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The Final Judgment

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
March 23, 2022 12:01 am

The Final Judgment

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 23, 2022 12:01 am

Evil in this world will not go unanswered. God has appointed a day when He will vindicate His name and His people. Today, W. Robert Godfrey considers the encouragement and the warnings of the final judgment described in the book of Revelation.

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The mysterious language used in the book of Revelation can be confusion what good teachers today that the Lord is in charge of history to even one more week were strong even when no time seems short. We have time and time seems to drag on long forever. It won't be so long the Lord's in charge and the paradoxes help us think through the strangeness of our life before the glorious revealed welcome to a new United is Wednesday the book of Revelation was written, the early church was struggling to reconcile the hope of Christ ringing with the harsh realities of life in a fallen world, it brought relief to those first century Christians and it's a source of blessing and encouragement to us today. Global returning now to Revelation chapter 20 we been trying not to take that chapter in isolation not to take the questions about the thousand years in isolation but to see this is all part of the judgment on the Dragon that's being articulated and, in the sense I think were being given the of view of a broad view of the whole history of the church and the dragon's role in it and were being reminded that all of these things are kind of twofold Dragon is strong but the Dragon is weak. The church is weak, but the church is strong and I think this is really the message we been saying all through the book of the Revelation and it's being given to us here with a particular ploy, goodness, and a particular focus that I think is meant to be tremendously encouraging. As we contemplate the coming final judgment and I wanted to note there that verse three of chapter 20 where were told that the Dragon is sealed in the pit for thousand years first three ends with the sentence after that he the Dragon must be released for a little while and of course, that statement has influenced the way Christians have thought about the future and the coming judgment a great deal even all millennialist by and large have said after the period of the great commission. When the church has done its work and has preached to the nations that has discipled those who respond to the gospel. Then at the very end of the age. There has to be a time of particular intense Dragon activity just before the final judgment and it's interesting how it's put here. He must be released for a little while that word there is micron in Greek, so he has a microsecond at the end that's where the idea.

He has a a very short time. This words only use one other place in the book of Revelation. It underscores the shortness of this time.

But what if we been sitting right along.

Now this may be the most radical thing I say so put big? In the margin of your notes. Even I'm not sure about this but I think it's possible.

I think it's possible what we've been seeing right along is that sequence doesn't mean chronology, so it's possible that what John is really saying here is dubbing the thousand years. And then there's a little time in the really the same. We have to go back and look at all that said, prophetically.

In the New Testament to decide if that's a real possibility. It's a real possibility that there's not going to be an obvious intensification of evil, right before that I don't. Otherwise, how would Christ coming be like a thief in the night and a case just something to think about. Don't going up on me, don't turn against me, but I I think we have to reflect on these things and ask what we really being taught and what were being taught over and over again is that things that seem to be sequential are really concurrent happening at the same time and the thousand years for the church to do its work is the same as the microsecond the devil has to do is but whether you think that's worth think about or not will rush along verse four then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image or received its mark on their forehead or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years, so there's throne and on those thrones are Christ, but also his saints in heaven with him again, particularly the martyrs, but I think the martyrs representing all Christians and there is enthroned in heaven.

They came to life. That's a way of talking about dying dying as a coming to life that come to life in heaven. There glorified with Christ in heaven. This is not the end of this is in history so the picture is again of here. The strength of the church. The victory of the church.

The accomplishment of the church is not just that Christ reigns over the world through the whole history of the church, but the departed saints reign with him. The departed saints are not dead. They are not sleeping unaware until the end there with Christ in heaven there seeing and entering in to the triumph of Christ. So there alive, but the rest of the dead verse five did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.

The wicked are not enjoying that life that the blessed enjoy.

I don't think that's necessarily to mean their unconscious there there suffering torments, but they're not enjoying life and so this coming to life is the first resurrection.

Again, this is surprising language of related supply list. What is the Christian hope that in the last day, our bodies will be raised our souls reunited with our bodies will live in the new heaven and the new earth. And so shall we ever be with the Lord. But now John says now that great resurrection hope stands in the future before us, but in a real sense for the Christian physical death is the first resurrection because we don't die we are not lost. We are glorified in heaven alive with Christ to enjoy life. There with him. Verse six Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and they will reign with him for a thousand years. The second death. What's the second death is final judgment. There's a first death when the body dies.

But there's a second death at the final judgment, but that but the great purpose here is to encourage Christians with this reality that the dead in Christ right now are priests of God and of Christ and reign with him for a thousand years. Think what that would've meant to Christians in the first century a small group of small group who probably in most congregations knew of a martyr, and in any case, wondered, perhaps about their loved ones who had died and and here's a picture here is an encouragement and it's the same encouragement for assessment, death, where is your sting grave, where is your victory. Death is swallowed up in victory by the life of Christ.

So here's a wonderful encouragement to us.

