The End of Computers
by Ps Jeff O’Neil at PCC Morning Worship on 13 Nov 2005
"The books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" (Revelation 20:12:b).
There are found in every church, a percentage of God’s people who are unsettled, perturbed, yes, and even fearful respecting the Judgment Day. These are such, that have a worrying anticipation of their sins being once more brought to light, before the vast multitude that shall be assembled in that great and notable Day of the Lord. Indeed, there may be some who would read this that are harrowed and grieved at the thought of such public humiliation. Having to stand before others at the divine bar of justice, those loved ones, pastors, the church, and worst of all, the reprobates, who will all hear their lives examined. To face a public proclamation of all your sins, both great and small, that were committed from childhood to your dying day. What a catalogue of misery and iniquity would be revealed. Oh, the shame, the indignity, the blushing spectacle, as you stand before a rapt mankind, angels and the holy triune God!
Now dear friend, you have come to this unrest of soul (which may even damage your assurance), by dwelling upon such a text as 2 Corinthians 5:10. And from it, concluded that your sins as an individual, will be vented and publicised before all Creation. This text declares, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ: that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." But you must consider whether you have misinterpreted such a verse, and so created unnecessary distress to your soul and life.
You are not alone in wrongly viewing this verse. Someone like Barnes, the commentator, writes, "Before we receive our eternal allotment, it is proper that we should render our account of the manner in which we lived. It is proper that we should undergo a trial before we receive our reward." Another commentator, Matthew Poole, speaks of, "a spirit of inquiry." And John Wesley writes, "The hidden things will be revealed, probably even the sins of the faithful." But the apostle Paul is dealing with two classes of people in his observation, the sheep and the goats. Those who have thought, lived and practised sinfully, and those who have done good as a consequence of being new creatures in Christ. The one shall be judged according to the bad deeds done in the body. The other shall be rewarded according to the good done in life, resulting from the Spirit of Christ in them. So this verse does not speak of the individual Christian having his sins placarded and revealed before the teeming millions of history, but a distinct treatment of two kinds of persons. To the one, condemnation, and the execution of divine justice; and to the other, the gratuitous reward of everlasting life. Now there are many assurances given by God that His children should not fear the resurrection of their sins. Though, of course, we have much cause to be ashamed of our iniquities since we believed, and daily call upon the Lord for cleansing and pardon; and our transgressions are also a great grief and heaviness to us. Yet the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all unrighteousness.
We are encouraged by Isaiah 37:17, to say, "Behold for peace I had bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." And the back of God is infinite, and therefore cannot be circumnavigated. It conveys the idea that God has turned His back on our sins, and that they will not be brought before His face any more. Which thought Jeremiah 31:34 echoes, "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." The prophet Isaiah, continues the same theme, "Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow" (Isa 1:18). And again, "I, even I am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own Name’s sake" (Isa 43:25). The scarlet sinner is as white as driven snow! A debt paid cannot be called up again! If Christ has fully paid for the sinful deeds of His people, then there cannot be a divine rehearsal of them again. Each may say, "Fully absolved from sin I am."
It is impossible that sin can be charged again, for Christ, "Has offered one sacrifice for sins for ever; for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb 10:14). Scripture is quite plain about it, and Micah 7:19 ratifies it, that God, "Has cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." The plumbless, unfathomable, immeasurable depths of eternal oblivion can never allow them to float to the surface again. Also, the Psalmist writes, "As far as the East is from the West [and never the twain shall meet], so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Ps 113:12). So the promises of God show that the work of redemption and sin clearance is complete and finished; the slate is clean as far as redeemed sinners are concerned. And there is a lovely and conclusive promise given by Jeremiah: "The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none: and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found" (Jer 1:20). We are complete and accepted in Christ; we wear His righteousness and cannot be disrobed, not even in the Day of Judgment. We have been declared justified, not partially, but totally! Our sins, past, present and future, have been dealt with in the body and soul of Christ on the tree.
Our sins not in part but the whole
Are nailed to the cross
And remembered no more.
Our blessed Lord, having discharged all our debt, blotted out all our transgressions as a thick cloud and removed all our sins, cannot in that day, be dissatisfied with the travail of His soul by His Father resuscitating our sins to life again, thus defeating His finished work. Now let me just nail this down, so that any trembling soul, in wrongful anticipation, may be relieved and anxiety quelled. Turretin writes – "The pious will not hear the publication of their sins, but the reward of their love and beneficence. Now what God has once wished to be covered in this life, He will not reveal in the other. For if their sins were to be made known, it would lead to disgrace, and the confusion of the pious, from which they ought to be free." By our sins being concealed by His precious blood, He, in that day, will be glorified in His saints.
