Monday, January 22, 2007

SINNERS BEFORE THE GREAT WHITE THRONE

In Revelation 20:11 God gave here a new vision. John said, “And I saw a great white throne”. This is a totally different place than the place where fire came down from God on all those that were deceived by the Devil. It is not a place on this earth, but it is definitely a place somewhere, since the people who stand before the Judgment throne are standing there as complete human beings, with body and soul.

Judgment Day

Revelation 20:11
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.

Revelation 20:12
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and 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.

Revelation 20:13
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Revelation 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 20:15
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

This great white throne is the Judgment throne, plain and simple. But God does not always sit on the Judgment throne. For example we read in Revelation chapter 4:

Revelation 4:3
And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

This is just a faint reflection of the throne upon which God sits in all His glory throughout the ages. There are only two times that God will sit on the Judgment throne: Once in AD 33, when Christ was judged on the cross for our sins that were charged to Him, Christ appeared before the Judgment throne of God, and God poured upon Him the equivalent of the Judgment that was due for our sins. And the second time God will sit on the Judgment throne is when at the end of the world, He shall sit on the great white throne here as described here in Revelation 20:11.

Now, we should not imagine that this is a real physical throne on which God will sit. Remember, we are reading this in Revelation, which is an Epistle full of symbolism. God does not need a material throne to sit on when He judges. This description is only given to us to make us understand this event in earthly terms.

But God did not reveal what it really would be, and we would probably not understand it either. Some people are looking for the Bema Seat, which preachers in many churches speak about as the Judgment throne where our good works are going to be rewarded. They think that this event before the great white throne here in Revelation 20:11 is the event where the bad guys, the unsaved, are going to be sent to Hell, whereas the good guys, the saved people, are going to receive special rewards for their good behavior while they were living here on this earth. Let us now address this question of special rewards, for it is being taught in many churches.

John 19:13
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat (Greek = Bema) in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.

Now we see here clearly that the Bema Seat is another name for the Judgment Seat. Christ was not rewarded for His good works at the Bema Seat; He was sent to the cross. And thus the question of special rewards is shifted to the great white throne.

Is the great white throne judgment the event where the saints are going to receive extra rewards for their good works on this earth?

Who are the people that are standing here before the Judgment throne?

Are all people bodily resurrected on the same day?

And indeed, this is true. There is not a hint anywhere in the New Testament that the unsaved will be resurrected 1000 years after the saints have been resurrected. They all are resurrected on the same day.

John 5:28
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

John 5:29
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Now we know from 1 Thessalonians 4, and from 1 Corinthians 15, and from Revelation 11, that this bodily resurrection of the saints “unto the resurrection of life” coincides with what is called The Rapture. The saints are snatched away from this earth to be with Christ forever, and the unsaved remain on this earth with bodies that are characterized as “unto the resurrection of damnation”. And so, these passages indicate that the ones standing before the great white throne are only the unsaved. We will revisit this subject later. First we must look at the person who is sitting on the throne in Revelation 20:11.

A Righteous Judge

Who is that person sitting on the great white throne, which is here the Judgment throne?

Revelation 20:11
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.

And why does He sit on a great white throne?

First of all, it is a great throne, for literally our God is very great. He is greater than this universe which He made. He is also a great God for the beautiful Gospel that He left us in this great Book, and for showing us His great power and wisdom by which He defeated Satan, and for His great love for us which He manifested on the cross, and more particularly in Revelation 20:11 for His great righteousness as a righteous Judge which He demonstrated by sending His only begotten Son to pay for the sins that He was willing to bear. Moreover the throne is a white throne to symbolize the glory and the holiness and the righteousness of this Judge, and therefore also of the perfect holiness and righteousness of the judgment which proceeds from Him. Let us now consider the Person who sits on this throne. More than once do the Scriptures speak of the fact that Christ shall be the Judge of the whole world on the Last Day, and also that we must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ.

John 5:22
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

The Father has delegated all judgment to the Son. Of course! A throne is made for someone with a body. Of the three persons in the triune Godhead only Christ has a body.

John 5:27
And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

We now turn to Matthew 25:31. The Lord Jesus told us here the parable of the sheep and the goats. We need to understand that this is a parable. It is not the real scenario of the Judgment on the Last Day. The real scenario is given in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. But here, in this parable, the Lord Jesus is teaching us different doctrines. First of all, in this parable Christ teaches us that He will be the Judge.

Matthew 25:31
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

Matthew 25:32
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

Matthew 25:33
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Secondly, Christ shall come in all His glory and all the holy angels with Him, for He is God. Then He shall gather all nations for judgment, and He shall separate the saved, the sheep, from the unsaved, the goats. This tells us that we cannot distinguish the sheep from the goats until the Lord separates them, and then we shall see.

