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13.5 Two Eternities
The Final Destiny of the Righteous and the Wicked
Read 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-11; and Revelation 20:11-15. Why are the wicked raised to life again according to these verses?
2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Romans 14:10-11: “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
Revelation 20:11-15: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Why are the wicked raised to life again?
The wicked are raised to life again to face God’s final judgment. This resurrection serves several important purposes:
  1. Revelation of God’s Justice and Fairness:
    • Transparency of Judgment: By resurrecting the wicked and subjecting them to judgment, God’s justice is revealed before the entire universe. Every person, deed, and decision are laid bare and examined before the great white throne.
    • Comprehensive Justice: It becomes clear that God’s judgments are just. Each person receives a fair reward or punishment according to their deeds, underscoring God’s fairness and justice in dealing with sin.
  2. Acknowledgment of God’s Righteousness:
    • Bowing of All Knees: Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10 emphasize that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess God’s righteousness and sovereignty. Ultimately, even the wicked will acknowledge God’s justice and authority.
    • Condemnation of Rebellion: Even Satan and his followers will recognize and admit that their rebellion against God was unjustified. This will be made evident before the entire universe.
  3. Fulfillment of Divine Justice:
    • Judgment According to Works: Revelation 20:12-13 explains that the dead are judged according to their works. This highlights personal responsibility and the consequences of each decision.
    • Final Verdict: The judgment on the wicked is eternal death, as described in Revelation 20:14-15. This final destruction shows that sin and rebellion have no place in God’s eternal kingdom.
  4. Resolution of the Problem of Sin:
    • Complete Closure: The resurrection and judgment of the wicked are necessary to fully resolve the problem of sin. It demonstrates that sin and rebellion are inseparably linked to death and destruction.
    • Universal Insight: Ellen White describes that the wicked will recognize every sin and the consequences of their actions during the judgment. This leads to a universal understanding of the destructive nature of sin and the necessity of its permanent eradication.
The resurrection of the wicked at the end of the 1000 years serves to fully reveal God’s justice and fairness in the great controversy between good and evil. It shows that God’s judgments are just and that sin and rebellion have no place in God’s eternal kingdom. This revelation ensures that evil will never arise again and affirms God’s love, justice, and wisdom before the entire universe. The insight the wicked gain during this judgment process leads to a universal acknowledgment of God’s righteousness and the final eradication of sin.
Read Revelation 20:9; Psalm 37:20; and Malachi 4:1-2. What insights do these verses give us about the final destruction of sin and sinners and the reward of the righteous?
Revelation 20:9: “They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.”
Psalm 37:20: “But the wicked will perish: Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.”
Malachi 4:1-2: “‘Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.’”
Insights into the Final Destruction of Sin and Sinners:
  1. Destruction, Not Eternal Torment:
    • Revelation 20:9 describes fire from heaven devouring the wicked. This indicates complete destruction, not eternal torment.
    • Psalm 37:20 confirms that the wicked will perish and vanish like smoke, reinforcing the image of total destruction.
    • Malachi 4:1 emphasizes that the coming day will burn like a furnace, reducing the wicked to stubble and leaving neither root nor branch. This underscores the final and complete destruction of sin and sinners.
  2. Context and Meaning of “Eternal”:
    • The expression “forever and ever” in Revelation 20:10 should be understood in a biblical context, often meaning “until a complete end” (cf. Exodus 21:6; 1 Samuel 1:22, 28; Jude 7; 2 Peter 2:4-6). The destruction of the wicked is eternal in its consequences, not in an ongoing act of destruction.
    • This shows that God is not an eternal tormentor but that the punishment for the wicked is complete and final destruction.
Reward of the Righteous:
  1. Safety and Healing:
    • Malachi 4:2 describes that for those who fear the Lord’s name, the “sun of righteousness” will rise with healing in its wings. This symbolizes complete healing and restoration for the righteous.
    • The righteous will be rewarded with safety, peace, and joy, depicted by the image of “frolicking like well-fed calves.”
  2. Eternal Joy and Fellowship with God:
    • The righteous will not only be spared from destruction but will also receive eternal life and fellowship with God. This contrasts with the final destruction of the wicked and shows God’s great grace and love toward His faithful followers.
Summary: The verses in Revelation 20:9; Psalm 37:20; and Malachi 4:1-2 provide clear insights into the final destruction of sin and sinners. This destruction is complete and final, and the punishment is not eternal torment but eternal destruction. This demonstrates God’s justice and His refusal to be an eternal tormentor. Instead, He rewards the righteous with healing, safety, and eternal joy. This hope motivates us to live faithfully and reverently before God, trusting in His ultimate justice and the complete restoration of His creation.
At the end, we all face one of two eternities. The lost, unfortunately, receive the “wages” they have earned—eternal death. Why, then, is our only hope to trust in the righteousness of Jesus so we do not receive what we deserve, which is death?
  1. The Consequence of Sin:
    • Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This verse clarifies that sin inevitably leads to death. All have sinned and are therefore guilty of death (Romans 3:23).
  2. Our Inability to Save Ourselves:
    • Isaiah 64:6: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Our best efforts are insufficient to save us from the penalty of sin. We cannot save ourselves through our own works or righteousness, as they are always imperfect.
  3. The Righteousness of Jesus as Our Only Hope:
    • Romans 3:21-22: “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” These verses emphasize that the righteousness that counts before God comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
    • 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus took our sin upon Himself and gave us His righteousness. This substitutionary righteousness is the only thing that can save us from death.
  4. The Grace and Love of God:
    • Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Our salvation is a gift of God’s grace, not the result of our efforts. This grace was made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    • John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God’s love and grace are the reasons He offers us salvation through Jesus Christ.
Our only hope lies in the righteousness of Jesus because our own righteousness is insufficient, and we deserve the wages of sin—death. Through faith in Jesus Christ and His substitutionary sacrifice, God’s righteousness is credited to us, and we receive the gift of eternal life. This is the core of the gospel: we can do nothing to save ourselves, but through God’s grace and the finished work of Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Therefore, we must place our full trust in Jesus and His righteousness to avoid what we deserve and receive what God wants to give us through Christ.

