Great White Throne Judgment

Part 3


Dr. John Hoole – June 8 & 15, 2014



As we begin our lesson today on the Great White Throne Judgment, let’s review what we have learned thus far concerning this final judgment of God.


1.      The judge is Jesus Christ Himself.


2.      He will sit on a throne somewhere in space – away from the earth and sky.


3.      Those being judged are all the ungodly of all generations since Adam and Eve.


4.      It occurs after the 1,000-year millennial reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.


5.      This resurrection is the Second Resurrection, in contrast to the first resurrection mentioned earlier in Revelation 20.


6.      Satan will already have been cast into the Lake of Fire.


7.      This judgment does not determine whether a person is a Christian or not.  Rather, it is for sentencing.


8.      The evidence for sentencing in recorded in a set of multiple books.


When it comes to discussing topics found in the Bible, Hell and the Final Judgment are not often what people like to consider.  For those who arrive at the Great White Throne Judgment will undoubtedly be facing the single most terrifying event ever.


We are accustomed to human judges.  We know their partial and imperfect verdicts.  In the presence of the Almighty, all previous judgments are rendered useless.  Many men and women acquitted on earth before a human judge will now be found guilty before God.


People who were accustomed to perks, special privileges, and the best legal representation, now stand as naked in the presence of God, their Creator.  They are to be judged by a standard that is light-years beyond them.  The standard is God Himself.  Most assuredly, they will feel what one writer calls unfamiliar awfulness.


I am going to present to you stories of three people in the United States.  Two of them are about politicians, while one is about a man with great wealth.  Most of you will recognize at all three.  As I present them, I am not making a political statement.  It is what they said that should gain our attention.


Starting with the oldest, the first story takes place in April 1991 in Washington D.C.  At a memorial service for Lee Atwater, Secretary of State James Baker said: “It may be hard to imagine Atwater, a self-confessed bad boy, with the angels.  But I’m convince that is just where he is.  And the angels are simply going to have to adjust.”


The second story took place 8 years ago, in 2006.  In that year, Warren Buffet gave $30.7 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.  In the meeting where Buffet did this, he stated:  There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this a great way.”  While I applaud his desire to rid the earth of incurable diseases, doing so does not automatically ensure one’s entrance to Heaven.


Matthew 19:24 NKJV


24     And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."


There are two comments to be made here.  Wealth can often be used as a lever to gain things denied to poorer people, but as one of the Old Testament writers, Solomon, wrote, “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath.” (Proverbs 11:4).


The third story took place just a couple months ago.  It involves the former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg.  In a story published on April 16, 2014, the mayor is quoted as saying:  “I’ve earned my place in heaven.”


I’m sorry, but none find themselves in heaven because of anything they did.  Admission to heaven comes to an individual only by accepting what Christ did.  None of us can do anything to earn heaven.


Those who are judged at the White Throne come from all walks of life and degrees of greatness.  But their position and status in this world will not be a factor at this judgment.  People’s age, position, prestige, power, popularity, wealth, or poverty makes no difference.  They will all be here.


For the first time in their lives they stand now in the presence of unclouded righteousness.  They will be asked questions for which they know the answers.  Their lives are present before them.


These multitudes standing before the throne are diverse in size and importance.  Revelation 20:12 says, “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne.”  Lives whose paths did not cross on earth come together here.  The attorney and he storekeeper, the farmer and the king.  Those who lived a private life on earth awake from death in a realm in which human differences do not matter.  The dead of all ages stand together: black, white, yellow, brown.


But those standing before Christ at the Great White Throne are not standing before Him for their trial.  They have come here for sentencing.


The trial was completed prior to coming to this place and the verdict has already been issued.  This is the sentencing phase.  Let me further explain what I mean and how this is true.


In our last two lessons, I presented the 7 judgments of the New Testament.  Not one of them are to determine whether a person is saved or not.




John 3:18  (NASU) will help us out here.


18     He who believes in Him (Christ) is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


John 3:36 (NKJV) adds:


36     He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."


As long as a person continues to NOT believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, they have already been judged.  And if a person dies in that condition, their destiny is fixed for eternity.  All that is needed now is the sentence to be given – the Judge’s verdict.


If a person dies without accepting Jesus Christ as their much needed and personal Savior the Bible says they will go immediately to Hades.  While there, they will be awaiting their resurrection and appearance at the Great White Throne.




Revelation 20:12 NKJV


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.


It is a person’s works that are being judged here.  Or, as the NIV puts it, a person is being judged “according to what they had done.”  Works are important to God, not as a means to gain salvation, but as evidence that we have obtained salvation in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10).


All judgments that occur after death deal only with works/deeds.  This includes the Great White Throne Judgment, where unbelievers will stand as well as the Judgment Seat of Christ, where believers will be judged.  We will be studying the details of the believer’s judgment in a later lesson, but allow me to show you a couple of Scriptures here.


