"And the   Books Were Opened"

by Kim Harrington



    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.

Revelation 20:11-15 (KJV)

    We've heard a lot about nuclear war and its devastating possibilities over the past few decades--my generation (the Baby Boomers) are said to have grown up under the shadow of the Bomb. Men's hearts are already "failing them for fear" as they allow their minds to dwell on the horrors that a nuclear exchange is sure to bring. We're hearing about the end of the race and the end of the world as we now know it; movies are depicting the instant disintegration of millions; scientists are warning us about the inevitable damages to the earth's atmosphere, and to the rest of the countries that weren't even in on the war. We are being told, in short, that the human race simply cannot survive even a limited nuclear war, and that the very thought of it is... well, unthinkable.

    The Bible, of course, has concerned itself with the end of the world for quite a long time now. In a very matter-of-fact way, the Lord and the various prophets speak of the destruction of the earth and the present world order. There will be fire and brimstone, signs in the heavens, distress of nations, great wars, and unimaginable forces unleashed. The writers of the Bible assumed that the world had a beginning, and that it must have an end. Most of them happily believed themselves to be living very close to that end. They saw it as being carefully staged and conducted by God--a very necessary day of reckoning that a benevolent Creator could not possibly do without. The Bible is not horrified at the thought of the end of the world--it takes it for granted.

    The horrifying part comes later! Yes, there is something far worse than the end of the world. Jesus said, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell," (Matt 10:28). Physical death is bad enough, but it's not nearly as awful as the second death spoken of in our opening scriptures. It is the spiritual things, the invisible things of eternity, that really count in the long run. Let the worldly worry about this world; let us who know the Lord worry about the next one. Let the unbelieving and the carnal strive after the riches and creature comforts of this life; let us seek to lay up riches in Heaven. Let the sensuous and earthly drink the right soft drinks and work out together for better bodies--they will soon become worms' meat, anyway; let you who are of the light walk in that light and live for things eternal, for one day the books will be opened and all our works will be assessed by the principles and values of the next world.


The Judgment Day

    One day the Lord will sit in judgment on the inhabitants of this old earth. There will be such an awful tension and sense of impending doom that the very heavens and earth themselves will flee from the scene, leaving Him who sits on the throne and those who stand before it suspended in eternity, as it were. The dead will be there, small and great. King, prince, president, plumber, and aborigine will stand together in a huge throng that no one can number. It doesn't matter who you were in the previous life--all are equal at the Great White Throne. You can't buy a pardon, pass a petition, or stage a campaign to bring public opinion to bear upon the proceedings. There is no higher court to appeal to--this is the final resting place of every case; the buck stops here. And perfect justice is guaranteed, regardless of race, caste, color, or creed.

    "And the books were opened..." The books will indeed be opened. These are the books that contain the history of every individual that ever appeared on this earth. Your works, both good and evil are recorded in them. From the sins of your youth to the folly and stubborn pride of your old age, they are all there. And not only the works themselves, but the motives that prompted them, are recorded... "I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings" (Jer 17:10). "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" (Rev 4:13).

    How many times did John Doe reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Did he scornfully push aside the "Jesus freak" who tried to stop him downtown to speak a few moments about his soul? Did he quickly switch the channel of his television set from the Billy Graham crusade to some action-packed program featuring a dozen gleaming bodies? The books record every significant deed... there he is again, lusting after his secretary... cheating on his income tax form... screaming in rage at a fellow worker. Wait! There's our John Doe in church, but look what he's thinking... "these pompous, self-righteous preachers just want my money..."

    Then the other book is opened, the Book of Life. In vain the search is made for John Doe's name. Certainly there must be some mistake! No, I'm afraid not, John. The One on the throne sorrowfully, but firmly, gives the command to cast him into the lake of fire, where the devil, the beast, and false prophet are, where they "shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10).


Who Will Stand There?

    Will the true believers in Jesus Christ be at the Great White Throne Judgment? No, they were resurrected a thousand years earlier. Revelation 20:6 speaks of them: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." Jesus said in John 5:29 that the dead "shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." There are two groups of people and two resurrections. By the time the White Throne Judgment is under way, the righteous have been glorified and resurrected for a thousand years.

