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Eternal judgement is first of all not temporary, but as the term implies and shouts out at you and me, it is eternal… forever… everlasting… unchanging… like God who is eternal, something that is once fixed cannot be changed.

That is found nowhere else in full graphic detail and plain English or plain Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic or whatever language, except in the Book of Revelation.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire.  The Lake of Fire is the second death.  That’s it – if you would focus on not being thrown into the Lake of Fire, then whatever judgement you face, whatever you receive at judgement, in truth is more than you deserve for it is by grace we are saved and not by works, so that no man may boast.  And since, as Paul said, all men be liars but God be true, then all desire to be in the Lake of Fire to begin with, for the Lord has already decreed, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery Lake of Burning Sulphur.  This is the second death.”

The truth of all these sins, which are listed in Revelation 21:8, is that there is not one of them that we are not guilty of committing at one time or another.  Even the eleven disciples deserted the Lord at the threat of arrest and Peter denied the Lord three times.  If they displayed cowardice in the face of danger, indeed, who could be saved?  Thank God, judgement is with the Lord who desires mercy.

Just as the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus wipes away sin once for all, for all who repent and believe, so God has offered to each of you a once for all way of ensuring that you need never fear the lake of fire, and that is for you to focus on being beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.  The key phrase for tonight is:  The second death has no power over them…”  That is it… that is the key to come to the place where the Lake of Burning Sulphur has no power over you, is all you need to know and to worry about regarding the eternal judgement.

In the basic teachings, Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”   So you must not judge, for you do not know who goes to Heaven or Hell, and who cares anyway, because whether you are in Heaven or in Hell, you are still subject to Judgement Day and the Lake of Fire still has power over you unless you get beheaded for your testimony of Jesus and the word of God.  Nothing is certain except death and being beheaded for Christ and His word, unless you so believed in Christ that you lived and could not die, but remained alive until He returned and was caught up in the clouds after the dead in Christ are risen.  Paul wrote about those who would be left alive till the coming of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:  And so we will be with the Lord forever, which means when He is back on earth for His Millennial Reign, we who are left alive till His return will also be here, and those who are here reigning with Him for the Millennium, have no fear of the second death.  That is the bottom line.

So, when it comes to eternal judgement, it has nothing to do with your moral life, or how successful your ministry is in your eyes and the eyes of the church if you did not live a life that guaranteed you would be beheaded for your testimony of Jesus and the word of God.  Heaven is merely an interlude before the worst day of any soul occurs, Judgement Day.  Only those who are back here on Earth reigning with Him have no fear of Judgement Day.  Whatever rewards await you in Heaven, in a sense, is a prelude but is not eternal, because the final judgement has not happened.

Many would argue that all the church are spared from Judgement Day as it is only the dead who are judged and since we who are alive are living in Christ, therefore we will not be judged.  I don’t know about that.  What I know is that only those who were beheaded came back to life as John wrote:  the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.  Did all the Christians live a life that ensured they were beheaded for the sake of their testimony and the word of God?  Do all Christians live that way or do they follow the apostolic tradition and run away at the sign of persecution and deny the Christ, even after they had been personally discipled by Him?  It is noteworthy, by tradition, all eleven except John were martyred and John apparently could not die even when they did try to kill him.

Thus, eternal judgement is not about Heaven or Hell, and not even about New Heaven or New Earth or New Jerusalem.  It is about the Lake of Burning Sulphur, the second death, and for you who are alive now, it is about avoiding it completely, so that it has no power over you at all.

Therefore, the true focus of eternal judgement for you and I is about practising a way of life that ensures that we are being and will be beheaded for the sake of our testimony of Jesus and the word of God, and have a clear focus of living as a martyr and dying a martyr if death does come for us.  And since we have chosen to believe John 11:26, that we who live and believe will never die as Jesus said, then our aim is to remain alive until His arrival, and if failing that, ensure that we die for our testimony of Jesus and the word of God.  Not for you, if you truly want to escape eternal judgement, the life of a great ministry of success to die in old age in retirement. 

As to whether you would succeed or not is of course not up to you, but like King David, you do well to have it in your heart and perhaps the God and Father of Jesus Christ will give you success.

So how do you begin to live such a life?  Start by not judging.  Do not judge as the Lord said, and you will not be judged, and “so in everything do to others what you would have them do to you.” 

1.  Help others to prepare for beheading for the sake of their testimony of Jesus.  Now how can you be beheaded for your testimony of Jesus if you do not have one?  How can you have a valid testimony unless you are a truthful and valid witness who has seen, heard and experienced for yourself, the truth of Jesus and the word of God?  And how can you be a witness if you have no power?  Thus the restoration of power in you and your personal testimony that has been generated in you, as you put into practice the words of Jesus, gives you a testimony so that you can be beheaded for your testimony and the word of God.

