Summary: Four reasons for sober consideration of the coming day the Bible describes as The Great White Throne Judgment.
READ: Revelation 20:11-15.
In this passage we’ve read together tonight, Revelation 20:11-15, The Apostle John records for us the scene of the final day of judgment, when all who have died without a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord will give an account before the bar of God. John writes: “And I saw a great white throne ...” What is described is a great and a terrible day in which the eternal destinies of countless millions of people is decided and sealed.
Let us look, tonight, at: four reasons for sober consideration of this coming day, when men and women from all of history shall stand before the Great White Throne.
Firstly, consider :
1. THE IDENTITY OF THE JUDGE.
"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. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before GOD, and books were opened."
We are told that the occupant of this great throne is God Himself. In John 5:22, however, we are told that "... the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son", and so we can deduce that, to be more specific, Jesus Christ is the person of the Godhead sitting in judgment upon the throne.
John’s language is graphic. Here we see "the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev. 6:16) in it’s full expression. Before the face of Christ (literally "before His countenance") the earth and heaven "flee away"; that is, they are destroyed. Leon Morris writes: "There was something so terrible in the demeanour of Him on the throne that earth and heaven themselves fled away from Him. There was no place for them, i.e. they were completely destroyed."
In the first verse of the very next chapter (21) this destruction is confirmed:
"... for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away".
Who will be able to stand before Christ on this occasion? The moment when His countenance is such that part of His creation, that which had been the home of these ones standing before Him, is obliterated! Mankind has rejected Christ and continued in their own sin, and this is the most heinous offence to God (John 16:9). Now, that same Christ they have turned their back on sits in judgment over them and they are unable to turn away.
What a terrifying predicament! The Judge seated upon the Great White Throne is the very one that has been sinned against. He is infallible, and He has an unquestionable record of every one of their sins. He has shown grace beyond measure and extended countless opportunities for repentance, and now the time of His grace is ended. Who can hope to stand?
Secondly, would you notice with me:
2. THE ABSENCE OF AN ADVOCATE.
"And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous."
(1 John 2:1b)
Tragically, for those who stand before the Great White Throne on that day of judgment this verse has no meaning; it is addressed to those who have received Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord. Christians will not be subject to judgment before the Great White Throne, because their judgment has already been taken by Christ who stood in their stead and bore the penalty for their sin upon the Cross. He is their Advocate before the Father. To put it in other words, He is their defence lawyer who pleads the case on their behalf.
At the Great White Throne, however, there is no advocate present. The only one qualified to stand and plead their case is now Himself the Judge. Those who come before Him stand alone, naked of excuse. It is conspicuous in the passage we have been examining, Revelation 20:11-15, that there is no mention of any companion to stand by the defendant. The picture drawn is one of total "aloneness" before the bar of God. This isolation, of course, is but the first moments of an eternity of isolation in separation from God and His people. What a contrast is seen here compared with the Christian who has "... a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
3. THE FINALITY OF THE VERDICT.
"And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."
"These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power "
"And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever ..."
In our western judicial systems, a person convicted of a crime by a court of law is entitled to appeal against the decision and be granted a re-trial. In fact, most court decisions today are contested by such appeal.