July 3, 2011
The Great White Throne Judgment
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We have reviewed the contrast between the resurrection of judgment for unbelievers, and the resurrection of life for believers. We saw that believers have passed from death to life, and therefore do not come to the resurrection of judgment reserved for unbelievers. Now we will look at the great white throne judgment described near the end of the Book of Revelation.
Then I saw the great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
The Great White Throne. As the Bible draws to a close, we see the final destiny of all unbelievers. Heaven and earth flee from the presence of God sitting on the throne, just as Peter predicted that the heavens and earth would be destroyed with intense heat, and earth and its works will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10-13; Matthew 24:35). As the earth melts and the heavens are destroyed with burning, then the unbelievers appear before the great white throne for judgment. The Son of God sits in judgment upon unbelievers, along with God the Father, according to their essential unity (John 5:26-27; Daniel 7:9-10; John 8:16; John 10:30).
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which where written in the books, according to their deeds.
The Great and the Small. The great and the small people of earth stand before the great white throne. We see that specific books come into view here in Revelation 20:12: (1) books were opened, separate from the book of life; and (2) the book of life. The judgment viewed here rests upon the deeds written in the books (notice the plural here–more than just the book of life). Remember that John 5:29, describes the people who committed the evil deeds will come to a resurrection of judgment. Now we see that judgment described more fully. You may also recall that witnesses will testify against the evil deeds of the generation who rejected and crucified Christ: (1) the men of Nineveh will testify that they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and someone greater than Jonah (Christ Himself) preached to that evil generation (Matthew 12:41); and (2) the Queen of the South, who came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, will testify against the generation who crucified Jesus, because He was greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42); and (3) Moses will accuse that generation before the Father (John 5:45). Based on this example, witnesses may rise to offer testimony of condemnation at the great white throne judgment. We know, however, that God knows all things and He does not base His judgment upon the knowledge of others (John 2:24-25; John 8:26). When Jesus judges, He judges in righteousness, on a day already fixed by the Father (Acts 17:30-31).
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The Lake of Fire. Jesus described the sea and Hades giving up the dead which were in them, and they were judged. Every one of them was judged according to their deeds (Revelation 20:13). Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire, which is the second death (Revelation 20:14). You may recall that the devil, the beast and the false prophet were all thrown into the lake of fire earlier (Revelation 20:10). Now, after the names of all unbelievers were not found written in the book of life, we see the great and the small unbelievers thrown into the lake of fire. We know from this passage that unbelievers face one judgment at the great white throne, after the heavens and earth are destroyed. For every person who appears before the great white throne judgment, God renders only one verdict: guilty. For every guilty person, the penalty imposed, perfectly fitting the crime, is eternal torment in the lake of fire. Tomorrow we will see that believers have a different destiny as part of their resurrection of life. We should be ever more grateful that God has delivered us from the eternal penalty of the lake of fire by His grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.
So we learn more about Judgments and Decrees today.
● Every unbeliever will appear before the great white throne of God to be judged for their deeds, which Jesus called the resurrection of judgment.
● As the unbeliever stands before the great white throne, heaven and earth will flee from the presence of God, and be burned and destroyed with fire and intense heat.
● At the great white throne judgment, the deeds of the unbelievers will be reviewed, the books will be opened, and if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, then he will be thrown into the lake of fire.
Application for Today
Do you really believe the Bible accurately records the destiny of each unbeliever? If so, then you will speak of Jesus today and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with unbelievers around you. You will see people as destined for that lake of fire for eternity, suffering terribly. Will you love your neighbors today, and share with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ that leads to life and forgiveness in Christ today?