By Witri, Indonesia
Editor’s Note: When the great white throne judgment prophesied in the Book of Revelation comes up, many brothers and sisters imagine that the Lord will come in the last days and be sitting on a great white throne, and then determine if people go up to heaven or down to hell based on what they’ve done. But is this how the prophecy will be fulfilled in reality? Witri gained a new understanding of the great white throne judgment through a period of investigation.
I’m a Christian from Indonesia; I was a Catholic along with my parents when I was a little girl. After getting married I followed my husband into Christianity and started learning to pray and read the Bible, and I threw myself into behaving according to the Lord’s words. I also watched a lot of videos about the great white throne judgment in the last days which were all made based on this prophecy in the Bible: “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and 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 20:11–12). They said that the Lord would be sitting on a great white throne and judge people according to their deeds; whoever is of sin will descend into the great disaster to be punished, while those who are not of sin will be raptured into the kingdom of heaven. After watching these videos I became firmly convinced that they accurately described the judgment of the Lord upon His return. I also patted myself on the back for having accepted the Lord’s gospel and resolved to stay truer to His words so that when He returned to carry out His judgment, I could be taken up into the kingdom of heaven by Him.
There was a huge tsunami in Indonesia in 2004—a lot of people died. Every time I heard about a disaster I was aware that this was the wrath of God and that it was a warning from Him that the day of judgment is upon us. But then I thought about how I had been a believer for a number of years, and although I had been striving to put the Lord’s words into practice, wanting to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, when I encountered things in my actual life I was completely unable to do so. I had also failed to accomplish loving others as myself. For example, I would lose my temper when my husband or mother did something that I didn’t like. Plus when I heard that my mother-in-law had said something bad about me in front of my sister-in-law I felt really angry and then would say something bad about my mother-in-law in front of my sister-in-law, judging her behind her back. I was even greedy and vain, and followed worldly trends. I read this Bible verse and knew it was true: “Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). God is holy, so anyone who is not holy cannot see His face. But I was constantly living in sin—how could I ever gain God’s approval? So I went to different churches and asked the pastors, “How can the issue of constantly sinning be resolved?” They all responded with, “When we sin we can come before God to confess, pray, and repent. Then the Lord will absolve us of our sins.” However, their responses didn’t resolve the issue at all—I kept living in the cycle of sinning and then confessing. Plus whenever I sinned I felt really afraid because I thought about how the Lord would sit at His great white throne in the last days, just like a judge, and then would judge us according to each one of our actions. I was always sinning, so would I be judged and condemned by the Lord? How could I possibly get into the kingdom of heaven? I felt really concerned.
In February 2018 my husband started joining online gatherings. They were all in English so I couldn’t really understand, but I saw that he was so happy every day and became more engaged in his faith than he had been before. This piqued my curiosity. One day he told me that the Lord Jesus had already returned and had begun the work of judgment. I was really surprised to hear him say this and thought that I hadn’t seen any signs of the judgment like it had been portrayed in those videos, so how could it have already started? My response was, “If the Lord Jesus had returned He would be sitting on the great white throne judging us, and believers would have been taken up into heaven while unbelievers would have been destroyed in the great disaster. But none of that has happened, so how is it possible that He has started the work of judgment?” “The Lord returning to do the work of judgment,” he said, “is not the way we’ve imagined it. He has now become flesh to express the truth, and He’s judging us with His words.” Feeling more and more confused, I said, “How on earth could God judge us by uttering words? I’ve never heard any pastors or elders say anything like that.” Since my husband had accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days for a short time he wasn’t too clear on it either, so he didn’t offer much explanation. He later invited me to get online and join a gathering with them, which I didn’t want to do, but I saw how earnest he was. He advised me over and over to seriously listen to it before making up my mind. I knew that he’s someone who gives thought to things and is really serious about anything having to do with his faith, so there had to be a reason for him now believing that the Lord has returned. So, wanting to get clarity on whether the Lord really had returned and was doing the work of judgment, I agreed to listen in. They then arranged for me to join a gathering with some local brothers and sisters here in Indonesia.
