David Jeremiah - The Judge
Sunrise. Every morning, the Earth awakens from a night spent in darkness as the sun rises from the east to stir and warm the western hemisphere. Sunrise may be the most beloved time of the day for many, but what warms the body, heart, soul, and Earth is best appreciated from afar. The sun is the star at the center of the solar system. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields. It has a diameter of about 865.374 miles, approximately 109 times that of Earth. In fact, 1 million Earths could fit inside the sun. And how hot is this star that warms our world? Well, the visible part of the sun is roughly 10.000 degrees Fahrenheit, and at its core, temperatures exceed 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. You would need to explode 100 billion tons of dynamite every second to match the energy produced by the sun.
It's hard to believe that something of such force and magnitude could be extinguished, but Bible prophecy tells us of the day when the sun will no longer shine. In Matthew 24:29, it is written: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken". Even as this ball of fire is snuffed out of existence, another fiery force will just be heating up.
If we look at the very last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, we discover a lake of fire which is destined to become the place of final judgment for many, including three agents of the apocalypse: The beast, the false prophet, and Satan. This lake of fire will be a place of utter pain and anguish, and all who spend an eternity there will be completely separated from all living things, which includes being separated from God forevermore. So who will dispense the final judgment on the inhabitants of planet Earth? Who will judge the righteous and the unrighteous and seal the ungodly to an everlasting, fiery fate? Jesus the judge, an agent of the apocalypse.
The account of the great white throne judgment in Revelation 20, in my estimation, is the most sobering passage in all of the Bible. It tells of the final judgment of the inhabitants of planet Earth. The last sentence of the passage is chilling: (Revelation 20:15) "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire". You can't read that without realizing that what we do with our lives on this Earth really matters. At the great white throne judgment, unbelievers and Christian pretenders will stand before God. Here, they will face the consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ as savior and Lord. This judgment is the final bar of judgment in God's plan for the inhabitants of planet Earth, and there will be no grading on a curve. The accused will be judged by the black-and-white standard of absolute truth.
As we go through these verses in Revelation 20, as we have been doing in these other messages, will just give you a clear kind of tutorial on the great white throne. First of all, the place of it. Revelation 20:11 says "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them".. The Bible does not specify exactly where the great white throne judgment will be. We do know where it will not be, however. It will not be in Heaven, and it will not be on Earth. It cannot take place on Earth, because at the appearance of the Lord, we are told that the Earth and the Heaven fled away, and it cannot take place in Heaven because no sinner can enter the presence of God there, so the great white throne judgment takes place somewhere between Heaven and Earth, perhaps on some distant planet that we don't even know about, but it will take place, and perhaps the name of it is more important than its location.
The word "great" speaks of the infinite one who is the judge, the word "white" speaks of divine holiness, purity, and justice, and "throne" speaks of the majesty of the one who has the right to determine the destiny of his creatures. The person of the great white throne judgment is given to us in verses 11 and 12: "I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it... and I saw the dead, standing before God". Who is the judge on the great white throne? He is none other than the Lord, Jesus Christ, and we discover this through our Lord's own words (John 5:22, 27): "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son... and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man". Paul wrote to the Romans 2:16, "God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ". In Acts 10:42, Peter declared that Christ was "ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead".
Christ is the judge of the living. At the judgment seat of Christ, when believers come before him, after the rapture, He is the judge of the spiritually dead at the great white throne judgment. Jesus Christ will conduct the trial, and no one is better qualified. He did all that he could do to redeem man, and if man rejects his offer, then man, by Jesus, must be judged. Verses 12 and 13, we learn about the people at the great white throne: "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God... The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them". As John views the great white throne, he sees the dead. All who died without a relationship with Jesus Christ, the dead who died without Christ, the spiritually dead, their bodies are summoned from their graves and from the sea, and their souls are called from death and Hades to stand before the judge of all the Earth.