That day will be the day of the "Great Assize [i.e. session of a court]" of which we read in our text. The final judgment when all shall be assembled before the great white throne. There shall be no absentees in that day, for we are told that, "The small and great shall stand before God." Your status, your intelligence, your significance or insignificance, your connections, will not excuse you, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Let us understand, first of all, that there is no white throne. We are in the realm of symbolism; the throne represents the regal majesty of the King and Judge, and its whiteness depicts His holiness and justice - The One who is separate from sinners. And we read that, "The books were opened" – but also "Another book was opened which was the Book of Life." This is a symbolic representation of divine omniscience. There is no need of ledgers with God, there is no need of books with God. His infinite mind is an infallible library of all things. But notice, the wicked dead are judged according to their works out of the things written in the books. But the righteous, the elect of God, and those only, are already written in the Book of Life. There is a plurality of books from which the unbelievers will be judged, but the believer is safely inscribed in the Book of Life, and that from all eternity. The Lord knoweth them that are His.
Remarkably, Daniel 7:10 foretold this long ago, "The judgment was set and the books were opened." Unbelievers will be judged for the things done in their bodies and lives, out of: -
a. The Book of Nature. Nature itself testifies of the existence of God, and since the fall, of the sin and wickedness of man. King David appreciated when he was a shepherd boy, the creatorship of God. Psalm 19:1,—"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth forth his handiwork." John Calvin wrote, "Nature is an eloquent book, it has a universal language wherein His power and divinity are known. It declares the glory of God, but not His will." Creation manifests His wisdom, glory and power, and yet what does man do in the vanity of his imagination, and his foolish, darkened heart? Romans 1:23,— "He changes the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man," v. 25,— "who changed the truth of God into a lie."
The preponderance of modern scientists invents theory after theory as to the origin of all things, worshipping defective reason rather than the great Originator Himself. Romans 1:20,—"When the invisible things from the creation of the world are clearly seen, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." Over thirty two million people had watched a recent award-winning series on the subject of Homo Sapiens, across Europe. It purports to show the evolution of man as a direct descendant of primates (who still swing around in trees). Man, who has left his footprint on the moon,—who has purportedly, accidentally evolved from a single cell life; accidentally produced in some primeval sludge countless millions of years ago,—will not be persuaded by the intricacy, inter-relationship and harmony of life, to acknowledge a Creator. Sin has blinded his mind, and the sinner will be judged according to his reaction to natural revelation, and how and what he did with it. Nature’s book will rise up and witness against the natural man.
b. The Book of Providence. This book will list all the turns, times and events in men’s lives. All the opportunities are registered, which could have led to repentance. All the blessings that abounded towards you, but you consumed upon your own lust; every sermon you heard and dodged; every invitation declined; every Sabbath wasted; every ray of sun and every raindrop that were taken for granted, every comfort and consolation experienced – all will divulge your unthinking and uncaring heart. In God’s providence, the Queen of the South sought out the wisdom of Solomon, of whom Christ said, she shall rise up and testify and condemn his generation. For she came from the utmost parts to hear Solomon’s wisdom, but a greater than Solomon is here to be listened to, and His providence observed. Remember, my friend, the pages of providence daily turn in the calendar of your life.
c. The Book of Affliction. Psalm 56:8,—"Thou puttest my tears in a bottle: are they not in my book?" Yes, the saints’ tears are collected by God and each droplet recorded. A book that is tear-stained, and not ink-stained. But the crocodile tears of an unrepentant soul are also logged. Afflictions that are sent to drive the soul to Christ were unheeded, or may have produced tears that uttered confessional cries and promises, ‘Oh give me another opportunity, and deliver me from my trouble and anguish. I will change my way of life, and reform my character, and attend the house of God, and be a true follower of the Lord.’ But when the trouble passes, and you have dried your tears, and forgotten your resolutions and vows, you turn back to your old ways and the bad deeds done in the body. Just as the chief butler forgot his promise to Joseph (Gen. 41:9). Every time you rail against God, ‘why me Lord, why should it happen to me?’ ask also: why not you? Each one of us deserves to go down into the pit wherein is no water.
