Revelation 21:1

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Revelation 21:1

With the great white throne judgment recorded at the closing of the previous chapter, Chapter 21 now opens with the words, “Now I saw.” This is John’s normal way of introducing a new subject. It is as if his eyes have been watching a screen display the future and a new vision is presented on it. And what he beholds is “a new heaven and a new earth.”

The idea of a new heavens and a new earth was presented by Isaiah millennia ago –

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
And her people a joy.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
And joy in My people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
Nor the voice of crying.” Isaiah 65:17-19

Peter speaks of this as well –

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:10-13

The main question that consistently arises with these words is whether this means a literal new creation, or something that has a newness of appearance. Charles Ellicott notes –

“There are two words which are translated new in our English version: one of these (neos) relates to time; the other (kainos) relates to quality. The one would be applied to what had recently come into existence; the other to what showed fresh features. … Now, it is this latter word which is used throughout this chapter, and, indeed, throughout the book of Revelation. The newness which is pictured is the newness of freshness: the old, decaying, enfeebling, and corrupting elements are swept away.”

The same word, kainos, is used by Peter in his words cited above. As this is so, it would then tend to refer to the same creation that has been made over in newness. This would correspond to the word “regeneration” used by Jesus about this matter –

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” Matthew 19:28

This would also correspond to the words of Paul in Romans 8 where he speaks of the creation being delivered from bondage. The idea, then, of a new heavens and new earth leans toward the thought of a renewal. Despite this, being dogmatic about what lies ahead is futile. Whatever the Lord has planned will be revealed in due time. For now, John continues with the words, “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”

These words do not provide any further clarity concerning the matter of a regeneration or a completely new heavens and earth. John simply notes that what exists right now will no longer be what is. If a renewal is being referred to, there will be such a marked change in what is seen that it will be completely new to the beholder. In this great change, John notes explicitly as the first major difference, “Also there was no more sea.”

Of this, the Greek more literally reads, “And the sea is no more.” This again brings in a great deal of dispute about the nature of John’s words. In Scripture, there is the literal sea. However, there is also that which the sea represents – chaos, the nations of the world, and so on. As the land is fixed and firm, the sea is fluid and changing – just like the fluidity of the nations of the world as opposed to God’s government which is fixed and firm.

With this in mind, the argument is, “Is this referring to the literal sea, or is it referring to the chaotic and changing form of nations and government?” Two different views can be considered –

“Some explain the sea as the ungodly world. I cannot help thinking this interpretation forced. According to this explanation, the passage is in the highest degree tautological.” Vincent’s Word Studies.

“Among the more detailed features of the new earth, this obliteration of the sea stands first. It is strange that so many commentators should vacillate between literal and figurative interpretations of the chapter; the ornaments and decorations of the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10-21) are treated as symbolical; the annihilation of the sea is considered as literal. It is wiser to leave the literal meaning to the future, and to grasp the spiritual teachings, which are of infinite and present interest.” Charles Ellicott

Vincent leans to the literal meaning in order to avoid an obvious tautology. Ellicott doesn’t deny a literal meaning, but does note that the spiritual meaning is more likely what John would be referring to at present.

Ellicott’s analysis displays a particular wisdom in regard to the nature of Revelation. When John sees God “sitting on a throne,” he is not actually seeing God sitting on a throne. Rather, he is seeing a meaning that is being conveyed for us to understand a truth. When John sees a new heavens and a new earth that has no more sea, he is being presented with a truth about what lies ahead.

Whether there will be actual seas or not is not the point of what is being conveyed. The truth that God’s government is the only government that will exist is the presentation we are to consider. There will be nothing vacillating or changing about this eternal rule. It is in this chapter that the New Jerusalem will be described. That is the seat of government, and it is the focus of what the nations will be guided by. Hence, what John is seeing may have a literal aspect to it, but it is the truth behind the words he states that should be considered first and foremost.

What was lost in Eden – a state of perfection and of communion between God and man, with God as the rightful Head – will again be realized.

