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The Great White Throne

Revelation 20:11-15



These verses describe the final event of all of human history.  God is putting the last period on the last sentence of the last paragraph of the last page.  This is the final judgment of all who die lost, never having repented and never having received Christ as their Savior.  This is serious, and we need to give our full attention to this matter.  The Great White Throne is not easily imagined, nor is the lake of fire which follows it.  Artists surely fail to bring its reality to our eyes.


It is not easy to preach about this awesome and final judgment.  I take absolutely no pleasure whatsoever in even thinking about ANYONE being thrown alive into a lake of fire for all eternity.  Also:  God takes no pleasure in it either…God never made hell for people…hell was created for the devil and his angels, and the people who end up in hell will be those who reject God’s way of escape, and never get saved.  God doesn’t send people to hell…sin does…and so we must accept His salvation from sin!


If we say no to God’s provision, then the only alternative is hell.  We cannot remain neutral.  God is love, and He loves us so much that He took our hell for us if we’ll repent of those sins for which He died and receive His payment.  But He is holy and perfect, and if we don’t accept His payment for our sins then we have to pay for them ourselves.


What we now look at is the darkest hour of human history…this is the supreme court of the universe!  All the lost will be judged, and after the verdict is read, it is final…there will be no appeals.  The sentence is a life/death sentence—a death row and torture chamber wrapped up in one, with no end for all eternity.


This is not politically correct, and some simply won’t believe it…but their argument will be with God, not with me.  If I’ve ever preached a sermon direct from God’s Word, then this is it.


7 Aspects of the Great White Throne Judgment:  The Courtroom, The Judge, The Accused, The Evidence, The Defense, The Verdict, and The Sentence.


1.     The Courtroom

v. 11        “great white throne”…stop right there.  These 3 words represent 3 things:

“Great” = speaks of power

        The lost standing before this throne will be overcome w/ the incredible sense of power, awe, and fear.  Some talk flippantly about what they’re gonna tell God when they see Him face to face…oh no they won’t!  The person who never got saved will not be able to do anything but weep and tremble.  Their mind may go back to each time they took His Name in vain, but they won’t be able to use it in vain on this occasion.  They may think of jokes they told about hell, but there will be no joking on this day.  They may remember the way they used to make light of hell, but the reality of what it’s really like will now sink in.

“Hell for company, and Heaven for climate…I always did prefer company to climate!”  Twain


Hebrews 10:31

    It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 12:29

    For our God is a consuming fire.


How dare we think we could ever stand before God and be anything but speechless?!


Notice how this judgment begins:  the disposing of the earth...

v. 11a      “earth and heaven fled away” – all will realize that everything they ever lived for on earth is gone forever, everything they put before God is gone, all their possessions, all their pleasures, popularity, prestige, all their family, their children…gone…disposed of…and they are left with God alone, Who now must dispose of them!


Hear this:  in the end, all we have left is our soul!


No wonder Jesus said,

Mark 8:36

    For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?


And so the word “great” stands for power.


“White” = speaks of purity

This speaks of the unapproachable purity of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Why is this important?  Because many on that day will stand before God and want to say, “I’m a good person.”  But that will mean nothing compared to His unapproachable purity.

        The only way you or I can be pure enough to stand before God is to be washed in the blood of Jesus!

Isaiah 1:18

    Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Psalm 51:7

    Purge me … and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.


We see the power…it is great, we see the purity…it is white.


“Throne” = speaks of the Potentate

        God Himself will be in charge on this day…He will call the shots on this day.  I know…today they drag His name thru the mud, and make fun of us His followers, but on that day it is God who sits on the throne…the powerful, pure, Potentate…the Creator who allowed them every breath they ever took, the Savior who died in their place, the Spirit that convicted their hearts time after time, urging them to repent and be saved…He has allowed them a free will to choose for years and years, but on that day God sits on the throne as the Mighty Potentate.

I Tim. 6:15

    Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.


        And you’ll either put Him on the throne of your heart today, or you’ll stand before His Great White Throne on THAT day.


Notice the last phrase of v. 11:  “there was found no place for them”

        Literally means, “No place to run, no place to hide.”


In the garden of Eden, Adam sinned and tried to hide behind a tree

        No trees on that day.

When Jonah sinned, he tried to take a boat away from it all.

        No transportation away on that day.


No fig leaves, just the ugly nakedness of our sin exposed!

        Nowhere to run, every excuse is stripped away! No friends to turn to, no family to run to, no phone to look at…and no way out!

It’s 1 on 1, the sinner and Savior, at the Great White Throne!


