The Final Exam 2/20/00

Revelation 20:11-15

Jesus Christ is spoken of as the One who will judge the world: “because He [God] has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

This verse attests to the fact every person will someday be involved in a great time of judgement. It reveals:





A Date Is Determined when God will judge the world. That means each of us will be involved. There are no exemptions. None!

Does it ever seem the wicked prosper and seem to get away with it? Centuries ago the prophet Jeremiah was puzzled by this and wrote:

“Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jeremiah 12:1).

They will not in the day of the ultimate judgement. They will face a final judgement. The date is already determined.

A Standard Is Decided and it is the person Jesus Christ. The criterion will not be to find someone you are better than and gain a passing grade by comparison. The standard is Jesus Christ.

There will be no oversight or error in His judgement. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

The prophet Daniel describes the judge as “the Ancient of Days,” before whom “a river of fire was flowing.” Then Daniel adds: “Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9, 10).

Christ sets the standard and is the standard.

“The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgement to the Son …. And has given Him the authority to judge because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:23, 27).

Before British law required warning signals along railways bridge keepers were required to flag down approaching trains and warn them the bridge was out.

One passenger train plunged into the river because of it not being properly warned. At the trial the bridge keeper was asked by the judge if he waved his warning lantern. He responded that he had.

Later the bridge keeper confided to a friend he was glad the judge didn’t ask if his lantern was lit.

The whole truth wasn’t known when the judgement was made. Our Lord will know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

A Scope Is Stated and it is the whole world. All persons of all ages will be involved in a final judgement.

“For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher, said, “What men fear, is not that death is annihilation, but that it is not.”

At the end of World War II Richard Niebuhr reminded readers that the fear of death was chiefly the fear of judgement.

Daniel Webster declared the most significant thought to cross his mind was that of his personal accountability. You too are personally accountable.

A Proof is Presented and it is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. In light of this the Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ might well be the most dreaded holiday of the year.

Having achieved the unachievable, the resurrection, God the Father has demonstrated His ability to fulfill His promises. He has promised there will be a final judgement.

It is wishful thinking to say there was and will be no resurrection. In modern excavations a sealed vase was found in an Egyptian tomb. In it were seed known to be more than three thousand years old. They were hard as stone and shriveled. They were carefully planted and within thirty days sprang to life after having lain dormant in a dusty tomb for centuries.

This is a faint illustration of the fact the mortal body shall put on immortality.

Acts 17 notes the three predictable responses:

* Some mock: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked…” (Acts 17:32).

* Some delayed: “We will hear you again on this matter” (Acts 17: 32c). The Bible wisely warns: “Boast not yourself of tomorrow” (Proverbs 27:1). This is not an encouragement to take wise forethought. Much progress has been enjoyed as a result of people who wisely planned for tomorrow. Much of the fruit picked today is a result of persons who yesterday planned for it.

The warning is against counting on tomorrow as a given.

Planning for tomorrow is practical. Depending upon it is impractical. The way to plan for tomorrow is to do today what equips you for tomorrow.

Spiritually, the way to plan for tomorrow is to prepare today by aligning your life with Christ. In that way you have prepared for tomorrow and have no cause for anxiety about it.

* Some believed: “However, some men joined him and believed” (Acts 17: 34).

In which category do you belong?

In the Book of the Revelation reference is made to two future resurrections. The first will occur at the next coming of our Lord. It is a resurrection to life. It will happen at a time called the Rapture when Christ shall come in the air for His saints.

However, there is another resurrection spoken of.

It is the resurrection unto judgement and occurs at the end of the period known as the Millennium. After Christ shall have ruled on earth for 1000 years Satan will be released for a short period on earth. Only believers will be on earth at the beginning of the Millennium. All who are born during the Millennium will live in a perfect environment and have believing parents. Even with Christ physically present and ruling on earth the evil hearts of some of those born during the Millennium will covertly be in rebellion against Christ. To expose these Satan is allowed to be released and they overtly follow him. This proves it is an evil heart not heredity of the environment that is responsible for evil acts.

After Satan shall have been released for a short time on earth he is finally cast out into the lake of fire and brimstone, hell. Beginning with Revelation 20: 11 the final exam is noted.

