The Hour of His Judgment -part Four
“And the Books Were Opened”
“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Revelation 12:12. Knowing that his time is short, the devil has sought to blind the eyes of many from the important truths about Christ’s heavenly ministry, that they should not be ready for the judgment because he knows right well that this work precedes the Second Advent of Christ.
By darkening the minds of men and turning them away from Christ, man’s only hope of salvation, and from His heavenly ministry, the devil has managed to secure multitudes on his side to receive the condemnation that was meant for him. “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down… to be reserved unto judgment… The Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” 2 Peter 4, 9. For then shall the Lord say unto them, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41.
Even as the devil used the serpent as his medium to temp Eve in the garden of Eden, even so he has worked through the minds of men to lead others into temptation. The Papacy had become a great tool in the hands of the devil, to lead many astray and to turn their hearts away from the true faith and the last closing work for men’s salvation. Well had Daniel written, “he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.” Daniel 8:11.
In taking upon himself the title “Lord God the Pope” this man of sin has presumed to oppose and to exalt himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4. By establishing an earthly priesthood in the Vatican city, calling it the holy city, he has dared to blaspheme God and to cast down the place of His sanctuary. Satan well knew that Holy Scriptures would enable men to discern his deceptions and withstand his power, he worked that these should be kept away from the people thus fastening their minds more in the darkness of error. The Bible would exalt God and place finite men in their true position; therefore its sacred truths were suppressed and concealed.
While the law shows that we are sinners, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20), the Bible reveals to us the Savior’s character that if accepted, through faith and followed, would by His grace save us from the condemnation of the law. When the judgment sits and our lives should pass in review before the great Judge of the earth, we would stand the test and be found worthy to receive the gift of eternal life. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be… Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”Revelation 22:12, 14. Though no man shall be saved by the deeds of the law, yet none will be saved without obedience to the law of God. The law is the standard by which we are judged. It is still binding.
Bearing in mind then, that, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” 2 Corinthians 5:10; we ought to live soberly and righteously in this present world. Yet Peter clarifies that only cases of those who have taken upon themselves the name of Christ, will be considered for the judgment of the wicked is a separate and distinct work. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17.
The scripture teaches us plainly that none can receive a reward until this work has been accomplished. It is a great error that is held by many Christian churches that upon death, a soul either goes to heaven or hell. Their cases have to pass in review first, before such a reward can be given. Neither can any proceed to heaven until “The Lord… descends from heaven,” “to give every man according as his work shall be” (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 22:12).
We do not appear in person during the judgment, but through the record of our lives. Daniel told us that when the judgment was set, books were opened. These books contain the record of our words, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:36, 37. They also contain the record of our secrets, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13.
The transcript of our characters is measured up against the law which is transcript of the character of God, thus James counsels us saying, “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:12. The wicked also do not appear in person before the judgment seat of God. The judgment of the wicked takes place after Christ’s second coming. In this judgment phase the saints will be involved; says Paul, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3.
At the second coming of Christ, the Bible teaches us that Satan will be bound to this earth by a great chain for a thousand years. [Revelation 20:2]. The purpose of this is that he should, “deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” Verse 3.He is not bound with a literal chain but by a chain of circumstances; with no one to deceive, the devil will be as one cast into a bottomless pit. When the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, “the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
These together with those who are alive at His Second Coming shall be, “caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air,” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17), and to be forever with the Lord. While the wicked are consumed by the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His coming, [2 Thessalonians 2:8] and the rest of dead “lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” Revelation 20:5. Is it any wonder then that a blessing is pronounced upon those who have a part in the first resurrection: “on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6.
It is during this period that John 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.” Revelations 20:12. Here John makes a distinction between ‘the book’ and ‘the books’. ‘The book’ which is the book of life contains names; while the books contain the deeds.
The wicked could not be judged according to the book of life, because their names do not appear in that book. In order for one’s name to remain in that book, Christ says, “He that overcometh… I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5. The names that remain in this book are of all those who overcame and whose characters resembled the character of Christ. So the wicked are judged according to those things written in the books.
These testify to the reason why their names have been blotted out of the book of life. Their sins have not gone beforehand into judgment; they have not been laid upon Christ our sin-bearer to be atoned for in the investigative judgment. Consequently, all their good deeds have been forgotten. The wicked will now have to bear their own sins and pay the penalty which is death. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15. This is the second death. How important then is it that we prepare ourselves, that we “fear God and give glory to Him”, for the hour that will forever fix our destiny has come. Closely connected to this part of the work is the call to worship God.