Great White Throne Judgment

Part 2


Dr. John Hoole – June 1, 2014



A couple of months ago, I sat down with my oldest grandson to have a friendly game of Monopoly.  Each of us bought up a number of properties, putting houses and hotels on most of them.  I was hoping he would land on my properties, thus paying rent for his stay for stopping there.  Of course, he was trying to do the same with his properties to exact from me large payments for landing on his properties.  After he got all my money and I went bankrupt, we just put the fake money back into the box.  The game was over.


Is that what life here on earth is all about?  Is it true that when we breathe our last, everything just gets put back into the box and the game is over?  Is the bumper sticker right when it says: “The person with the most toys wins”?


No! Life here on earth is an eternal game (if I may for the moment call it a game).  When our life here is over, we may be gently laid into a box, but the game we played here will continue into the life beyond.  We will have a meeting, an appointment – one on One – with God.  Death is not a thick wall, but a soft curtain, through which we cannot see, but a curtain that beckons us nevertheless.


Today, we continue what we started to study last week – The Great White Throne Judgment  This judgment is the very last of all the judgments of God.  The biblical text where this judgment is outlines is found in Revelation 20.  Let’s read this passage again.


Revelation 20:11-15  NKJV


11     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.

12     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.

13     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.

14     Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15     And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.


Allow me to briefly review some of what we investigated and learned last week.




I already alluded that this is the last of God’s judgment.  It will take place following the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on this earth.  That is the chronology depicted in the 20th chapter of Revelation.  The first 7 verses of this chapter gives us details of this 1,000-year reign.  It is followed by the release of Satan from the bottomless pit when he deceives many.  Verse 10 tells us Satan is judge and cast into the Lake of Fire.  This is immediately followed by the remainder of the chapter depicting the White Throne.




Verse 11 tells us that the earth and heavens flee the presence of Him who sits on this white throne.  This judgment takes place somewhere in space.




The ungodly of all history will attend this judgment.  Verse 12 says of these attending this judgment, “the small and great stand before God.”


Picture the scene with me.  Host beyond host, rank behind rank.  Billions from among all nations of the world – both current and ancient nations.  They all stand together in the presence of the One who sits upon the throne.  But the gaze of the one on the throne, most likely, will make each person there think they are the only one He is looking at.


Revelation 20:12  (NIV) continues on to say:


12     ……and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.


The Great White Throne will be unlike any courtroom we have ever seen.  Yes, we see a defendant, a judge, the charges, the evidence and the sentencing.  But there is no jury.  There is a prosecuting attorney, but no defense attorney.  And there will be issued a sentence, but no appeal, no postponement, no waiting for the evidence to be gather.


One thing that makes this different than what we imagine about earthly courtrooms is this.  Those standing before Christ at the Great White Throne are not standing before Him for their trial.  They have come here for sentencing.


In our last two lessons, I presented the 7 judgments of the New Testament.  Let me list them for you again.


                   1.      The Judgment of a believer’s sins.

                   2.      The Judgment of a believer’s walk.

                   3.      The Judgment of Israel.

                   4.      The Judgment of Gentile nations.

                   5.      The Judgment of Fallen Angels.

                   6.      The Judgment Seat of Christ.

                   7.      The Great White Throne Judgment.


On this occasion, I want you to take a close look at these 7 judgments.  Not one of them are to determine whether a person is saved or not.


In our land today, justice is symbolized on courthouses by the figure of a blindfolded woman with scales  in her hand.  The point to be made is that she deals impartially, without reference to the parties involved.


However, with God it is different.  He judges with eyes that are wide open, eyes as of fire that can penetrate the most hardened criminal.  He sees opportunities they had and takes into account their predicament.  Justice is carefully administered – nothing overlooked.




The premise for God’s judgment is based on what is recorded in various sets of books.  These books become the evidence for this judgment.


1.      Exhibit A is a group of books.  Revelation 20:12 says that those who are present will be “judged out of those things which were written in the books (plural), according to their works.


2.      Exhibit B is a single book, called the book of life, in verse 12.


The Books


God is a great bookkeeper.  He writes about everything, and keeps good records of every person who has ever lived.  He writes all the time, or has angels that record every event.


Take an old bone to an anthropologist.  He measures it – weighs it – and tells you its history. He can tell you its age, weight, sex, and the health of the person to whom it once belonged.  It’s all written down – maybe a little different than we write things, but it is written.


Psychologists tell us that everything we have ever said or thought, felt or imagined, done or desired is written into the mysterious codes of our subconscious mind.  All that is needed is for the right stimulus to bring it all back.


God keeps accurate books, and He keeps them for the day of judgment.  The record God is keeping is far more thorough than the Nixon Tapes.  It is the thoughts and aspirations, secret lusts, vile imaginations, as well as things actually said and done.


Psalm 56:8 NKJV


8       You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?


Malachi 3:16 NKJV


16     Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name.


This Passage is really talking about his children, and not the sinner that will be at the White Throne.  I use it only to show additional evidence that God keeps meticulous records.  In this verse we are told  that when his people speak to one another, He listens and keeps a record of it all.


The records of God will come into clear and full view at the Great White Throne.  Most of what is decided at this judgment comes from the evidence found in these books.  These are the books that contain the history of every individual that ever appeared on this earth.  Their works, both good and evil are recorded in them.  From the sins of your youth to the folly and stubborn pride of your old age, they are all there.


And not only the works themselves, but the motives that prompted them, are recorded.


"I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings" (Jeremiah 17:10) (NKJV).


 “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13) (NKJV)


The evidence in these books by which each person there will be judged, is God’s infallible records containing a detailed, meticulous account of all the works each person has done.  God keeps a record of every person’s life in these books.


