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…  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12, 15)
We are now approaching the end of our congregational readings in the book of Revelation. This is the end of the Bible, the last of the sixty-six books that were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The last themes of Revelation are the final states of the righteous and the wicked. After thousands of years of man’s existence, there will come a time when his eternal future will be unalterably fixed. The 20th chapter concerns the final state of the wicked and since this is our reading for today we will focus our attention on the scene described in verses 11-15. This is known as the Great White Throne Judgment. This judgment is for people that have never trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour and received His perfect righteousness for their justification with God.
This judgment takes place in God’s courtroom, but the operations of God’s court are somewhat different from ours. In our courts, the outcome is at first undetermined because the accused is presumed innocent until he can be proven guilty. At this judgment bar, every person is guilty. There is no presumption of innocence; there is no evidence presented for acquittal because none exists. God’s judgment is based on perfect righteousness. However, when the books are opened there are no records of righteousness. This is beyond argument because God’s word has already declared, “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 14:2-3).
Wouldn’t it be to your great advantage if you could see the books ahead of time and learn what they contain? The entries are your sins, which are transgressions of God’s law. There are many things in the books that you might not be aware of, but there are plenty that you do know if you will just think about them and be honest with yourself. Actually, honesty is one of your greatest problems. The Bible says that all people are liars. You know there are multiple instances of lies on your account. Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word or were you in any way irreverent with the use of His name? No doubt that list is quite long as well. Did you ever miss a day at church because your priorities were higher than God’s? There are a lot of Sundays in your life. How many of those did you use for self instead of Him? The list of occasions of idolatry are too numerous to count. What about lust? Jesus said if a man only looks at a woman to lust after her, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart (the reverse is also true for women). God has a record of all those times. Do we need to go on and cover all the commandments to show you are guilty of breaking them all and breaking them multiple times? Now you know what God will check when He pulls up your account.
Since I don’t have much space and this is a huge topic, let me just mention the gravest sin of all. Did you notice in both Revelation 20:12 and 20:15 the mention of the book of life? Every person judged at the Great White Throne is missing from the book of life. The book of life is a book of righteousness. It is a book that contains the names of all that have been given the righteousness God requires. This is the righteousness of faith which is transferred directly to you from the merits of the perfect life of Christ. This is given to those that repent of their sins and trust Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Those that do not are guilty of the gravest sin of all—the rejection of the perfect sacrifice for sin. The gravest sin of all is to trample the precious blood of Christ under your feet and despise the grace of God.
Are you in the book of life? I have some good news for you—you can know this ahead of time. Have you repented of your sins and do you trust Jesus Christ and only Him as your perfect righteousness? If so, your name is there. You do not need to fear the Great White Throne Judgment because you will not be there. All others—beware!
Pastor V. Mark Smith