Sermon #1432 Series: Miscellaneous Notes
Title: THE GREAT
WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT
Text: Revelation 20:11-15
Subject: The General Resurrection and General Judgment
Give a little thought to this question: What do we deserve from God? If God deals with us fairly, in justice, as he most surely will, what shall be our everlasting portion?
Of this you can be sure Every one of us will receive from the Holy Lord God exactly what we deserve. Because the righteous Lord loves righteousness, he always deals with all moral creatures upon the basis of strict righteousness, both in the execution of his wrath and in the exercise of his grace (Ps. 11:7). The Judge of all the earth must and shall do right (Gen. 18:25).
If God sends you to hell, he will do so upon the grounds of absolute, unquestionable righteousness. If he is pleased to bring you into the everlasting bliss and glory of heaven, he will do so upon the grounds of absolute, unquestionable righteousness. The holy Lord God will never violate, or even bend his holy law. He will not compromise his justice. And when he gets done with us, every creature in heaven, earth, and hell will declare, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments (Rev. 16:7).
With that in mind, I want us to turn to the Book of Revelation. My text will be Revelation 20:11-15. The title of my message is The Great White Throne Judgment. Let's read the text together.
Some time ago I received a letter from one of God's saints that expressed a concern and a matter of much confusion to many. She asked, "Will there be one judgment or two? Will we be judged first by Christ for our sin and second for our works as believers?"
Tonight I want to answer that dear lady's questions and hopefully some of your own perplexities with regard to the day of judgment. May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher.
Here God the Holy Spirit describes that awesome, glorious throne of judgment before which we all must appear in the last day. It is called "a great white throne", to set forth the power, holiness, and sovereignty of the One who sits upon it. It is called "great" because it is the throne of the omnipotent God. It is called "white" because it is pure, spotless, righteous, and just. Nothing proceeds from this throne but justice and truth. It is called a "throne" because the Judge who sits upon it, before whom we all must stand, is the holy, sovereign Lord God.
Proposition: In the last day, when time shall be no more, we all must appear before the august, great, white throne to be judged of God, to be judged according to the strict and exact righteousness and justice of the thrice holy God!
Yet, while the Word of God constantly warns the wicked of the terror of divine judgment and the everlasting wrath of God, the day of judgment is never described as a terror to the believer, or even a thing to be dreaded by us. Rather, for the believer the day of judgment is always set forth as a matter of anticipated joy and glory.
On this earth God's saints are constantly misjudged. His servants are maligned and slandered by reprobate men. But in that last great day, God almighty will vindicate his people and he will vindicate his servants (I Cor. 4:3-5).
I am not dreading that day. I'm looking forward to it! And I do so with peace. If, as a believer, a sinner saved by God's free and sovereign grace, through the sin-atoning blood and imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, you understand what the Bible says about that great day, you will look forward to it too. With those things in mind, let's see what the Bible teaches about the great white throne judgment.
Divisions: I do not claim to be an expert on prophetic matters. But I do know that there are five things clearly revealed in the Word of God about things to come. I want to talk to you now about those five things.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again.
2. When Christ comes again there will be a great general resurrection of all who have lived upon the earth.
3. We must all be judged by God according to the record of our works.
4. Those who are found to be perfectly righteous before God shall enter into eternal life and everlasting glory with Christ.
5. All who are found to be guilty of sin shall be cast into the lake of fire, where they must suffer the unmitigated wrath of God forever.
A GOSPEL REVELATION
I. First, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS COMING AGAIN.
Do not concern yourself about the signs of the times and those things which men imagine are indications of the last days. There is very little, if anything, of spiritual value to be gained by studying all the books ever written on prophetic issues. They all have to be rewritten as soon as the predicted events have failed to come to pass. We are never commanded to look for signs of our Lord's coming. We are commanded to be looking for him to come. Get this one blessed fact fixed in your mind - Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, the Son of God, is coming again!
A. The Son of God is personally coming again to this earth.
That very same God-man who was born at Bethlehem, who lived as our Representative, and died as our sin-atoning Substitute on the cross is coming to this earth again.
· He said, "I will come again!" (John 14:3).
· The Apostle Paul wrote, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven!" (I Thess. 4:16).
· He said, "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven!" (II Thess. 1:7).
· He came once in weakness. He is coming again in power!
· He came once in humiliation. He is coming again in glory!
· He came once to be despised. He is coming again to be admired!
· He came once to suffer. He is coming again to conquer!
B. The second coming of Christ will be sudden, unannounced, unexpected, and climatic.
"The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night" (I Thess. 5:2). Our Lord said, "I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee" (Rev. 3:3).
