09 July 2008

The Reality of Hell--The Great White Throne Judgment (part 1)

Today we are going to begin a two-week look at the Final Judgment. This will be the judgment of sinners, those who died without submitting to Christ, without confessing Him as their Lord and Savior. These will be cast into the Lake of Fire—Jesus calls it “Gehenna”—and will suffer there for all eternity. We’ve been looking at Hades the last couple weeks—that temporary place where the wicked go to await their final judgment. Before we begin, though, I’d like to clear up a couple of misconceptions the world has about Hell. Satan is not in charge of Hell. In fact, Satan is not even IN Hell right now. A lot of people don’t realize that. Satan is just as free to walk upon the earth as you and me. And he does. Isaiah 14 says He was cast out of Heaven. But when he was cast out of Heaven, he was NOT cast into Hell—yet. Because we see in Job 1, that Satan is just roaming all over the place.

Another question. Who will be the first two beings that will be cast into the Lake of Fire? The Beast of Revelation—the AntiChrist. And his false prophet. Revelation 19:19-2119 And I saw the beast—the antichrist—and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse—who’s that? Christ—and against His army. The final battle. You’ve heard of “Armageddon.” This is it. And another shot I’ve got to take at movies—no human being is going to kill the AntiChrist. He will be defeated by our Lord Jesus Christ at this battle of Armageddon and thrown into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone. In fact, in the very next verse it says Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Let me make this abundantly clear right here right now—I do not know who the AntiChrist will be or the mark of the beast. To be perfectly honest—it won’t matter to us because we won’t be here.

Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet…These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. Christ will ride into the Valley of Megiddo—Har Megiddo—on a white horse. The beast, the false prophet, and all their armies will be ready to make war against Him. The beast and the false prophet will be caught, they will be taken to the Lake of Fire—wherever it is, that’s another thing I will never lay claim to knowing—and they will be thrown in. They will not go to Hades, they will not die a physical death, they will not pass “Go,” they will not collect $200. They will go directly to eternal jail. 21 And the rest—those who worshipped the beast and took his mark—And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse.

I don’t have an exhaustive knowledge of the exact order that things will occur. But here’s a thumbnail. First, the rapture, in 1st Thessalonians 4:16-18, when Christ descends with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise…then we who are alive and remain will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then will come the 7-year tribulation, with all of its judgments and plagues, the Beast and False Prophet. After the tribulation comes Armageddon when the Beast and False Prophet are cast into Gehenna (Revelation 19). Satan will then be cast into a bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3) which will be covered with a stone and sealed with the seal of God—this is not the Lake of Fire, or Hades, but a bottomless pit—and Christ will return and set up His 1000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:4-6). After the 1000 years, Satan will be loosed for a while, he will make one final rebellion, then he will join the Beast and False Prophet in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:7-10).

So, what’s next? There will be two great resurrections with their judgments. First, the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is for believers only. And it has nothing to do with judging us for salvation. If we are standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ, it means we were saved. This is about handing out rewards to those who have kept the faith, those who were saved by their faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior. All the saints will receive the reward for our works done on earth for the glory of God and His Christ. 2nd Corinthians 5:9-109 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we 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. “Good or bad” does not refer to morality or sinfulness. “Good” means those works that glorified God. “Bad” means those works that we did looking for the approval of men for our own glory. Matthew 6, Jesus tells us that if we do good deeds to be seen by men—that’s our reward.

1st Corinthians 3:11-1511 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Notice what it says at the end of verse 13. Does it say WE will be tested by fire? No. It says that it is our works that will be tested by fire. Those things we did that brought honor and delight to God will be like gold, silver and precious stones—they will survive, and the fire they go through will make them even brighter. But those things we did that were done out of pride and selfishness will be like wood, hay and straw and they will be burned. This is the first resurrection, the first judgment, the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Then after this, we get to our subject today, which is the Great White Throne Judgment. And this is the resurrection to death of the lost. The resurrection to death. Jesus tells us in John 5:28-29“28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
Before we go any farther, I need to point something out here real quick. And I know it may seem like we’re going around the block to make a left-hand turn, but bear with me. When we read the Bible, the same rules of grammar apply to the Bible that apply to anything else we read. If we are talking about 2 people, we need to use pronouns like “they” and “them.” But watch this: The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him If Christ and God are separate from each other—if Christ is a created being like the Jehovah's Witnesses teach, then shouldn’t this read they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with THEM.

The subject of the deity—or “Godness” of Christ is a subject I will drive home every chance I get. It is a doctrine that is under attack in this country like never before—even in many so-called “churches.” And it is the most important doctrine we have. If we are wrong about who Christ is, then nothing else you believe, no matter how spotless and flawless the rest of your theology is—if you do not believe in the true Christ, nothing else you believe matters. And yes, it is possible to believe in another Jesus. 2nd Corinthians 11:44 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached…you may well put up with it! Galatians 1:8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. That word “accursed” means “damned.” Paul is saying that if anyone preaches a gospel that contradicts the one he has preached--even if it is him preaching this other gospel, or any other person, or even an angel (perhaps an angel named, oh, I don't know, Moroni, maybe?)--then may God send that person to eternal damnation.

