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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

The Books of the Dead
Date Posted: January 28, 2018

What discussion of the Lamb’s Book of Life would be replete without some discussion of the books of the dead? Written in these books that are opened are all the deeds that bear witness to the wickedness by which the dead are judged.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened; which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

John saw great and small standing before the Great White Throne. Great and small is the Hebrew way of saying in the world full of people both important heads of earthly state and insignificant persons who led quite lives, these were all together, elbow to elbow without regard to earthly status. They were all insignificant when compared to Jesus, the Judge on His judgement seat.

These people were condemned already. There would be no court trial. They are guilty with no chance of being proven innocent. This was decreed when Jesus said:

John 3:18 He that believes on him is not condemned, but he that does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness more than the light because their deeds were evil.

So this is the sentencing hearing for the ungodly.

David makes it painfully clear that the righteous will enjoy abundant life. But the ungodly will bear their guilt.

Psalm 1:4 The ungodly are are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The ungodly have already been judged, now is the time for sentencing. Because the sentence is so severe, God leaves nothing undone and leaves no room for excuse or pardon. He has written down every evil deed, so they are sentenced according to their works. These books contain all their sins that will now be brought to light. These wicked people loved the darkness, but at last their works will be brought into the light. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:5 Then do not judge anything before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both shed light on the hidden things of darkness and will reveal the counsels of the hearts.

Just as the heart of the rich man in torment did not change (Luke 16), nor will the hearts of those hearts of the ungodly standing before the throne of judgment change. This is why the evil deeds of the ungodly are written down in indelible ink. Their deeds will will be read aloud for all to hear. No excuses. No defense against the sentence they receive.

Romans 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.

Many have moaned about how “unjust” it is that people who never heard the Gospel will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Those moan without considering the whole of Scripture. God plainly states that He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy (Exodus 33). Paul explains that everyone knows God because the universe declares Him (Romans 1:20) and because there is an innate, natural law that humans corporately will obey.

Romans 2:14-16 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

One might ask: Is God’s judgment too harsh?

Here is something to consider. When anyone does you or someone you love harm and shows no remorse but continues dishing out the harm, is it your natural instinct to forgive and forget? Is it your deep desire for a murderer to go free to cause more murder and mayhem? Is it right for a thief to get away with stealing the life savings of the elderly, and to keep on doing it? Of course not.

Even though we are honor bound by Jesus to not judge lest we be judged by the same measure, we want justice. Humans often exclaim, “That’s not fair!” Parent usually respond, “Life isn’t fair.” It never seem fair to forgive offenses of our siblings in Christ as Jesus says we are to do (seventy times seven) However, God is just. His is holy justice.

God will not exonerate the wicked from their evil deeds. The wicked won’t get away with their sin. Only Jesus will exonerate, and that is only because He sees Himself in the heart of the one being judged. It is what’s in the heart that matters most. God is consistently and constantly searching the hearts of men (Luke 16,1 Thessalonians 2:4).

Yes, Christians will be judged, and will stand before Jesus. But David points out the godly stand in a different court at a different time than the wicked. When the godly are judged, all their works will be fire-tested. We know these are the godly because only the godly build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). There are different materials for building on this foundation: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw. (3:12).

Since our works are tested by fire, the ungodly works of wood, hay, and straw will be burned up. The godly works of gold, silver, and precious stones will be purified even more. This testing is solely for rewards, not salvation or eternal life with Jesus.

What are the rewards? They could be the words Jesus utters, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” I can’t think of anything better than to have His approval and praise, can you?

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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