This is called “the great white throne” judgement. The throne of judgement is “great” because of its POWER. It is “white” because of its PURITY.

Those who stand before the great white throne will have rejected “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2;3).

They are those who were not involved in the first resurrection, believers.

This judgement is not to determine the destiny of those involved. That has already been determined by their rejection of Christ while alive. This passage teaches there will be degrees of punishment. This judgement is to determine the severity of persons punishment. This is an often overlooked or actually unknown Bible fact.

Believers have been judged.

^ They were judged at the cross as SINNERS. “There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

^ They are presently being judged as SIBLINGS of the Father. As His children He leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name sake. His reputation in part rest on our faithfulness.

^ They will be judged as STEWARDS. Grow not weary in well doing for one “Well done” from Him will make it all worth while. In the first part of verse 12 reference is made to “books,” plural. In the last part of verse 12 reference is made to “the book,” singular. The book is further identified in verses 12 and 15 as “the Book of Life.”

Found revealed in this passage is insight regarding salvation. There are only two schools of thought on how to be saved. One is that you must work for your salvation. A person must earn, merit, or deserve God’s good favor. This is done according to this school of thought by good works.

The other concept of salvation is that it is only by grace, that is, God’s favor. Ephesians 2: 8, 9 make this clear: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Those who are depending upon their good works to save them need to give careful attention to the basis of their judgement revealed in verse 12: “The dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books.”

The very works depended upon for salvation become the basis of condemnation. This is true because these person have relied upon their own good works rather than the good work of Christ on the cross.

Works are an unmistakable evidence of the loyalty of the heart. Works will reveal a persons loyalty is not to Christ.

This passage reveals God to be a good bookkeeper. He has a record of our deeds. Whoever you are your biography is kept by God.

Those whose names are not in the Book of Life join the devil in the lake of fire.

Earlier reference was made to the varied response to the news an inevitable judgement awaits every one.

A historical event illustrates types of responses. Years ago the Robert E. Lee was the most palatial boat that plied up and down the Mississippi River between Vicksburg and New Orleans. There were other beautiful boats but this was the favorite of the people of Vicksburg. Every Wednesday afternoon hundreds would gather along the river to watch as the Robert E. Lee cast off and turned her prow down river and headed to New Orleans.

One beautiful Wednesday thousands gathered on the wharf to wave goodby and shout “bon voyage” to friends and family. Passengers hung over the gunwales and shouted such things as, “We will write when we get to our destination.”

The Robert E. Lee backed out, rang its bells as its whistles blew and smoke rolled out its funnels. The river hands sang those wild weird river songs that make the blood tingle and tears roll down cheeks. About a mile down river the Lee turned a bend in the river and disappeared from view.

It was about 2:00 AM when the first telegrams began to arrive in Vicksburg. The vaunted paddle wheeler had caught fire and rapidly burned on the river. About midnight the captain had discovered the boat was on fire. He summonsed the clerk and said, “This boat is on fire and I want you to run down in the saloon and down every corridor and rap on each state-room door and cry, ‘Get up; the boat is on fire!’ He ran around knocking at the doors and screaming, ‘The boats on fire!”

He had no time for an explanation if he was to warn everyone; there was no time to argue. Those few who heard the warning and responded saving their lives tell of the various responses of others who perished.

Upon hearing the knocking some swore and cursed and vowed to respond to a person who would be so alarming. Others laughed at such an idea as this great vessel being on fire saying, “There is no fire.” Some thought it was a joke and rolled over to an eternal sleep. A few were frightened and hid under their beds. Some heard the warning and responded. Those same responses are offered to the idea of a great day of judgement coming. Some curse the messenger. Some laugh at the very idea. Some think it is a prank. Some are frightened and withdraw.

Others believe and respond thereby getting prepared for that inevitable event. What is your response?

The Book of the Revelation contains this urgent warning: “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of his judgement has come” (Revelation 14:6, 7). The Lord God does not desire for persons to be in the Great White Throne Judgement.

* God is not a ghoulish God looking for an opportunity to punish us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:19).

* Christ has gone to extremes to help persons avoid judgement. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).