In Daniel 7:10  (NIV) we see another court scene.


10     A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him.  Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.




Before answering that question, let me say this.  Because God is omniscient (all-knowing), He Himself does not need these books of record.  Rather, these books are kept for the benefit of each unbeliever that is judged.  Specifically, the purpose of the books is to show everyone that God’s judgments are fair, just, and based upon facts.


Revelation 20 is silent as to the names of this multiple set of books, or what is found in each so what I am going to give you is only a possible set of books.  Also, the books that I mention only represent a segment of the full set of books.


The Word of God


The first Book is the Word of God – the Bible.  In the books, there will be every action, every decision acted upon, every motive of the heart.  This includes their response to the Word of God and the gospel.


John 12:48 NIV


48     There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.


Even if a person never read the Word of God, they will still be without excuse.  Romans 1:20 tells us that God’s law was written in their hearts.


The Book of Words


The second book is the Book of Words.  Every word you & I have ever uttered has been recorded in heaven.


Matthew 12:36-37 NIV


36     But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

37     For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."


There are people today who have never physically beaten anyone, or murdered anyone.  Yet they have committed horrible abuses with their words.  If you call someone stupid, or tell someone that he or she is useless or no good, you are committing an act of vicious brutality upon that person’s humanity.


Matthew 5:22 says “Whoever says, ‘You fool’, will be in danger of hell fire.”  This verse tells us that God looks upon the brutality of hateful words as a heinous sin.


If you gossip, you are committing character assassination whether what you said is technically true or not.  To God, character assassination is an act of murder.  At the judgment, an unbeliever will be held accountable for every careless, hurtful word that he or she has ever uttered.


James 3:9-10  (NIV) tells us:


9       With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 

10     Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.


God is keeping a record, not just of the words uttered verbally, but also the words you thought privately in your mind.


How many times did John Doe reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Did he scornfully push aside the "Jesus freak" who tried to stop him at a corner downtown to speak a few moments about his soul?  Did he quickly switch the channel of his television set from the Billy Graham crusade to some action-packed program featuring brutality, murder and mayhem?   The books record every significant deed... there he is again, lusting after his secretary cheating on his income tax form screaming in rage at a fellow worker.   Wait! There's our John Doe in church, but look what he's thinking "these pompous, self-righteous preachers just want my money...”  Our words will either acquit us or condemn us.


The Book of Conscience


Romans 2:14-15 NIV


14     Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law,

15    since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)


Our conscience can be abused and seared (1 Tim. 4:2), and, because of that, it cannot always be a perfect judge.  The records in this book must be taken in conjunction with the other books.


In verse 15, above, one’s conscience bears witness to every act they commit, and that conscience can be used to either accuse or defend us.


James 4:17 tells us: Therefore, to him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.


The accountability for obeying one’s own conscience will hold true for acts of omission (failing to do good) as well as acts of commission (doing evil).


The Book of Secrets


Romans 2:16 tells us that “God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”


Ecclesiastes 12:14 adds: For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.


Secret sins is doing evil in your thoughts, even though one’s outward actions appear good and kind.  It also includes acts committed in one’s own privacy, where no one else knows.


On the ungodly side of this issue if you relish pornography, you have (in the eyes of God) committed fornication.  And if you harbor secret thoughts of hatred and prejudice toward another person or race or culture then you are guilty (in the eyes of God) of violence, and possibly murder.


However, on the positive side if you long to feed and clothe the poor but lack the ability to help, I believe God accounts that you DID feed and clothe them.  The book of secrets records both the good and the evil within each person’s heart.


For those who might be guilty of evil secret thoughts or actions, you need to keep in mind what is said in Jeremiah 23:24.


Jeremiah 23:24 NIV


24     Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?"  declares the LORD.  "Do not I fill heaven and earth?"  declares the LORD.


At the judgment of unbelievers, these good and evil secrets will be weighed in the scale of God’s justice.  Whether or not the books that I have named for you are actually what constitutes the books of Revelation 20:12, it is still true that all these things will constitute parts of the Judgment.


Aside from all these books where we find a record of all that a person has done there is one more book that we have yet to discuss.  It is mentioned in Revelation 20:12.


The Book of Life.


This book is referred to specifically 8 times in the Bible.  It is also alluded to in other places.


In Revelation 21:27, this book is called The Lamb’s book of lifeIn that verse, we are told that only those whose name is in this book are allowed to enter the beautiful New Jerusalem.


On the other side, all those at the Great White Throne Judgment will not have their names written in the Book of Life.


In Exodus 32:32, Moses makes a huge request of God.  He says, concerning the sins of Israel, “Please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” In the following verse, God speaks about the book in response to Moses.


In the New Testament, the Book of Life consistently refers to the register of those who have received eternal life in Christ.


Philippians 4:3 NIV


3       Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.


Revelation 13:8 NIV


8       All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. 


The Book of Life has been variously construed as originally containing the names of all human being.  But if a person failed to receive salvation, his or her name was then blotted out.  Another concept is that the book only contains the names of those who have been saved.  I believe the latter position is probably more defensible.


Those whose names are listed in the book of life, have received God’s Grace.  They will go to heaven based on the works of Jesus Christ, not based on their works.  Those whose names are not listed in the Lamb’s book will instead receive God’s Justice.  They will go to the Lake of Fire based on their own decisions.


If you are an unbeliever, the choice of destination – heaven or hell – is yours alone.  To go to hell, all you need to do is absolutely nothing.  To go to heaven, you must decide to choose Jesus Christ as Savior, but that decision has to be made before you die.