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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE FINAL JUDGMENT

Rev 20:11-15 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. 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. 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. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

In the previous few scriptures we have been told, in symbolic prophecy, that the power of Satan over mankind has been bound with chains and can never more take control of the mind and actions of any human being. We have also been told, in this same manner, that his evil influence still exists; he still will lead men and women to surrender eternal life in heaven in order to receive fleeting earthly pleasures. The apostle Peter assured us of this when he wrote this warning, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). With the assurance that Satan has no power over our salvation unless we allow him to possess it, we turn to the lesson text, which announces Judgment Day when Christ Jesus will pronounce the eternal state of all mankind that has existed on earth from the beginning of time.

John tells us that he saw a great white throne, which represents the seat where judgment is to be meted out on all men and women of the world. It is "great" because there is no king seated on a throne that is higher in authority, or more powerful. It is magnificently shiny "white," which indicates its holiness, purity, and justice. (A)nd Him that sat on it, as our eternal judge, will be our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, unto whom God had given all power ...in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18). The earth, as well as the universe in which it exists, will be no more; it will vanish away. The reason for the existence of this world, which God created in the beginning of time, will be needed no more; it will have served its God-given purpose as the temporal abode of mankind. This scripture tells us this is true, because on Judgment Day, and thereafter, men and women of the world will have another abode, either in heaven or hell, and it will be for eternity - either the rewarding bliss of heaven or the punishing pits of hell. Judgment Day is assured; there was found no (other) place for them.

John writes that, gathered around the judgment throne of God and His Son Jesus, were all the dead, small and great - both the righteous and the wicked, young and old, rich and poor - all people of the world, with no one individual, or group of people, left behind. Even mentioning the dead in this place precludes any contention that there was a resurrection that took place previous to this Day of Judgment. Here we have two books mentioned, as being available, from which mankind will be judged. The first book opened contained every deed, both small and great, both good and evil, of each man and woman that ever inhabited the earth. From this book, each person will be accountable for their works during their life on earth. The other book, is referred to here as the book of life, which, without any doubt, is God's record of the faithfully righteous and obedient men and women who have been added to the church of Christ and, through faithfulness, and forgiveness of their past sinful life, are destined to inherit eternal life in heaven.

A number of other New Testament references will help to more fully describe this book of God known as the book of life. Paul, in his closing comments to the church of Christ in Philadelphia, recognized, and commended a number of saints of that congregation, saying that, because of their dedicated labor to the cause of Christ, their names had been recorded in the book of life (Phil. 4:3). Many members of the church of Christ in Sardis are mentioned, by the apostle John, as being dead, having failed to remain pleasing in the sight of God due to their imperfect works of faith. By inference, their names had been blotted out of the book of life. Only the names of those remaining obedient to the will of God, described here as clothed in white raiment, will remain listed in the book of life. This assuredly tells us that, once becoming a Christian, and having one's name listed in this book, does not guarantee eternal salvation. If a man or woman, once saved by obedient baptism, drifts back into a sinful state, their names will be removed from the book of life. In both Revelation 13:6-8 and 17:8 we are told that the names of all people that are led astray - those that joined themselves to any Satan-influenced false religion, will never be listed among the saved - their names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). And finally, in Revelation 21:23-27, we find John telling us, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, that heaven awaits all obedient saints at the end of time on earth: there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

It is from these two books, the book of mankind's works and the book of life, all men and women of the world will be judged when life on earth comes to an end - out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. Disregarding all earthly status, rich or poor, male or female, master or servant; disregarding any race, color, or nationality; without reference to caste, rank, or profession, all people of the earth will come before the thrones of God and Christ Jesus, and will be righteously judged, without any arbitration, or opportunity for plea bargaining. All will receive a final, unalterable judgment of eternal life in heaven, or eternal punishment in hell. Indeed, the determination of one's final destiny can only be found in these two books of God. Verse 13 tells us that all the dead shall be judged; no one will be exempt or omitted from receiving their final reward; all will be judged according to their works.

When that day, the Day of Judgment, comes, death and hell (the Hadean world) will cease to exist, as being cast into the lake of fire is to be understood. Death will be no more, and Hades, the abode of the dead until Judgment Day, will have served the purpose for which it was designed by God. And finally, regarding all men and women of the world, from all ages of time, we find this unalterable law of God: whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.