A point to consider is that there was a literal sea in Genesis 1, and it was declared “good” by God. As such, then there is no reason to think that a literal sea couldn’t be found in what God will be doing in the new heavens and the new earth. If there is, then “sea” is only referring to the chaos that the nations of the people generate. Again, this is all speculation. In due time, the redeemed of the Lord will know and appreciate exactly what the Lord is conveying to John in his vision.

Life application: As time has not yet reached the point where the debate concerning the events of Revelation fully come to pass, it would be presumptuous to be adamant about something we really cannot know. Different verses in both testaments can be used to come to different conclusions. Ecclesiastes, along with other books of the Bible, says the earth will abide forever. Isaiah 65:17 speaks of a “new heaven and a new earth,” but then it goes on to say in verse 20 that people will die when that comes about. Therefore, what Isaiah is speaking of is a new economy existing in the old creation.

Psalm 102:25, 26 (which is quoted in Hebrews 1) speaks of the heavens and the earth being changed like a garment; one wearing out and being replaced by another. This seems to indicate a complete change with nothing of the old left.

Hence, different verses lead to different conclusions, and we simply cannot be adamant either way. God is God and He will accomplish everything in His word exactly as it should be, whether we fully understand it now or not.

In the end, whatever the fulfillment is, it will be glorious. As we move through the final two chapters of Revelation, we will see the wonderful majesty of what God will be doing for His people in this new heaven and new earth. Stay tuned, marvelous things lie ahead because of what God has done for us through His Son, our Lord JESUS!

Lord God, though we can only look ahead and speculate about many things Your word reveals, whatever the outcome is, we know that it will be wonderful. There will be a place for Your redeemed that will be without any corruption, any defilement, or anything wicked or impure. How wonderful that will be and how we long for that glorious time! Thank You for the promises Your word holds for us. Amen.

 

 

 

Revelation 20:15

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15

With the judgment noted since verse 11 complete, John finishes the chapter with words of finality, saying, “And anyone.” The Greek reads, “And if any.” It is conditional, but it is also all-inclusive for those who are found in such a category, which is that they are “not found written in the Book of Life.”

As noted, it is all-inclusive and there will be no exceptions. To not be written in the Book of Life means that such a person will be “cast into the lake of fire.”

No categories are stated. Thus rank, title, ethnicity, age, status, amount of wealth, number of good deeds accomplished, and so on, are not considered. One is either registered in the Book of Life, or he remains dead in sin. He is “condemned already” according to Jesus’ words of John 3:18.

The words are to be taken literally, just as the thousand-year period that began the chapter is to be taken literally. There is eternal life for those who are saved, and there is the lake of fire for those who are not. This is what the word declares.

Life application: In the end, all humans have eternity to look forward to. Some will receive eternal life, and some will receive eternal death. Death is what separates. It separates souls from bodies, it separates loved ones physically, it separates people in a spatial sense, and it separates us through time – only a memory is left, but nothing tangible.

However, the second death isn’t the end of those who are cast into the lake of fire. Rather it is an eternal separation from God – the Source of life. Because there is no life, there is only eternal death. And during this time of eternal death, there is only suffering and corruption. Because God is the source of goodness, there can only be an eternal movement away from goodness and to corruption and terror.

Jesus used the term Gehenna to describe this place of eternal destruction. Gehenna is the Greek translation of ge-hinnom. Ge is a valley and Hinnom is the name of the valley. This valley, which is a deep ravine running along the side of Jerusalem, was where the most wicked and idolatrous practices were conducted, including that of child sacrifice to the pagan god Molech.

Some have identified this type of sacrifice to Molech as a giant bronze statue that was heated from the inside. When it was fully heated, babies were placed on the hands of Molech and burnt to death as an offering. This and other wicked practices were conducted in the land that God had chosen to be for His people, just outside of His dwelling. But they rejected Him and went their own way, committing what is violent and deserving of destruction.

After the return of the people from the Babylonian exile, the Valley of Hinnom became the garbage dump of Jerusalem. People would carry out all the filth of the city and dump it into fires that burned day and night, consuming the refuse. This is the picture that Jesus portrayed concerning the lake of fire and its eternal destruction. It is a place outside of where God dwells, it is a place of putridity and corruption, it is a place of absolute evil (evil being the absence of that which is good), and it is a place where the fire never dies.