In the gathering, the sisters shared fellowship with me about my question. One said, “When God’s judgment in the last days comes up we think of these verses in Revelation: ‘And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and 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 20:11–12). Based on these verses, we’ve believed that when the Lord returns He will be sitting on a great white throne and judge us one by one according to what we’ve done over our lifetimes. We think that this is how He’ll determine whether we go up to heaven or down to hell. But have we thought about whether this understanding is in line with God’s will? Would the Lord work according to our own thinking? In fact, if we give it careful thought, we can easily see that the great white throne in the Book of Revelation is nothing more than a vision John saw on Patmos Island and is not a fact of God’s work. We cannot interpret the meaning of this prophecy based on notions and imaginings because it says in the Bible, ‘Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:20–21). Prophecies come from God and we have to maintain a heart of reverence for God in our approach to the prophecies, not interpret them at will based on their literal meanings. Think back to the Age of Law of the Old Testament—the Pharisees of the time thought, based on the literal meaning of Scripture, that the Messiah would be born in a palace and hold official power. But the exact opposite was true; the Lord Jesus wasn’t born in a palace but in a manger. He was the son of a poor carpenter and He certainly didn’t hold any kind of official power. Because of the gap between the facts of the Lord’s coming and what people imagined, the Pharisees stubbornly clung to their notions and wouldn’t acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was the coming of the Messiah. They refused to accept the truths that He spoke and they nailed Him to the cross, committing a grievous sin. So we should learn this lesson from history and not rely on our notions and imaginings for our understanding of prophecies.”
I knew it was true. Prophecies come from God and shouldn’t be distorted by us humans. This sister’s fellowship was very reasonable and in line with the Bible. I thought about how the videos I had watched before that described the scene of the great white throne judgment had really lined up with my understanding of the Bible, so I agreed with them. But thinking about it after hearing this fellowship, I saw that we are all people who are corrupted by Satan, so how could we see into the work of God? God’s thinking and God’s wisdom are more elevated than man’s and prophecies come from God, so only God can know exactly how they will be fulfilled. We can’t delimit them based on what we imagine.
I then asked this sister, “Your fellowship makes sense. We really can’t go by the literal meaning of prophecies, but what I don’t understand is how God will do the great white throne judgment, then. What does it say in the Bible? Could you share some fellowship on that?”
“Thanks be to God,” she said. “Let’s look at a few Scripture verses on this topic. ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17), ‘For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son’ (John 5:22), ‘And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man’ (John 5:27), ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:47–48). We can see from these Bible verses that when the Lord Jesus comes in the last days He will use words to do the work of judgment beginning with the house of God, and this work of judgment will be done by the Son of man. This ‘Son of man’ means that He is born from a human being and possesses normal humanity. That is, only God in the flesh can be called the Son of man; God’s Spirit can’t be called that. Almighty God has now come in secret; He has become flesh and uttered millions of words to judge mankind. This work of judgment is God’s great white throne judgment, and all those who are able to accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words are those who welcome the Lord’s return—they are those who accept the great white throne judgment.