2.  They must be beheaded also for the word of God, and how can they be unless someone preached to them the word of God.  Now, classically, the word of God would mean the Bible, the written word, and that is true.  Those who have read the word of God can be beheaded for it, though I doubt if many would.  However, the word of God also means the testimony, the promise and the bond of God, that is, refusing to deny the promise of God and to lose one’s head because of His word, His promise, His bond.  Seeking to remain alive so that you would be here to greet Jesus is one way of holding to the word of God.  Hence, you must declare the promise of God and help people to hold to it as you hold to it.

3.  And as surely as you would desire to be beheaded for your testimony of Jesus and the word (promise, bond) of God, so pray that God would bless all Christians likewise.  As such, do not flinch when persecution comes hard and severely to the point that many are in danger of losing their lives and do lose their lives.  Pray that others, Christians, do not die in disasters, accidents or even in peace, where they are denied the chance of dying and losing their life for Christ.  Pray that others die the most excellent way, the most profitable way, the way of greater love where they would lay down their life for their friends, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, the Lord God Almighty, if you truly desire to die that way.  And if the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are not available, love one another with the greater love, being prepared to lay down your life for each other.  At this level, I would rather you pray for each other to successfully remain alive until Jesus comes, or else a martyr’s death, than you pray for a commercially successful professional life.

Thus once you understand eternal judgement properly, then the definition of a successful Christian life is a life lived where you are beheaded because of your testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  It is not the size of your ministry or the number who attend your meetings, not even how many miracles you do or how many demons you drive out or whether your prophecies come to pass.  It is not whether you are an apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher or pastor.  It is nothing that you would value or the world would value.  It is not reputation or a grand retirement farewell or the size of the institute you have built or the denomination you help raise up.  It is… did you, would you and could you desire to be beheaded for the sake of your testimony of Jesus and the word of God?  Is that the treasure of your heart to come to know Him so much and love Him so much that you wouldn’t just want to live with Him or for Him, but die with Him and for Him?

Thomas the apostle may be maligned by many for being ‘doubting Thomas’, but he spoke his heart’s desire when he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”  Why did Jesus turn up when Thomas was not there only to show up later when Thomas was there, so that Thomas could put his hand into Jesus’ wounds?  Why did Thomas travel the furthest for Jesus’ gospel, Thomas who was martyred in Goa, India?

If that is what you would desire in your heart, then that is what you should pray for others, and help others to achieve.  In fact, you would want to have others behead you for the sake of your testimony and the word of God, so likewise, do it to them.  Pray that others are also given the revelation, the zeal and above all else, to lay down their lives for Jesus as Stephen the Martyr and ones who have followed in his footsteps did, living to die for the Lord without killing anyone just as Jesus did who lived to die for His testimony of the Father and the Father’s word without killing anyone Himself, so much so that He healed the soldier whom Peter struck as they came to arrest Him.

So, “do not judge,” for death is a very private thing.  No one can share it with you.  The moment of facing death is one of the most personal and private moments you will ever face.  When you kneel before those who would be your executioner, only you and God know what is in your heart.  It is at that moment when the truth is known and made known to you, would you really allow yourself to be beheaded for Jesus and the word of God?  Remember the great Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”  And all the others said the same.

Thank God that although Peter failed the first time, he did eventually succeed to be crucified upside down outside Rome for his testimony of Jesus and the word of God.  As such, it is not a matter that you should boast about, for you will surely be proved false, but nurture it deep in your heart, that secret desire to live for Christ as one who has already died.

As the Lord said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save his life [soul] will lose it, but whoever loses his life [soul] for Me will find it.”  Paul wrote:  For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.  Gleefully, all rush to the promise of rewards in Leviticus 26 and blessings of Deuteronomy 28, forgetting Paul was a man whose first promise from Jesus was, “Go!  This man is My chosen instrument to carry My Name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name.” 

I wonder how many would say yes and amen to such a promise of God in Christ.  So then, even your attitude to remain alive until He comes must be correct.  You must not, and I say this most emphatically, you must not seek this in order to avoid being beheaded for your testimony and the word of God, but that this has happened to you, because though you have been beheaded for the testimony and the word, you live because you cannot die, for you believe Him who made the promise.

So, show no care as to how you are judged by others except God, and when even the second death has no power over you, you have faced eternal judgement and are triumphant for God, you have proved God true and the Devil a liar, once and for all.

Be as Paul advised the Corinthians:  Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.  He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.  Love one another enough not to let each other waste their death.  Do not let your brother or sister die of old age, of cancer, of wasting disease, of fever or inflammation in a place surrounded by Christians, but pray that if we must succumb to God’s plagues because of our sin in not obeying Him, not listening to Him or carrying our His decrees, we die declaring the testimony of Jesus and the word of God to those who have not heard it.  Have that fixed in your heart now with the Holy Spirit, so that, if any amongst you should face that fate, you have your redemption with you from the power of the second death.

But, I am believing for better things for you.  I am believing for you to be persecuted because you have given up houses, fields, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children for the sake of Jesus and His gospel.  I am believing for you to be beheaded for your testimony of Jesus and the word of God and yet live and never die, to be alive at His arrival.  And by our faith, we live!

And as Jesus said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.”  Where is your faith?

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