“A judge, in ancient times, was one who executed justice and relieved the oppressed. Note, for instance, how, when under oppression by their enemies because of transgression against the Lord, Israel was time and again released and blessed by the raising up of judges. Thus we read, “When the children of Israel cried unto Jehovah, Jehovah raised up a deliverer,…Othniel. And the spirit of Jehovah came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war, and prevailed, and the land had rest forty years.” (Judges 3:9-11) So, though the world has long been under the power and oppression of the adversary, Satan, yet shortly he who pays for the sins of all with his own precious blood will take his great power and reign. He will deliver and judge those whom he so loved as to redeem.
With this conclusion all the prophetic declarations agree. It is written: “With righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.” Psa. 98:9
This coming judgment will be on exactly the same principles as the first. The same law of obedience will be presented, with the same reward of life, and the same penalty of death. And as the first trial had a beginning, progressed, and culminated with a sentence, so also will the second; and the sentence will be life to the righteous, and death to the unrighteous. The second trial will be more favorable than the first, because of the experience gained under the results of the first trial. Unlike the first trial, the second trial will be one in which every man will stand the test for himself alone, and not for another. None will then die because of Adam’s sin, or because of inherited imperfections. It shall no more be said, “The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children’s teeth are set on edge; but he that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4; Jer. 31:29,30) And it will be true of the world then, as it is of the Church now, that a man will not be judged according to that which he hath not, but according to that which he hath. (2 Cor. 8:12) Under the reign of Christ, mankind will be gradually educated, trained and disciplined until they reach perfection. And when they have reached perfection, perfect harmony with God will be required, and any who then fall short of perfect obedience will be cut off, being judged unworthy of life. The sin which brought death to the race through Adam was simply one disobedient act; but by that act he fell from his perfection. God had a right to demand perfect obedience of him, since he was created perfect; and he will demand the same of all men when the great work of restoring them is complete. None will be permitted to have everlasting life who then in the slightest degree fall short of perfection. To fall short of perfection, then, will be to sin willfully against full light and perfect ability.
Any who sin willfully, against full light and ability, will perish in the second death. And should any one, during that age of trial, under its full blaze of light, spurn the offered favors, and make no progress toward perfection for a hundred years, he will be reckoned unworthy of life and will be “cut off,” though at a hundred years he would be in the period of comparative childhood. Thus it is written of that day: “As a lad shall one die a hundred years old; and as a sinner shall be accursed he who dieth at a hundred years old.” (Isa. 65:20–Leeser) Thus all must have at least one hundred years of trial; and, if not so obstinate as to refuse to make progress, their trial will continue throughout the entire day of Christ, reaching a culmination only at its close.
The conclusion of the world’s coming judgment is clearly shown in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46), in Rev. 20:15; 21:8 and in 1 Cor. 15:25. These and other scriptures show that at its close the two classes will have been completely separated–the obedient and the disobedient; those in harmony with the letter and the spirit of God’s law, and those out of harmony with it. They enter into everlasting life, and the others are remanded to death, extinction (“second death”), the same sentence as in the first judgment, from which they had been reckonedly released by Christ who secured the right to release them by the giving of their ransom–by his death. This will be their second death. No ransom will be given for them, and there will be no release or resurrection for them, their sin being a wilful, individual sin against full light and opportunity, under a most favorable, individual trial.
We do not wish to be understood as ignoring the present responsibility of the world, which every man has, according to the measure of light enjoyed, whether it be much or little, whether it be the light of nature or of revelation. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” and “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.” (Prov. 15:3; Eccl. 12:14) The good and the evil deeds of the present time will receive a just recompense of reward either now or hereafter. “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment, and some they follow after.” (1 Tim. 5:24) No others than the Lord’s favored “little flock” have as yet sufficient light to incur the final penalty, the second death. We here merely broach the subject of the world’s present accountability, leaving the particulars for subsequent consideration.
A period of about six thousand years intervenes between the world’s first and second judgment days, and during this long period God has been selecting two special classes from among men, and specially trying, disciplining and training them to be his honored instruments during the period or day of the world’s judgment.
These two classes are respectively designated by Paul (Heb. 3:5,6) as the house of sons and the house of servants, the former being composed of those over-comers tried and found faithful during the Christian dispensation, and the latter being composed of the faithful over-comers who preceded the Christian dispensation. These special selections in no sense interfere with the judgment or trial promised to the world of mankind in the age to follow this Gospel Dispensation. Those who successfully pass the trial for either of these special classes will not come into judgment with the world, but will enter upon their reward when the world is coming into judgment. They will be God’s agents in the blessing of the world–in giving to men the instruction and training necessary for their final testing and judgment. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” 1 Cor. 6:2
These specially selected classes, like the rest of mankind, were once under the Adamic condemnation, but became sharers by faith in the benefits of Christ’s death. After being first justified by faith in God’s promises, and having then fulfilled the subsequent conditions of their respective callings, they are accounted worthy of high exaltation to stations of honor and authority.
The trial or judgment of both these classes has been much more severe than the trial of the world will be in its judgment day; because these have had to withstand Satan, the prince of this world, with all his wiles and ensnarement’s, while in the world’s judgment day Christ will be reigning, and Satan will be bound, that he may not deceive the nations. (Rev. 20:3) These have suffered persecution for righteousness’ sake, while then men will be rewarded for righteousness, and punished only for unrighteousness. These have had great stumbling blocks and snares in the way, which will be removed when the world is placed on trial. But though the trial of these two special companies has been much more severe than the trial of the world will be, the rewards are correspondingly greater.
Under the sophistries of the great deceiver, Satan, both the world and the Church nominal have been robbed of the blessed assurances of the coming time of righteous judgment. They know that the Bible tells of a coming judgment day, but they regard it with only fear and dread; and because of this fear, there is to them no more unwelcome tidings than that the day of the Lord is at hand. They put it far away from them, and do not wish to hear it even mentioned. They have no idea of the blessings in store for the world under that glorious reign of him whom God hath appointed to judge the world in righteousness. Among the greatest of the blinding influences which Satan has devised to keep men in ignorance of the truth regarding the judgment day have been the errors which have crept into the creeds and hymn books of the various religious sects. Many have come to esteem these errors as of paramount importance to the Word of God.
How differently did the prophets and apostles regard that promised day of judgment! Note the exultant prophetic utterance of David (1 Chron. 16:31-34). He says:
“Let the heavens be glad, And let the earth rejoice; And let men say among the nations, Jehovah reigneth. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; Let the fields rejoice, and all that are therein. Then shall the trees of the wood sing aloud At the presence of Jehovah, BECAUSE HE COMETH TO JUDGE THE EARTH. O give thanks unto Jehovah, for he is good; For his mercy endureth forever.”
To the same day the Apostle also points, assuring us that it will be a glorious and desirable day, and that for it the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain together –waiting for the great Judge to deliver and to bless the world, as well as to exalt and glorify the Church.
In John 5:28,29 a precious promise for the world of a coming judgment-trial for life everlasting is, by a mis-translation, turned into a fearful imprecation. According to the Greek, they that have done evil–that have failed of divine approval–will come forth unto resurrection [raising up to perfection] by judgments, “stripes,” disciplines. See the Revised Version.” (A142-147)