One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Saturday, December 29, 2012: Revelation 20:1-15
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 from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. Revelation 20:12 (NASB)
15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15 (NASB)
Amazingly, Scripture indicates that there will be two judgments at the end of time. These are typified here by "the book and the books." It is very important for us to understand the difference between these two events. The judgment of "the book" is for ETERNAL DESTINY, and the judgment of "the books" is for ETERNAL REWARD.
A book will opened in which the names are written of all those who have accepted and believed in the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross. This is the book of life. These are those whose sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ. This book is NOT ACCORDING TO WORKS but according to FAITH. All that required for a positive verdict in this judgment is that you be born again. If so, then "there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).
Then there is a second judgment in which "books" are opened. This judgment is not for CONDEMNATION but for REWARD. This is confusing to many believers because we tend to think that just getting to heaven is all that is important. But, Jesus spoke often of the rewards that await those who even give a cup of cold water in His name. There are aspects of this second judgment that are new clearly explained in Scripture. I simply know this: EVERYTHING YOU DO FOR JESUS COUNTS FOREVER.
Rewards are a very real part of our relationship with God. But, we must never confuse rewards for justification! Paul said that "we must ALL appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (II co. 5:10). This is NOT to to judge if we have done enough good works to get into heaven. It is rather the judgment of the rewards we receive.
This should be a great encouragement for us all to live for Jesus. Sometimes it seems that all the good things we do go unnoticed. Our acts of obedience seem to go in rewarded, while those who break the rules seem to get ahead.
One of the greatest verses in the New Testament along these lines is I Corinthians 15:58. There we read: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of The Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain. YOU WILL REAP A REWARD. Jesus guarantees it.
The book and the books will be opened. My prayer is that your name will be written in the book of life. Then, there are books. One of those many books will be your book - the book recording all the things you have done in this life. May it be a thick book full of fantastic tales of exploits you did in His Name. Your reward will be great!