After we have seen the difference between salvation and reward, we come to a related question, that is, judgment. Without judgment, how does one know who is saved and who is unsaved? Without judgment, how does one know who will receive the reward and who will not? There are four judgments in the Bible:
(1) The judgment of the Lord Jesus on the cross as a substitute for sinners;
(2) The judgment of the saints before the judgment seat of Christ for works;
(3) The judgment of the Gentiles on the earth (Matt. 25:31-46);
(4) The judgment of the dead (Rev. 20:11-15).
Of these four judgments, one has transpired; three are yet to come. If anyone believes in the Lord Jesus as his Savior, the effectiveness of the judgment of the Lord Jesus on the cross for sin will come upon him. Thus the problem of his sin will be solved eternally. He will be saved, have eternal life, and be freed from the condemnation of sin. To have no condemnation (John 3:18; Rom. 8:1) in the original language means to be free from judgment. This means that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus as the Savior will be freed from the judgment of sin. This is because the Lord Jesus already became his substitute on the cross.
Although the saints are freed from the judgment of sin, the Bible says that the saints still will be judged (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:12; Matt. 25:14-30; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; etc.). What is this judgment? This judgment is not for salvation or perdition because that was solved on the cross already. According to 1 Corinthians 3:15, this judgment, whatever it entails, does not result in eternal perdition. What kind of judgment is this then? This is the judgment of the saints’ conduct. The judgment of the cross terminates our living as a sinner. The judgment before the judgment seat of Christ terminates our living as a believer. The judgment before the judgment seat of Christ judges all our conduct since the time of our believing in the Lord Jesus. The sins that we have confessed will not be brought up again. Some people work for the Lord faithfully. They suffer afflictions, forsake all things, and do everything for the Lord and for no other purpose. They do not seek to please man. Rather they seek only to do the will of the Lord. Such people will receive a reward. They will be co-kings with the Lord Jesus and will receive unspeakable glory. How marvelous this will be! The Lord’s heart will be overjoyed and we will receive the glory. Let us pursue after this. At times, some are defeated, but since they have once confessed their sins, the precious blood has already cleansed them. As they repent and seek again to follow the Lord in the narrow way of the cross, they will still receive a reward from the Lord. Some, though they have not sinned, have works like wood, hay, and stubble. They seek men’s pleasure, strive for the outward things, and work with a double purpose. They will suffer loss and will be deprived of the reward. Some, though saved, still commit many sins after salvation. These sins are never confessed and repented of before the Lord. As a result, such a one will not only lose a reward but will receive punishment. Although his eternal salvation cannot be shaken, he will receive severe punishment and chastisement from the Lord. Revelation 1—3 shows us the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ in judging the saints. The conditions in these three chapters are a precursor of the condition before Christ’s judgment seat.
The judgment of the Gentiles will depend on the way they treat the Jews during the great tribulation. The time will be at the end of the great tribulation and when the millennium will be about to begin. Revelation 16:12-16 and 19:11-21 speak of this judgment.
The judgment at the white throne is the fourth judgment.
Revelation talks about judgments. If we understand these four judgments we will understand the judgments in this book.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBERS
"All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). God uses a great deal of numbers in the Bible. To those who love the Word of God, the numbers are very meaningful. God has no intention for man to use the numbers for curious talk but to use them for His children’s blessing. If God the Father sees fit to put numbers in the Bible, yet His children pay no attention to them, they will undoubtedly suffer loss in their spiritual life. Many people think that attaching meaning to the numbers in the Bible is simply a far-fetched interpretation. But to those who are godly and believing, nothing happens by accident; God’s hand is behind everything. Since it pleases God to use many numbers in the Bible, we should not be foolish and ignore their significances. The book of Revelation uses numbers more than other books in the Bible. Before we can rightly interpret the book, we must understand the meaning of the numbers in the Bible.
The numbers from one to seven are the base of all numbers in the Bible. All other numbers depend on these seven for their meaning and explanation. Many realize that seven is the number of completion. Eight is not an independent number. Seven days make a week; eight is the number of the beginning of a new week. All numbers greater than seven are the multiples or the sum of these seven numbers. For example, ten is the product of two and five; twelve is the product of three and four; forty is the product of five, two, and four. Other numbers go by the same principle. Their meanings depend on the numbers up to seven and how they are multiplied and added. Now let us consider several numbers.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 03, The Christian (1), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)