Revelation 20:11-14. The Great White Throne Judgment
“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. 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. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 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.”
This prophecy begins with a vision of one sitting on the Great White Throne, (verse 11.)
Although the one sitting on the throne is not named, in all probability it is Jesus the Messiah, ” for it is to Him that all judgment has been given.” (John 5:22)
Let’s clear up a misconception or myth about this judgment.
If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ and have given over your life to Him you will NOT be a part of this judgment. Jesus will have already judged all believers at the Bema Seat or the Judgment Seat of Christ. The concept of the Bema Seat comes from the ancient Olympics, where a judge would sit on the Bema Seat at the finish line. The judge’s purpose was to determine what position runners finish a race, first, second, and so on-and then to give out the appropriate rewards. That is the imagery behind what is known as the Bema Seat. Read our article, Bema Seat or Judgment Seat of Christ.
God can be described in countless ways, but during this point in human history, God is obviously described as the greatest accountant in the universe. He see’s all, hears all and knows all, and because of these great attributes God keeps extensive records, every thought, every action, every intention and every word ever spoken.
Those that stand before the Great White Throne of Almighty God will all have one critical thing in common, all have rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have also rejected the Holy Spirit, which is the spirit of God Himself. The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity of Glory which make up the undeniable Authority of the Trinity of God. In the Age of Grace, the Holy Spirit is described by Jesus as The Comforter, the principle job of the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended to God is to bear witness of Jesus Christ. Those who stand before the Throne will be charged with blasphemy, a sin which cannot be forgiven. Matthew 12:31-32. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” And seen again in John 15:26. “But when the Helper (Holy Spirit) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
The Book of Life and the Lambs Book of Life.
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.
God will not condemn unless He can present absolute proof of a persons transgressions. God will judge righteously and fairly, this is the reason why God keeps accurate books.
Revelation 20:11-14 describes books, (plural-many,) we see that in one book, “and the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” “And books were opened,” these books are separate from the Book of life, remember when I said above that God will not condemn unless He has absolute proof of a persons transgressions (accusations.) These books will list every evil deed, every sin, including evil thoughts and words and every action ever committed by the ones accused.
What are the Books?
A three-fold distinction should be between the Book of Life, the Lamb’s Book of Life and the other books mentioned in verse 12.
The Book of Life contains the names of every person who was ever born, according to Psalm 139:16.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Those who believe have their names retained in the Book of Life, according to Revelation 3:5.
‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
However, in Psalm 69:28, the unsaved have their names blotted out of the Book of Life.
“May they be blotted out of the book of life And may they not be recorded with the righteous.”
It is at this point that the other books mentioned in Revelation 20:11-12 are used.
These other books contain accounts of one’s deeds and responses. It is on this basis of what is written in these books that the degree of punishments will be determined.
Another book mentioned in the Scriptures that should be kept distinct is the Lamb’ Book of Life.
This book contains the names of every individual who is born again and only those who are born again.
Their names were written into this book before the earth was ever created, according to Revelation 13:8. “And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that has been slain.”
This is mentioned again in Revelation 17:8.
In Psalm 69:28, this book is known as the Book of the Righteous. “Let them be blotted out of the Book of Life, and not be written with the righteous.” Based on God’s election and foreknowledge, this book contains the names of only those who are born again, and because salvation is eternally sure, it is impossible to be blotted out of this particular book.
But Why Would God Need To Keep A Record?
Actually, He wouldn’t because God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient.
- Omnipotent: God, having virtually unlimited authority or influence, all-powerful, almighty
- Omnipresent: God is present in all places at all times.
- Omniscient. God, having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight.
But in this judgment God does keeps records for one reason. He will not condemn unless He can present to those who stand before the Throne absolute proof of a their transgressions. God and Jesus already know of these transgressions, and when these people see what’s written, they will know without any doubt that God’s records are accurate. Their entire life is recorded in this book, every unkind word, every action, every sin is recorded. God, in His Righteousness doesn’t accuse unless He has irrefutable proof. “The dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
You may be wondering, “Will God allow these people to speak in their defense?”
I’ve read articles in the past where the authors claim that God will allow those accused to defend themselves. But that’s where the books come into play. If given a chance to dispute the information in the books, they would do just that, that God didn’t given them enough time or opportunities to turn to Him. Through time God has given people time to repent, and more than enough opportunities to do so. And given the modern age of information available today, there really is no excuse to ignore the truth and say to God, I never knew.
