“Judged . . . According To Their Works”

Revelation 20.11-13


Delivered at a special meeting at Calvary Road Baptist Church on January 26, 2004



1.   It has been established that you are going to die.  Isaac spoke for us all, and he definitely spoke for you, when he said, “I know not the day of my death.”[1]  It was left for the writer to the Hebrews to explain why you will die, Hebrews 9.27:  “it is appointed unto men once to die.”  You will die because God has ordained that you die.  He has appointed your death.

2.   But why will you die?  Why has God appointed men to die?  Why has God appointed you to die?  Because you have sinned.  You see, God told Adam, the very first man, not to do something.  And He warned him of the consequences should he disobey. 

3.   Genesis 2.16-17 reads, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

4.   Of course, Adam did disobey God, and Adam died.  Because Adam was the head of our race, his single act of defiance not only affected him for the rest of his life, but his single act of defiance also affected all of his descendants.  You are a direct descendant of Adam, so his sin has greatly affected you.

5.   The spiritual contamination and defilement of Adam’s single act of rebellion against God has so thoroughly contaminated his posterity, has so completely fouled the nature of every man and every woman and every boy and girl, that there is not a one of us who was not born into the human family “dead in trespasses and sins.”[2]

6.   So, you are going to die because of your sinfulness, which you inherited from Adam.  We have established that.  It would be foolish and naive in the extreme to deny that reality.  But there is another reality that you must face up to, and that is where you will go when you die.  Of course, you will go to Hell.

7.   Last night I spoke to you about Hell.  I showed you that Hell is a place.  I showed you that Hell is the place where you will go when you die.  I showed you that Hell is a place of torment, where you will be tortured so that you will suffer excruciating pain.

8.   Sometimes preachers liken Hell to a jail cell that a prisoner is confined to while he is waiting for his trial.  But such a comparison is really a mistake, for you see your guilt is already established.  You were born guilty.  Your entire life has been one, long demonstration of your guiltiness.  So, Hell is not a place where you will be confined until your guilt or innocence is determined.

9.   It is more accurate to think of Hell as a place where someone who is guilty is confined while he is waiting for the final determination of his sentence.  You are already guilty in the sight of God.  There is no question in God’s mind of your guilt.

10. So, when you die you will go to Hell and there you will wait, with great suffering and torment from torture, not to determine your guilt, not to ascertain whether or not you deserve eternal torment, but to determine the severity of the eternal punishment which you most definitely deserve.

11. It has been appropriate for you to spend time thinking about the inevitability of your death.  It has been appropriate for you to spend time thinking about your consignment to Hell.  Tonight it will be appropriate for you to spend time thinking about what will come after Hell, the judgment of the great day.

12. B. R. Lakin, an old evangelist in the mountains of Appalachia, who rode from town to town on a mule before the days of roads and automobiles, once told the story of his dealings with a county sheriff.  “Sheriff,” he said, “you’re going to die someday.”  The sheriff said, “I’m not afraid of dying.  I’m not afraid of nothin’.”

13. This dialog went on every time Lakin rode into that isolated mountain town, until one day as he rode in the sheriff’s wife said, “Preacher, come to the house.  My husband’s dying.”  So, Lakin rode over to the log cabin the sheriff lived in and climbed the steps to the front door and went into that one room shanty.

14. When Lakin went to the sheriff’s bed side he said, “Sheriff, you’re dying.”  The sheriff said, “I know that, but like I told you, I’m not afraid of dying.  I’m not afraid of nothin’.”  Then Lakin asked that dying man, “But what about the judgment?  It’s appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.”  The sheriff looked at Lakin with a start and said, “Oh, my God.  I never thought of that.”

15. There are a lot of people who are not overtaken with a fear of death, even when death approaches near.  But it’s a fool of a man who doesn’t take pause and find his soul troubled at the thought of judgment.  The subject of tonight’s sermon is that judgment, the judgment of the great day.

16. Turn in your Bible to chapter Revelation 20.  When you find Revelation 20.11, stand for the reading of God’s Word:


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.


17. To recap what I have said so far, you will die, and then you will go to Hell.  Seven years after the Rapture occurs the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth in power and great glory to establish His millennial kingdom.  When that thousand year earthly reign has come to an end the events of which I will now speak will occur.

18. Think of it.  For more than 1000 years you will have suffered the torture chamber of Hell, while on earth the Lord Jesus Christ rules in righteousness.  Then will come the judgment.

