God's Last Word

"Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment."

-Hebrews 9:27, NIV; emphasis added

Two thousand years ago, God spoke these words to His church as a warning to be shared. We need to grasp the implications of this incredible spiritual law from God. It is man's destiny to die. From Eden onward, anyone who sins dies. Without Christ, no one can escape death's penalty. Every person born on planet Earth is destined to die ONCE: no reincarnation, no second chance, no intermediate step. God says that life is a one-way street: no returns. Literally, it is a dead-end street. At God's final appointment with all who ever lived, without Christ, they face judgment. They will be lost, forever lost, and they didn't have to be-they chose to be! Meditate on the immensity of that thought! Let's now look at Revelation 20:11-15, which divides into five sobering truths.

Truth 1: The Judge is great- "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" (v. 11). God is great because of His majesty-He is the Creator, Sustainer, God of Gods, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Rock, and the Endless of Days! The throne is white because of His holiness; He has revealed Himself as the Light, life everlasting, and the consuming fire.

Truth 2: The judgment is inescapable- "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" (v. 12). We know from Paul that at death believers are instantly transported to the presence of Jesus in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). As most scholars believe, the Bema Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) takes place then; as believers we are analyzed by Jesus for our degree of obedience to Him in this life, and then rewarded. John seems to imply that this event is all complete by Revelation 19:8, when the saints are at the great banquet of Christ's redeemed.

In Revelation 20:12, however, we now see the last, the greatest, and the final roll call. No one will go to hell because they didn't know about Jesus; it doesn't say that in the Bible. The only thing that will send someone to hell is sin, not failure to hear of Jesus. He is the only remedy, but the cause of hell is sin. Jesus said, "You will die in your sins." That is the most horrible thing He could say. Anyone who dies in their sins instead of being in Christ is condemned at that moment eternally, and will be banished forever from the presence of God. Why? Because God said, "No sin will be allowed to exist eternally with Me in My holy presence. Only those whose sin is dealt with, who have Jesus as their covering, are allowed in My presence." So the works of every dead person are to be exposed: every act, thought, word, and intent of the heart is revealed one by one.

Truth 3: The standard is exact- "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"(v. 13). They will be judged both by Christ's words and by their works: "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him-the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). Jesus has spoken, and He has revealed Himself. Psalm 19 says that His voice has gone throughout the whole world.

All unbelievers will give an account as to why they rejected "the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world" (John 1:9). The Light has come to all who have been born into this world "so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27). Those who reject that Light cannot escape His judgment, which is a very exacting standard.

Truth 4: The sentence is final- "Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death"(v. 14). Each personal account will be finalized. The self-righteous will see that they are wearing filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The vain babblers will be dumb before Him (Matthew 22:12). The greats of earth will be pitiful in wretchedness that day (Psalm 2:1-5). Each will get their sentencing, but don't think that everyone will receive the same degree of punishment. There will be individual portions (Matthew 24:51). It will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah than for those who were alive during Jesus' ministry and heard His words (Matthew 10:15). It will be easier for Tyre and Sidon than for the city and people of Bethsaida (Matthew 11:21-22). There are different levels of punishment within the horrors of hell. Matthew 12:42 says that the Queen of Sheba will rise up in the judgment and condemn the generation that lived through Christ's ministry. And "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' " (Matthew 25:41). God prepared the Lake of Fire for Satan and his angels, not for humans, but those who follow the devil and his rebellion will follow him into the lake.

Truth 5: Blessed is the Book of Life- "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire"(v. 15). The names of all souls who experience the saving process of Jesus' blood are recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life. What is our hope as those who believe in Christ? Revelation 17:8 sums it up: "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit [where Satan was kept for 1,000 years] and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."

Do you know whose names are in the Lamb's Book of Life? The ones whom Jesus will bring one at a time before the Father, confessing: "This is My blood-bought child" (see Revelation 3:5). Imagine your joy when you hear the Father saying, "Bring the best robe and put it on My child!" Jesus will say that to all who will come by faith and trust in His finished work. I now ask you what the hymn writer asks:

Are you Washed in the Blood?

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

-Elisha A. Hoffman (1839-1929)

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