The Reward of the Lost
February 7, 2022
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matthew 25:41-46).
What is said about the righteous at the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ is also said about the unrighteous. At the rapture, Jesus will take His people out of the earth but those who are not saved will remain on the earth to suffer through the 7-year Tribulation. Many will come to faith in Jesus Christ during this time through the witness of the 144,000 Jews who will be saved, sealed, and sent out of Israel to evangelize the world (Revelation 7:1-8), the two Great Witnesses (Revelation 11:1-7) and the three angels who declare the Word of God (Revelation 14:6-13). Even though it will be one of the greatest, if not the greatest evangelistic periods in human history, there will be many who will reject Jesus Christ and continue to follow the Antichrist.
When the 7-year Tribulation has concluded, Jesus Christ will return, separate the sheep from the goats (the saved from the unsaved), judge the unsaved and consign them to hell, and usher the saved into the Millennial Kingdom that He will establish from His throne in Jerusalem.
You will note that the unsaved will be judged based on their works. Just as the saved are so because of their works, but by their personal relationship to Jesus which results in good works (Ephesians 2:8-10), so the unsaved are so because they have no personal relationship to Jesus which results in no good works. However, the degree of punishment in hell is based on their works. This is consistent with Revelation 20:12-15, And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Good works do not save anyone. But good works are the result of salvation (Ephesians 2:10) and determine rewards in heaven for the saved. The lack of good works determine the degree of punishment in hell for the unsaved. What are the degrees of punishment in hell? The Bible doesn’t say and no one really knows. But we do know that the rewards of the saints in heaven will be many, but the greatest is to be in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, The Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit, and all the saints of all time - forever! Amen.