We take some time to review what we have seen in Revelation so far. We pick up John’s vision with the judgment seat in chapter 20. Death is not the end of our lives; it is a transition into the next manifestation of our existence. The Judgment Seat awaits as we make the transition into Eternity. We should be living our lives on Earth in light of this truth – understanding that our choices matter. 


Judgment Day

It’s often said that successful people begin with the end in mind. And I think that’s inarguable because if you have even just a project, if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s really hard to get there. 

And in life, if you don’t know where you are, and you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll get there, as they say. 

Death is not the end of our lives

And what people usually talk about when they talk about life—our lives—as beginning with the end in mind is sort of a vague “what will people say about you at your funeral?” Which I’m going to propose to you today is an inadequate end to think about, because what we’re going to talk about today is, I will propose, the actual end of our life on earth. 

Our physical passing is just an installment of our actual end. The actual end is the judgment day. And we’ve finally gotten in Revelation to the judgment day in chapter 20. So that’s what we’re going to do today.

Our choices make a big difference

Let’s just start with Romans 2 and start breaking paradigms and making you uncomfortable right off the bat. In Romans 2:6 it says that God “will render to each one according to his deeds.” That is a quote from the Old Testament, so there’s nothing new about this concept. 

And then he gives two outcomes; it’s a binary outcome. 

Number one: Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;

Now that’s confusing to us because we’re used to thinking of eternal life as a gift that you get when you believe. And so it is. But eternal life as a gift is like physical life as a gift. Physical life just happens to you. None of us had anything to do with being born. It was totally outside of all of our choices and understandings. It was just a gift.

But, you know, what we become in life we have a lot to do with. Our choices really make a big impact on that, don’t they?

So, spiritual life’s the same way. It’s a gift. Eternal life’s a gift. But it’s also a measure of the quality of that life. And what this tells us is at the judgment seat that doesn’t end. We can choose a certain quality of life in this life, and whatever we choose in this life is just going to keep on compounding into the future.

That could be exciting or not exciting depending on what kind of life we’re living, right?

It goes on to get a little more confusing. 

Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good. Nothing confusing about that, is there? Doing good is not easy, is it? What’s the main reward for doing good that you get in this life? No good deed goes unpunished, right? Isn’t that the statement? 

In fact, if you’re generous to someone, what they generally will do is attract a whole group of people that will complain because you’re not being generous to them also. If you give somebody something, they’ll want more. And if you stand for truth, you’ll get ridiculed by people who don’t like truth. It’s just kind of the way things go. 

So it gets weary doing good, and you’ve got to just keep going on. There’s nothing confusing about that.

Seek for glory, honor, and immortality

But what’s confusing to us eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;

Now we’re used to thinking of glory, honor, and immortality as being something that a gladiator’s after. And a gladiator life and a Christian life usually don’t go together. 

So what is this glory, honor, and immortality, and how does it work? 

In fact, this does go along with the idea of “what are people going to say about me at my funeral” beginning with the end in mind. But you know, no matter how effusive people are at your funeral, they’re all going to die too. And despite what Yogi said, “Go to everybody’s funeral so they’ll come to yours”, it doesn’t really work that way. All those nice things are going to disappear.

But look what this is. Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality—This is not from man. Those things are all gone. They all fade away. This is glory from God. Honor from God. And a lasting remembrance from God. 

The nice things God says about us at the judgment seat will never be forgotten. That’s pretty cool to think about, isn’t it? And in fact, this goes right along with what we’ve learned in Revelation so far. 


Let’s just rewind and talk about how we got here to the judgment seat in Revelation 20:11. How did we get here?

Well, we looked at Revelation is a really, really simple book with a simple message. If you come to Revelation trying to understand all the entries on God’s Outlook calendar, it gets really confusing. But he says you get a special blessing if you read, understand, and do the words of this prophecy.

If he wrote Revelation so we could understand what’s going to happen, and it’s already on God’s Outlook calendar, could we do anything about that? There’s nothing to do there. No, Revelation is about read, understand, do. And what is he wants us to read, understand, and do? 

Two really significant things. One is that God is on his throne. His Outlook Calendar will not be revised. It is what it is. And it is what it’s going to be.

