“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. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
This world will be judged by the Lord for its sins. In particular, we must pay attention to the fact that the Lord Himself will be the Executor of the Last Judgment. Like this, the Apostles’ Creed confesses, “(I believe in) He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
In all things, if there is a beginning, then there must be an end. As God Himself, Jesus therefore is both the Creator and the Judge. Because the Lord is the Savior of mankind, He is also the Judge. He is “the first and the last.”
The Bible tells us that there is the due season for everything under heaven. As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven,” and Acts 17:31 says, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.” Like this, God will most certainly judge the sins of mankind. The standard of this judgment is measured by whether or not one had believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and everyone will be judged based on this criterion.
The Time of Judgment
The Day of Judgment will come when God has completely spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world (Matthew 24:14). This will be the final day of this world, the day of its end. This is the day referred to by Revelation 20:11, which says, “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.”
It is also stated in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” Moreover, not everyone can escape the judgment of God, but it can be avoided only by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord. The Scriptures refer to this day as the “Day of Judgment” (Matthew 11:22, 12:36; Acts 17:31) and the “Day of God’s Wrath” (Romans 2:5; Revelation 16:1).
The Purpose of God’s Judgment of This World
Psalm 97:2 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” Like this, the purpose of God’s judgment of this world is to reward the righteous and to punish sinners.
Only the omnipotent and omniscient Lord of righteousness will clearly separate His sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:32), and His wheat from the chaff (Matthew 3:12). Like this, when the last day comes, those who believe will be unmistakably distinguished from those who do not.
The first half of Revelation 20:11 says, “Then I saw a great white throne and He who sat on it.” This tells us that no one can hide his/her sins from Him. Like this, people must either receive the remission of all their sins once and for all, by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord, or otherwise they must be destroyed. Who can ever pretend to be righteous before the Lord (Psalm 143:2)? Let us, therefore, confess our sins and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God has told us in Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
The Nature of Judgment
The nature of God’s judgment of sinners can be understood when we first comprehend the essence and attributes of the Lord, who is this very Judge. This judgment is a judgment rendered within God’s mercy, and therefore there is no other mercy. If God were to judge sinners without first having blotted out their sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, He would indeed appear to us as a terrifying God. But because Jesus has blotted out all our sins of the world through His baptism and the blood of the Cross, it has been determined by God that those who believe would be saved and those who do not would be judged.
This is why Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” In Matthew 25:31-33, Jesus Himself said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” He also said in verse 46, “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Because we are finite mortals, even as we believe, in our lack of understanding and impetuous disposition we wish that all the problems of this world would be resolved. But Jesus will judge those who do not believe in the remission of sin that He has given them.
Revelation 20:12 states, “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
There are two kinds of books before God, and they are the Book of Life and the books of deeds, that is, the Books of Judgment. These are the benchmark of judgment. The books in the above passage refer to the books in which all the deeds of mankind are recorded. The Law points out sins, and it teaches us that whoever does not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord will not be able to be saved from all sins. That God would thus judge mankind with His books of deeds and the Book of Life is the righteous judgment. Depending on whether we believe in Jesus Christ as God, and whether we believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that He has given us, our names are written in the book of deeds or in the Book of Life. And based on this record, we will be either rewarded or punished.
When Thomas Edison, the king of invention, heard his own voice played back from the phonograph that he had invented, he said, “Even man can hear his own recorded voices. Would God, then, not have recorded all our deeds without fail?” Although such world-renowned celebrities as Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and Bruce Lee have passed away this world long ago, their voices, expressions, and acts are still seen through TV sets, just as lively now as in their past. When mere mortals can achieve this with their limited knowledge and technology, wouldn’t the Almighty God be able to accomplish this?
Like this, the question of one’s faith—that is, whether one believes in the baptism of Jesus and the blood of the Cross—is more important than even the question of his/her life and death. Why? Because depending on whether this person believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit or not, he/she will either receive the remission of sin from God, or face the condemnation of sin from Him.
The Law of God enables us to recognize our sins. And going before the presence of Jesus Christ, His baptism and blood lead us to believe in the remission of our sins. When measured by God’s Law, no mankind can ever be said to be sinless. But once people believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they can then no longer be said to be sinful. This is so because the Law of God not only sees outward acts of sin, but it pierces into the deepest recess of the human heart. The Law says, for example, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Likewise, even if we had not actually killed anyone, if we had hatred, jealousy, or envy that forms our murderous motivation, the Law tells us that we have already killed (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28).
Moreover, even if we had kept God’s Law well, when we break it even once, then we are deemed to have broken all of it. This is why mankind must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord.
God has therefore given to mankind Jesus Christ, who has completed the righteousness of God for all of us apart from the Law (Romans 3:21). Whoever believes that this Christ, obeying the Law completely, was baptized, shouldered the sins of the world, and died on the Cross can be saved from all his/her sins, just by believing in this truth. This is the covenant of salvation received by faith (Romans 5:19).
By accusing our hearts with the sins of the world, the Devil tries to drag us to hell. But by the advocacy of Christ, those of us who believe are forgiven of our sins and therefore enter Heaven. This is why 1 John 2:1 states, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
In this light, the eternal judgment between Heaven and hell is not decided by our good or evil deeds, but it is decided by whether or not we believe in the baptism and blood of Jesus Christ, and whether or not we believe Him to be God. Like this, the most important truth is that everyone should believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit while he or she is alive.
Our Lord Himself said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:14-16).
Jesus, who was baptized by John to take upon the sins of mankind and to fulfill all righteousness, carried these sins of the world to the Cross. Those in this world who believe in Jesus Christ are saved from all their sins. Because Jesus was baptized to vicariously bear the sins of mankind and died on the Cross, even a murderous robber like Barabbas was also saved. Like this, mankind can avoid judgment only by returning to Christ as soon as possible and believing in Him.
While living, all human beings are standing at a crossroad, where they must choose between the two ways to the opposite destinations—eternal destruction and eternal life.