Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pondering the Great White Throne of Judgment...

Last night in Q&A I answered a question regarding the Great White Throne of Judgment as described in Revelation 20:11-15. Without argument this is one of the most gripping and serious passages in the entire Bible. Particular verse 15 which states that “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” We are dealing with a most sobering passage of Scripture.

Upon being asked who was going to stand before this Great White Throne of Judgment, I exclaimed that I was not, nor would any other believers having professed faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. At this point a statement was emphatically made that every person would stand before this fearful Great White Throne and be judged. Some of the biblical reasons for my disagreement with that statement follow.

1. The sins of the Christ follower were judged at the Cross. On the day I accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, I received total and complete forgiveness of my sin. The blood of Jesus Christ was shed so that my sin would be atoned and His righteousness would become my righteousness. Through this glorious act of divine grace, I received positional (imputed) righteousness before God for eternity. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that “For our sake He (God) made Him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.” Couple this magnificent act of mercy, love and grace on God’s part with Romans 8:1 and the believer rests assured that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” When one is “in Christ Jesus” it means that he has been purchased/redeemed by the blood of Christ shed at the cross and is forgiven because the sin debt he could not pay has been “paid in full” by the Lord Jesus. As such, the sins of the Christ follower were judged at the Cross when Jesus shed His sinless blood and there will be no future judgment of sin upon the Christian. Because of this, I can rest assured that I will not stand before the horrible Great White Throne of Judgment.

2. The Great White Throne of Judgment is for the unredeemed of all the ages. This is the last court that will ever convene and come to order. The unredeemed dead of all the ages will be arraigned before this throne, guilty of crimes committed against God. The out-and-out flagrant sinner will be there along with those who rejected Jesus because they felt salvation came through just being a good person. Hitler, Stalin, and other world leaders who sought power on this earth will be finally and ultimately judged for eternity as they come before this throne. There will be no place to hide. There will be no cross examination or rebuttal. All that has been done in opposition to God – particularly the rejection of God’s Son – will have been recorded in the books that testify to the guilt of all who stand before this throne. When the sentence is read – “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41) – God’s justice will be fulfilled and the unredeemed of all the ages will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity.

3. The “Bema” seat of Judgment is not the Great White Throne of Judgment. But, you may reply, the Bible says “we must all appear before the judgment (bema) seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). This is exactly true, but this is not the Great White Throne of Judgment referred to in Revelation 20. This is a time when all Christ followers are before God and the work done, or not done, for Christ will be judged with rewards distributed accordingly. Scripture is clear in stating “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). So, yes, all Christians will be judged, but not at the Great White Throne of Judgment and not for our sin to determine our eternal destiny. The works that a Christian has done for Jesus Christ post-salvation will be examined and judged to determine reward and on that Scripture is very clear.

What does this mean to me? First, if you are a believer in Christ, you have eternal security in Jesus. You are now to live each day with an eye on eternity, honoring Jesus Christ with your life on this earth through what you do for Him. An unproductive Christ follower is an oxymoron. Every Christian is to produce fruit for the Kingdom of God and will be rewarded accordingly. Second, if you are not a believer in Christ, you have no eternal security in Jesus but only a fearful pending judgment that is to come before you are cast into the lake of fire. Call upon Jesus Christ today for salvation so you too can be saved. God's free gift of salvation is available by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Why not confess your belief in Him and receive salvation right now. What are you waiting for?