The second thing is he just wants us to do one very simple but not easy thing: and that’s be a faithful witness unto death. What’s the Greek word for witness? Martyreo. We get our English word martyr from it.

So be a faithful witness and don’t fear death. Any kind of death: rejection, a loss, whatever it is, exile, any kind of death. Don’t be afraid of it. Why? Because he’s going to make it worthwhile. No matter what we have to put up with, he will make it worthwhile.

So what kind of blessing is that? Well, if you can live a fearless life that’s full of hope, is that a blessing? I think so. That’s what he’s offered to us. 

We see that Jesus is on his throne. All through this book, throne, throne, throne, throne, throne, 41 times, throne. And in each and every case there’s not even a contest for the throne of God. He is on the throne. Every crazy thing that happens in the world, every plague, every war, it’s all authorized. Every bit of it is authorized.

We saw this book is organized as to what was and is and what is to come. And we saw what was and is in chapters 1-3. 

And in what was and is we saw these letters to these seven Roman cities in the Roman province of Asia, we’re currently in the Roman era. And he says things like, “The devil will throw some of you into jail, but don’t be afraid.” It’s on his calendar. You’re going to get thrown into jail. It was authorized. But don’t be afraid. Don’t fear death. I’m going to give you something way better if you’ll just hang in there.

He says things like, “I’ve opened a door, and nobody can shut this door because I opened it.” So God authorizes bad things to happen, and he says, “If you want to shut that door, you can’t shut it.” He authorizes opportunities that we have a chance to go through because he’s on his throne this whole time. His calendar is certain.

And in 4-20 so far, ultimately 22, he says things like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, “Power was granted unto him.” He was authorized to do this thing or that thing. This angel prepared for this point in history was allowed to do his thing. It’s all authorized. And we saw the calendar start to unfurl.

We saw the seven seals on the scroll. Only Jesus was authorized to break those seven seals. And as he did, the four horsemen of the apocalypse came out, and all these crazy things start to happen.

And then the seventh seal broke and seven trumpets happened. And each trumpet authorized some crazy thing to happen on earth. 

He’s not trying to get us to understand how all those events are going to happen. What’s he trying to get us to do? “Hey, I am authorizing these things. No matter how crazy these things get, don’t worry about outcomes. I’ve got the outcomes all taken care of.” 

What are we supposed to worry about? Be a faithful witness. Don’t fear death. “I’ve got this. I got this. Don’t fear what’s going to happen. Just keep doing your job.”

We saw that if we keep doing our job, amazing things happen: glory, honor, and immortality. And he tells us, “I will make you an overcomer.” A nikao from Nike, goddess of victory. I’ll make you a victor, a winner, someone who prevails, a conqueror. 

Let’s just look at Revelation 3:21. This is the spirit of our age, Laodicea, people who say I don’t need God. “To him who overcomes—nikao, to him who wins, to him who overcomes, nikao—I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame—Jesus speaking—and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Jesus, who was already the king of the universe, sat down on the throne as king, also, of the world because he came to the earth, became a human, and won the right to rule the earth, and supplanted Lucifer, from that standpoint.

He says I overcame. Now, what did Jesus overcome? The fear of death. Temptation. And because of that he sat down on his father’s throne, and he says I’m inviting you to overcome the fear of death, seek continually doing good, and come sit with me on my throne. It’s pretty remarkable. 

The great white throne

So we come to this Revelation 20:11. This is still John’s vision that he has. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who 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, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 

The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 

Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

We see here that there’s this great white throne. It seems to come after this thousand years has expired. And it seems to come after the heaven and earth have fled away. We know the heaven and earth are destroyed by what? By fire. And in this verse, the fire appears to come, from where? Jesus’ face. 

So Jesus says, “I don’t want you anymore.” It blows up. That’s a cool Jesus, don’t you think? 

Jesus’ face melts the heaven and the earth, and then everybody comes to see Jesus and his face, the face that melted the heaven and the earth. 

Who’s “the dead”?

And it says, And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God—

Who’s “the dead”? Well, we saw in 20:4-6 that there’s some people who already live and reign. It says —I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

It certainly seems as though somebody is living and is not included in this “dead.” That seems to be the case.