That is the Courtroom…


2.     The Judge

v. 11        “Him that sat on it”

        Who is this Judge of the Universe?  It’s not the Father…

John 5:22

    For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.

        This is the sweet Savior we read about in the gospels/the Lamb of God…but on this day He’s no longer the Lamb, but the Lion of the tribe of Judah!  The Redeemer is now the Ruler…the Savior is now the Sovereign!

Acts 17:31

    Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

        [some only think about Him on Easter, and assume they’re going to heaven, but it will be that resurrected Christ who will damn their soul to hell because they rejected His salvation.]


ill.—man drowning, saved by fisherman in a boat…1 year later man got in legal trouble, awaited judge in courtroom…the judge entered, and he was the man who had saved him a year before… “Boy am I glad to see you!”

        Replied, “It matters not that last year I saved you, today I am your judge.”

…This same Jesus who begs to be your Savior today will one day be your Judge if you reject Him as Savior!


The Courtroom, The Judge…


3.     The Accused

v. 12        1st phrase 

        The big shots and the nobodies/up and comers and down and outers/CEO and lowest employee/professors and uneducated/kings and homeless…they all are the accused on that day if they die lost.


v. 13        This is the 2nd resurrection…the resurrection of the lost. 

        The 1st resurrection was of saints more than 1,000 years before this.  In other words, this isn’t about whether they are guilty or innocent…it is clear that they are guilty.  This is not a trial to see whether they go free or not.  This is not about allegations…this is making it clear WHY they ARE going to hell for all eternity.  [They have already been in another hell, awaiting this judgment.]


Ill.—2 words for hell in Scripture… “hades” and “gehenna”, which can be likened to a local jail and prison…the one is a temporary holding place, no less vile, just less permanent.


Notice the words death and hell in vv. 13, 14.

        Death gives up the body, hell gives up the soul, then both body and soul are cast into gehenna, the eternal lake of fire.  There is no appeal and no parole.


4 groups at the Great White Throne:

  • The sinners…the ones who hate God and don’t mind speaking out…they hate the Church, don’t believe the Bible, and are in your face…like Bill Maher.
  • The self-righteous…who think they will go to heaven because they live a good life.  They think the gospel is for perverts, thieves, murderers, and don’t see themselves as the real sinners.  [Pharisee and publican…both prayed at the same altar.  The Pharisee said, thank you God that I’m a good person and not like this sinner, the Publican said, I’m a sinner, forgive me!  And only he got saved that day.  There are no big and little sins…it takes only 1 sin to send to hell!]  No one can get to heaven by good works. 

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

  • The slow deciders…they know they need to get saved, they want to get saved, and they’re “gonna” get saved…someday.  But they keep putting it off.  “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  But the Bible makes it plain how important it is to deal with this immediately.

Hebrews 3:15

    Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts…

II Cor. 6:2

    …behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

The slow deciders need to know there’s no 2nd chance at the Great White Throne…just as in Noah’s day there was years of warning and preaching…yet suddenly the door slammed shut, and the sky began to fall, and it was too late!

        This very well could be the last sermon you ever hear.  “Ahh, you’re just trying to scare me!”  Yes, I’d rather scare you into heaven than lull you into hell.

  • The Sunday Church Goers…the ones who have their name on the church roll but not in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  They’ll go to hell w/ a Bible in their hand, so to speak.  And the devil doesn’t mind that at all…he’d just as soon send one to hell from the church house as the whore house!  They may have a fancy suit or nice dress, a s.s. attendance pin or an offering statement, but they never truly accepted Christ for themselves!  “Ye must be born again.”  I suppose the only thing worse than going to hell is going to hell, thinking you are going to heaven!

How about you?  Do you fit into one of these groups?  You can be saved today and avoid this scene at the Great White Throne and all that follows it.


Pt. 2--

The Evidence, The Defense, The Verdict, and The Sentence.

Job 21:30

    …the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.


4.     The Evidence

v. 12        books [plural]  What are these books?  I believe there are at least 3 books opened on that day:

The book of works—a lost person’s life.  “acc’d to their works”

        Lost person…you need to realize that God is recording your works, your sins…and on the day of judgment, nothing will remain hidden…the books will be open!  How can God do this?  He’s omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent!

Psalm 139:1-2

        O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. [2] Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Ezekiel 11:5

    And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me…I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.

II Peter 2:14

    Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin.

Psalm 139:4

    For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

II Chron. 16:9

    For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth…

Hebrews 4:13

    Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Matthew 12:36

    But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

        [Gossip, slander, criticism, lies, jokes, etc.]


