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What is the Great White Throne Judgment?

The Great White Throne Judgment is a future event when the Lord will judge the multitudes of humanity. The Great White Throne Judgment will be a final hour of decision, when the chaff is eternally removed from the world.



The Great White Throne Judgment is a future event that is prophesied in the book of Revelation, and referenced many times in the bible. In the White Throne Judgment, all of the dead will be released from hell, and judged according to their works. The ones found written in the book of life will receive eternal life, but those whose names are not found written therein, will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

Revelation informs us regarding the Great White Throne Judgment, "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. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [Hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell [Hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20.11-15 KJV bible).

It is commonly taught and believed that when a person dies their soul goes to either eternal heaven or eternal hell. Those who have faith in Christ go to heaven, but everyone else goes to hell forever and ever. If we follow this line of reasoning, then for the great multitudes of unbelievers, there is no hope of eternal salvation.

The Great White Throne Judgment tells us something different. It informs us that in the future, the "dead" will be released from hell, and judged according to the totality of their works, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [Hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works" (Revelation 20.13 KJV bible).

So whereas followers of Christ are forgiven their past transgressions, and rewarded for their righteous works in Christ, the rest of humanity follows a different path. They will be judged by Christ and held to account for their all of their works, good and bad. Then some will be forgiven, and receive eternal life, but others will receive eternal condemnation in the Lake of Fire. So we come to understand the White Throne Judgment as a day of reckoning for the multitudes of humanity who have not received Christ.

This leads us to Matthew 25, where Jesus depicts the White Throne Judgment as the separation of sheep and goats, "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. And these [the goats] shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25.32-33,46 KJV bible).

In the Great White Throne Judgment, Jesus will divide the unbelievers into two groups. The ones who have been compassionate and merciful to others will be among the sheep, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25.40 KJV bible).

However, the ones who have been selfish, and delighted themselves in wickedness, will be numbered with the goats, "Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me" (Matthew 25.45 KJV bible). So even absent faith, there are some who are more righteous among the unbelievers. They will have a place in the eternity, but the evil ones will not.

The Great White Throne Judgment will be perhaps the most important event in the history of the world, because so much is at stake. However, we should also be aware that there is another time of judgment that will take place immediately at the return of Christ. This pre-judgment is sometimes confused with the White Throne Judgment, but they are not the same.

In the White Throne Judgment people will receive either eternal salvation or eternal damnation. However, the judgment and tribulation at Christ's return will be a forerunner that is in preparation for the final White Throne Judgment.

Romans 2.5-10 speaks of the time of judgment and wrath that will take place immediately at the return of Jesus Christ, "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his deeds...Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile" (Romans 2.5-6,9-10 KJV bible).

Regarding this time, Jesus says, "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes..." (Luke 12.47-48 KJV bible).

The Revelation of Christ, with all of his holy ones, will be an hour of judgment and wrath upon the world. Many will be cast down and disgraced, but others will receive glory and peace, "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels" (2nd Thessalonians 1.6-7 KJV bible).

When Jesus returns at the start of the millennium, he will render judgment according to the fruits that individuals have brought forth with their lives, "For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head" (Obadiah 1.15 KJV bible). The Lord will pour out tribulation upon the enemies of truth, but reward his servants with life and peace.

So we come to understand that there will be two future times of judgment. First, there will be wrath and tribulation when Christ returns, and then after the millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment will take place (see also Resurrection at Christ's Return).

The White Throne Judgment will be a final hour of decision for all mankind, when the wheat is gathered from the chaff, and the chaff is eternally destroyed. At the White Throne Judgment, the evil ones will be entirely excised from the world, and have no future in the eternal Kingdom of God.

Comments: (4)
Topic: The White Throne Judgment
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Grace C.
Hi Doug! Your understanding of the white throne judgment is uncommon (as far as i have read) but it is how i also understand it: it is the time when those who were not in the first resurrection will be resurrected and judged after the millennium.
My understanding also is that those in the first resurrection will be judged according to the imputed righteousness of our lord (but rewarded according to their deeds). Those in the next resurrection will be judged by their deeds.

My understanding also is that those of the first resurrection have been chosen for specific purpose of becoming God's kingdom of priests and kings to reign with Christ in the millennium and beyond; and and accepted it that invitation being faithful to the end. the rest of humanity will either populate his everlasting kingdom or become eternal residents in the lake of fire (the truly evil ones who are like the devil incarnate, those referred to as the sons of the devil, i suppose). if this is a correct understanding of god's message in the bible, i will not argue against what he deems fair and just judgment.
12th December 2009 7:00pm
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Doug Buckley
Hi Grace, I appreciate your interest and understanding of the White Throne Judgment.

As you are aware of, God's plan regarding the White Throne Judgment is fair and makes sense.
The people in the first resurrection will be rewarded for there works, and their sins are fully forgiven in Christ, so for them judgment is a good thing (see 1st Corinthians 3.10-15).
The ones in the second resurrection will be judged according to all that they have done, both good and bad, and presumably the circumstances and intent in which they did these things. Some will make it, but others won't. Those who don't care about anyone besides themselves are headed for trouble in the White Throne Judgment.

All of this might seem a bit confusing and complicated to others but it's simply the process of cleansing the world of evil and setting up an eternal world (see Matthew 25 as well).
13th December 2009 4:10am
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Gini
I am confused regarding the comments about "good deeds" or "good works". The bible clearly states that good deeds don't earn God's love and they clearly won't get you into heaven; that He loves us unconditionally and that nothing we physically do can earn our way into heaven.
You have to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, believe that He died on the cross for my sins, etc. "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his deeds...".
2nd March 2010 8:13am
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Doug Buckley
Hi Gini, there's a lot of confusion on the subject of salvation and judgment. Nonbelievers don't have their sins forgiven. Therefore nonbelievers will be judged according to their deeds or works in the White Throne Judgment, and are in danger. But the faithful don't have to worry about the White Throne Judgment.

First, the bible tells us that we are saved by faith, not works (Galatians 2.16). What this means is that we are not saved by good deeds or any kind of work. There are no actions or deeds that someone can do to be redeemed in Christ.

However works aren't irrelevant. Faith without works is dead (James 2.26), because works are the fruits of faith. So it's impossible to have strong faith and no works, "I will show you my faith by my works" (James 2.18). However, the works themselves don't save, but are simply our obligation in Christ, because where much is given, much is expected (Luke 12.48).
So when we are talking about believers being judged for their deeds, we mean the treasures built up in heaven for the faithful, hope this helps.
2nd March 2010 4:31pm
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