The Bible proclaims that hell is real, and hell will be the final destination of any who die apart from the Person of Jesus Christ. There is a Book of Life and there is a way to be included in this book. The choice is clear, and the choice is ours. God doesn’t force hell upon His people, nor does He, as reformed theology teaches, force heaven upon them. He leaves the choice up to each person who hears the gospel message.

God has granted man free will, and He has given us the ability to perceive what is good and right and what is evil and wrong. In the end, hell will be a self-inflicted punishment for those who reject the gospel. It will be a choice that the offender will eternally regret.

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

Be wise. Call out to God through His offer of peace. Call out to Him through JESUS.

Oh God, the horror of considering an eternal separation from You is more than we can imagine. We shudder at the thought of being forever in a place of horror and corruption, never again sharing in Your glory even in the slightest way. We call out to Jesus and accept His gospel of peace. We receive all of His goodness and all of His promises now. We know that it is only through Him that we can avoid the second death, and so we choose Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 20:14

Monday, 2 August 2021

Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Revelation 20:14

In the previous verse, it noted the sea giving up its dead and Death and Hades delivering up the dead in them. That was in order to judge those in them. With that complete, John now provides a description of an amazing finish to this process saying, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.”

Again, Death and Hades are being personified. These great foes of humanity are now facing their own demise – never to be seen again for all eternity. John’s words are perfectly in accord with Paul’s words found in 1 Corinthians 15 –

“The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26

Death, the great enemy of mankind, will be destroyed. Hades, the place where the dead resided, will also be destroyed. As death will no longer reign in man, there will never again be a need for storing the souls of the dead. In this, John says, “This is the second death.”

Some manuscripts repeat the previous words as an explanation and for emphasis –

“Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire.” BSB

The proverbial saying “Born twice, die once; born once, die twice” is seen in this verse. For all who come to Christ and are born again, there is only one death to be anticipated. For those who never come to Christ, they will see death someday, and they will also be a part of the second death when they are cast into the Lake of Fire along with Death and Hades. But understanding the process requires thought concerning death.

Considering the Greek of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:26, light will now be shed on what Paul was conveying. The verb he uses for “will be destroyed” is in the present indicative middle or passive voice. And so rather than “will be,” the action has already begun, and it will continue on until a fixed point.

A good way to understand it would be to consider a major league baseball team that has no chance of winning the pennant. They have lost the right to play in the World Series, and yet they continue to play because other teams still have a chance. Until the baseball season is ended, they continue in order to meet a set plan which was initiated at the beginning of that season. Though they are defeated, their defeat will continue until the plan is finished.

Therefore, Paul is conveying the thought that Death “is being destroyed until it is finished.” Further, there is a definite article in front of “death.” Therefore, “death,” like in Revelation, is being personified by Paul. Tyndale’s version renders the verse, “Lastly, Death the enemy shall be destroyed.”

In support of the ongoing (and yet inevitably completed) nature of the action, several pertinent verses from the New Testament which concern the work of Christ should be reviewed. These are only a few among many which show us that Death is defeated, but that it will continue in this defeated condition for a set amount of time. First, from Paul’s second letter to Timothy –

“…but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” 2 Timothy 1:10

Paul shows that in Christ’s first appearance death was abolished. However, death still exists as is quite evident from the world around us. To understand this, again think of the baseball team that has no chance of winning the pennant, and yet, it still plays during the regular season. And so even though this action is done, it is awaiting a future fulfillment.

In Hebrews 2, it is seen that it was through Christ’s death that this came about. In this, “death” is tied in with the devil, showing that it is the devil who had “the power of death” –

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14, 15

Next, in John’s first epistle, he shows that death is tied to sin. This takes us back to the very beginning when the devil deceived the man. In so doing, man sinned. In this, death entered the world. As the wages of sin is death, it shows that the work of the devil is what brought death about –

“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8

Jesus Christ came to undo this. He accomplished it at the cross, destroying the power of the devil in all who believe. But why didn’t He just toss the devil into hell right then? The answer is that He is building a church out of the redeemed of the world. After that, He will fulfill the Old Testament prophecies promised to Israel during the millennium.