The Lord does not tell us to look for the tribulation, or the regathering of Israel, or the rebuilding of a Jewish temple. He tells us to look for him! If you look for signs, and times, and seasons, you will be shocked when Christ comes. The only thing mentioned in this book that will announce the Lord's coming will be "a shout, the voice of the archangel and the trump of God" (I Thess. 4:16).
NOTE: No man knows the day or hour of our Lord's coming; and that is best (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32; Acts 1:7). If we knew the day or hour, we would become irresponsible and negligent with regard to our daily duties. Do not seek to know when Christ is coming. Be content with his promise, and wait for his appearing.
C. Our Lord Jesus may appear at any moment.
"Behold, he cometh!" (Rev. 1:7) Look for him upon the tiptoe of faith and expectation. All will be taken by surprise except those who are expecting him to appear. Like those Thessalonians who believed God, we must constantly "wait for his Son from heaven" (I Thess. 1:10). Faith is ever "looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Tit. 2:13). This much I know...
1. Christ is coming now!
2. Soon he shall appear.
3. When the Son of God appears he will bring with him a crown of righteousness, immortality and life for all who love him and look for his appearing.
A GENERAL RESURRECTION
II. Secondly, WHEN CHRIST COMES, THERE WILL BE A GREAT, GENERAL RESURRECTION OF ALL WHO HAVE EVER LIVED UPON THE EARTH.
I do not offer any argument or proof for what I am preaching. I am simply declaring to you the plain facts, as they are revealed in Holy Scripture. Those who rebel against them, mock them, despise them, or ignore them do so to their own eternal ruin. But I assure you that the Son of God is coming again; and when he comes there will be a resurrection of the dead.
A. First, all who have died in faith shall be raised from the grave.
All will be raised. But the saints of God will have distinct priority in the resurrection. "The dead in Christ shall rise first." The bodies of God's saints shall be raised from their graves and reunited with their souls.
· All The Old Testament Saints!
· All The Martyrs!
· All Who Sleep in Jesus!
B. Then, immediately after the sleeping saints arise, all believers living upon the earth shall be changed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
As our Lord descends in the brilliant glory of his second advent, we shall go out to meet him and return with him, as he comes with all his saints to burn up the earth, destroy the wicked, and make all things new.....What a day that will be!
C. Then, after the Son of God has gathered all the ransomed bodies of his elect from the earth, after he has destroyed all the wicked with the brightness of his coming, all the wicked shall be raised.
There is a resurrection for the wicked too. But, for you who believe not, there is no music in the resurrection. The Lord himself shall issue a summons that you cannot resist. You will stand in terror before him whose grace you have despised, against whom you have sinned!
Your body and soul now united in sin shall be united in horror! I have no word of comfort for you who will not bow to the claims of Christ. If you die without Christ, you die without hope and without peace! Your resurrection shall be a resurrection of damnation!
A GREAT RECKONING
III. Thirdly, IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE RESURRECTION, WE MUST ALL BE JUDGED BY GOD ACCORDING TO THE RECORD OF OUR WORKS.
A. The Judge before whom we must stand is the God-man, whom we have crucified!
B. We will be judged out of the books, according to the record of God's strict justice.
When the books are opened, what shocks of terror will seize the hearts and souls of those who have no righteousness and no atonement before the holy Lord God!
With the opening of the books, every crime, every offense, every sin you have ever committed, in mind, in heart, and in deed shall be exposed! This is what Daniel saw in his prophetic vision.
I realize that this is figurative language. God does not need books to remember man's sins. However, as John Gill wrote, "this judgment out of the books, and according to works, is designed to show with what accuracy and exactness, with what justice and equity, it will be executed, in allusion to statute-books in courts of judicature".
In the Scriptures God is often represented as writing and keeping books. And according to these books we all shall be judged. What are the books?
1. The Book of Divine Omniscience (Mal. 3:5)
2. The Book of Divine Remembrance (Mal. 3:16)
3. The Book of Creation (Rom. 1:18-20)
4. The Book of God's Providence (Rom. 2:4-5)
5. The Book of God's Holy Law (Rom. 2:12)
This book of the law has two tables. The first table contains all the sins of men against God (Ex. 20:3-11). The second table contains all the sins of men against one another (Ex. 20:12-17).
6. The Book of the Gospel (Rom. 2:16)
7. The Book of Conscience (Rom. 2:15)
C. But, blessed be God, there are some against whom no crimes, no sins, no offenses can be found, not even by the omniscient eye of God himself!
Their names are found in another book, a book which God himself wrote and sealed before the worlds were made. IT IS THE BOOK OF LIFE!
