Summary: Life itself is a series of tests. The moment we die or we are raptured, our days of sharing Jesus with others is over, and the testing is over as well. Are you ready to put your life's pencil down?
Put Your Pencils Down
When we were in school we all had to take exams. Call them what you want, quizzes, tests, finals, exams. But the really big, stressful tests were the timed tests. You had a certain amount of time in which you were to take your test, and then you were told "Put your pencils down", and you were done whether you were done or not! Kids would frantically write all they could before the teacher would say firmly "I SAID PENCILS DOWN!".
Life is like that timed test, with some major differences. We don't wear a watch that tells us what time the test will be over. We don't even know how much time we have--it might be 10 minutes, 10 years or 110 years. But we are all graded on how we do on the test. Lazarus passed the test by faith, the rich man did not.
How so? Well, when we die we are judged on what or Who we believed and trusted in. If you trusted and believed in Christ, then you go to Heaven. If you rejected Jesus Christ then you go to Torment, then eventually to Hell. This is called the Judgment of Faith.
At a point afterward, there is what is called the Judgment of Works. In short, your life will be reviewed and you will receive judgment based upon what you did with your life. For the Christian, we will receive reward at the Bema (pronounced bay-ma) Seat Judgment. For the lost, as we studied last week, judgment will also be based upon works but will be used in a fair way to determine the eternal punishment of the person.
We have precious few days to make an impact in life, even if we live 110 years, in the grand scheme of things. Eternity is longer than trillions of years, and the judgments of God are everlasting. Those that are saved by Jesus, then we must work for Him. Those that are unsaved we give warning to, because we know their eventual fate should they not repent and turn in faith and trust toward Jesus Christ.
We never know when our life is going to be abruptly taken--when we will, for the last time "put our pencils down.
I) Judged According To Their Works
As we have discussed, there are two judgments for each person--Judgment of Faith and Judgment of Works. Here we see the latter, the Judgment of Works, for the unsaved masses called the Great White Throne Judgment.
Erwin Lutzer, Pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, related of a nice, kindly old man that told him "If your God is the type that would send anyone to Hell for eternity, then I want no part of him." I have heard a lot of people voice the same sentiment. Other variations include statements that begin with "Well, my god would never...". Notice that I intentionally did not capitalize the g in god here, because these people have a false god! The first and second commandments deal with "other gods" and with "false images". When we make God out to be anything that He is not, he then becomes a false god.
Here is a statement that may shock some people, but it is entirely true: The Doctrine of Hell glorifies God. Yes, it does. You may ask how. ALL people have no idea how repulsive sin is to our righteous, sinless, holy God. God is without sin, and sin angers God. In fact, it repels God, and God's wrath is held only in check by His great long-suffering. You see, each and every sin will be punished by God; in fact the wrath of God builds up against each person that is against Him:
Rom 2:5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, NKJV
The Greek word for "treasuring" means to "amass or reserve". The wrath of God has been building up and will be cut loose during the Tribulation and at the Great White Throne Judgment. It will be tempered to a degree by the moral works of the individual. Note these are moral works, not "good" works. While it may be seen as splitting hairs, it is not. Only God is good, and only good works are done by Him. The good works that we do are done with the empowerment and will of the Holy Spirit.
In short, we have no idea just how repulsive sin is to God, and how much it angers Him. We often want to make God only the God of love, but in truth He is the God of wrath and justice as well. Hell is the place of exclusion of all that is offensive to Him. It is a place where no good thing dwells.