Christ and The Great White Throne Judgment


“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them” (Revelation 20:11)


Revelation 20:11-15


When will the day of judgment be? Who will be judged? Who will be the judge? Will there be one judgment or two? Will there be one judgment for believers and another for unbelievers? Will we be judged first by Christ for our sins and second for our works as believers? These are questions about which there is much needless confusion. A careful study of the teachings of the Word of God about the day of judgment will help to clarify our thinking about that great day. No text in the Bible more clearly teaches us what will happen on that day than Revelation 20:11-15. Read that passage carefully. This is the 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. 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!


     However, 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 believers, 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). In the Word of God, we do not find God’s saints dreading that day, but looking forward to it, even anticipating it, with peace. If, as believers, as sinners saved by God's free and sovereign grace, through the sin-atoning blood and imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, we understand what the Bible says about that great day, we will look forward to it, too. With those things in mind, let's see what the Bible teaches about the great white throne judgment. 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.


1. 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! The Son of God is personally coming again to this earth ( Acts 1:9-11).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;. Job 19:25-27). 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.


     The second coming of Christ will be sudden, unannounced, unexpected, and climatic. Christ will come as a thief in the night, without warning (I Thess. 5:2). He 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 the Word of God 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). 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. Yet, we must always look for our Lord Jesus to 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). Christ is coming now. Soon he shall appear. And 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 (2 Tim 4:8; James 1:12).


2. When Christ comes, there will be a great, general resurrection of all who have ever lived upon the earth (Rev 20:13; John 5:28-29)


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 (I Th 4:13-18). All the Old Testament saints and all the saints and martyrs of this age, all who sleep in Jesus, shall be raised from their graves! Then, immediately after the sleeping saints rise, all believers living upon the earth shall be changed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air (I Cor 15:51-58). As our Lord descends in the brilliant glory of his second coming, 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! After that, 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 those who believe not, there is no music in the resurrection. The Lord himself shall issue a summons they cannot resist. They shall stand in terror before him whose grace they have despised and against whom they have sinned! The body and soul now united in sin shall be united in horror to be judged of God and suffer his wrath forever in hell!


3. Immediately after the resurrection, we must all be judged by God according to the record of our works (Rev 20:12-13)


"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb 9:27). The Judge before whom we must stand is the God-man, whom we have crucified (John 5:22; Acts 17:31; II Cor 5:10). 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 they have ever committed, in mind, in heart, and in deed shall be exposed! "Judgment was set; and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:10). 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?...The Book of Divine Omniscience (Mal. 3:5)...The Book of Divine Remembrance (Mal. 3:16)...The Book of Creation (Rom. 1:18-20)...The Book of God's Providence (Rom. 2:4-5)...The Book of Conscience (Rom. 2:15)...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).}...And the Book of the Gospel (Rom. 2:16).


     But there are some against whom no crimes, no sins, no offenses can be found, not even by the omniscient eye of God himself! "In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve" (Jer 50:20) Their names are found in another book, a book which God himself wrote and sealed before the worlds were made. It is called, “The Book of Life.” In this book there is a record of divine election, the name of Christ our divine Surety, a record of perfect righteousness (Jer. 23:6 CF 33:16), a record of complete satisfaction, and the promise of eternal life. 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 retain a remnant of the Roman doctrine of purgatory, by which they hope to hold over God's saints the whip and terror of the law. There is absolutely no sense in which those who trust Christ shall ever be made to pay for their sins! Our sins were imputed to Christ and shall never be imputed to us again (Rom. 4:8). Christ paid our debt to God's law and justice; and God will never require us to pay. God who has blotted out our transgressions will never write them again. He who covered our sins will never uncover them! The perfect righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us. On the day of judgment, God's elect are never represented as having done any evil, but only good (Matt. 25:31-40). 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 his Church. God will display the glory of his grace in us. And we will glory in our God.


4. 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. (Rev 22:11). Who are these perfectly righteous ones? They are all who are saved by God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ (I Cor. 6:9-11; Rom. 8:1, 32-34). 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. Heaven was earned and purchased for all God's elect by Christ. We were predestined to obtained our inheritance from eternity (Eph. 1:11). Christ has taken possession of heaven's glory as our forerunner (Heb. 6:20). We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17). Our Savior gave all the glory he earned as our Mediator to all his elect (John 17:5, 20). And in Christ every believer is worthy of heaven's glory (Col. 1:12). Glorification is but the consummation of salvation; and salvation is by grace alone! That means 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).


5. 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, God will call the wicked before his throne and judge them. As he says, "Depart ye cursed," he will say to his holy angels, "Take him! Bind him! Cast him into outer darkness!" In that day there will be no mercy, no pity, no sorrow, no hope, and no end for the wicked! To hell they deserve to go! To hell they must go! To hell they will go! Let all who read these lines beware. 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!: In that great and terrible day let us be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness, but the righteousness of God in Christ.


Donald S. Fortner, Pastor

Grace Baptist Church of Danville

2734 Old Stanford Road

Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438

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Telephone 859-236-8235

Cell Phone 859-576-3400




Don Fortner



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