19. There are three things in these three verses that I want you to focus your attention on:



1B.    Consider His identity.

1C.   In John 5.22, the Lord Jesus Christ very clearly stated that “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”

2C.   And in Acts 17.31, Paul told the Athenians of the Lord Jesus Christ’s judgment, when he told them that God “hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

3C.   So, it is quite clear that you will be judged by Jesus Christ, Who you have scorned, Who you have rejected, Who you have discounted, Who you have refused, Who you have despised.  Yes, it is abundantly clear that you will be judged by the One you have judged to be unworthy, that you will be judged by the Just One, that you will be judged by the One Who is now tender and compassionate but who will then have eyes that are as flames of fire.

4C.   Yes, there is coming a day when this same Jesus, Who told His disciples to turn the other cheek, and to pray for those who would despitefully use them, will fulfill the prediction made when Paul said in Romans 12.19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

2B.    As well, consider here His attributes; implied by His throne, suggested by His posture, and illustrated by His terrible majesty.

1C.   First, His throne.  What is meant by this “great white throne” Jesus will sit on when He judges you?  It is a great throne because the One Who sits upon it is great.  He is the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords.[3]  He is the great God and Judge of all the earth, and this will be “the judgment of the great day”[4] on that “great and dreadful day of the LORD.”[5]  That it is a great white throne also suggests the glory, the purity and the justice of the One Who sits on it.

2C.   Second, His posture.  The Lord Jesus Christ sits, while all others stand.  This shows His authority.  Remember, to His disciples He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”[6]  By that authority He sent forth His apostles and He sends forth this Church to preach the gospel.  By that same authority He will judge you for not submitting to His gospel authority, for not bending your knee and bowing your head and confessing with your mouth that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

3C.   Third, His majesty.  “. . . from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.”  Does this not suggest the terror of the Lord that Paul wrote of?   “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men,” Second Corinthians 5.11.  Does this not also remind you of what Job said, in Job 37.22?  “With God is terrible majesty.” 

4C.   Turn to Isaiah 6, where we will read verses 1-5:

1      In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

2      Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

3      And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

4      And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

5      Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.


This is what happened to Isaiah when he saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, “and the house was filled with smoke.”  Revelation 20.11 shows what happens when there is no smoke, and when the King’s countenance is fully revealed to His creation as He sits on His throne of judgment. 

5C.   We know that Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.[7]  But from this verse we see that when my Lord Jesus Christ sits on His great white throne of judgment, His countenance will be so fierce and His gaze will be so penetrating that this present universe will cease to exist.  “. . . the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”[8]  “. . . the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.”[9]  The entire created universe will seek to flee His countenance, to escape His gaze.  But failing to find a place to hide, the universe that He created and that He has sustained for these thousands of years will pass away with “a great noise.”  The real big bang signals this universe’s destruction, not its origin.  All that existed will suddenly be gone.  But you will remain . . . to face judgment.



There you will be, standing before Him.  If you think you can then band together with others and revolt against your Judge, dismiss the notion.  “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished,” Proverbs 11.21.  Three things about you, in Revelation 20 12-13:

1B.    First, your situation in life is described.

1C.   Verse 12 begins, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.”  Understand, you will not be small and great when you stand before the great white throne.  You will be very, very small then.  But this is a reference to your attainments in this lifetime, before you die.

2C.   Some of you in this room will amount to nothing more than a hill of beans.  You are lazy and dull and will accomplish nothing of significance.  You will waste your life away, blowing every paycheck and accumulating silly toys.  You are described here as small.

3C.   Others of you are go-getters, and you will work hard and scrimp and save and accumulate and accomplish.  You will be entrepreneurial, and will end up being somebody.  You are described here as great.

4C.   But either way, without Christ, you will die and go to Hell, and there will come a day when you stand before the great white throne for your final judgment.

2B.    Next, your situation in death is described.

1C.   Verse 13 begins, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.”  Some are dead in the sea, while others are dead in graves, but all souls without Christ go to Hell.

2C.   Ever wonder how many died in the Great Flood in Noah’s day?  Ever wonder how many there were in Pharaoh’s army that died while pursuing the Israelites on their chariots, as the waters of the Red Sea that God had held back suddenly overwhelmed them?  Then there are the sailors who have died at sea over the centuries.

3C.   Most, however, have died on land and have been buried, except for the pagan rituals of burning the bodies of the dead.  But wherever you are when you die, and whatever happens to your body, your soul will go to Hell and remain there until the judgment of the great day. 

