I find it odd that many believers think and some Christian pastors even teach that when we die, we'll be instantly perfect and equal. Oh, we know that we'll receive crowns (rewards) to lay at Jesus' feet but after we lay down the crowns we're all the same. Right? Scripture does not teach this! Fact is, Heaven, our eternal home, doesn't occur until after the thousand year reign of Christ upon Earth. Fact is, God doesn't wipe away all tears until after the Great White Throne of Judgment and that occurs after the thousand year reign of Christ. Scripture teaches three great separations, (or Judgments); the first two for believers only.
In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches about these separations. They are:
1. The Rapture (Christ comes to receive His Bride) occurs prior to The Seven Years of Great Tribulation!
2. The Judgment Seat of Christ, (Christ judges the Believers of all time based on their faithfulness) occurs immediately after His Second Coming but prior to His Millennial Reign!
3. The Great White Throne of Judgment (God’s judgment as to one’s eternal destiny: SAVED / LOST) occurs after the millennial Reign.
(Let me hasten to say that one’s eternal destiny is sealed in this life. It is given by the Grace of God as we receive or reject God’s provision of HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS – IN CHRIST JESUS, OUR LORD, OUR REDEEMER.)
Recently the question was asked of me, “How can you consider the Rapture a judgment?” My reply was, “if you’re saved but left behind when the Rapture occurs you’d certainly feel judged.” And of course we all recognize that the Seven Years of Great Tribulation upon the Earth is certainly God's Judgments. In Matthew 25, these judgments are separations. The first separation of believers will be when the Bridegroom comes for His Bride. Traditionally, this has been viewed as the rapture of all believers, but that’s not what Matthew 25 teaches.
Matthew 25:1-13 teaches a separation of believers. All ten virgins were saved. Five were wise; five were foolish. Foolish means double minded. The foolish were not lost! They were left behind! Scripture teaches that He’s coming for His Bride and she is making herself ready for His coming. She is purifying herself and watching and waiting for His appearing. What Bride does not with great anticipation await her groom? When those foolish members of the group were shut out because they were not ready, the Groom says, “I don’t know you” His words here are different from the “I never knew you” of Matthew 7. In Matthew 7 there is the separation of those who claim to be Christians but were not; there, Christ uses the word, “ginosko” or “I have no knowledge of you”.
In Matthew 25:12 where He says, “I don’t know you” He is saying, “You and I are not intimate; you’re not my Bride.” The word for ‘know’ used here is “oida” for intimacy. It’s like Adam ‘knew’ Eve and she conceived… Jesus doesn’t say they are lost; merely that they are not His Bride. They are left behind to endure 7 years of tribulation (judgment) upon the Earth. The Bride escapes that judgment. In Luke 21:36 speaking of these times, Jesus says, “Watch, therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass…”
Matthew 25:14 begins the next parable. This describes the Judgment Seat of Christ. This judgment is also a separation of believers. This is the parable of the Unfaithful Servant. What happens to this servant? Matt. 25:30 “And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” He was a servant; he belonged to the Master.
I’m indebted to Chuck Missler and his book, “The Kingdom, Power and Glory” for his guidance into this scriptural truth. The unprofitable servant was not lost, but was cast outside the presence of Christ. The profitable servants’ reward was to enter into the presence of Christ where they will rule and reign with him for the Millennial kingdom that is about to begin. This judgment takes place after Christ’s second coming to the Earth, which is immediately after the 7 years of Great Tribulation upon the Earth.
Remember, Christ returns with His Bride in-tow (Family) to establish His Kingdom on Earth for 1000 years. He conquers all political powers at Armageddon and His first order of business is the Judgment Seat of Christ or His settling of accounts with His servants, i.e. Matt. 25:19. What did the faithful receive? Matt.25:21; “Well done good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” He is setting up His Millennial kingdom. Faithful Christians (Servants) will rule with Him during the 1000 years. Unfaithful Christians (sheep) will not. They will be cast out of the presence of Christ to experience ‘remedial’ instruction. I don’t know if this is for the whole 1000 years or until the unfaithful servant is rehabilitated. See Missler’s book for insight here.
The last parable is the final and eternal separation of the sheep from the goats. The sheep are those who follow Him. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me.” The goats are those who have not followed Jesus. Pretty simple; pretty cut and dried. Saved/Lost. Not based on works, simply based on whether they have received God’s gift of Life provided in Jesus Christ – God’s own Son! True enough, your works or lack thereof will exhibit who you really are. Matt. 25:46 says, “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”