by Shawn Brasseaux
Today, when a lost person dies, his or her soul descends into hell; the physical body, on the other hand, is buried in the earth. The soul will stay there in hell’s torments until God brings it before His throne for the ultimate judgment (which is still future from us today). Let us consider what Revelation 20:11-15 KJV says:
“11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that 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, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
The above passage in the Bible describes what we call “the Great White Throne Judgment” (see verse 11). If we were to put this event on the Bible’s timeline, it would be beyond this the Dispensation of Grace, beyond the seven-year Tribulation and beyond the Millennial (1000-Year) Reign of Christ on earth. In other words, the Great White Throne Judgment is at least 1,007 years away from our present day. Just what is this event, and why is it necessary?
According to John 5:22 KJV: “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:” God the Father has “committed all judgment unto the Son.” The Person on the throne in Revelation 20:11 is the Lord Jesus Christ. The lost of all the ages will stand before God (Jesus Christ) so that they can be “judged according to their works.” This is not to be confused with the “Judgment Seat of Christ” (which is a special day reserved for us Christians, members of the Church the Body of Christ). Daniel 7:10 also makes reference to the Great White Throne Judgment.
At the Great White Throne Judgment, a lost soul will have his or her chance to stand before God Almighty and be sentenced to the ultimate penalty for being a child of Adam—the everlasting lake of fire! This second death is that which was spoken of in Romans 6:23 “the wages [plural] of sin is death.” The Bible speaks of physical death as the first death, when the spirit and soul are separated from the physical body. The second death involves a person’s soul being eternally separated from God’s righteous presence. Revelation 21:8 KJV says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
We will now return to Revelation chapter 20. Verse 11 speaks of “heaven and earth fleeing” from the Lord’s face. If we compare that to 2 Peter 3:10,12, we see similar language. The Apostle Peter writes: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up…. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” Surely, the Bible prophesies the complete destruction of our present universe (including planet earth).
If we consider Revelation 20:12, we understand that God will judge lost mankind on the basis of “books.” One of those books is the “book of life;” this book contains the names of all the saints of all the dispensations (Philippians 4:3). Lost people will each be given an opportunity to see their names absent from the list of the saved of the ages (the book of life).
Revelation 20:12 also mentioned “books.” These are the records of the deeds of lost people—a record of every action and every word spoken by the lost person in life (Proverbs 15:3, Matthew 12:36, and Hebrews 4:13 verify that God witnesses every deed done and every work spoken). God will use these as evidences for convicting the lost people: “every man [will be judged] according to their works.” Again, Revelation 21:8 said: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Finally, Revelation 20:12 says the “small and great” will stand before the Lord for judgment—every unbeliever, from kings to peasants, from slaves to presidents, clergymen, and from billionaires to peasants. In Philippians 2:10-11, we are told “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Every atheist, agnostic, and unbeliever will have no other choice but to admit that Jesus Christ is the Saviour, the Son of God. They will be forced to admit that Jesus Christ is Lord, before being sent to the lake of fire.
What happened to the bodies of those burned at the stake or lost at sea? Revelation 20:13 says that God will resurrect them! It sounds impossible, but remember that nothing is impossible with God! God will return the lost soul to its physical body, and then the lost soul will be cast into the lake of fire (verse 14). Verse 15 reads: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
How could a loving God send people to a place of everlasting suffering? This is one of the most common objections regarding this topic. Romans 1:20 says that everyone is “without excuse” in regards to knowing that God exists—creation declares that the Creator God exists. Everyone will have had at least one chance to come a knowledge of salvation (John 1:9,10; Colossians 1:23; Titus 2:11). “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men.” One of the points of judgment by which God will judge a lost person is how often the person heard God’s Word and how often the person rejected it in unbelief. Their punishment will not only be based on how much they heard from the Word of God and how much they rejected, but also what other deeds they committed in life.
In other words, the more they heard of God, and the more they rejected Him, the harsher (and hotter) their punishment will be in eternity. Again, God will be absolutely fair, as they chose to be there. The Lord Jesus Christ “tasted death for every man,” so they did not have to go there (Hebrews 2:9)! They had a chance to escape (by trusting Jesus Christ), but they refused. A person who goes to the lake of fire is the only person to blame for that tragedy.