The Great White Throne Judgment
Updated: Feb 9
Day 18 of the 24 Day Prophecy Study
Notes compiled by Steve McAtee and Marty Zide
This Judgment is only for non-believers. It will be for everyone who has ever lived from Adam on who has never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Since they did not trust the work of the Lord Jesus, they will be judged according to their works.
Rev 20:11-15 - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, 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 which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The Great White Throne is the final judgment in God’s program.
A. Who Will Be Judged?
This Judgment is for those of all ages who never trusted the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins. It’s for all unbelievers of all time.
Those being judged are called “the dead, the great and the small.” It doesn’t matter what their lot in life was. Their stature or position in their worldly existence is not a factor in how they will be judged at the Great White Throne.
Rev 20:11-12 - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small...
Daniel has this group of people in mind in his prophecy.
Dan 12:2 - Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
At this judgment, those unbelieving dead of all levels of society, intellect, positions of power, have one thing in common. They died without receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior. They will all be raised from their graves and judged.
B. When Will They Be Judged?
The answer to this question is clearly given in Rev. 20:5, where it indicates that it will take place after the 1000 year millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rev 20:1-6 - Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
C. Where Will They Be Judged?
This judgment does not take place in heaven or on the earth, but somewhere in between the two.
Rev 20:11-15 - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
D. Why Will They Be Judged?
The purpose of this judgment will not be to determine the eternal destiny of an individual. Their destiny will already have been determined by their rejecting Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
The primary reason for this judgment will be to determine the degree of eternal punishment the individual will receive. The more wicked, evil, and disobedient the person was during their lifetime, the greater their punishment will be. Another factor that is taken into consideration is, how much light did they have during their lifetime that was rejected?
Scriptures do teach that there are degrees of eternal punishment just as there are degrees of blessings in heaven.
Matt 11:20-24 - Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.
Why did Jesus pronounce such severe judgment upon Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum? The reason was because of the great amount of light that was manifested there as a result of Christ’s miracles.
Luke 12:47-48 - And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
On what basis will the individuals be judged at the Great White Throne? Since they did not trust the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, what was it that they trusted? They trusted in their own works and that’s what they will be judged by.
Rev 20:11-15 - ...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 they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
Eccl 12:14 - For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
The unsaved of all time will be judged according to their works. All of their deeds were recorded in books and at this judgment, these books will be opened. It is on the basis of what is written in these books that the degrees of punishment will be determined.
E. The Results of the Judgment
The results of the Great White Throne judgment are clearly laid out for us in Scripture. All unbelievers will be judged and the end result will be that all will be thrown into the lake of fire.
Rev 20:14-15 - Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Eternal separation from God in the lake of fire will be the eternal destiny of the unsaved. If you haven’t trusted the Lord Jesus as your Savior, you see the terrible future that awaits you. Trust Him today!