Answer: The basic order of the judgments is as follows:
The Judgment Seat of Messiah: This judgment will occur in heaven. It follows the rapture of the church and has the purpose of evaluating and rewarding the lives of believers. The rewards or lack thereof will determine the degree of authority the believers will hold in the messianic kingdom.
The Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats: This is the judgment of all Gentiles who survive the tribulation. The judgment will take place during the 75-day interval between the end of the tribulation and the start of the messianic kingdom. The purpose is to determine who will enter the messianic kingdom and who will be excluded. The goat Gentiles are the unbelievers of the tribulation who showed their lack of faith by their anti-Semitic works, and so at this judgment, they will be killed and confined to hell. The sheep Gentiles are the believers of the tribulation who demonstrated their faith by their pro-Semitic works. As a result, they will enter into the messianic kingdom and will populate the Gentile nations of the kingdom. The church saints will co-rule over these sheep Gentiles for the thousand-year kingdom.
The Great White Throne Judgment: This is the judgment of all unbelievers of all time that will occur following the millennial kingdom. The purpose of this judgment is to determine the degree of punishment in the lake of fire. Whoever appears at this judgment is unsaved, and all the unsaved are cast into the lake of fire, but all do not suffer the same degree of punishment, and the purpose of this judgment is to make that determination.
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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.