“Now let’s take a look at a couple of passages of Almighty God’s words to better understand the great white throne judgment. Almighty God says: ‘God does not judge man one by one, and He does not test man one by one; to do thus would not be the work of judgment. Is not the corruption of all mankind the same? Is not the essence of all mankind the same? What is judged is mankind’s corrupt essence, man’s essence corrupted by Satan, and all the sins of man. God does not judge the trifling and insignificant faults of man. The work of judgment is representative, and it is not carried out especially for a certain person. Rather, it is work in which a group of people are judged in order to represent the judgment of all of mankind. By personally carrying out His work on a group of people, God in the flesh uses His work to represent the work of the whole of mankind, after which it is gradually spread. This is also how the work of judgment is. God does not judge a certain kind of person or a certain group of people, but instead judges the unrighteousness of the whole of mankind—man’s opposition to God, for example, or man’s irreverence toward Him, or man’s disturbance of the work of God, and so on. What is judged is mankind’s essence of opposition to God, and this work is the work of conquest of the last days. The work and word of the incarnate God witnessed by man are the work of judgment before the great white throne during the last days, which was conceived by man during times past. The work that is currently being done by the incarnate God is exactly the judgment before the great white throne.’ ‘Today’s work of conquest is intended to make it obvious what man’s end will be. Why do I say that today’s chastisement and judgment are judgment before the great white throne of the last days? Do you not see this? Why is the work of conquest the final stage? Is it not precisely to make manifest what kind of ending each class of man will meet? Is it not to allow everyone, in the course of the work of conquest of chastisement and judgment, to show their true colors and then afterward to be classified according to their kind? Rather than saying this is conquering mankind, it might be better to say that this is showing what kind of ending there will be for each class of person. This is about judging people’s sins and then revealing the various classes of person, thereby deciding whether they are evil or righteous. After the work of conquest, then comes the work of rewarding good and punishing evil. People who obey completely—meaning the thoroughly conquered—will be placed in the next step of spreading God’s work to the entire universe; the unconquered will be placed in darkness and will meet with calamity. Thus will man be classified according to kind, the evildoers grouped with evil, to be without the light of the sun ever again, and the righteous grouped with good, to receive light and live forever in the light.’
“We can understand from God’s words that God’s work of judgment in the last days is not like what we had imagined, where God will sit on a great white throne with all people below accepting judgment one by one, and then He will decide whether each person goes up to heaven or down to hell based on their individual behavior throughout life. If people were judged that way not a single one of us would be qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven. Since all of humanity has been so deeply corrupted by Satan and we’re all full of corrupt, satanic dispositions, even after we come to believe in the Lord and superficially we behave better—we become happy to do good, we don’t fight with or yell at people, and we’re able to work hard for the Lord—this doesn’t mean that we’re compatible with the Lord, or that we’re obedient to Him. For example, when other people speak or act in a way that we don’t like we’ll often get into conflict with them; we can’t even practice tolerance or patience. Sometimes we lie or cheat for our own face or interests; when someone else impinges on our personal interests we come to hate them, or even take revenge. We’re constantly living in a state of sinning and then confessing. If God were to pass judgment based on our behavior over the course of our lives, wouldn’t we all be destroyed by Him? Plus, God doesn’t just judge a portion of people or one nation of people, but does the work of judging all of humanity. Whether it’s in Asia, the Americas, or Europe, everyone has the same essence, which has been corrupted by Satan. So, God has pre-selected a group of people for His judgment, and after they’re conquered by God they’re used to expand His work throughout the entire universe. This way, all those who accept God’s work of the last days are the recipients of God’s judgment.
“God is now fully saving us from sin in accordance with our needs so that we may escape its shackles—He Himself has become flesh and is quietly working in our midst, uttering words and doing the work of judging and purifying mankind. He is first conquering and perfecting those who have heard His voice, and once there is a group of people who have undergone the judgment and chastisement of His words and have been cleansed, He will openly appear to all nations and all peoples. All sorts of disasters will occur and all people will be sorted according to their kind. And all those who haven’t accepted God’s work of judgment, who have not been cleansed by God, will be subject to His righteous punishment. These are the two stages of God’s work of judgment. When the great disaster falls is not when God’s great white throne judgment will be beginning, but when it will fully draw to a close. That’s when all those who have accepted God’s work of His secret coming, who have undergone His judgment and have had their corruption cleansed, will be led by God into His kingdom. They will dance and jump for joy! However, those who have denied and condemned God throughout His period of hidden work will ultimately descend into many years of never-before-seen disasters in which they will be punished by God. This is God’s great white throne judgment in the last days.”
Carefully thinking over this sister’s fellowship, I finally gained a bit of understanding. Nodding my head, I said, “Before I was always afraid of being condemned and unable to get into heaven when the Lord comes, but now through this fellowship I understand that God’s work of judgment will be separated into two stages—His coming in secret and His coming openly. The work of the judgment of words that Almighty God is doing right now is to cleanse mankind of our sins, to lead people into God’s kingdom. What I used to think of as judgment before the great white throne will actually happen after His judgment work had been finished. If I wait until then to accept it, it will be too late. God working this way truly is so wise! God is so righteous!”
