The Book of  REVELATION
James J. Barker


Lesson 38
THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT

Text: REVELATION 20:11-15


INTRODUCTION


  1. The book of Revelation commences with a throne (1:4) and concludes with a throne (22:1, 3).
  2. All throughout the book of Revelation, we are reminded of the throne of God – there are 32 references to the throne of God in the book of Revelation.
  3. Thrones often speak of judgment, and tonight I will be speaking on the subject of the great white throne judgment, as it is recorded for us in the twentieth chapter of Revelation.
  4. The story is told of the great statesman Daniel Webster, who was speaking to a group of younger men and they asked him what was the greatest thought that ever crossed his mind. He quickly replied, "My accountability to God."
  5. According to the Bible, man must give an account to God and every lost sinner must stand before the great white throne of God and give an account.
  6. The judicial benches of this world pale in comparison to this staggering scene of the final judgment of the unsaved.
  7. Thomas Carlyle, the great British historian, wrote, "What a magnificent conception is that of a last judgment. A righting of all the wrongs of the ages."
  8. The writer of the book of Hebrews asks, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb. 2:3). Unfortunately, many have neglected God’s gracious plan of salvation – but they will not be able to escape the great white throne judgment.

 

I. THERE IS A THRONE UP YONDER IN HEAVEN (20:11)

  1. It is "great" because it is the most awesome assize ever held and it is "white," signifying God’s purity and holiness (cf. 3:4, 5; 18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13, 14; 15:6; 19:8).
  2. Only the lost will stand before this throne.
  3. The saved will not be there. Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
  4. Most of the book of Revelation, including chapter 20, is in chronological order.
  5. Those who are part of "the first resurrection" (20:4, 5) are saved – "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished" (20:5).
  6. "The second death hath no power" over those believers who take part in the first resurrection (20:6, 14).
  7. The first death refers to physical death but the second death refers to eternal torment in hell (20:14).
  8. The apostle Paul wrote that the Lord Jesus Christ "shall judge the quick and the dead" (II Tim. 4:1). The quick (living) have already been judged – this is the judgment of the dead.
  9. God the Father has ordained that the Lord Jesus Christ be the judge at this great white throne judgment (cf. Acts 17:31; John 5:26, 27).
  10. In Romans 2:16, the apostle Paul writes that "God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ."
  11. John writes: "from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away…" (20:11) – the awesomeness of this throne and the majesty of our Lord’s countenance are so great that even the earth and heaven must flee.
  12. Earth and heaven will flee away because they will be destroyed, and will be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth (21:1).
  13. Second Peter 3:10 says, "the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
  14. Second Peter 3:13 says, "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth."
  15. John Walvoord says, "It would be most natural that the present earth and heaven, the scene of the struggle with Satan and sin, should be displaced by an entirely new order suited for eternity" (The Revelation of Christ).
  16. Referring to this prophecy, William Pettingill, a great Baptist preacher of a previous generation writes, "Nowhere in all literature is there such a majestic and awful description as this."
  17. Walter Scott writes that "the throne is not set on the earth, nor in relation to its dispensations and times. It is a scene outside of human history entirely. We have passed out of time into eternity."
  18. Down here in this wicked and corrupt world, we often hear about dishonest judges and unfair trials. But there is a throne up yonder in heaven and a Judge sitting upon that throne who is absolutely true, and absolutely righteous, and absolutely pure, and absolutely holy – because He is the Son of God.

 