2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV


10     For we (believers) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.


The phrase “while in the body” means “while they were still physically alive.”  So this judgment will look at the works – the things a person has done – while they were still alive in their body.


1 Corinthians 3:12-15  (NASU) is speaking of the Judgment Seat of Christ.


12     Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

13     Each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.

14     If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.

15     If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.


Again, let me say that all judgments that occur after a person dies, are judgments of the person’s works – what they have done while still alive.  For the righteous, it will constitute a time of reward (1 Cor. 4:5).  For the wicked, their works are the basis of their judgment, their sentence.  Their sentence will be determined by the records kept in the set of multiple books.




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 20:12This book is referred to specifically 8 times in the Bible.  It is also alluded to in other places.


Philippians 4:3 NKJV


3       And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.


And here is one from the Old Testament.


Daniel 12:1 NKJV


12     "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.”


Though the word “life” or “living” is not used here, this book seems to be part of the same concept.


This passage in Daniel is speaking about the future Tribulation, and is specifically addressing the Jews who will be alive at the end of that 7-year period of what Jeremiah calls “the time of Jacobs Troubles.” [Jeremiah 30:7]Those Jews who have their name written in the book will receive miraculous divine protection.


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.


There is at least one theologian that I admire who takes a different view of this book.  Dr. David L. Cooper says the Book of Life is different from the Lamb’s Book of Life.  He believes the Book of Life is a book in which appears the name of every person born.  But He believes the Lamb’s Book of Life holds the names of all who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Most theologians, however, consider these two references speaking about one book, not two.


The question raised with reference to the Book of Life is: When are names put into the book.  Are names entered in the book of life at birth or when a person becomes a believer?


David writes Psalm 69, which is a Messianic Psalm.  As sometimes is the case, David writes about things he is going through, and then inserts some of those things speaking about the coming Messiah.


Psalms 69:27-28 NKJV


27     Add iniquity to their iniquity, And let them not come into Your righteousness.

28     Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, And not be written with the righteous.


                   Are there two books or records mentioned in verse 28?


The first phrase mentions the book of the living, and in the second, written with the righteous.  Both phrase could be referring to the same record.  In any case, this verse speaks of those who are blotted out of the book of living.


WHEN are names recorded in the Book of Life?


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.


Charles Spurgeon wrote that names are added to the Book of Life only when a person puts their trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.  We have a song in our hymnal, “There’s a New Name Written Down in Glory.”  The writer of this hymn certainly believed names are added as a person comes to Christ.  However, John Walvoord, one of the greatest of eschatological theologians, holds the position that all people who ever lived have their names in the book.


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.”  First, let me say that this is the very first mention in the Bible of the book of God.  While this verse doesn’t include “book of life” does not mean it is not referring to such.


While Moses is truly angry with Aaron and the people for making and worshiping a golden calf, he still had compassion on the Israelites.  His request of God is similar to a statement made by the apostle Paul, in Romans 9:3.


3       For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,


Back to the request of Moses, in the following verse, God responds.


Exodus 32:33 NKJV


33     And the Lord said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.“


It appears the people’s names were in the book and removed by their sinning.  Some think Psalm 139 informs us that names are written in the book at birth, or even before birth.


Psalms 139:16 NIV


16     Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.


Now let’s go to the New Testament.


Revelation 13:8 NKJV


8       All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.


All people during the Tribulation will worship the Beast – the Antichrist.  That is, all whose names have not been recorded in the Book of Life.  I think the implication, without stating it, is that those whose name is in the book will not worship the Antichrist.  This verse, if our English translation is accurate, seems to imply the names of those who worship the Antichrist were never in the Book of Life.


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.


We have noticed that the Bible says that both the Judgment Seat of Christ and the White Throne Judgment are not to determine whether a person is saved or not.




At the beginning of this lesson, I stated that the people who stand before this judgment are not going to be told the verdict of their being saved or not.  We have already determined, according to John 3:18, that a person is already condemned if they have rejected Jesus Christ.  I said at that time this judgment doesn’t determine guilt or innocence but they are all standing before the throne for sentencing.  This is the punishment phase, not the trial of guilt or innocence.


With regard to the Book of Life, those that are at this judgment are all alike.  None of them have their names written in the book.  With regard to the Books (plural), every person is different.  And it is these books that are the critical evidence at this judgment.


Many people assume that all unrepentant sinners will experience an identical punishment for eternity.  I believe, however, that the Bible reveals that a holy and just God will judge every individual sinner according to the deeds of his life.  The result will be that God will punish him in the Lake of Fire according to those deeds.


Although the unsaved will be punished throughout all eternity, I believe the Scriptures give ample evidence that there will be degrees of severity in their sentencing.


Let’s look at some of those Scriptures.


Luke 12:47-48 NIV


47     That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.

48     But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.


These verses tell us that both will be punished, but the degree of punishment will be according to the knowledge they had.


Look at what Christ says in Matthew 11.


Matthew 11:20-24 NIV


20     Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.

