True Meaning of the "Great White Throne Judgment" in Revelation 20:11
Revelation 20:11–12 says, “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.”
When discussing the great white throne judgment, many brothers and sisters believe based on these two Bible verses that it will just be for unbelievers who don’t have faith in God. They think that when the end of the world comes, thewill judge every person according to their deeds, and all unbelievers will be condemned and punished. However, all believers are absolved because they have already accepted the Lord Jesus’ redemption, so they won’t need to be subjected to the judgment, but will be able to directly enter into the kingdom of heaven. But is that the case? This will be the focus of our fellowship today.
First, we need to be clear that these two verses from the Book of Revelation were from a vision that John saw. How visions are ultimately fulfilled isn’t something that we can fully explain just based on the literal meaning of the scripture. It’s only something we can truly understand after God’s work has come to fruition. What God can conceive of far outstrips our capability as humans; His work is wondrous and unfathomable, so we cannot delimit it based on our own notions and imaginings. So then, what does the Bible say about God’s work of judgment in the last days? Let’s take a look at what the Bible says. “[F]or He comes to judge the earth: with righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity” (Psalms 98:9). “And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people” (Isaiah 2:4). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).
These prophecies mention things like “judge the world,” “judge … the people,” “judge among the nations,” and “judgment must begin at the house of God.” We can see very clearly from this that when the Lord returns in the last days, He is to judge all nations and all peoples with a righteous disposition, not to judge unbelievers, as we’ve imagined. God’s work of judgment in the last days begins at the house of God, unfolding with the group of people who accept God’s salvation of the last days. That is to say, when God returns in the last days, He reveals the way of judgment, and all those who accept His work of judgment of the last days are recipients of His judgment, cleansing, and complete salvation. The work of judgment beginning at the house of God is to make this group of overcomers before the disaster. This is the group, the “144,000 victorious male children,” in the Book of Revelation prophecy. They are the ones who will be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven and gain eternal life, and this is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Revelation: “And I looked, and, see, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:1–5).
Some of you may now be wondering, “We’ve sinned, but we’ve confessed and repented to the Lord, and our sins have been redeemed, so we should be able to get into the kingdom of heaven. Why do we also have to accept God’s judgment?”
Why Do We Need to Accept Judgment After Our Sins Are Redeemed?
We all know that the Lord Jesus was crucified to do the work of redeeming mankind of his sins, so after accepting Him as our Savior, when we’ve sinned, we can confess to Him, and then He’ll redeem us of those sins. Then, we’ll no longer be condemned to death under the law. However, this doesn’t mean that we aren’t inherently sinful, and it particularly doesn’t mean that we are people who adhere to, who can just go straight into the kingdom of heaven. Let’s look at a couple of passages of God’s words to better understand this. God says, “The sins of man were forgiven through the agency of the incarnate God, but this did not mean that man no longer had sin within him. The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem.” “For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition. …”
We can see from God’s words that the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption was to redeem us of our sins; this was just because God would no longer remember our sins that are in violation of the law, but in fact, our sinful natures have not been removed. We still can’t help but frequently sin and resist the Lord. Consider all of the following. We pray and confess every day, but then continue committing the same sins, which is brazenly lying to God. In our interpersonal dealings, whenever someone says or does something that encroaches upon our own interests or our dignity, we develop a grudge against them and may even take revenge when we get the chance. When we see that a preacher is particularly good at delivering sermons, we start to adulate them and when we encounter an issue, instead of praying and seeking with God, we look to that person to resolve it. We listen to whatever they say, whether or not it accords with the truth. This is precisely worshiping an idol. On top of all that, the moment we gain some sort of position in the church, we don’t care about anyone else or even God, but just wield our power unilaterally, demanding that brothers and sisters listen to us. We get angry and irritated with whoever won’t listen to us and will sometimes strike out at and rebuke them. When we encounter some undesirable things like natural and man-made disasters, we still develop grievances, misunderstanding and blaming God, and may even be in danger of departing from God. The list goes on. All of us do these kinds of things to a certain extent. This shows that in our faith, we just verbally acknowledge thebut we’re unable to adhere to the Lord’s path. We are just like what the Lord Jesus referred to when He said, “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words.” God is righteous and holy, so naturally the kingdom of heaven is also holy, and no filth can remain within it. It’s just as the Lord Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever” (John 8: 34–35). God’s disposition will tolerate no offense. Those of us who do not adhere to God’s words are full of corrupt dispositions and are all servants of sin, so how could we be worthy of entering the kingdom of heaven? God is faithful; He is saving mankind, and thus He will save mankind fully. This is why God has prophesied another stage of the work of judgment in the last days in accordance with what we as corrupt humanity need, and in accordance with His own work plan. It is to thoroughly cleanse us of our corruption so that we may be qualified to . Just as the Bible prophecy says: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). We can see here that when the Lord returns in the last days He is to express truths, to do the work of judgment beginning with the house of God through His words. This is the great white throne judgment work spoken of in the Book of Revelation. It is to fully cleanse us of our sins and to allow our corrupt dispositions to be transformed, so we may become people who truly submit to and love God, and so we may receive God’s full salvation. This is why it’s so critical for us to accept God’s judgment work of the last days, so we may be fully saved and enter into the kingdom of heaven!