  1. Seriousness of Decisions and Responsibility:
    • Awareness of Consequences: Knowing the two possible eternities—eternal life or eternal death—should give us a deep awareness of the consequences of our decisions in daily life. Every thought, word, and deed ultimately matters for our eternal destiny.
    • Responsibility in Action: This awareness should motivate us to live our lives in alignment with God’s will. Responsible action in daily life is reflected in love for God and others, adherence to His commandments, and following Jesus.
  2. Hope and Comfort in Difficult Times:
    • Comfort through Justice: The promise of ultimate justice—that evil and sin will be completely destroyed—provides comfort in times of injustice and suffering. We can be assured that God will set all things right in His time and way.
    • Hope for Reward: The promise of reward for the righteous—healing, joy, and eternal life—gives us hope and encourages us to remain steadfast and trust in God’s promises even in difficult times.
  3. Humility and Gratitude:
    • Recognizing Our Insufficiency: The realization that we cannot be righteous on our own and that our only hope is in the righteousness of Jesus should lead us to humility. We recognize our daily need for God’s grace and guidance.
    • Gratitude for God’s Grace: This realization should also lead to deep gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s grace. Gratitude can shape our daily lives as we thank God for His immeasurable love and mercy.
  4. Active Faith Life and Evangelism:
    • Active Faith: Our knowledge of the end times and the two possible eternities should motivate us to live an active faith life. This means regularly reading the Bible, praying, fellowshipping with other believers, and living out our faith in daily life.
    • Evangelism and Witness: The urgency of the message of two eternities should spur us to share the gospel with others. We should strive to make others aware of God’s love and justice and encourage them to accept Jesus as their Savior.
  5. Trust in God’s Plan:
    • God’s Wisdom and Justice: Understanding that God will ultimately bring about justice and defeat evil strengthens our trust in His wisdom and justice. Even if we don’t have all the answers to our questions in life, we can be assured that God has a perfect plan.
    • Peaceful Life: This trust can bring us peace and calmness in daily life. We can rely on God’s guidance and know that He will work all things for good.
The teaching of two eternities—eternal life or eternal death—has profound implications for our daily lives and faith. It reminds us of the importance of our decisions, provides comfort and hope in difficult times, leads to humility and gratitude, motivates us to an active faith life and evangelism, and strengthens our trust in God’s plan and justice. By integrating these truths into our daily lives, we can live a fulfilling and meaningful life that honors God and prepares us for eternal fellowship with Him.

Our only hope for eternal life lies in the righteousness of Jesus, who saves us by His grace and spares us from the deserved wages of sin.

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