THE LAKE OF FIRE!
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done. whether good or bad." II Corinthians 5:10.
Every person on the earth and everyone who ever lived here is going to have their "day in court." Paul said we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive what we deserve, whether good or bad. But how will it really happen at the end of days? Dare we be glib about it?
Those who have fallen at the feet of Christ Jesus and pled for His mercy and forgiveness for sins during their life time will present themselves at the judgment seat of Christ. They will receive rewards for how they stewarded their new life in Christ.
Not so for those who do not embrace Jesus as their savior while they walk this planet. If you are one who falls into that category, following your death and separation from your physical body you will spend time in a place called Hades or hell until judgment day comes for you. The Bible calls you one of "the dead." You will be dead physically and spiritually, destined for final corruption:
"The nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged..." Revelation 11:18.
The world is fast headed for the end of this age we call TODAY. A few years into the future all those who have not received Jesus Christ as their personal savior from sin, termed the dead, will go on trial. It will be a court room like none you've seen on earth!
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them; and they were judged, each one of them according to their deeds." Revelation 11:18; 20:11-13.
Soon after this writer was baptized in the Holy Spirit at age 62, she experienced an unforgettable visit to hell. I was seated in a stone cell on a stone bench, all gray and colorless, drab like death. Suddenly, I felt myself 'shift' to the right, but I had not changed my position on the bench at all. Then I realized: Something within me had shifted. I was no longer the same personage I had been on earth. The image of God with which I was born had been removed from me. I was no longer would hear the voice of God. I would not be able to pray nor have my conscience pricked by something I said or did. God was gone and I would never be able to play games with the Holy Spirit when He showed me something to do in His will that I chose not to do. I was alone, without God, forever! Yes, I did not taste fire and thirst in hell. I experienced being separated from God permanently and forever--and that was HELL!
So, to repeat, there will be two judgments or hearings: one called the judgment seat of Christ for the persons who made Him their Lord, and another called the great White Throne Judgment for those who did not. Those who have had the image of God removed, He designates as the dead. Should you doubt the truth of this statement, check this:
"For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 25:29-30.
This passage comes from within the narrative Jesus told His disciples about the master who gave his servants talents to invest. The last one did not invest his, but buried it in the ground. Thus, his master collected no interest on his investment.
God has given every person a soul to invest in His kingdom. Those who responsibly gain profit from that gift will gain more responsibility in Jesus' coming kingdom. Those who waste or do nothing to gain their soul's salvation, profitability and ultimate value to God will lose even their soul: God's image. It is that image that makes man distinctive and of infinitely more value than animals and other living creatures. Notice that the end of those persons will be like the unprofitable servant's: they will be thrown like trash into outer darkness forever!
Just the thought of going to court puts a scare in most folks. For some, it stirs up their ability to wiggle out of whatever charges have been made against them. They hire lawyers, scurry to find plausible witnesses in their favor, and create alibis to cover their tracks.
Not so with the Great White Throne Judgment. You won't have an attorney to plead your case. You won't even have your own witnesses to side with you and ask for favor. You will stand alone before the Judge of the universe. It will be a bench trial without a jury. In fact, it will be an open and shut hearing, because you could have opted to follow Christ while you were alive, but chose not to. Your only description on that day will be "the dead."
Do not be fooled by the term "the dead." It does not mean that you will be completely obliterated when you leave this life like erasing writing in chalk on a blackboard. It means you are a human soul who does not possess eternal life. Only Christ can give you eternal life while you're on earth if you choose to believe in Him:
"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehended it...there was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man."John 1:4-5, 9.
Indeed, you died spiritually when you chose NOT to receive Jesus, even when He visited you with the Light about who He really is. Instead, you determined to have control over your own life---or so you think. In reality, you are a pawn of the devil and his henchmen and do their bidding. You work against God. You walk in darkness of soul. You have no promise of heaven so that when you die you will go to Hades or hell, a sort of frightful holding tank, to wait for your trial hearing. Even now at this reading, without Christ, you are one of the dead.
While in hell, you will suffer inexplicable torture and pain. It will be unrelenting and without relief. God has allowed certain individuals alive today to visit hell as one of its victims to taste its awfulness. It is God's intention that they describe what they felt and saw to warn all of us of its horrors.