3B.    There will come a day when your time in Hell is finished.  Is your torment over?  Has punishment and suffering concluded?  Oh, no.  Your worst nightmare is about to begin.  It is time for the judgment of the great day.  Understand this, you who are lost:  It only gets worse and worse.

1C.   At that time your body will be restored and reunited with your soul so you can be delivered up for the judgment.

2C.   Are you immodest now?  Do you take pride in your body now?  Do you like to flaunt your muscles, or perhaps show off your figure?  Do you dress immodestly, seductively, because you enjoy showing off to members of the opposite sex the shape of your body, the outline of your limbs, your bare midriff, your low neckline?

3C.   Well, get ready for the judgment of the great day, because on that day you will stand naked and ashamed, not only before the Lord Jesus Christ on His great white throne, but also before the disapproving audience of assembled saints and holy angels.



Two things and I am finished:

1B.    First, take note of the books mentioned in connection with the judgment.

1C.   In verse 12 we read, “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.”

2C.   The book of life will be checked to verify that you were never converted.  I am convinced, however, that there will be some church people who will protest, saying, “Lord, Lord, have I not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?”[10]  Then the Lord Jesus Christ will say, “I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.”[11]

3C.   On the other hand, the books that will be opened at that time are the records of your sins, from the time you were born until the time you died and went to Hell.  From Psalm 58.3, we see that your sinning began when you were born:  “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”

4C.   And your sinning continues without interruption:  “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.”[12]

5C.   Yes, every single sinful thought, word and deed is recorded in God’s books in heaven.  So that when the Lord Jesus Christ dismisses this sin-stained universe that you have despoiled by your wickedness, but before He creates a new heaven and a new earth in sinless and pristine perfection, He will deal with and dispose of you.

2B.    And the basis of His judgment, of His disposal of you?  Using those books containing the record of yours sins as a perfect witness to testify against you, He will judge you according to your works.

1C.   “. . . the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works,” verse 12.  “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,” verse 13.

2C.   The stress, we see, is upon your works.  That is, the emphasis will be upon what you have done, your deeds.  Romans 2.2 assures us that judgment will be according to truth:  “But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.”  Additionally, Paul assures us that God, “. . . will render to every man according to his deeds,” Romans 2.6.

3C.   But what will God be particularly concerned with on the judgment of the great day?  Romans 2.16:  “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”



1.   You are going to die and go to Hell.  You will be in Hell, suffering the torment of the damned for longer than you can stand.  And when you did not think it could get any worse, you will be rejoined to your body and made to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ as He sits on His great white throne.

2.   Oh, the terror you will experience as this One before Whose face “the earth and the heaven fled away” stares at you with eyes that are flames of fire. 

3.   And then your sins will be rehearsed to you, all of your sins, from the books.  Page after page after page after page.  Sin after sin after sin after sin.  And all the time He will be looking at you with eyes that are flames of fire, and a countenance that chased away the heavens and the earth.

4.   How very naked you will be then.  How very ashamed you will be then.  Forever and ever you will remember those eyes piercing you through.  Eyes that had once been full of compassion that tenderly beckoned you to come to Him, had now turned to fierce anger and resentment, fury and indignation, at your stubborn and obstinate refusal to respond.

5.   No longer seeking your salvation, His eyes will be seeking only vengeance.  Already guilty in the eyes of God, and having stubbornly refused the Son of God during the course of your wicked and self-centered life on earth, you will stand before the Judge of all the earth, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Oh, the terror.

6.   I am quite sure some of you think you are getting away with things now.  And you have tricked yourself into thinking that there will not be a judgment day for you.  But remember Numbers 32.23:  “ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”  He knows.  Yes, He knows.  And He will judge you.

7.   Therefore, you will not get away with your sins.  There will come a judgment day, and you will be one of those judged.  And when Jesus Christ sits in judgment of you, the words of the patriarch Abraham will seal your fate:  “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”[13]

[1] Genesis 27.2

[2] Ephesians 2.1

[3] Revelation 19.16

[4] Jude 6

[5] Malachi 4.6

[6] Matthew 28.18

[7] John 1.3; Colossians 1.16-17

[8] 2 Peter 3.10

[9] 2 Peter 3.12

[10] Matthew 7.22

[11] Matthew 7.23

[12] Romans 1.29-31

[13] Genesis 18.25

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