I let go of my notions after hearing this sister’s fellowship and became willing to continue seeking and investigating Almighty God’s work of the last days. However, I still wasn’t entirely clear on how God uses words to purify people. She later read another passage of Almighty God’s words for me to help me find the answer.
Almighty God says: “In the last days, Christ variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God.”
This sister went on in fellowship: “For God’s work of judgment in the last days, He’s not just expressing a few sentences or a few pages, but He has already expressed all sorts of aspects of the truth, exposing every kind of satanic nature and poison that are within us, while also pointing out the path to transform our dispositions. In the past we just recognized some surface-level sins such as theft, adultery, lying, and so on, but we had a very hard time recognizing our deeper satanic natures and poisons. Our satanic natures include being arrogant, self-important, selfish, despicable, crooked, and cunning, and then there are satanic poisons like ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,’ ‘Man will do anything to get rich,’ ‘We will not attack unless we are attacked; if we are attacked, we will certainly counterattack,’ and ‘No pain, no gain.’ These things are the root of our sins. For example, when someone else says or does something that we don’t like, we may be able to tolerate it a few times but we’ll start harboring anger, and then when the time is right we’ll blow up. That happens because our internal arrogant and self-important nature hasn’t been resolved. And because of our satanic nature of being greedy for money and fame, although we well know that we can’t follow the trends of the world, when there’s temptation around us we just can’t help but go that route. Through the judgment of God’s words and the various circumstances that God arranges we’re tested, refined, pruned, and dealt with. Then we finally gain a bit of understanding of these corrupt dispositions within us as well as God’s righteous and majestic disposition and develop a heart of reverence for God. Only then can we truly detest ourselves, become willing to forsake the flesh and put the truth into practice, achieving the ability to live out a true human likeness as God requires of us. By continually undergoing God’s judgment and chastisement we’ll become more and more cleansed of our corrupt dispositions; our perspectives on things and our outlook on life will also be changed. This way we can gradually become people who obey and fear God—we can achieve true compatibility with God. All those who experience God’s practical judgment can personally verify that only God’s judgment can cleanse people of their satanic dispositions—God’s judgment of us is love and full salvation.”
Hearing her fellowship, I had a sense of how practical God’s work is. I realized that the judgment and chastisement of words were to expose and judge our corrupt dispositions and the root of our sinfulness. It was something that had never occurred to me before. Whenever I sinned in the past I would just pray and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, but ultimately that didn’t help at all, because after that I still couldn’t stop myself from sinning again. I saw that it was because I hadn’t recognized my own corrupt disposition and the root of my sin. I needed to carefully read Almighty God’s words and recognize my corrupt disposition—that’s the only way I can be cleansed of my corruption.
Over the period of time that followed I read a lot of Almighty God’s words as well as experiences and testimonies from brothers and sisters. I gained understanding of the mysteries of God’s three stages of work, the inside story behind the Bible, the significance of God’s names, which people are eliminated and which can remain, how to achieve full salvation, and more. All of these mysteries are things that only God Himself could reveal—I became certain that Almighty God’s words are the truth and that they are God’s voice. And so, I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days.
After that I gained some understanding of my corrupt disposition by constantly reading Almighty God’s words that judge and expose mankind. I saw that when my mother-in-law said something bad about me to my sister-in-law behind my back, my reaction was to respond in kind to my mother-in-law behind her back. I realized I was completely lacking patience and tolerance. It was just “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” It was evil and lacking in humanity. When I realized this I became willing to truly repent and seek to live out proper humanity. From then on, even though sometimes I heard that she had said something unkind about me—it was upsetting and I wanted to lash out at her—but I recognized that that was my corrupt disposition flaring up, so I would waste no time in coming before God and praying. Gradually, the resentment in my heart dissipated and I was able to interact with my mother-in-law properly. I have really experienced that the only way to be cleansed of my corrupt disposition is to be exposed by God’s words. God’s judgment of me truly is love and salvation. My desire is to experience more of the judgment and revealing of God’s words so that I may become purified soon and be completed by God!