Every word and deed will be answered for…God’s candid camera is running!

Luke 12:2-3

    For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. [3] Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.


Every word, every deed…also, every thought:

Jeremiah 17:10

    I the Lord search the heart…

Matthew 15:19

    For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.


For the lost, the first book opened is your life…the book of works.

Eccles. 12:14

    For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Romans 2:16

    In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.


The homosexual crowd says, “What we do behind closed doors is nobody else’s business.”  One of these days it will be God’s business!

[abortionists/feminists:  “what a woman does w/ her body…”

 teenagers:  “what I do w/ my body is my business…”

 president:  “what I do in my office…”]


1st book opened is the book of works.

        Thank God if you’ve been saved, your sins are under the blood…not a license to sin at all, and not saying we won’t have consequences for sin here on earth, but that our sin has been judged!


2nd book opened will be the Bible.

John 12:48

    …the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

This Bible I hold in my hand is the standard by which all the lost will one day be judged.


2 books are open now and they stand in contrast.  “All have sinned and come short…” is a verse that will have to come to mind.  Most of us don’t realize how sinful we are until we compare ourselves to God’s righteousness.

        The lost will see from the Bible how sinful they are, and how perfect a plan God had for them, and they rejected it…they will then know why justice will be served by their going to hell.


God’s standard of righteousness is perfection!

Ill.—hanging from cliff by chain w/ 10 links…how many have to break to fall?  Only 1!

Rev. 21:27

    And 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.


Nobody’s perfect but Christ, and that’s why we have to receive it from Him as a gift!  I got saved on Sept. 7, 1977, and God made me a trade:  my sin for HIS righteousness!


The first book opened is a book of works, the 2nd book is the Bible…


The third book:

Rev. 20:15

    And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

[last phrase of 21:27, above]


This is the final nail in the coffin.  If you’ve been saved, your name is written there, and if not, then it’s not!


You see, ultimately, there’s only 1 sin that will send to hell…the sin of unbelief…the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, rejecting the promptings of the Spirit to put your faith in Christ for Salvation!  If you fail to get saved, your name isn’t written there, and on that day it will be way too late.


These 3 books tell the story.  Book 1 says, this is your life, book 2 says, here’s my plan, book 3 says, “You didn’t do anything about it!”


That’s the evidence…then comes the opportunity for a defense.


5.     The Defense

There will be no defense!  What can you say?  I mean, there it is in black and white…there’s no denying the evidence.  You’re guilty!


Some may say, I’ll throw myself on the mercy of the court, and say, I believe now, Jesus, please forgive me and save me now!

Hebrews 9:27

    And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.


I see no mercy there or in Revelation, only judgment!

        If you want grace, you can have it now, but not after you die.



6.     The Verdict

Guilty!  The lost will hear these words,

Matthew 25:41

    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.


7.     The Sentence

v. 15        Literal Fire?  Every shred of evidence in the Bible says yes.  Liberal theologians say it’s figurative, not literal.  But Jesus called hell a place of fire and torment where people die forever and yet never completely.  I’ll take Jesus’ words over any theologian no matter how many degrees he has, he has no idea the degrees of the flames of hell.

        I’ll stand on this fact no matter how politically incorrect it becomes in the future, that it’s literal fire, as God said it.  I’ll gladly take my chances on standing before God one day and hearing Him say, “Jerry, you took my Word too literally”, than to hear the words, “Jerry, you explained it away too easily.”

        Luke 16 tells of a man in hell who said, “I am tormented in this flame.”


No matter though…let’s suppose it’s figurative of something, just for sake of argument, though I don’t believe that.  Even so, isn’t that something awful that would have to be pictured by fire?  Of course!


We’re mostly Christians in this room…so let’s make application to us…though you won’t be at the Great White Throne Judgment if saved…can this teaching help you?  Certainly!


What are you doing to keep people out of hell?  People you love, yes, but people you don’t even know, too?!


Have you witnessed to anyone lately?  Do you use the tracts in the lobby that we provide to you?  Do you invite anyone to church?  Who do you wish you had here for this message today?  Do you know by now that if you bring them that I’ll give them the truth?

Who do you need to send this sermon link to this week?


Are you thankful that your sins have been judged?  Have you worshipped Him lately for His perfect plan to save us?

The Lord told his disciples to rejoice, “because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20)!


We’ve seen the courtroom, the judge, the accused, the evidence, the defense, the verdict, and the sentence.  Now what will we do?

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