And, of course, last episode I made the case really clear that I do not want the plagues of this book added to me, so I don’t want to add anything. And I don’t want my part in the book of life taken away, as it says in chapter 20, so I don’t want to take anything away. So I’m going to do my very, very, very, very best to just talk about what’s here.

The rest of the dead 

What seems to be the case is that these people who have lived and reigned are a separate set from verse 5: But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. 

I don’t know the mechanics of how this works. Usually the reason why people really want to parse out and understand how this works is so they can minimize the amount of pain they have on this earth and get away with it in the next life. “How does this system work so I can game it?” That’s usually what we want to know, right? 

That’s why we hire accountants to do our taxes, isn’t it? How can we understand the system as best as possible and minimize our taxes, which is how the game’s set up. I think there’s probably a lobby in Washington to make the tax code more complicated every year because it creates more accounting fees. 

But, that’s not the point here. We don’t need to game the system or understand how these things work because the point’s really clear: Be an overcomer. That’s really it. It’s really, really clear all the other options are not good. Exactly how it works I don’t know. It appears as though whoever’s not an overcomer doesn’t get resurrected until this time. 

Does that mean they’re not alive? No. Even the people who are not believers are still conscious. Remember we saw, last time, Hades, and you’ve got this chasm between Lazarus and the rich man; and there’s consciousness, and they’re talking across the chasm in Hades. Remember that? 

So there’s still consciousness, but they’re not back in action, if you will, on the earth. So whoever that is that’s the rest of “the dead” is not resurrected to reign. And that could be believers and unbelievers alike. I think it certainly includes unbelievers.

Where are the believers?

Where are the believers, if that’s the case? Well, I don’t know. They could be on the earth because in verse 13, it says, The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.

Hades has two compartments. It has Abraham’s bosom, and it has Tartarus. You know, that’s the same word that’s used for sheol, so it’s a model that comes all the way through the Old Testament. Apparently, the Greek idea was good enough, and they just incorporated it as a description of what goes on. 

And so, the “whoever’s dead” there is included. Some people say that the Paradise side has already been emptied out. Perhaps so. But this sea gives up the dead also. Remember all through Revelation, the sea is the thing that the beast arises out of. And the sea that the beast arises out of certainly appears to be the earth because the beast arises from the earth.

We saw in the millennial kingdom, there’s still people dying, even though it said if somebody dies at a hundred years old, they’re considered a child that died because death becomes very rare. But still people die.

And at the end of this thousand years, and everyone’s released, and there’s another rebellion, which is mind boggling. We’ll go into that next episode, hopefully. And there’s another rebellion, and fire comes down and devours the people fighting. There’s probably still a lot of other people who didn’t come to the battle. And all these people that are left are all in this sea, apparently.

So you have everybody left coming to this judgment. 

The lake of fire

Now the reason why we don’t like the idea of anyone’s name not found written is cast into the lake of fire and the idea that fire might apply to the believer is because we know believers don’t go to hell. But here’s the thing: Hell, as we know it, Hades is cast into the lake of fire in verse 14. See that?

So Hell, Hades is cast into the lake of fire. It doesn’t even exist anymore! There’s now a lake of fire, and a lake of fire could be a place, or it could just be a condition. If Jesus’ face has melted the heaven and the earth, it could just be that being in a certain state in the face of Jesus is punishment in and of itself. It is an uncomfortable circumstance that you’re going to have forever and ever.

I showed you last time that there’s this passage in Ezekiel and in Isaiah where Lucifer is spoken of as people who walk by and say, “Is that the guy who was wreaking havoc on the earth? That beggar there? That little guy in the ashes there?”

Jesus, Satan, and service

I proposed to you the possibility that that could be the worst punishment for Satan of all possibilities. Because what is Satan’s big desire? To be great. On whose terms? His. 

What does Jesus call us to do in this book? To be great. On whose terms? His! Isn’t that interesting? And so what he’s going to do is take the one who wants to be great on his terms and bring him down into the dust forever, for everybody to see. And what he wants to do is say if you’ll be my faithful witness until death, not fear death, just do the role I’ve given you to do the way I’ve asked you to do it, I’m going to elevate you all the way up to the thing Lucifer wanted in the first place, which is my throne. And I’m going to set you on it. Why? Because you learned to serve. And that’s what I’m after.