Thirdly, you are either born as a sheep, or you are born as a goat. Sheep do not turn into goats and goats do not turn into sheep. The sovereignty of God in choosing who shall be sheep and who shall be goats is on display. The sheep are not chosen because they are so much nicer animals than goats, for God says in Ephesians 2:3 that:
“we were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”, which means we were in our basic human nature as rotten as others who never become saved. These are the doctrines we must learn from this parable, but the scenario of the Last Days we must learn from other passages. And so, Christ is the Judge who sits on the great white throne in Revelation 20:11.

And He is a righteous Judge who will apply the exact penalty that was destined for the crime, as written in His Law Book. He will do that for every crime, and He will apply that same penalty for every one standing before His Judgment throne who bears the guilt of that crime, regardless whether it is a stranger or a close relative.

And so, when the Lord Jesus stood before the Judgment throne of God, in AD 33, with all my sins laden on Him, He had to endure the penalty that was due for the crimes that I committed. And that penalty was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. It would take me an eternity to pay for all my sins. But since the Lord Jesus was also God He could pay this penalty in less than 24 hours. And He did that willingly for a helpless sinner that I am. I will never understand how great His sufferings were, but I am eternally grateful that He did it for me. And He did this for many others, for many who are called God’s elect! There are many passages in the Bible, such as Ephesians 1:4, where we read that WE, the elect of God, were in Christ before the foundation of the world.

We were in Christ when He stood laden with our sins before the Judgment throne of God. We were crucified with Christ. We were in Christ when He endured the penalty of the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. We died with Christ. We were raised with Christ. We ascended with Christ into heaven (past tense). We are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, all because we were and we are in Christ. But God is a righteous Judge who will not inflict the same penalty twice.

When the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God bore the sins of many and paid for those sins on the cross, He endured the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for all His elect. It would then be an insult to the righteousness and the wisdom of God to assume that some of these people would still go to Hell because there is one sin that the Lord did not pay for, such as the sin of unbelief. We all were unbelievers at some point in time. None of us deserved to receive faith unto salvation. And so, Christ only suffered on the cross for those whom He chose in His wisdom to receive this faith unto salvation.

Christ did not suffer the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for those who themselves are going to Hell. But God, the righteous Judge, will not inflict the same penalty twice. We have already endured Hell with Christ and in Christ when He was on the cross. And thus God will never send us to Hell again because we have already been there. This is the Gospel; this is the Good News. But it is only Good News for those who have discovered how great sinners they are, and that they cannot help themselves out of their predicament of being on a slippery slide into Hell.

But for those who in their pride are pointing to some good work they have done, such as accepting the Lord Jesus Christ, God has for them no salvation, for they have their reward already. They have their reward now for feeling good that they have made such a good choice. This is the only reward they will receive.

The Books Were Opened

What books are these?

And who are standing here before Christ as the Judge?

An awesome and threatening verse.

Will all my thoughts and actions be made known to everyone there?

Revelation 20:12
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and 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.

John saw the dead.

Who are the dead at this point in time?

Are these all the people who have died, and who have now been resurrected in their new bodies unto the resurrection of life, as well as those in their new bodies unto the resurrection of damnation?

Then what about the saints who have never died, but who have received their glorified bodies in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the coming of the Lord?

Are they also counted among the dead?

Is this event here the fulfillment of 2 Corinthians 5:10?

2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

It is taught in many churches that everyone, both the saved as well as the unsaved, shall stand before the great white throne of Revelation 20. This seems to be repeated in the Epistle to the Romans.

Is it really true that the Bible teaches that there is a point in time in the future that we all must appear before the Judgment throne of Christ?

The Bible teaches that the saints have been judged already at the cross.

Can we be judged again?

Can we be judged twice?

The Bible teaches that the saints are raptured to be with Christ forever, and this Rapture occurs just before the great white throne judgment.

Is it possible that we are snatched away from being on the side of Christ, to a position in front of Him at His Judgment throne?

The Bible teaches in Romans 8:1:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This means “no more judgment”, for the only result of judgment is condemnation, since none of our works are done without sin.

But could it be that we will be judged again?

Does not God, in His omniscience, already know in AD 33 what all our works are going to be?

And has not God’s justice been fully satisfied in AD 33?

You see, it is totally out of character with God’s system of justice if the saints must appear again before the Judgment throne of Christ. The great white throne judgment is not the place where the saints are rewarded for their good works. Our inheritance is eternal life, which is a far greater gift than anyone can imagine. God says in:

Romans 8:32
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Do we understand what all things mean?

