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THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 11, 2012

“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” (Revelation 20:12).

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).


In 1962 I read George Orwell’s science fiction book 1984. Back then 1984 seemed a long way off. But time marches on. 1984 came and went. Back in the 1960s Hong Kong was still under British rule. Their control of Hong Kong would not expire until the year 1997. That seemed far away to me back then. But Hong Kong was returned to China fifteen years ago. 1997 came and went. Time marches on. In 1982 my wife and I were visiting Rome, on a side trip from Israel. We stood in the Sistine Chapel, looking at Michelangelo’s fresco of “The Last Judgment.” The last judgment of the unsaved dead may seem a long way off to you this morning. But time marches on.

Sooner than you think, the Last Judgment will come. On that day all of mankind will stand before the Great White Throne. The dead, small and great, will stand before God. The “books” will be opened, and the unsaved dead will be judged out of God’s books.

Time marches on. Sooner than you think, the Last Judgment will come! On that solemn day two things will happen.

I. First, the unsaved dead will be judged according to their works.

The Apostle John saw it coming in a vision. He said,

“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 the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:12-13).

Lost people often think that this will be a time when God weighs their good deeds and their bad deeds. They think that, if they did more good deeds than bad, they will be allowed into Heaven. But none of that is in the Bible, and certainly not in this passage of Scripture! Dr. John R. Rice said there is

No mercy here. Nothing is said about forgiveness, about God’s grace, about atonement. All these have been scorned [mocked and rejected]; now only righteous judgment applies. People go to Hell because they ought to. They deserve Hell... Proverbs 29:1 says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Sin must be paid for. Those who reject the sacrifice of Christ...must pay their own debt for eternal, never-repented, never-forgiven sin (John R. Rice, D.D., Behold, He Cometh! A Verse-by-Verse Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1977, pp. 304-305; comment on Revelation 20:12).

In the St. George Chapel at Westminster Abbey in England there are four books containing the names of 60,000 people who were killed in the bombing of London during World War II. One of those books lies open and a light shines down on the names recorded on those pages. Every day a page is turned.

That reminds me of the “books” that God will open at the Last Judgment. When those books are opened, the names of every lost sinner will appear, along with a list of every sin they have ever committed. The Bible says,

“God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing...” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

And Jesus said,

“That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).

Every “secret thing” that lost people have done is recorded in those books of judgment. Every “idle word” that they have spoken is recorded, and they “shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Jesus said,

“There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known” (Luke 12:2).

Every lost sinner will be confronted with the sins of his life at the Last Judgment when “God shall judge the secrets of men” (Romans 2:16).

“And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works”
       (Revelation 20:12).

Dr. Rice said,

Men will be judged according to their works. That means, then, that judgment will be more severe for some than for others. Hell will be more tolerable for some than for others, depending on their works. All Christ-rejecters go to Hell, but Hell will not be the same for all (Rice, ibid., p. 305).

Jesus said,

“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee”
       (Matthew 11:21-24).

We see in these verses that there are degrees of punishment in Hell. The person who hears the Gospel Sunday after Sunday, but never comes to Christ, will have a worse place in Hell than those in Sodom, “But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (Matthew 11:24). “They were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:13). “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

The prophet Daniel said that those who are not saved “shall awake... to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). What a horrible thought! You will die, but that is not the end – not at all! After you die you “shall awake...to shame and everlasting contempt.” Dr. John Blanchard, a British author, said,

What do Daniel’s words tell us about sinners’ emotions in hell? No instrument known to man can measure the pain caused by guilt; and no human mind can imagine the agony caused in hell by an accusing conscience which has total recall and is impossible to silence...By their sinful, self-centered lives they told lies about God, slandered and libeled their Creator. In hell, they will realize the full meaning and the extent of their crime. Not least, they will be forced to admit that although God had given them “life and breath and everything else”... they had squandered his generosity by living for themselves. No wonder Daniel says they will experience shame.
      But he also speaks of “contempt,” which translates the Hebrew word deraon. Its only other use in Scripture is where Isaiah says that those condemned to Hell will be [“abhorring unto all flesh”]. Sinners in hell will have no company and no sympathy. Everyone there will be [abhorred] loathed by everyone else, which will add both to their distress and to their shame. The inhabitants of hell will be caught in a [whirlpool] of accusation and guilt, recrimination and regret, shame and contempt...
      We are told that [they] will be [“tormented with fire and brimstone”] and that [“the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever”], Revelation 14:10-11. In one form or another the word “torment” occurs another fifteen times in the New Testament. Sometimes it refers to severe distress caused by sickness or disease, and at least once to being tortured, but without exception the word carries with it the meaning of severe, conscious suffering. In the case of hell’s torments this suffering will last for ever. Over 1,500 years ago John Chrysostom [said], “The damned shall suffer an end without end, a death without death, a decay without decay...they shall have punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without succour, crying without comfort, torment without ease” (John Blanchard, D.D., Whatever Happened to Hell? Evangelical Press, 2005 edition, pp. 145-146, 154).

