Sunday, June 9, 2013

The White Throne


The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
   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. 
20:10+12

   And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints 
11:18 

   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. 
20:13-15 
   

Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
20:14-15


 Judgement


   I saw the dead; we recall that those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus…lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.
20:4-5.  We have come to the point in the narrative where the thousand years are finished, 20:7, and the last war is done with.  Satan has been disposed of, 20:10, and now the rest of the dead have come back to life. 20:12.  

Except for those martyred for Christ, very human, stands before the throne for judgement.  According to true and honest accounting practices, the books were opened.  This is not a time for guessing, or for whitewashing.  It is not a time for embellishing good deeds or noble intentions.  The open books will reveal all that really matters.

   It is important to realize that another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.  This tells us that it is not until this point, in the affairs of the world, that anyone (except martyrs for Christ) is allowed to enter heaven.


Those who have lived good lives but were not born again are also destined for the same judgement seat.  Those who have lived decidedly wicked lives must also meet the Judge at the same time. 

  Those who have died “in Christ” have been waiting in Paradise for this day.  The Bible does not teach that when we die we immediately go to heaven or to the place of eternal torment.  Saint Paul wrote, since it is a righteous thing with God ... to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels. 2 Thes. 1:6-7.   That rest is coming at the return of Christ - not before.

  They were judged according to their works.  This word, works, basically means, to toil, or, an occupation, but it also can mean, an act or a manner of acting as in a lifestyle. 
Strong.  It is good to remember that when we are standing at the Judgement seat the great accuser is no longer in the presence of God; he has been cast into the lake of fire. 20:10.  

Unregenerate people will stand alone, face to face, with the Judge.  There will be no one to witness against them and the only thing pleading their cause will be their works and their lifestyle.  Saint Paul again, since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation ... when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels. 2 Thes. 1:6-7

   The sea, death and the unseen all delivered up the dead, which were in them. Now they have yielded up their dead for judgement.  Death and the unseen are now empty, with no future purpose, and consequently they are cast into the lake of fire, to join the dragon, the beast and the false prophet.
20:14.

   Being cast into the lake of fire is the second death.   In 20:6 we read that those who were resurrected in the first resurrection (the martyrs) had no need for concern over the second death.   Judgement for all others, Christians and non-Christians, will be at the white throne.  


Christians, who have stood the test and remained true to Christ, that is, all those whose, names have not been blotted out of the book of life, also need not fear the second death.  

Unger++, in his Bible dictionary, states that the names of all people are in the book of life at birth and that the names are only removed from the book of life when a person, at his or her last chance, refuses to accept Christ as Savior (or if a person turns back from following Christ).  

The spirit of God will not plead indefinitely with a sinner to repent.  People who put off "turning to God" until just before they die have no way of knowing whether or not the spirit of Jehovah will call them at that time.  For them any rejection might be the last.

   All non-believers, those who have not actually accepted Christ, so as to have their manner of life changed (Wuest#) will be judged by their lifestyle alone; as is shown by these words, the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

    And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.  Wuest#, whose translation is (supposedly), based on the best manuscripts available, has made an interesting omission in 20:15.  His text does not include the part that says, anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.  

Based on the teachings of Christ it is obvious that many who have done good deeds will rise to the resurrection of life.  The Bible makes it apparent that not all non-Christians will be cast into the lake of fire.  Only those, whose lifestyle was decidedly wicked, and those whose names are no longer in the Book of Life, will experience that fate.  

The Bible does not teach that all non-believers will spend eternity in the lake of fire.  In this connection we recall the words of Christ; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. John 5:28-29.  

Christ is saying that the resurrection that non-Christians are destined for is in accordance with their works; their lifestyle.  Of course, it goes without saying that not only Christians do good deeds.  There are many who do not even profess to be Christians, who, by their good works, put many Christians to shame!

    To strengthen the argument, let us look at another example Christ left Come, you blessed...inherit the kingdom...I was thirsty and you gave me drink...Then He will also say to those on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:...I was thirsty and you gave me no drink...and these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Matthew 25:34-46.  

Very distinctly, the rewards and punishments are commensurate with the works done by the individual.  I am well aware that this sounds like salvation by works, but we cannot just ignore these, and other Bible portions of this nature, just because they do not agree with what the church has taught us.  

Obviously, though, this is not a teaching of salvation by works, because those who are not saved will not spend eternity in heaven.  It is simply stating, as Christ did, that their eternal destination depends on their lifestyle.  There is a third option; life on the new earth.  There will be much more about this thought later.

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++ Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger
# An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.
   

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