Many, many, many times I have watched this verse used as a proof text for varying arguments. This to me seems to be mostly because this verse as it has been quoted, makes it appear that it says justification by works. My intention is to show you from the Bible, which lds have told me they love, why this is not a verse that supports your position in the slightest. I would also like to show you why it is dangerous to quote just 1 scripture like this.
The verse in question is Revelations 20:12, which says:
Revelation 20:12 (King James Version)
" 12 - 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."
So, in order to properly understand this verse, the smart thing to do is read it in its proper context. I don't think anyone, mormon or Christian would disagree with this statement. In order to understand a verse, we must read it in the proper context.
In Verses 7 - 10, we see that Satan had been kept captive for a short time, then was released during the thousand year millennial reign. So Satan is devoured by fire and is thrown in to the lake of fire in verse 10. Verse 11 is where we see the throne. Now notice what it says. It says that the "dead, small and great, stand before God". Now these people are standing before the throne of God. This is a judicial sense as all men are guilty before God. And God's role is absolute judge, and His judgments are perfect, and deserving.
Next, it tells us that, "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."
I seriously BEG of you to continue reading. I know this is a long post but what I am about to show you from scripture may open up your eyes.
Notice that there is more than 1 book which is opened. We have multiple books. The books that record every thought and deed and even every idle word that has ever been spoken (Matthew 12:36), and also the Lambs Book of Life.
Their thoughts (Luke 8:17, Romans 2:16), their words (Matthew 12:37), and actions (Matthew 16:27) will be compared to God's perfect holy standard (Matthew 5:48, 1 Peter 1:15-16), and they will be found short (Romans 3:23).
The Lambs Book of Life is where the names of those who have come into a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ have their names written down (Revelations 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 15:21-27).
Now, Is Revelation teaching salvation and justification by works in this text? No.
There is a cross reference that points us to John 5:28-29.
This verse says, " 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
Now is this verse teaching justification by works? No. Keep reading through until John 6:29. Again, scripture always interprets itself. Always. John 6:29 answers this question. Some might say Jesus was advocating justification by works. Thats why we must look to John 6:29. Jesus tells us what the "good" deed is. John 6:29 says, "29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."
Now, this is clear. Jesus tells us that the good work that we do is believing in Him as God's Son, whom He sent.
(Eph 2:8-9) In verse 30 they asked Him for a sign so that when they see it they might believe in Him. This makes it clear that He was teaching them to believe in Him, not in their own works. Multiple other verses in the New Testament tell us that we are not justified by the law, or by the commandments. But that we are justified by faith, through grace, in Christ alone!
Back to Revelation 20:12. Notice the order of how this judgment goes. Lets look at verses 11 - 15. Verse 11-15 says,
"11And 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. 12And 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.
13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Now, see the order? The books were opened, all men stand before God who is our righteous judge. All are judged according to their works, but then we see the Lambs book of Life is looked at before the final decision is made. Verse 15 again, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire".
Do you see what happens when we let scripture speak for itself? The only way to have your name written in the Lambs book of life is to come to a saving knowledge and relationship of Christ! By faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone. Not only that, but I just showed you Biblically how it is we are saved. I showed you that those who are ultimately getting the full judgment of God are those who's names were not written in the book of life.
Do you see by understanding this verse in its proper context, where exactly it puts you? With all of my heart I beg for you to read this, and come to understand it. I pray for you. That God will reveal Himself to you that this Biblical Jesus is our Savior. He is Lord. He is God! He is mighty to save you in your sins, where you are right now. He is patient. He is not willing any should perish. The God of the Bible sent His Son to be murdered for YOU. He loves YOU! Please. Please! Accept Him tonight. Before it is to late! PLEASE!