21     "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!  If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

22     But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.

23     And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.

24     But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."


Luke 20:46-47 NKJV


46     Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts,

47     Who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."


John 19:11 NIV


11     Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."


I think it should be obvious that there is a strong possibility .that some sins will be weighed differently than others.  I don’t know exactly how God is going to make people have a variety of degrees of punishment in the Lake of Fire.  The theological background to degrees of punishment is that God is fair and just.


Romans 2:2 NKJV


2       But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.


We might summarize the judgments of God this way.  Just as believers differ in how they respond to God’s law and therefore in their reward in heaven so unbelievers differ in their response to God’s law and therefore in their punishment in hell.  Our Lord is just in all that He does.  None will be able to argue with the decision.


On one side we have a good man who hears the Gospel once.  He lived where there was no gospel preaching.  Only one time did he ever hear the Gospel.  He is a good husband, a good father, but he rejected gospel of Jesus Christ.  Yes, he will go to the Lake of Fire because he did not receive Jesus as his Savior.  But his punishment will be less than the person who heard the gospel every Sunday, but would not take Jesus as his Savior.


It would be a mistake to think that those who appear at the Great White Throne Judgment are punished with a different standard than Christians who are enjoying heaven.  God is just – He exacts the same from every sinner.


Here is the big difference.  Christ bore the wrath of God on behalf of those who believe in Him.  He, as the God-man, personally took the punishment of God so that those who believe in Him will be exempt from the Lake of fire.  Either we must personally bear infinite punishment for our sins or else our sins have to be laid upon an infinite being, namely, Christ.  Either way, God is eminently just.


This explains why only those who believe in Christ will be spared the eternal wrath of God.  His suffering accomplished in a few hours what purely human suffering can never do.  Christ is our sin-bearer, our shelter, our Savior.  He forgives us and reconciles us to God.  Romans 8:1 says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”




Let me end this lesson by refreshing several things we have discussed in the last three weeks.  I want you to review how many “seconds” we have talked about.  No, I am not talking about the kind of seconds that make up a minute.  I am talking about the “seconds” that follow a first.


In the first place, look or think about the “Second Resurrection.”  God says, in Revelation 20:6, that those who are part of the first resurrected are blessed.  Once the righteous have been taken, all that is left are the unsaved.


There is going to be a Second resurrection.  And the participants in this resurrection are NOT blessed of God.  It is a sad day for those who are part of the second resurrection.  That day is the day of their sentencing.


This brings me to the next “second.”  I am speaking of the “Second judgment.”  There are two primary judgments that deal with eternity.  Every person who has ever lived will be at one of these two judgments.  The Judgment Seat of Christ and The Great White Throne Judgment.


Those who participate in the Second Resurrection, are ushered to the second of these two judgments.  The second resurrection is a sobering thing to ponder.  The unsaved of all time – regardless of what century they live in, whether before the time of Christ or after, will be resurrected at the end of Christ’s millennial kingdom.  They will face the great white throne judgment.


We are told that the face of him who sits on the Great White Throne causes the earth and sky to flee away.  Standing before the Lord, there will probably be billions of people who wish they could flee from that space – but will not be able.


You could say that one of the large differences between these two judgments is the subject of “recognition.”


The Bible tells us that Christ knows and recognizes those who are his.  Not so at the second judgment.  To these He will say: Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matt 25:41 NIV)


Recognition wasn’t there.  He says He never knew them (Matthew 7:23).


We’ve considered the Second Resurrection and the Second Judgment.”  Now I would like you to think about the “Second Adam.”


1 Corinthians 15:22 tells us that we all began in sin, as a result of the first Adam.  We all die because of the first Adam.  We all have a sinful nature because of the first Adam.  But God made a way for us to exit off the family tree of the first Adam and be grafted into the family tree of Christ, the Second Adam, through adoption.




         It is the SECOND ADAM.


Every person at this judgment will be a person who decided to stay in the family of the first Adam and rejected the offer to be adopted into the family of the Second AdamThis Judge will view the evidence provided in the books, and will come forth with His sentence.  All will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire which is called the “Second Death” (Revelation 20:14).


Those who are not part of the blessed at the First Resurrection will most assuredly participate in the Second Resurrection and be ushered to the Second Judgment, and stand before the Second Adam, which will result in the Second Death, where fires never end.


Maybe there is someone here today that would say,  Teacher, how can I escape the second resurrection?  How can I escape the second judgment?  How can I escape the awful time of facing the Second Adam?  How can I escape the fires of the second death?


I am certainly glad you asked.  There is one more “second” that I have not mentioned.  You can escape the second resurrection, the second judgment, standing unsaved before the Second Adam and escape the second death by being a participant in the Second Birth.


Jesus said “you must be born again.”  Anybody who has the second birth will not have to suffer the second death.  The choice is yours.


You can be born once and die twice or you can be born twice and die only once.


Right now, Jesus stand before you with only one book in his hand.  The Book of Life.  My question for you is this – Is your name in the book?  That’s the one thing that matter right now.  Have you been born again with the Second Birth?