THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT
READ IN THE BIBLE (REVELATION -15; 21:8)
It says in, (Romans 2:3) “Thinkest thou this, O man …that thou shalt escape the judgment of God”? It says in, (Ecclesiastes 11:9) “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment”. Many people refuse to believe that God will one day judge them for their sins. They reject such a possibility for themselves and for others. But, (Ecclesiastes 11:9) and other scriptures make it certain that God will bring the sinner into judgment. The scene set before us in these scripture verses is a solemn one indeed. It is the final settlement of God’s dealings with fallen sinful man who have rejected His offer of salvation. It is a “time of accountability” when man must answer to God for his lifetime of rejection and rebellion. Many in our modern society are living as if there is no accountability. Sin and immorality abound on every hand. Behavior that once was hidden is now openly flaunted. How accurate is the Word of God that says in, (Romans ) “There is no fear of God before their eyes”. People have forgotten or refuse to believe the Bible when it says in, (1 Peter 4:5) “(They) shall give account to Him (the Lord Jesus Christ) who is ready to judge the quick (living) and the dead”. (Romans 14:12) “Every one (each) of us shall give account of himself to God”. The “throne” revealed at this judgment is unlike some other thrones revealed previously in scripture. The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-9) had a vision of God’s throne that had an altar of sacrifice where Isaiah’s iniquity was taken away and his sins were purged. Those who stand before the Great White Throne have never been saved in their lifetime and will learn that it is too late for sins to be removed. There will be no opportunity for repentance, no salvation, no remedy at this throne. The apostle John also had a vision of the throne of the eternal God in (Revelation 4:2, 3). He saw that there was a rainbow round about the throne. The rainbow is a witness that, in the midst of wrath and the exercise of absolute sovereignty, God will graciously remember His covenant of mercy and grace to His creatures. But, for those who stand before the Great White Throne there will be no mercy, no grace in this judgment. There will be only the inflexible, invincible justice of God. In this message we want to briefly consider these scriptures by way of the following simple outline;
1. THE SETTING OF THE JUDGMENT (VERSE 11a)
In these verses, from verse 11 to verse 15, it is recorded that John had two separate visions. Here in verse 11 is his FIRST VISION. John said, “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them”. His first vision was two-fold. He saw the throne and he saw the “throne sitter”, the Judge who occupied the throne. The throne and its description are significant in its meaning. John saw a “throne, great and white”. Consider the following;
THRONE – The “THRONE” speaks of God’s absolute authority. This is a throne of judgment not a throne of grace. It is a throne that has been established for a particular purpose and for a specific time.
GREAT THRONE – It is GREAT because of the majesty and greatness of the Judge who sits upon it and because of the greatness of the issues to be dealt with. It will be God’s final dealing with sinners who have rejected His offer of salvation.
GREAT WHITE THRONE – The throne is WHITE which speaks of the righteousness with which judgment is dispensed. This final judgment of sinners will be carried out in accordance with the strict principles of righteousness and absolute justice. In addition to the throne, John saw that the throne was occupied. He saw;
2. THE SOVEREIGN OF THE JUDGMENT (VERSE 11b)
Also, in this first vision, John saw “Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them”. John saw the Judge. He is unnamed in this verse but from other scriptures there is no doubt as to the identity of the throne sitter. We read in, (John ) “The father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son”. It says also in, (John , 27) “For as the father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself”; and hath He given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man”. We read in, (2 Timothy 4:1) “The Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick (living) and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom”. He will judge the “living” persons when He returns in great power and glory at the commencement of His millennial kingdom. See (Matthew 25:31-46). He will judge the “dead” at the conclusion of His millennial reign which is this white throne judgment we are considering.
In the FUTURE the Lord Jesus Christ will judge the unsaved as we are considering in this message. In the PAST, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, left the glory of heaven and came into this world to save sinners. On the cross, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures”. (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4). On the cross He took the place of the guilty sinner, bore his sins and received all the judgment due to him and thus satisfied, by His death, every just demand of a holy God against him. In the PRESENT the risen and exalted Son of God sits on the right hand of God, able and willing to save every sinner who trusts Him definitely as His own personal Savior, and owns Him as the Lord of his life. It says in, (Romans 10:9, 10) “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus (Jesus as Lord) and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made into salvation”. Dear reader, are YOU saved? Was there ever a time in your life that you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? You can either meet Him in your lifetime as your Savior or meet Him later as your Judge. Which will it be for you?
John also observed that, from the face of the Lord who sat upon the throne, “the earth and the heaven fled away and there was found no place for them”. The material creation has just fled from before the face of the judge. (For the cataclysmic end of this creation read (Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 3:10, 11; Psalm 102:25-27; Hebrews 1:10-12). The “White Throne Judgment” takes place between the end of this first creation and the introduction of the new heaven and the new earth (2 Peter ). In God’s program of events a new creation and a new eternal day is about to begin. There are, however, persons and things that will have no part in God’s eternity. How solemn are these words, “THERE WAS FOUND NO PLACE FOR THEM”.
· THERE WAS FOUND NO PLACE FOR THE EARTH AND THE HEAVEN – At the end of the millennial reign of Christ there will be no need for God’s first creation because it will be replaced by a new one. (Revelation 21:1)
· THERE WAS FOUND NO PLACE FOR THE BEAST AND THE FALSE PROPHET- Before the commencement of the millennial reign of Christ these two, who are prominent during the tribulation period, are cast alive into the “lake of fire” which will be their eternal dwelling place. (Revelation ; )
· THERE WAS FOUND NO PLACE FOR THE DEVIL- At the commencement of the millennial reign of Christ the Devil will be restrained in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3). At the conclusion of the thousand year reign of Christ, Satan, who had been loosed from his prison for a short time to lead a final world wide rebellion against the Lord Jesus (Revelation 20:7-9), will be cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:10). This will be his eternal dwelling place.