And John says that this group will be made up of both small and great. That's an expression that appears often in the Bible, and over five times in the book of Revelation alone. It's there to remind us that all classes of people will be present from all ranks in the church and in the world. There will be many religious people at the great white throne. What will happen to these religious people when they stand before God? Let the Lord Jesus answer that question (Matthew 7:22-23): "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness'"!
Contrary to popular opinion, believing in your chosen truth does not make it true. There is only one truth, and that's the truth of Jesus Christ. He said (John 14:6): I am the way, the truth, and the life. "Believe in that truth or you will not go to the father". That's what he said: "No one comes to the Father except through Me". The place of the great white throne and the person on the great white throne and the people before the great white throne, notice, now, the purpose of the great white throne. Verse 12 says: "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books".
First of all, there's the Book of the Law. The Jewish leaders of Jesus' day thought they could merit salvation through obedience to the law, and many Christians today make the same mistake, but as Paul points out, people cannot earn their salvation through the law unless they keep it perfectly, which we fallen human beings don't have a chance to do. Paul wrote to the Romans (3:20,23), and he said, "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight". You know why? "Because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Anyone who stands before Christ the judge and claims to be justified by keeping the law will be condemned by the law. Only those who are in Christ will be found not guilty in the eyes of the law.
I, probably, am not the only one that grew up in a legalistic environment. We had all the rules, you know: The filthy five, the dirty dozen, the nasty nine, all of those things that you weren't supposed to do, and the idea was, if you don't do any of those things, then you're gonna be fine. I want to tell you something. That's not gonna matter at all. You will never be able to amass a record of enough good works or the lack of evil works to have a hope before the great white throne judgment. If you're thinking you're gonna go to Heaven by keeping the law, it never works.
Then, there's the Book of Works. Revelation 20:13 tells us that the rebellious were judged, listen to this: "...each one according to his works". Paul also spoke about this. He said, 2 Corinthians 11:15, "whose end will be according to their works". And Jesus said, Matthew 16:27, "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works". When they stand before God at the great white throne and say, "I think I have done enough good works to merit going to Heaven", almighty God will say, "Well, let's see", and the book will be opened.
And then, there's the Book of Secrets. This is the one everyone fears the most. Scripture tells us that although we may be able to hide things from other people, there is nothing we can ever hide from God. Jesus said, Luke 8:17, "For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light". The apostle Paul wrote (Romans 2:16) that, "God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ". And in the Old Testament, Solomon said (Ecclesiastes 12:14) it this way, "For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil".
And there's the Book of Words. Scientists tell us that every word we ever speak is floating around somewhere in the world today, that no word ever spoken is ever totally lost. The sound waves continue on indefinitely. I don't know about that, but scripture tells us that spoken words will be brought to the judgment of those who stand at the white throne. Matthew 12:36-37 says, "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned". When people's excuses begin to pour out, the Book of Words will be opened, and by a person's own utterances, he or she will stand condemned before the Lord.
We have the Book of Law and the Book of Works and the Book of Secrets and the Book of Words. What about the Book of Conscience? Romans 2:15 says, "Who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them" Some may say, "Well, Lord, I tried to live by my conscience. My life has been built on my conscience". How many of you know your conscience is flawed? Because it's informed by the things outside of it. The Bible says no matter what shape your conscience is in, whether it's good, bad, or medium, you will be brought to judgment because you don't even live up to what you say your conscience is. You won't even live up to your conscience. None of us do.
And finally, there's that big book called the Book of Life. Revelation 21:27 says, "...only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life". Will get into Heaven. So what is that book? In John's day, the human author of the book of Revelation, in the cities that existed, there was a register that listed the name of every citizen, so if you lived in the city, you were on the register of that city. Your name was on the list. If you committed a crime or otherwise dishonored your standing in that city for any reason, you would be called before a tribunal and have your name removed, literally blotted out from the citizenry of that city, and you would have to leave that city, no longer be allowed to live there, and move someplace else.