Christ of the Last Days Has Already Begun the Great White Throne Judgment
Portents of the great disaster have already occurred: The four blood moons appeared long ago; there have been strange celestial phenomena; there have been earthquakes, floods, and plagues of locusts worldwide; the 2019 coronavirus has swept across the globe in just two short months. The Lord Jesus’ prophecies of the omens for His return have all come about: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24: 7–8). So, has the Lord already returned to do the work of judgment? In fact, the Lord Jesus returned some time ago—He isincarnate, Almighty God. He began to utter words in 1991, thus commencing the great white throne judgment, using His words to judge and cleanse every single follower of Almighty God. So then, how does Christ of the last days really perform the work of judgment?
God says, “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God.”
We can see here that God carrying out the work of judgment isn’t simply expressing some passages of His words or saying a few things to reprimand people, but it is expressing all truths that will allow us, human beings, to attain full salvation. This includes how Satan corrupts mankind, what kinds of corrupt dispositions we’re controlled by in our resistance to God, how we should tailor our practice to submit to and love God, who God expresses His rage toward and who He bestows mercy upon. These truths are the core of judging and exposing mankind’s corruption. It is only through accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words that we can see the truth of our corruption by Satan, understand the root of our sinfulness and resistance to God, and see how vile we’ve become through Satan’s corruption—we’re lacking any human likeness, and we have satanic dispositions such as being full of arrogance and self-importance, being crafty and deceitful, as well as selfish and despicable. Our deeds disgust God and we’re not even fit to be called human, nor are we fit for God’s salvation. Only after accepting this work can we develop a heart of true repentance and become willing to accept even more of God’s words of judgment and chastisement, thus achieving full purification and transformation. Through experiencing the judgment of God’s words we can also get a taste of God’s righteous, majestic disposition which tolerates no offense, understand God’s attitude toward positive and negative things, and more deeply feel that God’s righteousness contains His mercy and forbearance for us. We can see God’s beautiful, kind essence, becoming willing to repent to Him and put His words into practice to meet His requirements. There have now been many brothers and sisters who have gone through the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and have gained some true understanding of God. Their outlooks on life and their values have begun to transform, and they are able to practice some of the truth. Their life dispositions have also changed to varying degrees. This has all been achieved through God’s judgment work of the last days. Thus, only if we accept God’s judgment work of the last days will we be able to see the truth of our corruption by Satan, recognize God’s righteous disposition, and develop hearts of reverence for God. This is the only way to gradually cast off the shackles of sin, be purified, and become people who genuinely submit to and worship God. The overcomers ultimately made through God’s work of judgment in the last days are also those whose corrupt dispositions have been cleansed and who truly submit to God, just as it was prophesied in the Book of Revelation. “And I looked, and, see, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads. … These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:1, 4–5). However, those evil servants, antichrists, and all others who do evil and resist God, who don’t accept the judgment of Christ of the last days while God is doing the work of words, whose corruption has not been cleansed and transformed, and who condemn Christ of the last days, will be exposed as the tares, as the evil servants. After God has made the group of overcomers, those evildoers will be sent down into the great disaster by God—the disaster of judgment, the advent of reality.
By now we fully understand that when God of the last days expresses the truth, this is the beginning of the great white throne judgment work of the last days that was prophesied in the Book of Revelation. God first uses His words to purify and fully save every single person who follows the Lamb’s footsteps. After making a group of overcomers, He will rain down disasters to punish and destroy this wicked, filthy old world, and only then will He begin to appear to all of humanity. Then God’s work of judgment will come entirely to an end, and God’s kingdom will appear on earth. That is to say, for this group of people who accept Almighty God’s work of the last days, judgment is done through words, and it is to cleanse and save mankind. But for unbelievers and those who resist God, the reality of judgment will come upon them through earthquakes, famines, plagues, and other catastrophes; this is to punish and obliterate humanity. It is clear that God’s great white throne judgment of the last days is a blessing for those who pursue and accept the truth—it is salvation. However, for those who do evil and resist God, it brings exposure and elimination.
Do you still believe that the great white throne judgment of the last days is only for the judgment of unbelievers? After reading this article, how do you feel you should approach the Lord’s judgment work upon His return?