I have recently been studying Chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation regarding the Great White Throne Judgment and have been mystified why the Book of Life is mentioned at this judgment; having believed in the past that this was the final judgment of only the unsaved.
The Book of Life contains the names of only those that God will allow into Heaven:
Revelation 21:27 and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
Why would Jesus even need to look into this book to see if any of the unsaved names would be written in this book? I have asked God to help me understand the meaning of the Book of Life being opened at this final judgment and through scripture He has given me some insights. I'll explain in this article why I believe that the Book of Life will need to be opened at this judgment.
The Outer Darkness
The expression the outer darkness is mentioned three times by Jesus:
Unfaithful Israel: Matthew 8:5-13 And when he was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth in the house sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And He saith unto him, I will come and heal him. And the centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having under myself soldiers: and I say to this one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. And when Jesus heard it, He marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but the sons of the Kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And the servant was healed in that hour. (ASV 1901).
The Centurion, a gentile, showed great faith in Jesus and asked Him to heal a servant of his and we know that Jesus healed this servant. Few of the Jews and Israelis in Jesus' time demonstrated faith in Him and believed that He was the promised Messiah. Because of this, Jesus told them that they would be rejected as to having a position in His Kingdom and would be cast into The Outer Darkness.
Unfaithful Christians: Matthew 25:24-30 And he also that had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own. But his Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest. Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This is the Christian that was given one Talent worth of spiritual resources and commanded by Jesus to be faithful to Him during the first half of the Tribulation. Note that Jesus did not say that this servant was unsaved, but that he was unprofitable: he did not use the one talent given to him to produce good works that glorify God. He was disrespectful of the Savior Jesus, calling Him a "hard" man and he was afraid of the persecution given to Christians in the Tribulation and hid the fact that he was a Christian. Also, he did not give his one Talent to a faithful Christian so he could produce more good works. Jesus recognizes the one Talent Christian as belonging to Him because He calls him a "servant"; he is saved, but produces no good works. What happens to this one Talent Christian when Jesus returns for the Main Harvest Rapture? He is cast into The Outer Darkness and will remain there during the second half of the Tribulation and also until the Millennial Kingdom completes. Read The Parable of the Talents for details.
Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.
Salt has two main purposes: To make food taste better and to be a preservative. When a Christian is walking with Jesus, he will be a person that is caring, encouraging and a person that people will be drawn to because of his character that is yielded to serving God. A faithful Christian will also accomplish good works that glorify God and to avoid evil and help other believers to avoid evil. When these actions happen, this person is a disciple of Jesus. If a once faithful Christian lets the temptations of the world influence him then he will not be as loving as he should be and will start to sin; this person's walk is then with the world. If this Christians does not repent and resume a faithful servant's role, he will be rejected by God as a faithful servant of His. The way Jesus presents this verse is that there was once a faithful disciple of His, but this person lost his faithfulness and thus Jesus will reject him. This person is still saved, but will be cast into The Outer Darkness.
Unfaithful Gentiles saved during the Tribulation: Matthew 22:8-13 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they that were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore unto the partings of the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage feast. And those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was filled with guests. But when the king came in to behold the guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding-garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding-garment? And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him out into the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
During the Tribulation, Jesus calls and saves many Gentiles and expects them to be faithful to Him and to accomplish good works that glorify God. Many are faithful, but some are not. Early in the Millennial Kingdom, Christ holds a marriage feast for His Bride and only believers are invited that have been faithful to Him. One of Jesus' servants, a gentile sits down at the table and He takes notice of him; this man was saved because Jesus called him friend. Jesus sees that this man does not have on a wedding garment. This garment should show up as white signifying that he is a faithful follower of Jesus. Since this man has been shown to not be faithful, his garment is not white, so he cannot attend the marriage feast. Jesus then commands His servants to bind this man and cast him into The Outer Darkness. He will be bound hand and foot which means that this man has no freedom for any kind of movement. He also will not be able to escape from where he is being cast.
Note the word: cast which signifies that all three groups of the unfaithful will have bodies of some kind. This method of being transported to the Outer Darkness is a sign of the extreme displeasure of Jesus with these three groups of people. They were commissioned to be faithful, but they chose not to be. Also note the phrase: the outer darkness and the qualifier word: the. This is a unique place in the Universe -- the same location for all three types of the unfaithful.
These three groups of saved but unfaithful will have great remorse and they will recognize that they have been unfaithful disciples of Jesus Christ and will experience extreme regret over their sinful ways during their time on the earth; this will be the weeping they will have during their time in the Outer Darkness. The gnashing of their teeth will be their reaction to mental, emotional, spiritual and possibly physical pain they will experience because of their unfaithfulness.
Location of The Outer Darkness
Before I identify where I believe that The Outer Darkness is located, let's first locate Heaven, where Jesus is preparing the city of New Jerusalem for His faithful:
John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
The Book of Psalms identifies where Mt. Zion, the New Jerusalem is located:
Psalm 48:2 Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, The city of the great King.
If you go outside on a clear night and look straight up, you will see Polaris, the North Star. In this direction is where Heaven, the New Jerusalem is located. Jesus will bring New Jerusalem down and it will orbit the Earth and be viewed from there when the Millennial Kingdom has completed:
Revelation 21:10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
Please read Revelation 21:11-27 for details of this great city. This is where all faithful Old Testament saints and Christians will reside when the Millennial Kingdom completes. This great and beautiful city contains the thrones of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Here is the relationship of Heaven with the Earth:
Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith Jehovah, Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: what manner of house will ye build unto Me? and what place shall be My rest?
Note that at the very highest position is Heaven and below is earth. Heaven is elevated far above earth because God the Father and Jesus Christ dwell there; it is the most holy place in the Universe.
Let's attempt to identify where The Outer Darkness is located and where the Great White Throne judgment might take place.
Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat upon it, from Whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
When it is time for the final judgment to take place, Jesus and His Great White Throne are instantly transported from Heaven to a place near to The Outer Darkness which is extremely far away from both the Earth and Heaven. It is located so far away that no light from any star can be seen so it will be pitch black there. I believe that The Outer Darkness will be located somewhere in the Universe many light years away from anything because It is a place of shame and disgrace for those that are cast there and Jesus will want none of His faithful disciples to see the judgments that will take place.
In his vision, the Apostle John was standing close to the Great White Throne (GWT) in Heaven and it appeared to him that both Heaven and the Earth fled far away from the GWT. This was his perspective. He could just as well have said that the GWT was transported far away from both Heaven and Earth.
This grand throne is white because Jesus Christ will be sitting on it and because He is absolutely pure, holy and righteous, His judgments will be perfect and His glory will be seen by all who are present at this judgment. It is a place where there is absolutely no joy for those to be judged, only the knowledge of impending doom.
What is the purpose for The Outer Darkness? It's a place where unfaithful Israelites, unfaithful Christians and unfaithful Gentiles saved during the Tribulation will reside during the Millennial Kingdom: it's a holding place until judgment time. None of these will experience any joy or rewards because they have not been disciples of Jesus. They have only experienced sinful pleasures for themselves and have not accomplished righteous works that glorify God. By the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom all three types of saved but unfaithful people will have been cast into The Outer Darkness.
The Book of Life
The Book of Life has the names of all believers that God will allow entrance into the New Jerusalem:
Revelation 21:22-27 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof. And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day, for there shall be no night there: and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it: and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
It is possible that a believer's name can be blotted out of the Book of Life:
Revelation 3:5-6 He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in white garments; and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches
Jesus is speaking to the Sardis Church and we can read in the above verses that it applies to all seven churches He speaks to in the Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. Jesus has evaluated the works of the seven churches and finds spiritual deficiencies with all except the persecuted church: the Church at Smyrna and the Christ-centered Bible-based church: the Church at Philadelphia.
Jesus states that all Christians that overcome their spiritual deficiencies will have their names remain in the Book of Life and will be admitted to Heaven and given garments of white which are representative of accomplishing good works that glorify God. Those that do not overcome their spiritual faults will have their names removed from the Book of Life. You will need to read Revelation, chapter 2 and 3 to identify in detail the sinful ways and attitudes they need to overcome and to repent from. Here is a summary of the works of the seven Churches:
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.
So, for those Christians saved by grace but are unfaithful, where will their final destination be? Scripture doesn't specifically say where the unfaithful Christians will dwell when Eternity begins. They will be saved, but will exist in a less glorious manner than those that are faithful to Jesus Christ and will be ashamed because they were unfaithful to Him. When Jesus first saved these Christians they did have an initial faith in Him, but that faith did not progress as it should have. They are what we would call "back slidden Christians".
The Great White Throne Judgment
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.
The unsaved of the human race of all ages will be raised from the dead and given a body of some kind and will stand before Jesus for their judgment. Their bodies are now alive, but they are dead spiritually. Their works are recorded in several books and Jesus opens these books and judges each person according to the works they have done while on the earth.
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
The sea is the unsaved humans from the various nations of the world and all their unsaved will stand before Jesus. Those that have died and are sent to Hades, the place of torment, will be raised to be judged according to their works. When their judgment by Jesus is complete, He will pronounce their punishment which will take place in the Lake of Fire.
Revelation 20:14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even The Lake of Fire.
Note the The associated with The Lake of Fire. It is a unique place somewhere in the Universe. I believe that it is at the same location as The Outer Darkness.
The unsaved will now experience the Second Death: they are cast into the Lake of Fire and their Great White Throne Judgment bodies will be destroyed: the Second Death and their punishment then begins. Here is a thought: that all of the evil deeds that have ever been committed will be burnt up and consumed in the Lake of Fire. We don't know how long the unsaved individual will spend in the Lake of Fire. It could be a few moments or a much longer time; we are not told in the Revelation verses. Most likely those that have many sins will spend a longer time in the Lake of Fire than those that have committed fewer sins. The spirits of the unsaved are dead, so they will feel no remorse for their sins.
After this punishment, all evil deeds of the unsaved will have been removed from God's Universe. It is my opinion that God will not allow any more sins to ever be committed, anywhere in His universe including by the unsaved. After their time in the Lake of Fire, they will be cast into Sheol in the Place of Torment and reside there forever:
Psalm 9:17: The wicked will return to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God.
Revelation 20:15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.
Notice the And that begins this verse. This verse is stated after the unsaved are cast into the Lake of Fire. It is my opinion that this is judgment time for the saved but unfaithful Israelites, the unfaithful Gentiles saved during the Tribulation and the saved, but unfaithful Christians. None of the names of members of these three groups of the unfaithful can be found in the Book of Life and their punishment in the Lake of Fire will be determined by their works. They are cast into the Lake of Fire and they will be gnashing their teeth because of the emotional, mental, spiritual and possibly physical punishment they will receive. During their time in the Lake of Fire, their sinful works and unfaithfulness will be removed: they will then be made righteous because the fire will consume any evil works they may have committed. Although works do not save us, Jesus will give a reward to each person according to what their works are: an honorable position in the Kingdom for good works accomplished and a painful time in the Lake of Fire for sinful works.
Judgment for Faithful Christians
Prior to this GWT Judgment are two judgments of faithful Christians: The First Fruits Rapture where Jesus' most faithful disciples are judged and then given many rewards for their faithfulness and will jointly rule with Jesus over the entire earth during the Millennial Kingdom. Jesus will initiate this Rapture just before the beginning of the Tribulation. And The Main Harvest Rapture where the five and two Talent Christians prove very faithful during their testing during the first half of the Tribulation and will be rulers over many cities in the Millennial Kingdom. At both judgments in Heaven of Jesus' disciples, they are mentioned wearing white garments which are indicators of being very faithful to Him. Hence, unfaithful Christians will not be present at either of these judgments.
These Christians have daily confessed their sins to God and have accomplished good works that glorify God. They are also very humble before God and admit to Him that they are sinners:
1 Corinthians 11:31 But if we judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
So the judgment for the faithful is to receive praise and rewards from Jesus Christ because He is very pleased with these faithful of His. Their works revealed at their judgment are gold, silver and precious stones.
The Lake of Fire for the Unfaithful Christians
Revelation 21:7-8 He that overcometh shall inherit these things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.
Jesus is speaking to Christians in these verses. He has already described in Revelation, chapter two and three the spiritual failures of the various churches. He gives those churches that have failed Him 3 1/2 years in the Tribulation to remove these weakness: to overcome. Those that do not overcome will need to have these spiritual weaknesses removed from their lives. What is the purpose of the fire in the Lake of Fire? It is to consume anything that can be burned: it will be used to burn up the sin in each person's life that is cast into this lake. It will be used to remove sin from the body, soul and spirit and there will be pain of some kind in these three components of an unfaithful believer's life. This will be the wood, hay and stubble mentioned by Paul:
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I laid a foundation; and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; each man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire.
So the fire will test each work to see if any will abide. Any good works such as prayer, Bible study, fellowship with God and with others, discipleship and other good works will stand up to the fire. I personally believe that there will be few good works accomplished during the life of an unfaithful believer. Because the unfaithful Christian's works are mainly sinful, they will suffer loss which will be praise from Jesus and positions of authority in Christ's Kingdom.
Any unconfessed sins will need to be burnt up in the Lake of Fire so the unfaithful believer can then have a fellowship with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and with the faithful of all ages but the unfaithful Christian does not confess his sins to God. At this GWT judgment, the individual will then have to confess to Jesus that they committed each of their sins and then ask for forgiveness. This confession is so important for believers of today and is why we quote the following verse in many of our articles:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I believe that a major flaw in the character of unfaithful Christians is their refusal to be humble and to recognize that they sin and to pray for forgiveness from God the Father. If we are faithful, we will see more clearly how holy our God is and that we are indeed not worthy to be forgiven. However, since God loves humility in His servants, He forgives and then restores and even glorifies those that admit their spiritual flaws:
Luke 18:10-14 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I get. But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God, be thou merciful to me a sinner. I say unto you, This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
During his time in the Lake of Fire, for the unfaithful Christian, each sin of the person will be brought up and the person will be required to give an account of why the sin was committed. Jesus will be looking directly at them while this judgment is taking place and they will be told of the repercussion of the sin against other humans and the pain that Jesus experienced because of these sins. This "dip" in the Lake of Fire is necessary because Jesus will not allow anyone with sin in their lives to enter Heaven. All sin will have been removed from the unfaithful Christian when their time in the Lake of Fire is complete and they will dwell in a perfect resurrection body. Most likely the unfaithful Christians will be allowed to dwell in Heaven after their cleansing in the Lake of Fire. I wonder if once the unfaithful Christian's sinful ways are burnt up in the Lake of Fire if Jesus then adds their names back to the Book of Life so they can enter Heaven?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run; that ye may attain. And every man that striveth in the game exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight I, as not beating the air: but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away.
Paul was saved, wasn't he? We know that he was called by Jesus to be His apostle to the Gentiles and Paul fulfilled his calling very faithfully. In the above verse we can see his concern about continuing to be faithful to the very end. Paul says no to any sinful fleshly temptations so he will win the prize of being considered among Jesus' most faithful. He writes this in I Corinthians to us so we are warned to be faithful, to avoid evil and to fight the good fight of faith. From this verse Paul tells us that it is possible to fall from being faithful to being unfaithful. His concern was to be cast away into The Outer Darkness if he was found unfaithful and gave into his fleshy desires.
I am quite sure that Paul was not a castaway; I believe that Paul was faithful to Jesus Christ and kept his body under control. Let's follow this verse and bring our sinful desires under control and be faithful to Jesus Christ so we won't be castaways.
Here's a summary of what happens to humanity by the time Jesus returns and establishes the Millennial Kingdom:
Please be Faithful
I have edited and read this article many times
and am personally fearful of being counted
unfaithful by Jesus and then being cast into The
Outer Darkness. Both you and I need to
evaluate ourselves to identify all spiritual
weaknesses that we may have and to then ask God to
help us overcome these deficiencies in our
character and deficiencies in our works.
Please read the article How
to Crucify Self which gives suggestions on
how to become a faithful disciple of
The idea of being faithful in this life is to not be changed much when standing before Jesus for our judgment. If we daily confess our sins, our souls will be cleansed and we will be ready for Jesus' return. This cleansing is like a table where meals are eaten. When we spill something on it and then immediately wipe up the spill (confess our sins: I John 1:9), the table top will be clean, just like it had never been soiled. If we never clean up this table, it will be thoroughly dirty and then at our judgment our works will need to be cleaned up in the Lake of Fire.