The names of all of the people born into the whole world are originally entered in to the Book of Life, but those names are subject to being removed. We can speculate that every person's name entered in to the Book of Life is entered in with the time of conception and the time of birth, perhaps the age of accountability might be next to his name, and then, if he's a Christian, the date of his conversion to Christ as his Savior is there, but if there are no entries for the last items by the time that person dies, the entry will be blotted out (Revelation 3:5), and an awful blank space will be left in the book at the place where that name should have been. Exhibiting this blank spot in the book will be the final and conclusive evidence that the person being judged must be consigned to life forever without God.
You see, what happens is, when we're born, our name goes into the Book of Life, and we have all of our lifetime to accept Christ. If we come to the end of our life and we haven't accepted him, the Bible says our name is blotted out of the Book of Life, and no man can go to Heaven whose name is not in the lamb's Book of Life. The Bible tells us that when the judgment is over and everyone has been found guilty, because no one will be innocent at the great white throne, let me remind you again, people: there will be no believers at the great white throne judgment. Believers are at the judgment seat of Christ right after the rapture. Seven years goes by in the tribulation, followed by 1.000 years in the millennium, and the judgment at the end of the millennium is the great white throne.
Here's the thing for you to remember: at the great white throne judgment, everybody is an unbeliever. At the judgment seat of Christ, everybody is a believer. If you're at the great white throne judgment, you're in a lot of trouble, because that is the place where the punishment is handed out after the judgment is completed, Revelation 20:14-15, "Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire". Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God, and the second death is the separation of the soul from God forever and ever and ever. Never ever to have another chance to get it right. When death and Hades are cast into Hell, both the body, which has been resurrected from the grave, and the soul, which has been in Hades, will be cast into the lake of fire and separated from God forever and ever.
Some people say, "Well, pastor Jeremiah, this stuff about Hell, it's old-fashioned. Nobody believes in that anymore. I read this book somebody wrote about how it's not even real". Well, you can choose to believe that, but remind yourself that just because you choose to believe it doesn't make it true. I'm so amazed at some people that I talk to think that because they believe it, it's true. "Well, it's my truth". Well, your truth is not true. Your truth is bogus. You don't get to make your own truth. You don't get to say, "Oh, I believe this, and so this is my truth". Well, you better be sure that your truth lines up with God's truth or your truth is a lie.
And so people say, "Well, I don't preach on Hell anymore. That's from the old generation. Nobody talks about that and nobody really believes in it". Well, let me remind you that both Revelation and Matthew clearly teach about eternal punishment in Hell. It's not a popular doctrine, but if you're a preacher of the word of God, there is no way around it in the scripture. Did you know that for every word that Jesus spoke about Heaven, he spoke three words about Hell? Jesus spoke more about Hell than he did about Heaven. In Matthew 25:41, 46, "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels... And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life". Paul said (2 Thessalonians 1:9) that those who do not know God "...will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord".
Revelation 21 in verse 8, John tells us what kind of people end up in the lake of fire. I'm gonna read this list for you, but I want you to know there's a surprise in the middle of it, "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone". In the midst of all of those awful things is the word "unbelieving". Ultimately, men and women, when you stand before God at the judgment, it won't be about your works or your words or your secrets or anything else, those are all just evidence to show that you're guilty, but the reason that you don't go to Heaven, if you don't go there, is because you have failed to believe: to believe that God loves you so much that he sent his Son into this world to die for you and pay the penalty for all of the things that we have all done wrong.
We are all sinners. The only difference between the people who are Christians and the people who are not Christians is the people who are not Christians are sinners and the people who are Christians are sinners saved by grace, and the beauty of this story, to me, is that almighty God has made it possible for us to go to Heaven if we will believe. Listen to these words from the gospel of John 3:18, "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God". John 5:24, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life".
My friends, none of this that I've talked about today has to be the experience of any single person if you will simply believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ. I've laid out for you, as clearly as I know how, and hopefully compassionately, what the Bible says the future holds for those who do not receive Christ. Today, you have an opportunity to accept him. Today, you have an opportunity to receive him, his salvation, his forgiveness, his grace, his mercy, his promise that when you receive him, he will give to you the gift of eternal life. Why would you walk away from that when it's right within your grasp?