If He simply destroyed the devil at that time, there would be no church and thus no “living temple.” There would also have been unfulfilled prophecies promised to Israel. Instead, the victory was won, but the devil has been allowed to continue in the world until a time determined by God. In this, we can think of the team that will eventually win the pennant. It is comprised of people who are winners, but they are not winners until the end of the season.

Those who come to Christ are “in Christ” and can never die again. But those who are not will both physically die and be eternally separated from God in the process, because Death continues to reign over them. Thus, we see why there is an ongoing nature to the work of Christ. But some wondrous day, even Death will be eliminated forever. As John says, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

Life application: In John 3:16, we read the wonderful words, “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.”

How can life be eternal? Eternal life is guaranteed because God will destroy death and also the place of death, known as Hades. Hades is the place where the lost go now, and it is the repository of those lost souls. After the final judgment of those in Hades, it will be thrown into the lake of fire because there will be no more need for it.

The logical deduction to be made from John’s words is that, if death is no longer present and Hades is also no longer present, those who are alive in Christ can no longer die. The promise given by Jesus is realized in its fullness. However, it can be assured to any person willing to accept it right now.

God has spoken and what He has said is more certain than the ground under our feet. He has given His word, which cannot be broken, that all who look to the Son – believing in His work and accepting what He has done for them – will never die. Though our bodies may wear out, and though they may cease to function, our souls will continue forever, waiting for the moment when they are reunited with eternal bodies. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:54, 55 –

“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’”

God has a marvelous plan for the people of the world if they will only accept it by faith. There is no other way to be reconciled to Him, except for faith in what He has already done through Jesus. When we believe that gospel message, and proclaim with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, God is pleased to call us His own and grant us eternal life.

If you have never accepted the gift of eternal life, now is the time of God’s favor and today is the day of salvation. Don’t wait another moment but call out to JESUS!

Lord, we are fully convinced that Your word is true and that what it proclaims will come about exactly as You have stated. We trust in Jesus alone for our salvation, and we are confident in the promise of eternal life that You have offered through His shed blood. What a great and marvelous God You are! Hallelujah and amen.

 

 

Revelation 20:13

Sunday, 1 August 2021

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. Revelation 20:13

The previous verse noted that “the dead were judged according to their works.” What was recorded of their lives is brought forth for them to face in the final judgment. With that stated first, the categories of where the dead are is only now noted, beginning with, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it.”

There is, as with everything in Revelation, debate as to what “the sea” means. Is this the literal sea, or is it a symbol of the nations that has previously been used? In this case, it is probably the literal sea. There is no need to allegorize this. The Old Testament makes a distinction between those who died on the land from those on the sea. Though poetic, Jonah equates drowning in the sea to the pit –

“The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord, my God.” Jonah 2:5, 6

It is probably for the reader’s benefit that a distinction is noted concerning the dead in the sea. Those who fail to understand the Lord’s authority over all things might assume that those who died in the sea would be safe from final judgment. Such is not the case. In noting this, it is an assurance that all who drowned in the Flood of Noah, and throughout the ages, will be included in the tally. Along with those in the sea, it next says, “and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.”

In Revelation 1:18, Jesus is said to possess the keys to Hades and Death. These entities are noted again in verse 6:8. Here, like in 6:8, they are being personified. In this verse, they are treated as if they are living entities that have control over the souls of those who have died in time past. But if Christ has the keys to them, then He is the one with ultimate control over them. As such, John next notes, “And they were judged, each one according to his works.”

It is a repeated thought from the previous verse. All people, regardless as to who they are, when they lived, or where they died, will be gathered together for the final judgment before God. Their deeds will testify to their lives, and they will be judged with the perfect judgment of God.

Life application: The sea is noted along with Death and Hades to ensure us that there is no place from which the souls of men will not be searched out for judgment. Those who died in the waters, reaching back even to the Flood of Noah and those who died in the earth, all will be resurrected for judgment.

