Shelby G. Floyd

The writer of Hebrews speaks of the church of the firstborn: “…to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect…” (Hebrews 12:23, NIV). Actually, in the original it is “the church of the firstborn ones.” Please observe that the church of the first-born ones have come to God, the judge of all men. Therefore, we must speak of the great judgment to come.




Now I speak of the great white throne judgment and the book of life. God dwells on a great white throne.  The books will be opened, and another book will be opened, which is the book of life.  John describes this awesome scene: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Revelation 20:11-12). What stands out in this reading is the fact that books are going to be opened and there will be judgement based on what is written!



You ask, “What books is he talking about?”  Every language has a word for a book. In the Hebrew it is sefer; in the Greek it is biblos; in the Latin is biblia; and in English it is book. A book records things written down and recorded in a permanent way. The computer, the internet and the electronic age offers more efficient ways to record and keep things.  But somehow, I still like to see things written down in a hardcopy book. There is no doubt in my mind that the books that will be opened at the great white throne judgment are the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. The other book that will be opened is “the book of life.” All of the dead both the great and small will be judged by these books.




The Bible teaches that we must all stand before the judgment bar of God and be judged according to what we have done during our life on earth. How we live our life is very important.  Paul taught plainly that we will be judged by what we have done while living in the body: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NKJV).




The standard by which we will be judged is what we have done good or bad.  There is a difference—some attitudes and actions are good, and some are bad.  The blood of Christ can take away the bad, but we must do our best to go about “doing good” like our Lord Jesus Christ. The dead will be judged according to what they have done while in the flesh.  Therefore, our works can cause us to be lost.  We are saved by grace through faith and that salvation is not by works that man devises, but we are saved by the works of obedience to God’s commands (Ephesians 2:8-10).  These are not our works; they are God’s works. John teaches that even faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29).  And true faith is belief and assurance conjoined with obedience.  As the old timers used to say, “The faith that saves is the faith that obeys!”




Adam, Eve, Cain and Able, and all who lived under the patriarchal age will be judged by what God said unto them during that period of time.  Also those who lived under the age of Moses for a period of 1500 years will be judged by what is written in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms. Finally, everyone living from the time of Christ until he comes again will be judged according to the New Testament books.  Jesus said this in plain language: “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day” (John 12:47-48, NIV).     




When we all stand before the great white throne, the word of God will read then just like it reads now. Our Bibles will all say the same thing at the last day.  Another book will be opened on that day and that’s the book of life.  But our name must be written down in that book.  That does not mean that we must be perfect.  We all will make mistakes, we will fall short, and we sin, but the Bible teaches that the blood of Christ will keep on cleansing us of our sin as we repent, confess our sins and walk in the light (1 John 1:5-10).  That is how God makes us perfect.  He will not hold these things against us as we walk in the light.  This is because we ask God’s forgiveness based upon the shed blood of Jesus Christ.




This judgment will be after the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done” (Revelation 20:13). There is no such thing as universal salvation.  Not everyone will go to heaven.  And not everyone will go to the lake of fire.  The same adjective (eternal—aionion) describes eternal life and eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46).They are both eternal  Whether our names are in the book of life will make all the difference in the world.




According to the plain teaching of the Bible, John declares those names that are not written in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire.  This lake of fire represents the second death or everlasting punishment! “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15). It is not necessary every time the preacher goes into the pulpit to deliver a sermon on “fire and brimstone!”  But on the other hand a true preacher must at times speak about everlasting punishment and the lake of fire. It is biblical to do that.  I would not be a true preacher if I did not tell you that the Bible teaches that there is the devil’s hell.  The verse that we have just quoted declares that if our name is not found in the book of life that one will be thrown into the lake of fire.  That sounds like fire and brimstone to me.  This is a reference to the second death and everlasting punishment.




Is your name in the book of life?  Is your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life? If our name is in God’s book of remembrance, we will not have to worry about that lake of fire.  We will not be thrown into that godless place.  It is reserved for those whose names are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life.


Sometimes people will either add to God’s Word or take away from God’s Word in order to uphold some favorite human doctrine.  The Bible declares in several places that we are neither to add to nor take away from the word of God. And now near the end of the New Testament the apostle John declares that we must not take away from the words of the book of this prophecy:


“…and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:19, NKJV). 


If we take anything away from God’s book of Revelation, then God will take away our part from the book of life and the holy city and from all the blessings that are written in this book. 

Copyright © 2023 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved


Shelby G. Floyd, minister at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142

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