Other writers contest that God will give these people a second chance to repent. Again, we have to go to the books that God will present to the accused. This is all the proof that God will need present to those that His judgment is just and true. It doesn’t make sense for the accused to speak when the books show them that they have no ground to dispute the record.
In order to rightly accuse someone of a crime, a law must be broken, and witnessed by a person in greater authority who has knowledge of the crime and who has the authority to call a person to account for their crime. And that person is Jesus Christ, He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John:14-6.
This means that everyone ever born from the time from Adam and Eve to the last person born who rejects Jesus Christ, will participate in the second resurrection.
What is the first resurrection? What is the second resurrection?
Daniel 12:2 summarizes the two very different fates facing mankind: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Everyone will be raised from the dead, but not everyone will share the same destiny. The New Testament reveals the further detail of separate resurrections for the just and the unjust.
Revelation 20:4-6 mentions a “first resurrection” and identifies those involved as “blessed and holy.” The second death (the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14) has no power over these individuals. The first resurrection, then, is the raising of all believers. It corresponds with Jesus’ teaching of the “resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14) and the “resurrection of life” (John 5:29).
The first resurrection takes place in various stages. Jesus Christ Himself (the “first fruits,” 1 Corinthians 15:20), paved the way for the resurrection of all who believe in Him. There was a resurrection of the Jerusalem saints (Matthew 27:52-53) which should be included in our consideration of the first resurrection. Still to come are the resurrection of “the dead in Christ” at the Lord’s return (1 Thessalonians 4:16) and the resurrection of the martyrs at the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 20:4).
Revelation 20:12-13 identifies those comprising the second resurrection as the wicked judged by God at the great white throne judgment prior to being cast into the lake of fire. The second resurrection, then, is the raising of all unbelievers; the second resurrection is connected to the second death. It corresponds with Jesus’ teaching of the “resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29).
The event which divides the first and second resurrections seems to be the millennial kingdom. The last of the righteous are raised to reign “with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4), but the “rest of the dead [that is, the wicked] lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:5).
Now we get to the Book of Life, many refer to this book as the Lambs Book of Life. “Is there a difference between the book of life and the Lamb’s book of life?” The key word in this passage is “Life,” And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
In Revelation 13:8 and 21:27 we find the references to the “Lamb’s book of life,” in which also are the names of all those who have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. The Lamb who has been “slain from the creation of the world” has a book in which are written all those who have been redeemed by His sacrifice. They are the ones who will enter the Holy City, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10) and who will live forever in heaven with God. Since the book of life is that which records all who have eternal life through the Lamb, it’s clear that the book of life and the Lamb’s book of life are one and the same.
This particular book is absolute undeniable proof to those present at the Throne of God that His accusations are just and true, it also shows that the Book of Life will again be all the proof to those accused that God’s judgment is all about His Glorious Son, that all judgments are For Christ, about Christ and for His Glory. It’s really that cut and dry.
Either you are a believer that guarantees Eternal Life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, or you have rejected His sacrifice on The Cross and doomed you life for an eternity and are cast into the lake of fire. All those before the Throne of God have done this to themselves.
Does God take pleasure in His judgment? of course not, example, if your a parent, when your child or children suffer or are sick, or make mistakes and wrong choices and choose the wrong path in life, if you love your children, you grieve for them, you suffer along with them. God and Jesus Christ will grieve because these people have given them no choice and forced their hands to act on your hate and sin.
The prophet Ezekiel 18:32 wrote. “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” God and Christ created you, you are a child of their creation. You were created in the image of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:15-16 says; Jesus Christ. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
Therefore, because you are a child, they love you in a way that can only be described by God sending His Son to suffer and die, He shed innocent blood, He was wrongly accused and nailed to a tree (cross.) Jesus is not some figure created by men that entertains children in Sunday school. Jesus is real, God is real, heaven and the eternal Lake of Fire are a real place.
Before I end this article, be aware that the White Throne judgment is a long time away, right now you have the greatest opportunity in your life to dump your pride and consider the words written in this article, because if you choose and turn away and ignore the message of Jesus Christ, and die in your sin and separation in God and Christ, one day you will find yourself standing at the Throne of God with Jesus Christ at His right hand, your name will be found and the details of your life have recorded in the first books, and absent in the Book of Life or the Lambs Book of Life, you will have forced their hands in the accounts that accuse you of rejecting the Almighty God and His Son.