Last night we continued our study of what the Bible says about the end times by looking at the next event after the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ: The final Judgment. Here are the notes:
First, let’s look at: Rev 20:11-15
- v. 11 The dissolution of the Old Creation: See 2 Peter 3:7, 10-11.
- v. 12-13 “The Dead.” These are all killed in 20:9, and “the rest of the dead” mentioned in 20:5. Since “dead” Christians have already been raised and stood before Christ’s judgment seat (see Romans 14:8-9 and 2 Corinthians 5:8-11)
“the books” provide the basis of judgment for each individual. They are judged “according to” their works.
- v.14 The end of death. See 2 Corinthians 15:20-28
- v.15 “The book of life” corroborates “the books” of works. See Philippians 4:3 where Paul says “the rest of my fellow workers…names are in the Book of Life” and see also these verses in Revelation: 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 21:27, 22:19. The Book of life records those appointed to life: i.e., those who have trusted Christ and received. All who are judged according to works and not found written are thrown in lake of fire.
The Meaning of this Judgment:
1. It’s Part of the Christian Proclamation
It’s been an essential part of the Christian message since the Apostles first began preaching. See verses like these in Acts:
In Acts 10:42-43 Peter says, “He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
In Acts 17:30-31 Paul says: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
By including the truth about the final judgment in our sharing of the gospel, we remind the world of what they have forgotten about God’s judgment on sin, and we continue what Jesus preached, and we proclaim him as Lord. (John 5:24-29, 12:48)
2. It vindicates the claims of Christ
He claimed to be judge of all men. He claimed to have all authority over all people. He claimed that everyone would finally be judged by how they oriented themselves towards him. The final judgment fulfills all these claims.
3. It vindicates God’s justice
The final judgment displays the full verdict on all evil. This is the final explanation for how God can allow evil in the world—in the end, he doesn’t. Its existence is temporary. Also, the justice of God is shown by the fact that the judge is the One who walked in our skin (Jesus, both God and Man). He is fully aware of our condition, and can judge on the basis of a shared experience. The final judgment is also God’s final vindication of his followers who have suffered evil at the hands of opponents. (This is a major theme in Revelation, see 6:9-11; 11:15-18, 17:6, 18:20, 24.)
4. It shows the true significance of all history.
Everything that happens matters, and has significance, whether for good or evil. From the standpoint of God’s kingdom, everything that is evil ultimately undoes itself and dissolves into insignificance. What has significance in the kingdom is that which is written in the Lamb’s book of life.
5. It validates the meaning and significance of each life, and of all actions
Every action of every individual life matters, and has significance, whether for good or evil. In fact, since nothing we do can be undone, every act has eternal significance. When a life has sin and evil in it, which is all written in the books, it taints and ruins everything else. Everyone is judged in line with the things they do, which show they were far from God and had not accepted his offer of Mercy through the death of Christ. So since every action is all significant, they suffer the consequences, and in that sense, their lives become meaningless in terms of the kingdom. In the lamb’s book of life though, good actions are gathered up and given a significance and meaning that endures forever in terms of the Kingdom. This is what the New Testament calls “rewards.”