Q: Why is there a judgment after death? If a person’s fate is determined after death, as you say, then why is there a judgment after that?
This is a good question. It may appear that the judgment determines the person’s eternal state after they die, but there is no indication of this. “Heaven” or “Hell” are determined at the point of death, and not afterward. We know this, for example, from the Luke 16 passage discussed earlier, but also from passages like 2 Corinthians 5:8, in which Paul says that to die (for believers) is to be at “home with Lord”. That’s an instantaneous thing!
“we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
This same principle is applied to unbelievers, as well, based on Luke 16 and other passages. (If you have not read the Luke 16 passage, you need to read that passage over very carefully. In fact, if you hope to really understand what the Scriptures teach, you need to be reading over the Scriptures on a regular, daily, basis.)
So, then, if a person’s fate is determined at the time of death, why is there a judgment that follows? It is simple. The judgment determines the degree of blessing (for the righteous) or punishment (for the wicked). Thus, there are different levels of “torment” in hell. None is good, and you don’t want to go there, but there are worse degrees of suffering for certain people. There are also special rewards granted to those who have faithfully served Christ, so make sure that you do that and do not miss out. To faithfully serve Christ, you need to do four things.
1. Get involved with a local group of believers, who can encourage you and help spur you on to good works.
2. Pray regularly. The Bible says to pray without ceasing. Prayer should become so ingrained in you, that you live and breathe it. You should carry on a regular communication with God, in whatever you are doing. There is concerted prayer, where you kneel down and push everything aside, and this is important to do daily (Daniel prayed three times a day like this). There is also the spirit of prayer, which should consume you and be part of every waking (and even sleeping) moment, in which you carry on conversation with God as you go about your business.
3. Read and study the word of God (this will keep you from error and inspire and teach you valuable things). God will use this — normally at least — daily time in His word to steer you, and impart wisdom and blessing into your life. I myself have failed on many occasions to read the word of God daily, but I can assure you that whenever I get back to it, I realize that it is so valuable, because God uses it in powerful ways. Read the word of God daily, even “day and night,” if you can. It does not have to be a lot, but be consistent.
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)
4. Share your faith (evangelize) and do good works for God. The Bible says that God has prepared good works that you may walk in them. These were prepared in advance for God’s glory and for your fulfillment. Seek God on what those good works are (hint, they will be tied in with providence, your giftings and abilities, and your desires as you seek God in sincerity and truth).
Be blessed! Be an active Christian for the Lord and enter into great personal fulfilment! As you do this, you will not fear the coming judgment, because you will know that you are doing all you can to please God now, before it is too late!
“We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4)