    But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Revelation 21:8

    The fearful and unbelieving will be there: they are those who loved this present world too much to risk the shame and embarrassment of being a genuine Christian. The cost was just too great, they thought; and why throw my life away on some old traditions that hardly anybody cares about anymore? The vile (abominable) and the murderer will be there: they were a law unto themselves while they lived, but now the law has really caught up to them. They hated their brothers and lived for themselves, and have no one to blame but themselves on the day of judgment. The whoremongers--the word means sexually immoral in the original Greek--will be there: they went along with the world around them without stopping to remember that God didn't change His mind about what constitutes immorality. They paraded their wares for all to see and slept with whom they pleased, making up their own standards as they went along; they redefined love and fulfillment--they may try to act innocent in that day, but their innocence and purity has long since been lost.

    The sorcerers -- all those who practice occult arts and "sciences" -- will be there: they rejected the light of the Gospel, and preferred to dabble in the dark, forbidden, and mysterious things. All the idolaters will be there: whether they worshipped a brass Buddha, the Virgin Mary, a rock star, or someone's body, they will all find their place in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. And the liars will be there, too, the Bible says; they turned from the truth that made them so uncomfortable and embraced and propagated lies instead. Evolution, Communism, false religions, false teachings, and all those who willfully or ignorantly mislead their brother fall into this category.

    The problem is that it's not John Doe standing at the Judgment Seat. It's not a faceless multitude that parades one by one before the Judge of the Universe. On that rare occasion when we allow ourselves to think of the day of judgment, we usually picture just that... millions upon millions of people going their way to the lake of fire: nothing more than numbers, just one file after another being pulled and analyzed.

    But these are people, real people. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters; people who lived real lives, who loved in their own way and were loved by others. That faceless person may be your next-door neighbor; once or twice you may have tried to share the Gospel with her, but you didn't really press it. Maybe that person standing before God is the young man that played his rock music well into the night, keeping you up. You may have angrily wished for the righteous judgment of the Lord to fall upon him, but you didn't mean this! Perhaps your aunts and uncles are part of that "faceless" mass of human beings awaiting their turn, perhaps your very mother is there. Suddenly it seems very terrible, doesn't it?

    You see, this is not some fanciful scene from the writings of a medieval monk, it is the Word of God. It is not symbolic, it is very literal in its meaning. There is a lake of fire, and those who didn't believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ will go there. They will spend eternity there; there is no hint of any sort of parole in the Bible, or a temporary suffering to purge away sins committed. We cannot even allow ourselves the small comfort of believing that these lost souls are annihilated, or completely destroyed, in the burning lake--there is simply no shred of scriptural evidence that this could be the case.

    No wonder the inspired writers of Scripture placed all the emphasis on the next life. No wonder they could seemingly speak lightly of the destruction of this present world: the more serious implications of living for the next world occupied their every waking moment. It is unfortunate that more Christians today are not following their example and really striving to be heavenly-minded. Let us sit down and assess our own lives and priorities right away. Do you really believe in the White Throne Judgment and the damnation of the lost? Do you daily live as though you believed that? Or are you continually bound in your spirit by the fear of man and the love of this world? Do you find that all your efforts to really get zealous for Jesus seem to be thwarted by the plain old lusts and desires of the flesh? Then it is time to do some meditating on the realities of the invisible world, and on that coming day when the books are opened. It is time to pray more diligently for the spirit of revival to grip your soul as it never has before. It is time to be zealous and repent.

    Perhaps you are not a believer at this time. Perhaps you will be among those people standing before the throne of God on that great and terrible day. Maybe when the books are opened they will show you reading this little article: you were touched deeply... but then became a little annoyed... and finally you decided to take your chances with eternity. It doesn't have to turn out that way, you know. Even now you can turn to the Lord Jesus for salvation. It doesn't matter that you have been unbelieving, immoral, or even murderous in the past. All that matters is that you now see your need of a Saviour, and that you are willing to play the game by His rules now. Tell Him that in prayer. Turn away from those sins and surrender your heart to Him. He will not refuse the person who comes to Him sincerely in faith.

    For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Titus 2:11-13 (KJV)


Copyright 1998 Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.


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