2000-06-01 - The Very Last Day
The Judgment Series, Part 6
Rev 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (NAS)
This is the scene most people think of when they think of Judgment Day in the eternal sense. God Almighty stilling power and might on the throne looking down on a sea of humanity. Voices are heard from various angelic beings recounting the sins of the one person standing in the court for review. The gavel falls - guilty. There is no argument and no appeal, and the sentence is for eternity to be thrown into Hell's fire - separated from God's presence forever.
This is called the Great White Throne Judgment and only those who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior are here. People read this passage and ask questions like: If God is a God of love how can this be? How could a loving God send people to Hell? The simple fact is that God has done everything that can be done, short of making us robots that automatically respond to His call, to prevent this scene from happening. In spite of that effort, those in this scene have never accepted the gift they were offered, and tried to better themselves through religion or self-improvement to be good enough to get into Heaven. The books that are opened are filled with the sins and virtues of each one of us. They are the written record of each of our lives and the works we have done - good and bad. Our deeds are recounted before the Lord Christ sitting in judgment over the court. This is where you will find things like church membership, helping others and self-sacrifice listed. Those things are listed with lust, theft and murder. One final book is opened called the Book of Life. After all is said and done, this one book is the deciding factor. Is your name written in that book? A single entry in that ledger makes the difference in where each of us spends eternity. If your or my name is not found listed in that book, there is no more final epitaph that can be written.
Does this seem narrow to you? The men and women there are shown by their works from the first set of books that they deserve the punishment that is given to them. But they are also shown the mercy that was extended to them that was rejected. What does it take to have your name written into this book of life? You have to admit two things. The first is that you are not perfect, that you have sinned. God created Adam and Eve in innocent perfection prepared for Heaven. Perfection is still what God requires. But our good enough is simply not good enough. The second thing is that we can't be perfect, or sinless, on our own. We need help to live that kind of life and to have our past cleansed. We will need help when we stumble in living that life along the way, and we will stumble. We need a Savior to save us from this situation we can not get out of ourselves. It is our rejection of that Savior, the only way God could open the doorway to Heaven, that is the issue. By ourselves, we can never be good enough. The Bible tells us our very best efforts are like filthy rags. God knows our hearts are in it, but once perfection is lost, how can it be regained by those who are no longer perfect?
Gal 2:19-20 "For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God. 20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. (NAS)
In eternity past, before Adam and Eve were created or time began, God knew that mankind would rebel. He knew because He is omniscient. He knows all things. There is no thinking with God, He knows. We do not surprise God when we do things wrong. We disappoint ourselves perhaps. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit knew that there would have to be a plan to save mankind. Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the perfect life that is required of us. He died as the perfect sacrifice to satisfy the law. And He rose from the grave crushing the power of death. His sacrifice was done in our place, so that he can give to us the life that He won in victory over sin and death. But He can only do this if we will accept this finished work of salvation from Him as our Lord and Savior. If we will do this one thing, He will write our names into that book of life. Indeed, if you will it is already done (Rev 13:8).
The amazing love that Jesus has for us is displayed for us at the cross of Calvary. I am not sure there are not tears in the eyes of Jesus Christ as the Sovereign Lord of the Universe is left no choice but to condemn His beloved creation to eternal punishment. His heart from the beginning was for fellowship. Before God created anything, He needed nothing. But He desired fellowship. The amazing point here is not that people will refuse salvation and in that rejection willfully consign themselves to Hell. The amazing thing is that anyone is saved at all. We all who have willfully sinned deserve the punishment we see here - every one of us. The amazing love of God sent His only Son to die in our place to make a way for us to come home to Him at no cost to us, other than a little pride. All this is true while He paid a terrible cost to open the door for us. If we will reject this gracious offer, what else can be done?
If you want to accept Jesus' offer all you have to do is ask Him and He will hear you. He has promised not to reject someone who comes with a willing heart. Pray, which is just talking to God, something like this:
Jesus, I am not perfect. I have sinned. But I know that you can make me ready for Heaven, perfect in the eyes of God the Father. I accept what You did for me living and dying and rising again to free me from my sins. Thank you for everything You have done to make this possible. Amen.
You may not feel any different or you may be crying tears of joy. In either case, if you meant what you said, your eternal destination has just changed. If you have prayed that prayer, we would like to know. If we can answer any questions you have, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are a volunteer group, but we can direct you to a place where you can get a Bible if you need one, and help with anything we might have trouble answering. If you have a Bible, find the book of John at the beginning of the New Testament and start reading there. Take your time and keep in mind that a lot of this is new to you. If you need help finding a Bible-believing church where you can start to learn more about this new life, we will do whatever we can to help you with that as well. God bless you.
Grace & Peace,