“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”
       (Revelation 20:12).

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

II. Second, those found in the Book of Life will escape this judgment.

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

The prophet Daniel spoke of the “book of life” when he said, “At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). Jesus said, “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). And the Apostle Paul spoke of his fellowlaborers in Philippi, “whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3).

The “book of life” contains the names of all those whom God has chosen to save. All those who have eternal life are recorded by name in the “book of life.” If you are converted your name is in the “book of life.” If you are unconverted at the time of death your name and your sins are recorded in “the books.” Is your name in the “book of life,” or is it in “the books”? If your name is in “the books” you will be sent to the lake of fire. Dr. John F. Walvoord said, “Failure to have one’s name in the Book of Life is just ground for being cast into the lake of fire, as that person’s sins have not been forgiven and he or she has not entered into God’s rest” (John F. Walvoord, Th.D., Major Bible Prophecies, Zondervan Publishing House, 1991, p. 411).

If your name is in the “book of life” you will be with Christ in Heaven for all eternity. The song that Mr. Griffith sang before this sermon says it all,

Lord, I care not for riches,
   Neither silver nor gold;
I would make sure of Heaven,
   I would enter the fold.
In the book of Thy kingdom,
   With its pages so fair,
Tell me, Jesus, my Saviour,
   Is my name written there?
Is my name written there,
   On the page white and fair?
In the book of Thy kingdom,
   Is my name written there?
(“Is My Name Written There?” by Mary A. Kidder, 1820-1905).

As I said, if your name is not written in the book of life, you are doomed to eternal torment.

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Is your name written in the book of life? There is only one way to make sure that your name is there. Jesus said,

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47).

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned...” (John 3:17-18).

Repent – turn from your sinful way of life, and believe on the Saviour. Don’t just believe things about Jesus. Believe “on” Jesus. The Greek word translated “on” is “eis.” It means “into” (George Ricker Berry). The modern translations say “believes in him.” But that hides the meaning. The good, old King James Version says “on.” That’s much better. It shows that you must come to Jesus, and enter in to Him, and rest on Him. “He that believeth on him is not condemned” (John 3:18). You must believe on Jesus, and be in Him!

That simple thought can never be grasped by the natural man. He will try to understand it, but fail every time. Only those whose names are in the book of life will be enabled to come to Jesus Himself. Only they will believe “on him.” Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).

Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for man’s sin. Jesus shed His Blood so sinful man could be washed clean from all iniquity. I pray that you will turn from your selfish life-style and come to Jesus Christ Himself.

Is my name written there,
   On the page white and fair?
In the book of Thy kingdom,
   Is my name written there?

Some day that will be the only thing that matters to you! Is your name in the book of life? Remember,

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Is your name in the book of life? It is if you come to Jesus! Jesus said,

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

Come to Him by faith this very morning and you will be saved from your sins for all time, and for all eternity! Amen and amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Revelation 20:11-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Is My Name Written There?” (by Mary A. Kidder, 1820-1905).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;0and 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” (Revelation 20:12).

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

I.   First, the unsaved dead will be judged according to their works,
Revelation 20:12-13; Proverbs 29:1; Ecclesiastes 12:14;
Matthew 12:36; Luke 12:2; Romans 2:16; Matthew 11:21-24;
Revelation 20:13, 15; Daniel 12:2; Revelation 14:10-11.

II.  Second, those found in the Book of Life will escape this judgment,
Revelation 20:15; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3;
John 6:47; 3:17-18; 6:44, 37.