We don't have to hurry with and reign with Christ were going to do the priestly work. He calls us to do. You remember and in first Peter were all called priests and so here it is the victory now and then more gloriously, and obviously later in Denver. Seven and when the thousand years are ended. Satan will be released from his prison and he will come out to deceive the nations. This is the micron. This is the microsecond.

Now that he has, to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their numbers like the sand of the sea, Gog and Magog. You know, again, interpreters want to ask who are Gog and Magog.

Well, if you're a literalist. Gog and Magog are Gog and Magog, Gog and Magog were ancient nations, ancient enemies of Israel. So you know it's really not playing fair to say I'm a literalist literalist literalist but Gog and Magog are Germany or Russia are trying our or name your enemy in any given century. So what we know about Gog and Magog. What we know what Ezekiel tells us, and if we read what Ezekiel tells us will find that it's actually very helpful to understanding what is going on here and how we should interpret this and what the Lord is telling us in all of this. Well we read about Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39 and you know it's it's a very sound principle of Bible study that when you have an allusion to some Old Testament text. You should go back and read the Old Testament text and lo and behold you will learn a great deal by doing that and what did Ezekiel actually write about Gog and Magog.

This is what Ezekiel wrote you will come up against my people Israel like a cloud covering the land in the latter days, I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me when through you will Gog I vindicate my holiness before their eyes with pestilence and bloodshed. I will enter into judgment with him. I will reign upon him and his hordes in the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones heard about hailstones and fire and sulfur so I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord. That's exactly what's happening here.

This isn't about ancient Gog and Magog being revived. This is about what happened to them in ancient times, now happening on a grander scale in the prophetic vision of John namely, that the world is going to see in the final judgment, the glory of God the holiness of God. The splendor of God.

That's what's being represented here. God will vindicate himself and then a little later on. Ezekiel wrote you.

Gog shall fall in the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the people sore with you I will give you to birds of prey and of every sort and to beasts of the field to be devoured. I will send fire on Magog and on those who dwell securely in the coastlands that they may know that I am the Lord, and my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the holy one of Israel, and I will set my glory among the nations and all the nations shall see my judgment that I've executed and my hand that I have laid on them the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God. From that day forward, then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them a deck sell among the nations, and then assembled them into their own land.

I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. I will not hide my face anymore from them when I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord God. So here's a wonderful prophecy already in the day of Ezekiel that really only has complete fulfillment in the final judgment, the God is made known his victory over the nations. God is assembled all of his people.

God is poured out his spirit on his people, so that we may know him whose name is holy and and it's a beautiful picture here and it's not the Gog and Magog are going to be revived, but that once again, the enemies will think to gather for battle against the Lord and here were told in verse eight of chapter 20 of Revelation. They are like the sand of the sea's huge number.

Who else is like the sand of the city people God. The children of Abraham so we mustn't let ourselves think that it's only to be a tiny number redeemed will be more people than just in this room to be in fast Company drawn from the centuries but here's a vast company drawn for battle against the Lord. Verse nine and they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city so ready for battle ready for battle. But fire came down from heaven and consume amazing isn't it. And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. The end of the track the end of the direct. He was strong and he was weak, but the final word is destroyed is contempt of that's the judgment here. The final judgment of receipt so this is a is a powerful picture. It is a powerful representation that the Lord is in charge of history that to even one more week were strong even when the time seemed short. We have time when time seems to drag on long forever. It won't be so long the Lord's in charge and the paradoxes help us think through the strangeness of our life before the glory is revealed. And so this is really and in a variety of ways I think wonderfully encouraging to us and it's not I really want to fight with other interpretations of of Revelation 20 is just that I fear we've missed the blessing too often by raising weird questions adult really apply and missing the real point that's being made that we reign with Christ now and we have plenty of time to do our work and the devil has hardly any time at all to do his were going to win. That's what Ted Dennis Johnson said one.

What's a book of the Revelation all about Jesus wins and we see that really wonderfully here and then this last segment of the episode on judgment finally comes to the judgment of all mankind.

It's not just the judgment of the deceivers.

Babylon the beast the Dragon but now all mankind, who allowed themselves to be deceived. 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 grade and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened than 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 and the sea gave up the dead who were in it, death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them and they were judged, each one of them according to what they had done.

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.

This is the second death, the lake of fire and if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. So this is a final judgment all mankind and the judgment is pictured. And remember this is symbolic language. The judgment is pictured as the reading of books. The image here is, there appears to be a kind of pile of books that have the deeds of all of human beings in them. And then there's one book. The book of life in the pictures very important. The book of life has only names he doesn't have deeds. So the book of life just has the names of those Jesus has redeemed and I suppose our deeds good and bad are all in the book deeds. But if your name is not in the book of life, you will be judged by the book of deeds and that's not a good thing. Those who are only judged by the deeds in the book of deeds would be lost and those who are judged by the book of life by names written.

