THE JUDGMENT OF NON-BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST
Although mentioned in several places in the Bible, the judgment of non-believers in Jesus Christ is best explained in Revelation 20:11-15. This is referred to as the Great White Throne Judgment. According to Scripture, this judgment will take place after the 1000- year Millennium, following the second resurrection (Rev 20:4-13).
Those who have died in Christ (believers) will have already been resurrected at the first resurrection. This second resurrection is to bring all of those who have ever lived – and those living on earth at the time of the second resurrection – before the throne of God to receive their judgment.
There are seven principles found in Romans 2: 1-16 that form the basis of this judgment upon the unbeliever. This judgment of God is:
- according to truth (not imaginations) – 2;
- according to accumulated guilt – 5;
- according to their deeds (absolute justice) – v.6;
- without partiality toward anyone – 11;
- according to obedience to – and not simply the knowledge of – God and His Word – vs.12,13;
- by Jesus Christ, Who is appointed by God to judge the world – 16 (cf. Acts 10:38-43; 17 :29-31);
- according to the Gospel of eternal salvation as a free gift by the grace of God through faith in Christ
Scripture seems to indicate that there will be degrees of punishment at the judgment (Luke 12:41-48). But regardless of the punishment, every person that dies without Christ will be separated from God completely. This absolute separation from the Person of God and from every trace of His great love, grace, goodness and kindness will last for an eternity (Matt 25:46; Luke 16:19-31, esp. v.26; Rev 14:11); this is the worst possible consequence of non-belief in Christ.
This very fact of the final judgment and eternal separation from God that awaits unbelievers should stir us with compassion for those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior. Christ has already paid the price to save them from that dreadful judgment. This is the Good News of the Gospel message – that all who receive Christ and His sacrifice can be saved from eternal damnation!
All those who die without Christ are held in Hades, the place of the dead (Rev 20: 13). They are kept there until the second resurrection. There will be no more opportunity for a decision for Christ once a person has died. At the second resurrection, the unbelieving dead will be raised to stand before the Great White Throne in the presence of God to receive their eternal judgment. They will then be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:15) along with Satan, his demon angels, the false prophet and the beast (Matt 25:41; Rev 19:20;20:10).
D. Eternal Life
“And these [the wicked] will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:46). There are many, many Bible verses about the unending duration of life after death, too many to list here.
The Greek word, aion, and its derivative, aionios, are used almost two hundred times in the New Testament. Both of these words convey the idea of “duration without end”.