eternal.” So this text is only an assurance of the certainty of the reward, without direct reference to the time when it shall be given. If we wish to know when the reward shall be given, we may learn it abundantly from other scriptures. Paul tells us to whom crowns will be given, and when. “Henceforth [from the time of his death] there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me in that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8. This explains the promise to the Smyrna church. A crown of life is promised them, and they will receive it at the appearing of Jesus. Christ’s own language accords with this when speaking of the time of recompense: “Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14.HPGO 46.2

    The judgment of the righteous is prior to their reward, and according to Peter’s testimony it is just prior to the coming of Christ, and the end of all things. Speaking of the wicked, he says: “Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. But the end of all things is at hand.” 1 Peter 4:5-7.HPGO 47.1

    We do not understand from this that the end of all things was at hand when Peter wrote, but that the righteous dead will be judged when the end of all things is at hand, just before the coming of Christ.HPGO 48.1

    The testimony of James is in point here, as having a bearing upon the subject of the Judgment: “Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned; behold, the Judge standeth before the door.” James 5:7-9. This locates the judgment of God’s people just before Christ comes.HPGO 48.2

    Paul, in his last solemn charge to Timothy, says: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge [all men at death? no, but] the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” 2 Timothy 4:1. Why not charge him in view of his death? Because that is not the time of judgment and recompense.HPGO 48.3

    After giving this most solemn charge, Paul says: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure [death] is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” The sentiment of many at the present time would be, Paul, you will go right to Heaven. But let us hear what Paul says on the subject: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me [at death? no, but] at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Verses 6-8.HPGO 48.4

    My fellow Christian, you and I, each of us, want a crown; but if I supposed that the day of Paul’s death was the time that crowns were given to all, I should despair of ever getting one. The day spoken of above is the day of the Lord’s appearing. Then the righteous of all ages will be made perfect at once.HPGO 49.1

    We read an interesting testimony bearing upon the subject of the Judgment and time of reward in Revelation 20: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, nor in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Here we see that the judgment of God’s people is just prior to the coming of Christ to raise the dead, at the commencement of the thousand years. He continues: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [which he had already described] is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Verses 5, 6.HPGO 49.2

    From the above testimony it seems that the persons who are participants in the first resurrection are thereby exempt from the second death, and permitted to go to be with Christ, and ever to reign with him. By this act of their being raised in the first resurrection, it is manifest to all who are the “blessed and holy.” We fail to see the force of this scripture, if they had been, some of them, with Christ, receiving their reward for thousands of years.HPGO 49.3

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