TEXT: Revelation 20:11-15
11 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.
12 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.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
The Judgment of the Living Dead (Part 16)
Tim Lahaye said, “You have just read the most awesome passage found anywhere in the Bible. It is the sobering truth of our ultimate encounter with God. The story is told of the great statesman Daniel Webster, toward the twilight of his life, attending a luncheon meeting with some younger government leaders. The chairman of the group turned to Webster and asked, ‘What is the greatest thought that has ever passed through your head?’ Quick as a flash Daniel Webster replied, ‘My accountability to God.’ Nowhere is one’s accountability to God more clearly defined than in this passage of Scripture.”
In order to fully understand the reality of the judgment of Hell and the Lake of Fire, we have begun looking at the major aspects of Hell. In other words, we are answering the question, What kind of place is the Lake of Fire? There are twelve main aspects of the Lake of Fire spoken of in the Bible. We have already looked at ten of them:
1. The Lake of Fire is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
2. The Lake of Fire is a place of outer darkness.
3. The Lake of Fire is a place of multiple torments.
4. The Lake of Fire is a place of sorrows.
5. The Lake of Fire is a place of unsatisfied desires.
6. The Lake of Fire is a place of hopelessness.
7. The Lake of Fire is a place of bitter memory.
8. The Lake of Fire is a place of no rest.
9. The Lake of Fire is a place where the fire never goes out.
10. The Lake of Fire is a place prepared for the devil and his angels.
Today, I call your attention to the fact that the Lake of Fire is a place where there are degrees of punishment, but no mercy.
The Scriptural foundation for this truth is primarily found right here in Revelation 20. Verse 12 says that when the dead stand before God, ‘the books will be opened: and another book will be opened, which is the book of life: and the dead will be judged out of those things which are written in the books, according to their works.” Verse 13 also says that the dead who do not accept Christ are “judged every man according to their works.”
The idea of levels of punishment in Hell was popularized in the Middle Ages in Dante’s Divine Comedy. In the epic poem, there are nine concentric circles, each one containing a harsher punishment for more heinous sins. The outermost circle was reserved for virtuous unbelievers and the innermost circle for Satan and others who committed acts of treachery.
The passage in Revelation is not the only place where judgment according to works is taught. Hank Hanegraaff said, “The canon of Scripture ratifies the common-sense notion that not all sins are created equal. To think a murderous thought is sin; to carry that thought to its logical conclusion is a far graver sin. Every sin is an act of rebellion against a holy God, but some sins carry far more serious consequences than others and thus receive severer punishment in this life and the next. Indeed, according to Scripture the torment of Hitler’s hell will greatly exceed that of the less wicked.”
Jesus Himself espoused this idea in His teachings. He told the Pharisees that they would be punished more severely than others for their willful refusal to believe. He said that the cities of Tyre and Sidon would have a more bearable punishment than the cities of Cho-ra-zin and Bethsaida, both of which refused to believe on Him after He had worked great miracles there. He also told Pilate that the Jews who delivered Him up to be crucified had committed “the greater sin.”
The first set of “books” referred to in Revelation are most likely the books which record all of the actions of human beings — good and bad. Everything you and I have ever done — be it good or bad, significant or insignificant, secret or out in the open — is recorded in Heaven. These books are opened at the Great White Throne Judgment in order to bring the charge of sin against the living dead. Although those who end up at the Great White Throne Judgment will go to the Lake of Fire, the books are consulted in order to determine the intensity of the punishment given to each individual. God is fair. He will not punish those who commit lesser sins in the same way He punishes those responsible for great atrocities such as men of Isis and Hitler.
Of course, this does not make Hell any less of a terrible place. Whatever level of punishment a person receives, it will be painful and eternal. There will be no mercy, and the punishment will never end. Don’t think that you can “take” the punishment in Hell. Instead of bargaining to get as little punishment as possible, why not place your faith and trust in Christ today, and strive for greater rewards in Heaven.
Here is how you can trust Jesus Christ for salvation so that you can completely avoid the Lake of Fire.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.