Thereby, the Savior by those who art in his deeds to be judged will live, so it's a beautiful picture of salvation of the reality of salvation. Salvation is if your name is in the Lamb's book of life. It's his sovereign electing purpose from before the foundation of the world you know RC Sproul didn't say that John Calvin didn't say that John the apostle said that not even Paulson is the only one who said that it's right here in the book of the Revelation. Your name has to be written in the book of life from before the foundation of the world. I believe that literally that's part of the great message here, and those written from before the foundation of the world their names in the book of life, they will not be lost. Christ will protect them. Christ will be victorious for them will reign for thousand years with him in heaven after they died.

To this world. And then, though, be raised at the last day to live forever in the new heaven and new earth.

That's the promise of this book. That's the encroachment of this book. That's what we see here and then really the terrible picture of eternal punishment.

The lake of fire where the torment goes on forever and ever. Again, this is symbolic. We don't know what hell will look like, but will be terrible and that's enough to know and so the plea is that we would flee from the wrath to come implicitly and find our life in Christ. So this seller completes the judgment section and prepares us then to see the last section of the last cycle, namely the holy city, the bride of Christ. The faithful woman and really the in so many ways. The culmination of the book, the vision of glory that awaits because you know it in the Bible. In the New Testament as a whole really not told much descriptively about heaven, we know it's great and good and wonderful and God is there and his people were there, but were not told in a lot of detail about heaven were told much more detail now about the final stage, the new heaven and the new earth. The glory that awaits us. After the final judgment of the resurrection of the dead in Christ to life and and thus we find beginning then for us in chapter 21 this picture of the new heaven and the new earth.

Chapter 21 that I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more truly interesting if you go back to Genesis 1 we read that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, but the earth was empty and dark and covered with water arrived, the beginning of creation, the seas posed a big problem. Another problem solved. The seas are no more. Those of you spent a lot of money on shorefront property may regret this but but the vision here is of a stable world a certain world make a world no longer threatened by the chaos of the seas, a new heaven and a new earth, and I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. This a glorious picture, particularly as a culmination of this book, because in this book. At every point, we have seen a contrast between heaven and earth, those who dwell in heaven of the saved those who dwell on earth for the lost. I heaven is the heavenly temple were God and the angels in the redeemed are to be found. Earth is the place of the Dragon and of the basin of Babylon and and throughout this book, we've moved back and forth between heaven and earth sometimes were called up to heaven. Sometimes we even see battles in heaven. As we saw in chapter 12, but the point is heaven and earth are entirely separated ends realms of existence and realms of self identification, and now that separation between heaven and earth, which is going on ever since the fall is ended.

Heaven comes to earth, heaven comes to earth. We must've missed how fundamental that is how crucial it is the heavenly Jerusalem that is existed in glory now will become visible and be brought down to earth and will remake the whole earth and all of its character and in the essential element of that is defined for us here and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God hears the covenant promise from the earliest elements of the Old Testament reasserted over and over again.

What we need, what we long for the God would be in our midst that she would be our God and we would be his people, that there be no separation that there be no distance.

There's been a distance there's been the distance of sin. There is been the distance between heaven and hell, there's been the distance between what we believe and what we can see there's been all of these distances and differences and now suddenly it's all land and will see the glory and heaven and earth will be reconciled. This is the picture that's going to be developed now for a small business see that more next time.

As we look at the conclusion next time of this cycle, seven and then begin to look at how the book itself find the conclusions encouraging us, calling us what an amazing vision of the future. Not only will God pass judgment on the Dragon but he will also resurrect every one of us who was ever lived to give an account for our actions to those whose name appear in the book of life. He promises an eternity of new life in a new heaven and a new earth. Thanks for joining us for Renewing Your Mind on this Wednesday I'm Lee Webb, Dr. Robert Guthrie series blessed hope. The book of Revelation is our focus this week. The full series guides us through the last book of the Bible chapter by chapter, clearing away confusion and offering practical insight. I don't know about you but this book is cause me to scratch my head a few times. We probably won't understand every mystery and it but Dr. Guthrie series helps to see the hope we have been eternity with our heavenly father, we invite you to request the entire series. There are 24 messages on three DVDs and for your donation.

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We would be glad to send it your way. There are a couple ways you can reach us to make a request. One is by phone at 800-435-4343 but if you prefer you can go online to Renewing Your We are grateful for your financial support. Together were reaching around the world to proclaim and defend the holiness of God to as many people as possible.

Our founder Dr. RC Sproul often acknowledge that God allows us to participate in the greatest work in human history. The work of redemption. So on behalf of all of us here. It would get her ministries. Thank you for your continued support. Tomorrow Dr. Guthrie series reveals the focus of our blessed hope, the new Jerusalem. We as believers look ahead to a day when God will dwell with us and we will be his people, so we hope you'll join us Thursday for Renewing Your Mind

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