· THERE WAS FOUND NO PLACE FOR DEATH AND HELL – (Revelation ) “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire”. Death and hell have to do with sin and a fallen humanity. At the white throne judgment the bodies and souls of the unsaved have been reunited to stand before the throne for their final judgment. “Death” has given up their bodies and “hell’ (Hades) has given up their soul/spirit. There is therefore, no need for death and hell in God’s new creation.
· THERE WAS FOUND NO PLACE FOR THE UNSAVED – The unsaved will have no part in God’s eternal kingdom. Dear reader, does this describe you? Those who repent and believe the message of the gospel in their lifetime are saved and “born again” (John 3:3-7). Those who are saved are said to be “in Christ “ concerning whom it says in, (Romans 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus”. John’s SECOND VISION deals with the unsaved, the unbelieving. Concerning these the Lord Jesus said, (John ) “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”. These are summoned to the White Throne Judgment.
3. THE SUMMONS TO THE JUDGMENT (VERSE 12a, 13a)
Verse 13 states events that occur before the events of verse 12, therefore we will quote verse 13 first. (Verse 13) “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them”. (Verse 12) “And I SAW the dead, small and great, stand before God”. John’s second vision, concerning the white throne judgment, has to do with those who stand before the throne. They are, “the dead, small and great”. These had no part in the first resurrection. Their bodies have remained in their graves for a thousand years after the first resurrection. These are described in, (Revelation 20:5) “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”. They have been summoned to this judgment by the command of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, as it says in, (John 5:28, 29) “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; (THE FIRST RESURRECTION) and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (judgment)”, (THE SECOND RESURRECTION). Whether their body was in the soil or the sea, buried or cremated, they will hear the Lord’s voice and come forth to judgment. “Death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them”. Every person is made up of two parts, the body is the material part and the soul comprising the mind and the spirit is the immaterial part. Resurrection is the reunion of body and soul linked again in the complete person. In this manner they appear before the Great White Throne and the Judge who sits upon it.
4. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE JUDGMENT (VERSE 12b, 13b, 15)
We read in these verses, (verse 12b) “The books were opened, and another book was opened which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works”. (Verse 13b) “They were judged every man (each one) according to their works”. All who appear before the “Great White Throne” are NOT there to see whether they are saved or not for that has been settled on earth by the individuals response to Christ presented in the gospel. Twice it is stated that the basis of their judgment “is according to their works”. There is a “biography” of YOUR life written in Heaven. There is a personal record of each individual sinner from birth to death. There will be degrees of guilt and therefore degrees of punishment. YOUR LIFE AND HISTORY IS ALL RECORDED IN GOD’S BOOKS IN HEAVEN.
· EVERYTHING YOU DID IS WRITTEN DOWN. Judgment is according to WORKS, or deeds, as stated above.
· EVERYTHING YOU SAID IS WRITTEN DOWN. (Matthew 12:36) “But I (the Lord Jesus Christ) say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment”.
· EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT IS WRITTEN DOWN. (1 Corinthians 4:5) “The Lord will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts”.
· EVERY SECRET THING IN YOUR LIFE WILL BE REVEALED. (Romans 2:16) “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ”.
We read in, (verse 12) “Another book was opened, which is the book of life”. The “book of works” is a record of deeds. The “book of life” is a register of names and contains the names of all who have received eternal life through Christ. This book will be opened to show that the unsaved might have had their name written there but it is not. God’s offer of mercy and grace, offered through His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was despised and rejected. To die unsaved, in your sins, is to miss having your name written in the book of life. Now judgment and its execution must take their course.
5. THE SENTENCE PASSED AT THE JUDGMENT (VERSE’S 14, 15; 21:8)
We read in, (verse 15) “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”. There are eight classes of sinners described in (Revelation 21:8) including the unbelieving. All who have rejected God’s offer of salvation and refused to believe it are on the list of those who, being judged, will be eternally punished in the lake of fire. It says of them that they “shall have their part in “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death”. The lake of fire is the description of sorrow immeasurable and of torment eternal. Here then, is the eternal doom of the wicked, the final destiny of the unsaved. O how awful, the agony of eternal suffering and eternal separation from God, from light and from happiness. Physical death is the separation of body and spirit. The “second death” is the final separation of the lost from the God who created them. The rejection of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the salvation He has provided, is not only the greatest insult man could give God; but it is also the greatest injury man can do to himself.
Dear reader, God has recorded this awful scene in the Bible, the Word of God, that you might be warned to flee from the wrath to come. Please make certain that you will have no part in the doom pronounced at the Great White Throne. God says in His Word, (2 Corinthians 6:2) “Behold now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation”. (Acts ) “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”. If YOU remain unsaved it will not be because God does not love you or because God’s Son did not die for you, but it will be because you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Which will it be for you, reception or rejection of the Savior? You are traveling the “HIGHWAY OF LIFE”, passing through time into eternity. Now that you have read this message, you have come to the “CROSSROADS”. Which way will you go? Will you continue to reject the Savior and God’s free gift of salvation? Or, will you believe in Him and receive Him as your Lord and Savior? It is your decision and your responsibility.
Please give this matter your most serious attention. Will YOU be a believer or a non-believer? What will your eternal destiny be? Will it be the eternal bliss of Heaven or the eternal torment in the lake of fire that we have been considering? YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY DEPENDS ON YOUR DECISION.