If God would give all His saints this entire universe, then this universe is large enough to give each one of the saints an entire galaxy each one containing billions of stars and billions of planets, and God would still have many galaxies left over. Such great gifts already boggle the mind. Such great gifts are already infinitely greater than we could expect from any series of good works that we possibly could do. But God does not give us that. God gives us the New Creation, which is far greater and more glorious than this entire universe plus heaven combined, and on top of that God gives us Himself. And when He has given us all things, and has given us Himself too, there is nothing left over for “extra rewards”. Truly, after having received such great gifts, we would be ashamed to ask for some extra rewards. And that is really the meaning of Romans 8:32. On the subject matter that all must stand before the Judgment seat of Christ, this verse is a little clearer than 2 Corinthians 5:10.

We read here in Romans 14:10
But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Literally the Greek text says in the last half of this verse, “For ALL shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ”. The word “we” is not in this verse. And this is a fundamental truth. No one goes to heaven or Hell without having stood before the Judgment throne of Christ at some time or another. But the saints have already stood before the judgment throne of Christ in AD 33.

The saints will not be judged again, for that will violate the justice of God, for our God is a righteous Judge. In fact, God is glorified when He is praised for being a righteous Judge.

God says in Psalm 9:7-8
But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.

You see, in God’s entire plan of salvation of His elect, and in His condemnation of all the wicked, God calls Himself absolutely righteous and just. He has prepared His throne especially for the execution of this plan that He in His sovereign pleasure has created. Moreover, God says in Psalm 89:

Psalm 89:14
Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

Basically, the meaning of this verse is, “Justice and judgment is the foundation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face”. Paraphrased, the foundation of God’s plan for the creation of this world, and the salvation program of man, and the glorification of God through all this, is His justice and judgment in all the affairs of man and angels, in order that His mercy and the truth of the Word of God shall go forth to praise His holy Name. Therefore, let no one accuse God of being unrighteous, or unjust, for this triggers the wrath of God.

When people invent another gospel than the Gospel of the Bible out of fear that it may offend the ears of the man on the street, and they try to eliminate the sovereignty of God by crafting a free-will gospel, they are in fact accusing God of being unrighteous. God addressed this heinous sin that is now so prevalent in today’s churches in Romans 9:

Romans 9:14
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Romans 9:15
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Romans 9:16
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

No! The only ones who will stand before the great white throne of Christ are the unsaved, who will be judged. Our God is an altogether righteous God, and when the Books are opened and the works of all the unsaved are made public, no one will object to the just verdict of God to cast these people into Hell. The dead, the unsaved, who are standing there before the throne in bodies that are destined for eternal damnation, are judged:

According to Their Works

You see, salvation is all by grace, not by any of our works, not by our free will, but entirely as a gift from God. But condemnation of the unsaved is entirely by their works, by their own free will.

Revelation 20:12
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and 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.

We see here that many books are opened. Do not imagine that these represent real books with black ink on white pages as we know books. There are no material books in heaven.

Does God need a ledger or a tally sheet to keep track of all the sins people commit?

No! God’s mind is infinitely larger than any computer we can possibly dream of. God remembers every sin of every human being without writing it in a book. The only reason many books are pictured here in Revelation 20:12 is to let us know that all the works of men are written in the mind of God. No one will get away with anything. Every sin shall be accounted for, except the sins of all the saints, for these have already been judged, and have already been removed from the memory of God.

Did He not say that He has cast our sins from Him as far as the East is from the West? (Psalm 103:12)

Did He not say that He has cast all our sins in the depths of the sea? (Micah 7:19).

Did He not say:
Isaiah 43:25
"I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins"?

With these words God comforts us by letting us know that our sins are no longer found in the books that are opened here in Revelation 20:12. But for all the unsaved, even their smallest sins shall be dug up and declared to all who are present.

The Lord Jesus declared this in Matthew 12:36, where He said,
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment”.

And thus it is impossible that the Lord Jesus paid for the sins of everyone in the world, for even this small sin of speaking an idle word is still remembered, and thus it was not paid for. It is a lie from all those who adhere to a free-will gospel that the Lord Jesus paid for the sins of everyone in the whole world. God remembers all the sins of all the unsaved, and He said:

Romans 12:19
Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.

The Scriptures are abundantly clear that many sins have not been paid at the cross, and that they shall be accounted for on the Day of Judgment. God says in:

Proverbs 24:12
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

God says in Ecclesiastes 12:14,
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil

God says in Jeremiah 32:19,
Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

God says in Matthew 16:27,
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

From that judgment there is no appeal, and of that judgment there is no reversal. All the wicked shall acknowledge that Christ’s judgment is perfectly righteous. All that a man has ever done will be judged; his internal as well as his external works, his thoughts and words and deeds, his deepest and secret motives and desires, and these also in their proper relation and connection with the time, and his age, and his country, and the environment in which he lived, and in connection with his gifts and talents, and in connection with his relation to former generations, and in connection with other people around him, and so on; all these factors will be made manifest in their proper value and light. And we shall be able to see clearly the proper value of every man’s work, and the judgment which is pronounced. And all shall justify Christ in the judgment given, for Christ’s Judgment shall be based on the Word of God. With it He shall smite the nations.
And then we read in Revelation 20:12 that another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.

