There’s a lot we don’t know about the Final Judgment of God. We don’t know if it’s going to happen in a giant celestial courtroom, we don’t know how long it’s going to take, and most unsettling of all, we can never be quite sure of what the outcome will be.
But, there’s also a lot we do know. We know that Christ will be our primary judge. We know that it will take place after the conclusion of the Millennium. We know from ancient scripture and modern prophets that our judgment will be based on three records. Here they are:
1. The Book of Life
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.
That’s Revelation 20:12. We learn two key things from this passage. First, we’ll be judged according to what is written in the book of life. Second, there are other books that also come into play (we’ll get to those later).
The book of life. What’s that? Joseph Smith seemed to have the same question. Doctrine and Covenants 128:7 has the answer:
And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven.
There’s a book for you and for me that is safely tucked away in heaven, upon which our lives are recorded. Who updates it? Who knows. How detailed is it? Your guess is as good as mine (but probably very detailed). How will the book of life and these other books be used during the judgment? Orson Pratt gave us some insight back in the 1800s:
The sacred books kept in the archives of eternity are to be opened in the great judgment day, and compared with the records kept on the earth; and then, if it is found that things have been done by the authority and commandment of the Most High, in relation to the dead, and the same things are found to be recorded both on earth and in heaven, such sacred books will be opened and read before the assembled universe in the day of judgment, and will be sanctioned by Him who sits on the throne and deals out justice and mercy to all of his creation.
And this brings us to the second record that God will use during the final judgment:
2. Records kept on earth
According to Joseph Smith, the other books mentioned in Revelation refer to earthly sources:
…the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works; consequently, the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works, and refer to the records which are kept on the earth.
Unfortunately, we’re not sure exactly what these records are. But, there are plenty of earthly records to choose from that reveal plenty about what kind of people we are. Think about it:
- Police records
- Employment records
- Personal journals
- Home videos
- Social Media posts
Side note: If God were to judge us solely based on your social media activity, how would we feel? Would we be embarrassed by some of the comments we’ve made or by some of our photos? Let’s just make an effort to be mindful of our online behavior, and recognize that it’s very possible that our posts come back to bite us at the end of it all.
Now, there’s one last record that we learn very little about in church, but it may be the most telling record of all…
3. The record kept within our very bodies
Evidence of this record stems from the Apostle Paul in Romans 2:15:
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.
OK, but should that be taken literally? Obviously there’s nothing physically written in your heart, but … keep reading.
In 2009 a Religious Education professor at BYU-Idaho gave a speech called Made Holy in the Body. In it, he provides a goldmine of quotes from Church leadership concerning how our very bodies will testify for or against us during the Final Judgement:
From President John Taylor:
“…I could show you upon scientific principles that man himself is a self-registering machine, his eyes, his ears, his nose, the touch, the taste, and all the various senses of the body, are so many media whereby man lays up for himself a record…” (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 26:32.)
From Bruce R. McConkie:
“In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. It is the record engraven on the very bones, sinews, and flesh of the mortal body. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an effect on the human body; all these leave their marks…” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 97.)
Again from Pres. Taylor:
“God has made each man a register within himself…. Your eyes and ears have taken it in, and your hands have touched it…” (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 11:77-80).
From President David O. McKay:
Psychology assures us that ‘We are spinning our own fates, good or evil… Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar…. Down among his nerve cells and fibers the molecules are counting it, registering and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes. (Pres. David O. McKay, quoting William James in Conference Report, April 1956, 7-8.)
From Spencer W. Kimball:
“There are dark, deep corners, locked rooms, isolated spots, but no act, good or bad; no thought, ugly or beautiful ever escapes being seen or heard. [Each] one will make the imprint on the individual and be recorded, to be met and paid for.” (Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, Teaching of Spencer W. Kimball, 155.)
Is your mind blown yet? At the final judgment, God will be able to read us like a book. We are the final record that will determine our placement in the eternities. We are choosing, every day, the outcome we want at the final judgment.
So, I guess the question is: How do you want to be judged? If you aspire for a celestial mansion in the Kingdom of God, then strive to live as celestial a life as you can right now. Keep the commandments. Repent. Forgive. Be humble. Be kind. Be whatever you need to be, one day at a time, starting today.