d. The Book of Conscience. "Conscience," wrote one, "is a thousand witnesses for or against man." And Paul, writing to the Romans: "Their conscience also bearing witness and their thoughts meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another" (Rom 2:14,15). That book will trigger every unbeliever’s conscience. C.D. Alexander wrote, that John Wesley computed that at the Great Assize it would take a thousand years for every evil deed to be accounted. But that is to think on the natural plain. Rather, Alexander believed that, "The judgment will be over in one immeasurable moment: all will be relieved in one flash of the divine light upon the universal conscience, and there will be none, not even from Hell, who will question the righteousness and holiness of God. Conscience will never be so much alive as at the bar of God. Under the searching of the Holy Spirit, the conscience will know instantly the extent of its own apostasy, and will approve the sentence."
Let me liken it to the experience of a drowning man. It is maintained that the whole of one’s life flashes across the mind in that situation. And so it will be for sinners when they stand before the judge of all the earth. Ah, conscience doth make cowards of us all in life. How much more in the day of God’s visitation?
e. The Book of Scripture. Now the sinner may not have accepted this book in life, might not even have opened it. But it shall be opened then, and the words of the Lord Jesus Christ will be found to be true: "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the Word that I have spoken shall judge him" (Jn 12:48).
If you have not received the Word of God, which is pure enlightening the eyes, if you have not received the Law of the Lord, which is perfect converting the soul, the Word of God which endures forever and makes wise unto salvation – then this very same Word will be your prosecutor and judge. The sentence will be according to the doctrine of the Gospel, the Word of God. Oh sinner, you will be tried according to the truth revealed in Scripture, and as personified in Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. Therefore, give the more earnest heed to the things that you hear, for they are a savour of life, or a savour of death.
f. The Book of Life. This shall be opened! wherein the names of all the believers are enrolled, recorded there from all eternity, never to be expunged or erased. And though these names are eternally written, yet they are known in time by all those upon its pages. Proof of that is when Paul writes to the Philippians (Phil. 4:3), "And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured in the Gospel with me; with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the Book of Life." So we can know in time whether we are written in the eternal Book. As the finger of God wrote on the tablets of stone, so the finger of election has inscribed the believer in the book of His eternal purposes, chosen in Christ, and written there before the foundation of the world. As there is in Genesis 5:1,—"The book of the generations of Adam," so there is the book of the generations of the second Adam.
Now if your name is written there, you are exempt from all accusation, censure and condemnation. Nothing, I say nothing, can be charged against God’s elect, not even by God Himself.
"No condemnation now I dread, Jesus, and all in Him, is mine.
Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine."
Though our God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, yet with Balaam we can say, "God hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob: neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel" (Num 23:21). So then, dear soul, be not afeared about any disclosure of your sins before the hosts in that day, but rest content in your union with Christ, for He hath done all things well. The words that shall fall from His lips will not accuse, but bless. "Come ye blessed of my Father, enter the kingdom prepared for you."
But someone may question, ‘How can I know that my name is in the Book of Life?’ Well, you will only know if you repent of the deeds done in the body, and confess your sins, and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn to God from your idols, and exercise repentance towards God, and faith in Jesus Christ. Believe the testimony of nature, of providence, of affliction, of conscience, and above all, of the Scriptures, which testify there is a God to be feared. For it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But there is a God in Christ to be loved for His grace and pardon: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn 3:16). If death itself is to be feared, then what of the second death, spoken of in the context? How awful to imagine, how terrible to contemplate, how fearful to experience!
When you stand before Christ in that day, and see His penetrating, omniscient eyes, and watch His divine fingers turn the pages of the eternal purposes, will you hear those lips into which grace is poured, pronounce, "There shall in no wise enter in anything that defileth, but they which are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life" (Rev. 21:27). Amen. W
"That every one may give account. As the passage relates to the recompensing of deeds, we must notice briefly, that, as evil deeds are punished by God, so also good deeds are rewarded, but for a different reason; for evil deeds are requited with the punishment that they deserve, but God in rewarding good deeds does not look to merit or worthiness. For no work is so full and complete in all its parts as to be deservedly well-pleasing to him, and farther, there is no one whose works are in themselves well-pleasing to God, unless he render satisfaction to the whole law. Now no one is found to be thus perfect. Hence the only resource is in his accepting us through unmerited goodness, and justifying us, by not imputing to us our sins. After he has received us into favor, he receives our works also by a gracious acceptance. It is on this that the reward hinges" (Calvin on 2 Cor 5:10).