Even in their narrations about what they saw and had happen to them in hell, they must withhold some descriptions because they are so horrific! But they tell enough to let us know hell is a place we ought to avoid at all costs! God intended hell for the devil and his angels. Only people who side with the devil go there, but by their own intention.
One day soon, enough will be enough! God will provide you a day in court when you will be given your sentence for eternity! I certainly hope that after reading this, you will turn around and decide to follow Jesus as the Lord of your life instead of ignoring this warning.
The Life and Light
When Jesus met with Nicodemus, He stated plainly:
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds will be revealed as having been performed to God." John 3:17-21.
When your name is called, you will approach the bench and stand before Jesus Christ, who sits as your judge. He never intended to be your judge, as the quoted verses state clearly. He doesn't want to be your judge. Yet, He will be your judge unless you change your mind about Him first! The time is fast approaching when He will have no choice. Right now, you do!
The Court Room
Control is a word with a double meaning. To the person who possesses it, it means power. To the person who does not possess it, control means submission. The Great White Throne Judgment court room will be controlled by the Judge, Jesus Christ. You will have no voice in what happens there. You will be in submission to the One to whom you would not submit in this life time.
Jesus' court room and His own presence will be so overwhelming that Revelation says:
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them."
It will be frightening. It will be so overwhelming that even heaven and earth will get away. The reality of where you are and before Whom you stand will overcome you. All the things that currently are familiar to you on earth will be gone! No props or excuses will support you there. It will be a day of awful reckoning.
Ordinarily, at an earthly trial the entire room stands in honor when the judge mounts the bench. When Jesus is seated on His throne, you will not stay on your feet. Though you may reject bowing before Him while you breathe earth's air during your life time, you WILL bow to Him on that fateful day! Be certain of this: you will bow LOW before Jesus as Lord of the Universe on the day of your trial.
"For this reason also, God highly exalted Him (Jesus), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" Philippians 2:9-11.
You will know and realize, though too late, that He IS the One in control, not you! You WILL confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father! Your regrets will be too late.
Jesus as Judge
A judge has specific functions when he presides over a court room. Jesus will perform them at the Great White Throne Judgment, as well. One by one we shall discuss those functions and how they will look at your trial. So, let's move on!
Jesus will be seated on a huge white throne. It will be His rightful place because He lived, died and rose from the grave as the Perfect God-Man during His ministry years on earth. He will be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords forever! It is before Him that you will stand!
In His court room Jesus' presence and power will be so strong and evident that no one will dare get out of order. Even heaven and earth will flee away because of the glory that fills His court room! Yet, although you will bow in fear and honor to Him, it does not mean you will love Him. On that day your heart will be filled with hate for the One who sits in authority above you. You will have missed your day of salvation when you could have loved Him, instead.
"Jesus answered, 'I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6.
Jesus is the Originator and Source of absolute truth. He cannot lie! All evidence brought into His court room will be complete, just and true. No records will be altered to protect vital facts. Nothing will be hidden. We know that because:
"...books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds."
Perhaps you don't know or believe that your life is being recorded as you live it. Obviously, books are being kept in heaven about every individual on earth. No detail is overlooked, no thought or action is too insignificant to be recorded. Every recorded word and act is accurate absolutely and completely.
You may think this impossible or improbable. Investigate the experiences of the many people who have had near-death and/or out-of-body experiences. In a moment of time many saw their whole life pass before their eyes! In a supernatural court room, time will not exist anymore. The books that recorded your life time will flash before you in their entirety. There will be no denying what you see. Every detail will be true. And they will condemn you.
In addition, the books of the Old and New Testament will be opened, God's revealed truth about Himself and the clear way to heaven He provided through His Son. All the evidence Jesus allows in His court room will be truth, legal and reliable. It is that Word you refused to hear or allow to show you your sins and God's plan of redemption for you.
All the times you rejected light Jesus gave you during your time on earth will be manifested. All the times you heard Truth and walked away from it or chose to go your own way instead will be laid bare. All the evil things you thought, said and did will be exposed. Your life, your actions, your thoughts and motives will testify against you in light of the Truth you knew or could have known, but chose not to investigate and receive.
