Judgment is a central theme throughout Scripture; the Old Testament is filled with accounts of judgment.
The judgment on Adam and Eve, the Flood judgment, the judgment against the Unfaithful Generation during the Exodus, Sodom and Gomorrah, the various judgments against Israel, the Ultimate Judgment at Calvary, just to name a few.
Some in this generation will face the 21 judgments outlined in the Book of Revelation during the Tribulation Period.
The writer of Hebrews tells us, ". . .it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)
There are five individual judgments identified in Scripture, that differ in five general aspects; the subjects, the time, the place, the basis and the result.
There are two judgments for believers. The subjects of the first judgment are sinners. The time of this judgment was roughly AD 33. The place was Calvary.
The basis for the judgment was the finished Work of Christ. And the result was justification for the believer.
This first judgment is in three parts; as a sinner, as a son, and as a servant.
The 'sin' question is settled at the Cross. The 'son' question is an ongoing series of personal judgments that the Bible calls 'chastisement'.
When a believer steps outside God's permissive will, it brings about judgments designed to bring that believer back into line.
"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (Hebrews 12:7-8)
Then there is our judgment as servants, which leads us to the Judgment Seat of Christ, or the Bema Seat.
The subjects are believers. The time is after the Rapture. The place is the Bema Seat. The basis for judgment is works. The result is reward -- or loss of reward.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2nd Corinthians 5:10)
Those who stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ are not there to be judged worthy of entry into heaven. That question was settled at the Cross.
This judgment will be for our works as servants. At the Bema Seat;
"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (1st Corinthians 3:13)
Think about that for a moment! Everything you ever did will be analyzed and scrutinized openly by the Lord Jesus Christ. Every good thing. . . and every bad thing. We'll be called on to give account of every word, every deed, every thought.
For most believers, the Judgment Seat of Christ will be an excruciating experience. "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men . . ." Paul wrote.
But, the result of the Bema Seat judgment isn't to determine if you will enter heaven -- that is already assured. The result is reward. That is where a believer's works come into play. Rewards. Or loss of them.
"If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1st Corinthians 3:14-15)
There are five possible rewards, or "crowns" that believers can earn for their works at the Bema Seat.
The Crown of Life. This is the Martyr's Crown. You get this one the hard way; "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:10)
The Crown of Glory. This the the 'Pastor's Crown' given by the Chief Shepherd when He shall appear to those who serve;
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." (1st Peter 5:2-3)
I readily admit that I am working to earn this crown. Salvation is a gift of grace through faith, and that not of yourselves -- crowns you have to work for.
"And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." (1st Peter 5:4)
The Crown of Rejoicing. This is the Soul-winners crown. Those brought to Jesus by us will be our "crown of rejoicing" at His Coming.
"For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?" (1st Thessalonians 2:19)
The Crown of Righteousness. This is the crown earned by the Watchmen on the Wall who give the warning of His soon appearing.
"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." (2nd Timothy 4:8)
The Incorruptible Crown. This is a tough one to earn. This is the "Victor's" Crown, which is set aside for those who master temperance in this lifetime.
Those who don't yield to the lusts of the flesh, saturate themselves with alcohol and drugs, and keep themselves separate from the world can expect to be rewarded with the Incorruptible Crown.
The Judgment Seat of Christ takes place concurrently with the Third Judgment identified by Scripture taking place on earth.
In this third judgment, the primary subjects are the Jews. The place is Jerusalem. The time is called the 'Time of Jacob's Trouble' or, the Tribulation Period.
"Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." (Jeremiah 30:7)
The basis for this judgment is Israel's continued rejection of the Messiah, and the end result is the national redemption of Israel.
The fourth judgment identified in Scripture also takes place during the Tribulation. The subjects are the Gentile nations. The place is the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The basis for this judgment will be their treatment of the Jews.
"And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats." (Matthew 25:32)
The nations will be divided into the "Sheep nations" and the "Goat nations". The result is the Sheep nations will be permitted to enter into the Millennial Kingdom. The "Goat nations" will be destroyed.
This judgment takes place at the conclusion of the Tribulation Period.
The fifth and final judgment identified in Scripture is the Great White Throne Judgment. It will take place at the close of the Millennium a 1000 years after the judgment of the Nations, and before the "Great White Throne."
All the righteous (saved) dead arose at the First Resurrection, or the Rapture.
Those who are saved and die between the First Resurrection and the Second Resurrection, (like the Tribulation and Millennial Kingdom saints), must rise with the wicked at the Second Resurrection.
The words; "Whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life" imply there will be some saved who will be present at the Great White Throne. So possibly there will be some whose names will be found in the Book of Life, but they are post-Church Age believers.
I want you to notice something. This entire outline only works if the Rapture takes place beforethe Tribulation. If the Church is on the earth during the Tribulation Period, the entire outline falls apart.
BUT -- and this is the important part -- this is the only outline there is! There is only one Bible from which to work, and it doesn't give an alternative scenario.
It is the key to understanding the outline of Bible prophecy as it unfolds before this generation.
The Bible identifies five judgments and five crowns. The judgments are as I've outlined them, by those who are subject to them, when, where, why, and how.
I've supplied chapter and verse. Go back and review it all. It's the only outline there is. And for it to work, the Church must be Raptured before the Tribulation begins.
If not, we have the Church on the earth during the judgment of Israel, and not in the air for the Believer's Judgment, and, in some views, on the earth during the division of the Sheep and Goat nations.
Jesus sets up His Millennial Kingdom at the close of the Tribulation Period. Before that comes four of the five judgments, all of which He presides over as the Righteous Judge.
When the judgments of the Tribulation are over, all that remain are the sheep nations and the Jews. Who is there left to Rapture?
The Rapture is the First Resurrection that predicates the Judgment Seat of Christ. As the Church is judged at the Bema Seat, the twenty-one Tribulation judgments are executed on the world.
They are different judgments, as to subject, basis, place and result, but within the same general frame of time called the Day of the Lord or the Day of Christ.
It is all interconnected -- and indivisible from the Big Picture.
The outline of Bible prophecy is deep and complex, and each part is interdependent on all the others in order to complete the Big Picture.
It isn't about being right. It's about understanding the times in which we live, so that we can fulfill the commission given us.
". . .sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." (1st Peter 3:15)