1. In this book there is a record of Divine Election.
2. In this book there is the name of a Divine Surety.
3. In this book there is a record of Perfect Righteousness (Jer. 23:6 cf 33:16).
4. In this book there is a record of Complete Satisfaction - Blood Atonement.
5. In this book there is the promise of Eternal Life.
D. The question is often raised, "Will God judge his elect for their sins and failures, committed after they were saved, and expose them in the day of judgment?"
The only reason that question is ever raised is because many try to retain the threat and fear of the Roman doctrine of purgatory, by which they hope to hold over God's saints the whip and terror of the law.
Child of God, hear me well. There is absolutely no sense in which you who trust the Lord Jesus Christ shall ever be made to pay for your sins!
1. Our sins were imputed to Christ and shall never be imputed to us again (Rom. 4:8).
2. Christ paid our debt to God's law and justice; and God will never require us to pay.
3. God who has blotted out our transgressions will never write them again.
4. He who covered our sins will never uncover them!
5. The perfect righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us!
6. On the day of judgment, God's elect are never represented as having done any evil, but only good (Matt. 25:31-40).
7. The day of judgment will be a day of glory and bliss for Christ and his people, not a day of mourning and sorrow.
· It will be a marriage supper!
· Christ will glory in Church!
· God will display the glory of his grace in us!
· We will glory in our God!
A GLORIOUS REWARD
IV. Fourthly, THOSE WHO ARE FOUND PERFECTLY RIGHTEOUS, RIGHTEOUS ACCORDING TO THE RECORDS OF GOD HIMSELF, SHALL ENTER INTO ETERNAL LIFE AND INHERIT EVERLASTING GLORY WITH CHRIST.
They that have done good, nothing but good, perfect good, without any spot of sin, wrinkle of iniquity, or trace of transgression, shall enter into everlasting life. It is written
A. Who are these perfectly righteous ones?
· None by Nature and None by Works of Their Own!
· All God's Elect!
· All the Redeemed!
· All the Called!
· All the Justified!
· All Who Trust the Lord Jesus Christ! - (Rom. 8:1, 32-34)
B. Though there shall be degrees of punishment for the wicked in hell because there are degrees of wickedness, there shall be no degrees of reward and glory among the saints in heaven because there are no degrees of redemption and righteousness.
1. Heaven was earned and purchased for all God's elect by Christ.
2. We were predestined to obtained our inheritance from eternity (Eph. 1:11).
3. Christ has taken possession of heaven's glory as our forerunner (Heb. 6:20).
4. We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17).
5. Our Savior gave all the glory he earned as our Mediator to all his elect (John 17:5,20).
6. In Christ every believer is worthy of heaven's glory (Col. 1:12).
7. Glorification is but the consummation of salvation; and salvation is by grace alone!
That means that no part of heaven's bliss and glory is the reward of our works, but all the reward of God's free grace in Christ! All spiritual blessings are ours from eternity in Christ (Eph. 1:3). And that with which God blessed us in Christ before the world began, he will not take from us when this world is no more (Rom. 11:29).
A GRAND RESTITUTION
V. Fifthly, I must warn you who are yet without Christ, if you will not trust Christ you must be forever damned! ALL WHO ARE FOUND GUILTY OF SIN IN THAT GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF JUDGMENT SHALL BE CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE AND THERE BE MADE TO SUFFER THE UNMITIGATED WRATH OF ALMIGHTY GOD FOREVER!
One by one the Lord God will call you before his throne and judge you. As he says to you, "Depart ye cursed!" He will say to his holy angels, "Take him! Bind him! Cast him into outer darkness!"
A. There will be no mercy for you!
B. There will be no pity for you!
C. There will be no sorrow for you!
D. There will be no hope for you!
E. There will be no end for you!
To hell you deserve to go! To hell you must go! To hell you will go! Unless you flee to Christ and take refuge in him, in that great day the wrath of God shall seize you and destroy you forever! I beseech you now, by the mercies of God, be reconciled to God by trusting his darling Son! "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men!" Come to Christ now! ETERNITY IS BEFORE YOU!
1. Behold his infinite love (II Cor. 5:14-15).
2. Behold his finished atonement (II Cor. 5:21).
3. Behold his amazing, almighty, saving grace (II Cor. 5:17-21).
Application: In that great and terrible day I hope to be found in Christ, not having my own righteousness, but having his righteousness! How will it be for you in that day.
Illustration: Rowland Hill's Dream
 See Misc. Sermon # 1141 preached at Danville Tuesday evening 4\12\94 and Doctrine Series #78 preached at Danville on Sunday Morning 01/16/99.