Every human who has ever existed is remembered by God and will be brought before the great white throne. Death has not separated them from this final act because man was made to be a soul/body unity. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul describes the soul without a body as “naked.” In order for man to be in a state which is suitable for judgment, it appears their soul will be reunited with a real, physical body.

Those who are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will find an eternity of punishment awaiting them. People who see fault in this are only finding fault in themselves. A finite sin against an infinite God demands an infinite punishment – and all have sinned.

God never changes, and His righteousness is a part of His very nature. When a sin is committed, it is a violation against that nature, and therefore it will be there in a minute, in an hour, in a day, in a year, in 1000 years, and so on for all of eternity. The sin committed in time, which God created, will exist as long as time exists. Time, space, and matter occurred at the same moment of creation, and so as long as space and matter exist, time will be associated with it. And because man is a physical being, the stain of that sin remains as long as that physical being remains.

Thus, there are only two possibilities to handle the sin problem: 1) That it be covered by an act of justice which will eternally satisfy God’s righteousness (which is eternal), or 2) that the sin be judged and eternally punished. And there is only one act of justice that can eternally satisfy a sin against God. A suitable Substitute must be found. It must be one in the same category (an animal cannot satisfy a sin for a human) and one that is sinless (for example a baby even though it has not committed a sin has still inherited Adam’s sin nature). If such a substitute is found, the penalty for sin may be taken out on that substitute.

Only Jesus was and is sinless because He was born of the Holy Spirit and a woman – no sin was transferred through a human father. And yet, Jesus is fully Man because He was born of the Holy Spirit and a human mother. Further, Jesus never sinned during His life. Therefore, He is a qualified Substitute. If the payment rendered on Jesus’ cross is accepted, then the sin can never be punished again.

Because He is fully God, His atonement is eternal. His covering will continue as long as He continues, and He will continue for eternity. Despite people claiming that it is somehow unfair that Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God, it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God. And unfairness is a non-starter because “all have sinned,” and thus what is fair is that all go to the Lake of Fire; that is fair.

Anyone who doesn’t go to the Lake of Fire receives mercy because of what Jesus did. Anyone who doesn’t come through Jesus will receive what is already due them. The judgment at the great white throne is one of “works.” Therefore, there are two possibilities. The first is to have suitable works –

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6:29

The second is to have unsuitable works –

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. … Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:20 & 28

The greatest sadness to be found in this judgment will be in those who have trusted in their own goodness and good deeds to justify themselves in the sight of God. They will come into His presence assured of their own righteousness, and they will be severely disappointed when the gavel comes down in judgment against them because of an issue they never thought through – the inherently fallen state of man in the presence of pure holiness.

If you have never accepted Christ’s righteousness, today would be a good time to do so. Eternity is a very long time, and the Lake of Fire is a very unpleasant destination. Be sure to come to God through His offer of peace and reconciliation. Come to Him today through JESUS!

Jesus, we know that we are unworthy of Your goodness and the gift of Your righteousness, but we accept it by faith. Cover us with Your precious blood. In this, we know that we will be eternally secure from the righteous judgment that we are due. Thank You for Your white garments of righteousness that allow us to be restored to God. Thank You Jesus, thank You. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 20:12

Saturday, 31 July 2021

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. Revelation 20:12

With the great white throne brought into the forefront of John’s view in the previous verse, he now continues with the narrative, saying, “And I saw the dead, small and great.” This is an expression that simply means, “and I saw all of humanity from the small to the great.” At times, more expressive terms are used, but this one is simple enough to say that none will be exempt, from the small to the great.

Of this, Albert Barnes says, “The fair meaning in this place therefore is, that all the dead would be there, and of course this would preclude the idea of a ‘previous’ resurrection of any part of the dead, as of the saints, at the beginning of the millennium. There is no intimation here that it is the wicked dead that are referred to in this description of the final judgment. It is the judgment of all the dead.”

There is no reason to assume this. The Bible clearly speaks of a rapture of the church, and it also refers to the first resurrection. One must deny a literal reading of those events in order to dismiss them as something other than what is referred to. Further, Paul notes that believers in the church must appear before the judgment (bema) seat of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:10). Nothing is said there of a great white throne judgment. The two are, therefore, distinct judgments. Understanding this, John says of this mass of humanity that they are “standing before God.”