II. THERE ARE SOME BOOKS UP YONDER IN HEAVEN (20:12)

  1. The "dead, small and great" (20:11) that are appointed to stand before God are those who rejected Christ and missed out on the first resurrection (20:6).
  2. Therefore, they must take part in what our Lord referred to as the "resurrection of damnation" in John 5:29.
  3. Their bodies are brought forth from every depository that holds their dust – whether in the sea or in the earth (20:13).
  4. It doesn’t matter if they were blown up or eaten by sharks – God will raise them up for their scheduled appointment at the great white throne.
  5. Some people request to have their bodies cremated and their ashes scattered to the four winds, but nevertheless God will raise them up for this final judgment that no lost sinner can escape.
  6. God keeps books and His books are 100 percent accurate. These books are not for determining who is going to heaven and who is going to hell – that has already been settled by each sinner who rejected the Gospel and turned his back on God.
  7. Their fate was sealed at their death when they left this world without faith in Christ.
  8. The great evangelist D. L. Moody used to say that if a man ever invented a camera that could photograph the human heart, people would refuse to look at the pictures. But God has such a camera and every wicked sin is in his record books. God has computers that never "shut down."
  9. The purpose of the books and the sentence pronounced upon the wicked is to determine the various degrees of punishment in the lake of fire. There are different degrees of punishment in hell (cf. Matt. 11:20-24; Luke 12:47, 48).
  10. We hear very little hellfire and brimstone preaching these days and we can see the results. 37 percent of all births in the United States are out of wedlock. Homosexuality is now being promoted as a good thing by our nation's leaders.
  11. A homosexual group called "the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation" recently did a report called, "Where We Are on TV.”
  12. In this report, these homosexual activists said they are pleased by the fact that all of the television networks have programs with homosexual characters, and these characters are portrayed favorably. We have filth all over the TV and radio; etc.
  13. America must face the judgment of God. Over one million babies are killed every year thanks to legal abortion.
  14. A.C. Dixon used to say, "If we had more preaching on hell in the pulpit, we might have less hell in the community."
  15. General Booth said, "If I had my way, I would not give any of my workers a three-years training in a college, but I would put each of them 24 hours in hell – the best training for earnest preaching you could have."
  16. God is going to open all His books (Rev. 20:12). God will judge every deed.
  17. Our Lord said in Matthew 10:26, "Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known."
  18. And God will judge every word. Our Lord said in Matthew 12:36, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
  19. Every sin you have ever committed is recorded in these books.
  20. The "book of life" (Rev. 20:12) is also up yonder in heaven. Is your name written in there? If not, you are in big trouble (20:15).
  21. It will be too late for warnings at the great white throne judgment. There was a wicked infidel named Robert Ingersoll who was friendly with a preacher named Phillips Brooks (the author of "O Little Town of Bethlehem").
  22. There was a time when Dr. Brooks was very sick and would not see any visitors but he did allow Ingersoll to see him when he called.
  23. "I appreciate this very much," said Mr. Ingersoll, "but why do you see me when you deny yourself to all your friends?"
  24. "It’s this way," replied Phillips Brooks. "I feel confident of seeing my other friends up in heaven, but this may be my last chance to see you."
  25. Maybe this is your last chance – to hear the Gospel – to repent of your sins – to get things right with God – to get saved.
  26. Unsaved friend, don’t procrastinate – come to Jesus before your heart grows cold and hard – some day it will be too late.

 

III. THERE IS A LITERAL, HOT, BURNING LAKE OF FIRE (20:10, 14, 15)

  1. First, the antichrist and the false prophet will be cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev.19:20).
  2. Then, after one thousand years, the devil will be cast into the lake of fire (20:10). This proves several things:
  • Contrary to popular opinion, the devil is not in hell right now (I Peter 5:8).
  • Contrary to what some of the cults teach, there is no such thing as "annihilation."
  • Contrary to what the liberals and other unbelievers teach, the fire in hell is never quenched. Revelation 20:10 says, "and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (cf. Rev. 14:10, 11).
  • This is precisely what our Lord said. In Mark 9:43, our Lord said, "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched."
  • In fact, our Lord repeated this for emphasis -- five times in Mark 9 (43, 44, 45, 46, 48).
  1. Contrary to the foolish jokes we are always hearing about hell, the punishment is excruciatingly painful. It is referred to as "this place of torment" in Luke 16:28.
  2. Torment in hell is mentioned four times in Luke 16 (23, 24, 25, 28).
  3. George Whitefield was preaching from the text, "and the door was shut" (Matt. 25:10) and two young men were laughing and joking. One said to the other, "Well, what if the door be shut, another will open."
  4. Whitefield continued on by saying, "It is possible there may be some careless, trifling person here today, who may ward off the force of this serious subject by lightly thinking, `What matter if the door be shut, another will open’." The two young men were paralyzed, and looked at each other. Whitefield then proceeded, "Yes, another door will open – and I will tell you what door it will be – the door to hell!"
  5. Contrary to the teachings of the R.C.C., there is no such thing as "purgatory." Neither is there any such thing as reincarnation or "second chance after death."
  6. Our Lord spoke of the "everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:46) – this is it.
  7. In Dante’s Inferno, it is written over the gates of hell: "Abandon hope, ye who enter here."
  8. The Bible says that "death and hell were cast into the lake of fire" (20:14). Death will deliver up their physical bodies and hell will deliver up their lost souls. The wicked will have their bodies and souls reunited for this final judgment – then they will be cast into the lake of fire (20:15).
  9. Some respectable church-going sinners do not like to associate with abominable sinners, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and liars, but if they do not repent and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, they will have to spend eternity with them (21:8).

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Doctor Faustus is an old play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge.
  2. Along with the plays of William Shakespeare, Doctor Faustus used to be required reading in many high school and college literature classes.
  3. One day a young lady raised her hand in class and said, "How could somebody be so stupid to sell his soul to the devil for just a few short years of prominence and pleasure?"
  4. The wise teacher replied by saying, "Young lady, many people have sold their souls to the devil for a whole lot less!"
  5. Today sinners are laughing and having a big time, but some day soon they will have to stand before God and they will no longer be laughing (Rev. 20:12-15).


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