Why did God bring up this detail?

We have heard about this Book of Life. The Bible is that Book of Life. But those who are following a free-will gospel cannot find their names in the Book of Life.

Why not?

Revelation 17:8
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

God brings up this Book of Life to show to all the followers of a free-will gospel how they have violated the Word of God, and therefore their names are not found in the Book of Life. Likewise all those who have followed a Charismatic gospel, and all those who have followed a gospel where something was added or something was taken away from the Word of God, also did not find their names written in the Book of Life. And they all had to admit that they were dead to God, for they were not able to show anything of value to God that they had done. That is why God called them the dead, standing before His great white throne. Yes they are standing before God. The beginning of Revelation 20:12 reads, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God”.
Christ is on the throne, but here we read that God sits on the throne.

Is this not a clear proof that Christ is God?

Tell that to the cults.

But will they believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is God?

No! They will find another reason why they should not believe, and thus their stubbornness will land them before the great white throne.

Death and the Grave Delivered Up the Dead

Revelation 20:13
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

When God speaks of the resurrection from the dead, both of the just and of the unjust, there is a great deal more than meets the eye, and that is indicated here when God said, “the sea gave up the dead which were in it”. When someone of the Phoenicians died on his ship and was buried in the sea, 3000 years ago, his body was eaten by the fish, and those fish were eaten by other fish, and those fish were eaten by other fish, and those fish were eaten by other fish, and so on, it is clear that all the molecules and atoms which at one time made up this Phoenician sailor were scattered throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, God is able to reassemble his body on the Last Day and transform this body into a body that will be able to endure eternal condemnation in Hell, and unite this new body with the soul of the sailor who died 3000 years ago.

This same process will be repeated for all those who have died on land and have been put in a grave. Their body has been eaten by worms, who have been eaten by birds, whose droppings have been consumed by plants, who have been eaten by people, and so on. Perhaps some of those atoms and molecules have been reused in people five times over. Nevertheless God is able to reassemble these bodies on the Last Day, and transform all these bodies into bodies unto the resurrection of life and bodies unto the resurrection unto damnation, and unite these bodies with the souls of the people whose bodies they were originally.

This is the great miracle that is in view in verse 13. The word “Hell” in this verse actually should have been translated “the grave”. And thus we would read, “Death and the grave delivered up the dead which were in them”. And again God says that they were judged according to their works, to make sure that we understand that it is the works of the unsaved that are bringing them condemnation. And then we read of:

The Lake of Fire

Revelation 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 20:15
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

First death and the grave were cast into the Lake of Fire. In other words, death and the grave were done away. Or to say it another way, there will be no escape from the torments of Hell by dying and by being put in the grave. Hell will be forever without interruption by death. Then the words, “this is the second death” do not refer to death and the grave, for death and the grave do not exist any more. We need to remember that the original Greek text did not have any punctuation marks. And thus the words “this is the second death” refers to the Lake of Fire.

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

You see, the Lake of Fire is the second death. The first death is the death of the body. The second death is to be cut off from God both body and soul in Hell. We cannot fully understand how horrible this is, but God informs us that it is as bad as being cast into a lake of fire. The Lord Jesus expressed this horrible condition in Mark 9:44-48, where He said three times, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”.

Does this frighten anyone of the unsaved around us?

No! Not at all! If we try to warn them of the coming judgment, they say, “That is your opinion”. If we try to warn them to read the Word of God carefully, they say, “I know what I believe; you can keep what you believe, but I am not going to change my beliefs”.

Why is it that almost none of them will take the Word of God seriously?

God says in Romans chapter 3:

Romans 3:18
There is no fear of God before their eyes.

When we read the Bible we want to make sure that we understand it the way God wants us to understand it. And we will double check if we were right.

Why?

It is because we know that these words came from God. God is speaking these words, and so we have respect for the words and for the meaning they convey. We have a holy fear of God and for the words He spoke. And when we approach the Bible with this fear of God and for the words He spoke, God promised us in:

Jeremiah 29:13
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

How can we warn people around us to have this fear of God?

We cannot, for they say, “The fear of God? That is an old fashioned idea that went out 100 years ago”. Not only have they been blinded by the preachers they have been listening to. They are still blinded for many years thereafter, for “the prince of the power of the air”, Satan, has them firmly in his grips. Satan entices them by saying, “You shall not surely die. Don’t believe these paranoid preachers. They try to scare you into their kind of religion”. All we can do is pray that God will open their eyes, and warn them:

Hebrews 2:3
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.

And so, we pray that God will make them see this great salvation. AMEN.

By Alfred Chompff


No comments: