The Great White Throne Judgment
The Scriptures seem to indicate that believers in Christ will be present at the Great White Throne Judgment which is described for us in Revelation 20:11-15. What are some Biblical passages which might suggest that believers will be present as witnesses at this final judgment?
1) Beginning with the rapture and thereafter, we have the promise, "and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17). We know that the Lord Jesus Christ will be present at the Great White Throne Judgment, because He is the Judge. Will not His Bride be with Him also?
2) In Revelation 3:9 the believers in the church of Philadelphia were promised that certain unsaved people would someday worship at their feet (Rev.3:9). At that future time these unsaved people will know that Christ has loved the very people whom they once persecuted. This is an amazing promise for all of God's people down though the centuries who have been abused, persecuted, injured and attacked by unsaved people. Prophetically, the only time when the unsaved will worship at the feet of the saints is at the Great White Throne Judgment. [The Great White Throne Judgment will take place immediately after all the unsaved are raised from the dead. Immediately following this judgment the unsaved are cast into the lake of fire.] Apparently this will also be the time when all the unsaved will bow their knees before Christ and confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).
3) In 1 Corinthians 6:2 Paul writes to the Corinthian believers and says, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" During the thousand year kingdom age, the Lord Jesus will be the primary Judge (Isaiah 33:22), but church-age believers in their glorified bodies will also be given delegated authority to exercise judgment. Judgment will be given unto them (Rev. 20:4; compare Matthew 19:28). The Lord Jesus Christ will be the final Judge of all the unsaved at the Great White Throne (John 5:22,27), but apparently church-age saints will participate with Him in this judgment as witnesses.
4) Revelation 20:15 seems to indicate a contrast between those whose names are not found written in the book of life and those names that are found therein: "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." The fact that there are a great host of names not found written in this book implies that there are a great number of names that are found therein. The saints, if they are present as witnesses at this great event, would represent those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. The subjects of this awesome judgment will be "the dead" (Rev. 20:12), that is, the unsaved (all of whose names will not be found in the Lamb's book of life).
5) If the saints are not present at the Great White Throne as witnesses, then where else would they be? In Revelation 20:11 we learn that at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment, "the earth and the heaven fled away." Our Lord also predicted that the heaven and earth would pass away (Matt. 24:35). The total destruction of the heavens and the earth is described in detail in 2 Peter chapter 3. The timing of this event is said to be the day when God will judge the ungodly and cause them to perish (2 Peter 3:7). This can only be the Great White Throne Judgment. So the saints cannot be on the earth and they cannot be in the heavens because the heavens have passed away and have been destroyed in fervent heat. The saints cannot be in the new heaven or in the new earth, because these are created immediately after the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 21:1). If the "heavens" which are destroyed refer to the first and second heavens (the universe as we know it), then the only other place for the saints would be the third heaven.
Note: Revelation 14:10 suggests that God's holy angels
will also be witnesses of the doom of the ungodly.
Application: We can imagine ourselves being present at the Great White Throne Judgment as witnesses of this awesome event:
I see the books being opened, condemning the unsaved based on the wicked works which they have done (Rev. 20:12). I then realize that I too was once guilty of some of those same evil works (see Col. 1:21). I witness these unsaved people being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15), and I tremble to realize that I was just as deserving of this punishment as they, and the only reason I am not cast into the same lake of doom is because of Jesus Christ and His grace. I realize that I deserve hell as much as they do. I recognize that I was once a child of wrath (Eph. 2:2-3; Col. 3:6-7), guilty of many of the same crimes and deserving of the same punishment which is now inflicted on those now being cast into the lake of fire before my very eyes. I know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God, and this includes those who were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, and such like (1 Cor. 6:9-10). And then Paul's words "and such were some of you" (1 Cor. 6:11) remind me that I was once unrighteous also, guilty of serious crimes against God, deserving to be barred from the kingdom and consigned to outer darkness and eternal torment.
Today we have a very small grasp of what it means to be delivered from the wrath to come. At that day, we shall know more fully:
I Am Debtor
When this passing world is done,
All the believers who witness the Great White Throne Judgment will surely have a deeper understanding of the grace of God and what it means to be delivered from so great a death (2 Cor. 1:10).