What is this second death? Our text today, Revelation 20:11-1511 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.

This is the final judgment. The Great White Throne Judgment. Those who take part in this judgment are condemned to the Lake of Fire forever. A lot of churches don’t like to talk about this. Makes people feel uncomfortable. It might offend them. But if we do not teach about Hell, then we cannot say that we teach the justice of God. This is where His justice is made perfect. This is where the lost, the unbelievers will stand and be judged for their works. We who know Christ as our Savior and Lord will not face this judgment. These people will stand before the Great White Throne and be judged by their works. And their works will judge them. If we are saved, how many of our sins will we take with us to the Judgment Seat of Christ? None! They're gone! They were done away with at the cross. At the cross! At the cross! Where I first saw the light/and the burdens of my heart rolled away/It was there by faith I received my sight/and now I am happy all the day! Psalm 103:12As far as the East is from the West… Romans 4:8Blessed is the man whose sins God will not remember. If we are saved, God has put our sins on Christ, and has given us Christ’s righteousness. But those who are not saved....

Verse 11. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it… Who is it that sits on the throne? This will be God the Son. Jesus Christ. He will judge all those who never knew Him. Some will try and tell you that it is the Father who is on the throne. No. You have to do some pretty wild mental gymnastics to believe that. Listen to these words of Christ, concerning His judgment of the world. Matthew 25:31-4631 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:…41 “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…46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’” The Son of Man, the Son of God will do all the judging. He will separate the saints from the sinners. And no matter what Billy Joel thinks, is he’s with the sinners—he won’t be laughing.

Besides, Jesus tells us that without Him, no one will see the Father. John 14:6“I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” The only ones who will ever see the Father will be those who are saved! And because Jesus is doing the judging, He receives the same honor and glory as the Father. John 5:21-2321 “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Now I want you to notice something here. I know this may sound like beating a dead horse or preaching to the choir. But this is another passage that illustrates the Trinity. Look at verse 23. “…all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” Does God share His glory with angels? Who does God share His glory with? Isaiah 42:8—“I am YHVH, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.” Jehovah's Witnesses will tell you that Jesus was simply an angel. The honor that is due only to Him—Is God going to give it to an angel? A created being? Another example of the Tri-Unity of God. The saints will be judged to see what rewards we get. The lost will be judged to see what part of Hell they will go to. We’ll look at that later on. But who will be judging? Christ.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. I don’t know exactly what this scene will look like, but if you think you have ever been in a hopeless situation, think again. There will be billions of people who will be standing there, before the throne of God. And everything they ever knew everything they thought they could trust will vanish away. …the earth and the heaven fled away. Ran as quickly as they could to get away, because they knew what was coming. Don’t believe me? Romans 8:21-2221 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Even all of creation is waiting for this day when it will be rid of sin and corruption. These people will be surrounded by nothingness all around them. There will be no place for them to go.

Think about that. This is the FINAL JUDGMENT. The rich man we looked at the last couple weeks. Guess what? He’s still in Hades. And he will be until this final day. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Goliath. All those who died in the Great Flood. The Pharisees. The Sanhedrin who sent Christ to His death. The soldiers who drove the nails. Many people we’ve known. People we went to school with, worked with. They will stand before the throne of God the Son. Earth and heaven will run away from them as fast as they possibly can. They will not want anything to do with them. There will be no place for these people to go but to their judgment. They will stand before Him with nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. They will know their judgment is soon. They will have no choice but to appear before His throne and throw themselves at His mercy. He will have no mercy on them. They will be judged.

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God… There are a lot of people who think that just because they're not as bad as Adolf Hitler or the guys that blew up the World Trade Center that they're in pretty good shape and they’ll slide on into Heaven. Muslims believe that they are judged “worthy” or “unworthy” by their works. That if their “good works” are more than their “bad works” they will go on into their “Paradise.” Mormons believe they are saved by grace “after all that we can do.” The Roman Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by grace and works. All these, and every other belief system on the face of the earth teaches that we can be good enough in God’s eyes—or the eyes of whatever it is they worship. There is no amount of “good works” we can do to make ourselves “good enough.” Because we can never be “good enough.” Jesus said in Mark 10:18, “…No one is good but One, that is, God.” What John is writing here when he says he dead, small and great, is that no matter whether someone was a Hitler or a Jim Jones or David Koresh. Whether they were a murderer, or adulterer, or if they simply did not confess Christ as Lord and Savior and they lived their ordinary lives without ever receiving forgiveness for their sins—they will all stand before the throne of Christ and be damned.

The dead, whether they died 3000 years before Christ, or whether they died 3000 years after Christ. Whether they were kings or princes, whether they were rich or poor, whether they were American, Asian, African, Indian. Young, old, tall, short, rich, poor. There will even be many who will stand before that throne to be judged and damned who spent their entire life in church. Or they taught Sunday School. There will be preachers, there will be choir members, there will be pastors. There will be many “good people” standing before the Great White Throne. Why? Because their names were not in the Book of Life. And only those whose names are written in the Book of Life will see the eternal kingdom of God and the New Jerusalem that comes down out of the sky. We’ll pick up here next week, and learn some more about the place Jesus referred to as Gehenna. The Lake of Fire. The final destination of those who do not know Christ.

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