“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
(Revelation 20:11–15 ESV)
1. A final Day of reckoning is coming all – small and great – you – me – everyone – in addition to the devil and his angels.
2. The Great White Throne Judgement is a motivator to trust in Christ and to live a holy life.
3. The Great White Throne Judgement is a motivator to evangelism – telling everyone the Gospel that if they will believe and trust in Jesus they will be saved from the wrath to come– the final, eternal day of Judgement. We cannot reach people beyond the grave.
4. Future events in God’s timetable such as the Great White Throne Judgement are being withheld at the moment because of God’s mercy – He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
5. Only those whose names are found written in the Lamb’s book of life will be allowed to live eternally with the Lord. The rest will live eternally in torment in the lake of fire, the second death.
6. The Great White Throne Judgement will finally satisfy our inner longing for justice.
7. Knowing that there is coming a final day of reckoning gives us the understanding and helpful foundation to be able to forgive those who have done us wrong. We can forgive others through Christ freely because we know one day all accounts will be settled.
8. The Great White Throne Judgement will result in God’s ultimate glory as He more fully displays His character in justice, holiness, wrath, mercy and kindness.
SCRIPTURES AND COMMENTS
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.
This is the throne of the Lord:
- It is white – indicating righteousness and purity
- It is a throne – indicating the highest court of the universe – there is no appeal from this Judge and judgement.
- The One seated on the throne is Jesus Christ:
- “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.”
(John 5:27 ESV)
- “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead,”
(2Timothy 4:1 ESV)
- “And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”
(Acts 10:42 ESV)
From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.
- This vision is a recasting of Daniel 7:
““As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.”
(Daniel 7:9–10 ESV)
“The judgment proceeds according to two criteria: first, according to what they had done, and secondly, the testimony of the books. This latter feature is taken from Dn. 7:10, which reflects both ordinary court procedure and the habit of Persian kings to record every detail of events in their provinces. The important thing is that the joint testimony of the two criteria agrees, and the book of life will reveal it.”
New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (ed. D. A Carson et al.; Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 1452.
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
(Revelation 20:11–15 ESV)
- This is a FINAL judgement.
- Note that there are books – one is a record of deeds and the other is the book of life. All in the book of life have no part in the “Second Death” – eternal judgement after the Great White Throne Judgement.
- There are degrees of punishment
“the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. “But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
(Luke 12:46-48 ESV)
- A note about the broader theme of judgement:
Don’t let someone throw you off by citing Matthew 7: “Judge not, lest you be judged.”
There are things we are commanded to judge.
- In Matthew 7, in the passage, Jesus expects us to make certain moral judgements.
- Saints will judge angels.
- We are to judge false prophets, candidates for pastoral ministry, candidates for deaconship and eldership, ourselves – with respect to communion….and many other things.
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,”
(Hebrews 9:27 ESV)
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.””
(Acts 17:30–31 ESV)
“But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”
(Romans 2:5–8 ESV)
“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
(2Peter 3:7–10 ESV)