It is an expression that means they are exposed before Him as creatures before their Creator. He is the judge, and they are the judged. As judgment has been granted to Christ Jesus, He is the member of the Godhead they actually appear before. While standing there, it says, “and books were opened.”

The same terminology was seen in Daniel 7:10. The order of events there is not the same as here in Revelation, but it is certainly referring to the same judgment upon humanity. The idea of books being opened is that there is a documented record of the life and deeds of humanity.

This does not mean that a literal book, as we think of it, is kept. The imagery is given for us to understand that all of what man has done is recorded. At the time of John, a biblion, or a papyrus roll, was the standard means of recording things. Later, books as we know them today were used. Now, we record things on computer hard drives or various other devices. The symbolism is set forth so that the truth is conveyed, regardless as to the means of recording such things. Each person’s record is to be evaluated. John next says, “And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.”

This book has already been seen in Revelation 3:5 –

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

This “Book of Life” is that which records those who have gone from the spiritual death of Adam to the born-again life of Jesus Christ. All who have been restored to a right relationship with God through Christ are recorded in the Book of Life. With this understood, it next says, “And the dead were judged according to their works.”

There are several possibilities as to what could be conveyed here, but the simplest explanation is that all the dead standing before the throne will be judged on their deeds. Those who are recorded in the Book of Life will have their deeds judged for their eternal state in heaven, just as believers in the church will when they go before the judgment seat of Christ.

Those who are not in the book of life will be judged for their deeds, setting their eternal fate in hell. As such, there will be greater punishment for those whose deeds were more wicked. In the end, however, those who are saved will have eternal glory in heaven, and those who are not will have eternal condemnation in hell. It is by their deeds that the state in one of those places will be determined. As John says, “by the things which were written in the books.”

The record of the life of all people will be taken into account. God is perfectly just, and He will reward each person exactly as is deserved and without any partiality at all.

Life application: Everything we as humans do is recorded. If we fail to come to Jesus Christ, we will not receive His covering and we will stand utterly exposed and naked before our Creator. There will be absolutely no doubt of guilt, though now we as humans try to hide it. Every person who has ever lived will receive his judgment. There will be no soul left unremembered before God.

Concerning the term “God” in this verse, some manuscripts have “the throne” instead of “God.” As the throne is the throne of God, the intent is the same – it is Jesus who sits to judge. Unfortunately, some scholars try to disconnect the two (God and Jesus) when the terminology changes, but one must continually ask, “Is Jesus God?” The answer is “Yes.” Therefore, based on Jesus’ own words about all judgment being committed to Him, it is He before whom they stand.

Why does it say God (or “the throne,” implying the throne of God) then? The reason is so simple that it is easily overlooked. It is because He is God that the term is used. In other words, even those who have denied His deity during their lives – such as members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults, as well as unbelieving Jews – will realize that the One they are now being judged by is the One whose deity they denied.

From the first chapter of the Bible, all the way through to the last, the concept of the Trinity and the concept of the God/Man are to be found, understood, and accepted. God has stepped out of His eternal domain and united with human flesh in the Person of Jesus in order to show us the unseen Father. Now, at the end of the ages, these people await their judgment.

For sure, the book of works is insufficient to save. Paul sums this up in Ephesians 2:8, 9 –

“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.”

At this judgment, no person will say, “I deserve eternal life based on what I did.” Either they are saved through faith in Christ Jesus and are recorded in the Book of Life, or they worked out their lives apart from Christ. If the latter is the case, they will see the futility of the life they lived.

What a terrifying thought – to stand naked and exposed before the Living God without the covering of Christ. May none presume that deeds are sufficient to appease the wrath of God for sins committed while in the flesh. May we understand now the severity of the consequences of the choices we make concerning our beautiful, perfect, just, righteous, and holy Lord – JESUS.

Lord Jesus, apart from You we are fallen and wicked. We know that without Your righteousness, there is no hope for us. Please help us to be able to clearly convey this to others and to stand firm on the message that without You we stand exposed and condemned. May You be praised for providing a way of reconciliation and restoration. Amen.