While a judge would work with the jury at an earthly trial, the Great White Throne Judgment has no need for a jury. The dead will have declared themselves guilty without a doubt or equivocation by their decision to avoid the Light. Your life story will have said it all. Just as Jesus told Nicodemus:
"the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:18.
Though the case against every individual in Jesus' court will be a bench trial, the deciding law has long before been declared and made plain for all to read in the Bible, as well as being written in our hearts, so no one has had to err in meeting the requirements of God's instructions.
You may want to plead that you did many good things during your days on earth: you loved your family, you did a good job at work, and you were an excellent neighbor. All those actions will be exposed when the books of your life's story unfold. However, there remains one missing piece.
"...and they were judged, each one of them according to their deeds." Revelation 20:13.
So unerring and just is God that long before you and I were born, He gave each of us a free will that can decide whether or not we want to or will to believe in God as our Creator and Jesus as our Savior. The decision to condemn us in not God's to make. He put that responsibility on us. It is ours and ours alone. Because the books that will testify against you are true and complete, there will be no need to fact-check or question them.
Blatantly, your story will be out there in plain sight to testify against you. Every single thing you ever thought, said and did will be 'televised' for all to see. And it will show one most compelling argument: Your name is not recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life. That telling event would have happened when you gave your heart and life to Jesus. But you chose not to, so your name will be glaringly absent! Lack of that credential plus the fact that you went to Hades when you died will testify against you, the dead, and spell the most awful sentence ever levied on any one in the course of human history.
"And if anyone's name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:15.
Had you chosen to fall on the mercy of God for forgiveness for your sins while you lived on earth, all the books with your recorded sins would have been destroyed and forgotten by God and Jesus. Redeemed people are free from the guilt of sin and God says He remembers them no more.
Having the books of your deeds available to testify against you shouts that you are guilty of the blood of Jesus, because you did not claim His forgiveness and cleansing from your sins. The sentence for each of the dead found guilty has been predeclared in the Bible, so no one could or should be in the dark about what to expect. You will be thrown into the lake of fire!
Jesus went on to describe who will go into the lake of fire:
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murders and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Revelation 21:8.
When you land in this lake of fire, you will have company already waiting for you:
"...and the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." Revelation 20:10.
The lake of fire burns forever and ever! While many individuals in current years have been given various experiences in hell to warn us about, God has never shown anyone the lake of fire. It is so horrific we don't need to know more than God's word in Revelation says about it.
The Lake of Fire
The lake of fire is the sentence Jesus will declare over you! Most telling is the phrase "thrown into the lake of fire." Worthless things, trash and garbage are thrown into fire to destroy them. That is how the dead will be treated. You will be considered absolutely worthless, trash, garbage, refuse to be gotten rid of by fire. You trampled Jesus and His precious blood spilled on your behalf and treated His sacrifice as trash. Your own Creator died on your behalf, but you would not give consideration to the sacrifice He made for you. Little wonder that at the end of the age, you will be treated the same way, as trash!
"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2.
You see, you might curse God now as being unfair, One who is unjust in His expectations of you. He is NOT really your judge. You are! He has set the standards and instructions. They are holy and moral, righteous and fair. If you choose not to walk according to them, you are the one who decides your fate. God has done everything in His power to provide salvation and a way to walk that is holy and right and good.
Just one thing remains to emphasize: You have a soul that will continue to exist forever. The lake of fire will burn forever, as well. The suffering you will experience for all eternity will be without let up. The torment will be unimaginable. You will never forget all you did during your time on earth, time you spent NOT being subject to God and Christ, but instead devoted to your idol, the devil. No matter what it costs you now, please consider the way of God. Ask Him to help you find and know Him as your truest Friend, not your judge. After all, in the final analysis,
"...he who falls on the stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust." Matthew 21:44.
You will meet God one way or the other: in humbleness of heart and attitude or as a defiant obstacle on whom He will fall and crush. His words will stand forever and ever! Choose LIFE.
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." Revelation 22:12.
Why don't you give more attention to what lies beyond this existence? We all know we are destined to die. What then? Shouldn't you consider what happens to you after you leave this earth? Listen to God's heart:
"'As I live!' declares the Lord God, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die?'" Ezekiel 33:11.