The Last Judgement

429 the latest dish"The court is coming! The court is coming! Repent now or you will go to hell ". They may have heard some roving street evangelists call these words, trying to scare people into making a commitment to Christ. Or, you may have seen such a person satirically portrayed in movies with a maudlin look. Perhaps this is not so far from the image of the "eternal judgment" that many Christians believed over the centuries, especially in the Middle Ages. You can find sculptures and paintings depicting the righteous, floating in the sky to meet Christ, and the unrighteous dragged to hell by cruel demons. These images of the Last Judgment, the judgment on eternal destiny, are from New Testament statements about the same. The Last Judgment is part of the doctrine of the "last things" - the future return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous, the end of the present evil world, which will be replaced by the glorious kingdom of God.

The Bible declares that judgment is a serious event for all people who have lived, as the words of Jesus make clear: "But I say to you that men must give an account on the Day of Judgment of every useless word that they speak to have. From your words you will be justified, and from your words you will be damned "(Mt 12,36-37). The Greek word for "judgment" used in the New Testament passages is krisis, from which the word "crisis" is derived. Crisis refers to a time and situation when a decision is made for or against someone. In this sense, a crisis is a point in the life of a person or the world. More specifically, Krisis refers to the activity of God or the Messiah as judge of the world at the so-called Last Judgment or the Day of Judgment, or we could say the beginning of the "eternal judgment".

Jesus summarized the future judgment of the destiny of the righteous and the wicked as follows: "Do not be surprised. For the hour is come when all who are in the graves will hear His voice, and shall come forth who have done good, to the resurrection of life, but who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment "(John 5,28) ,

Jesus also described the nature of the Last Judgment in symbolic form as the divorce of the sheep from the wolves: "But if the Son of man will come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory, and all the peoples will be gathered in front of him. And he will separate them from each other, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and will put the sheep to his right and the goats to the left "(Mt. 25,31-33).

The sheep on his right are told of their blessing in the following words: "Come, you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom that prepares you from the beginning of the world" (v. 34). The goats on the left are also informed of their fate: "Then he will say to those on the left: Go away from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels!" (V. 41) ,

This scenario of the two groups gives the righteous confidence and pushes the wicked into a time of unique crisis: "The Lord knows how to save the pious from the temptation to save the wicked for the day of judgment to punish them" (2Pt 2,9 ).

Paul also speaks of this double day of judgment, calling it the "day of wrath when his righteous judgment will be revealed" (Rom 2,5). He says, "God who will give to each one according to his works: eternal life to those who, with all patience, seek good works of glory, honor, and everlasting life; Disgrace and wrath but those who are contentious and disobey the truth obey the injustice "(v. 6-8).

Such biblical passages define doctrine of eternal or final judgment in plain terms. It is an either / or situation; there are the redeemed in Christ and the unredeemed wicked who are lost. A number of other passages in the New Testament refer to the "Last Judgment" as a time and situation that no one can escape. Perhaps the best way to get a taste of this future time is to quote a few passages that mention it.

Hebrews speaks of judgment as a crisis situation that every human being will face. Those who are in Christ, saved through his redemptive work, will find their reward: "And as men are destined to die once, and after that the judgment: so also was Christ once offered to take away the sins of many; for the second time, he will not appear for sin, but for those who are waiting for him, for salvation "(Heb. 9,27-28).

The saved people who have been made righteous by his redemptive work need not fear the Last Judgment. John assures his readers: "In this the love in us is perfect, that we have confidence on the Day of Judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world. Fear is not in love "(1Joh 4,17). Those who belong to Christ will receive their eternal reward. The godless will suffer their terrible fate. "Thus also the heaven which is now, and the earth shall be saved by the same word for the fire, preserved for the day of judgment and the damnation of the godless men" (2Pt 3,7).

Our statement is that "in Christ the Lord makes gracious and just provision for all, even those who apparently did not believe in the gospel at death." We do not say how God makes such provision, except that, what also always this, such providence is made possible through Christ's redemptive work, as it applies to those who are already saved.

Jesus himself pointed out in several places during his earthly ministry that care is taken for the un-evangelized dead to be given the opportunity of salvation. He did so by declaring that the population of some ancient cities would favor the court in comparison with the cities of Judah where he preached:

"Alas, Chorazin! Alas, Betsaida! But it will make Tyrus and Sidon bearable in the court than you "(Lk 10,13-14). "The people of Nineveh will appear at the last judgment of this generation and will condemn it. The Queen of the South [who came to hear Solomon] will perform at the Last Judgment with this generation and will condemn it "(Mt 12,41-42). Here are people of ancient cities - Tire, Sidon, Nineveh - who obviously did not have the opportunity to hear the gospel or know Christ's work of salvation. But they find the judgment endurable, and send a damning message to those who have rejected it in this life, just by standing before their Savior.

Jesus also makes the shocking statement that the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah - proverbs for any gross immorality - would find the judgment more bearable than certain cities in Judea in which Jesus had taught. To put it in the context of how startling Jesus' statement is, let's look at how Judas portrays the sin of these two cities and the consequences they received in their lives for their actions:

"Even the angels, who did not preserve their heavenly rank, but left their dwelling, he has held for the judgment of the great day with eternal bonds in the darkness. So, too, are Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, like their fornication and other flesh, are set, for example, and suffer the pain of eternal fire "(Jud 6-7).

But Jesus says of the cities in the future court. "Verily, I say unto you, the land of the Sodom and Gomorrah will be more bearable on the day of judgment than this city [ie the cities which the disciples did not receive]" (Mt 10,15).

So perhaps this suggests that the events of the Last Judgment or the Eternal Judgment do not quite agree with what many Christians have accepted. The late Reformed theologian, Shirley C. Guthrie, suggests that we do well to reorient our thinking about this crisis event: the first thought that Christians have when they think of the end of history should not be timid or vindictive speculation about who will be "inside" or "going up" or who will be "outside" or "going down". It should be the grateful and joyful thought that we can confidently face the time when the will of the Creator, Reconciler, Redeemer and Restorer will once and for all prevail - justice for injustice, love for hatred and greed, peace over hostility, humanity over inhumanity, the kingdom of God will triumph over the powers of darkness. The Last Judgment will not come against the world but for the benefit of the world. This is good news not only for Christians, but for all people!

Indeed, that is what the last things, including the last or eternal judgment, are all about: the triumph of the God of love over all that stands in the way of his eternal grace. Therefore, the apostle Paul says, "After that the end, when he will hand over the kingdom to God the Father, having destroyed all dominion and all power and violence. Because he has to rule until God puts all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death "(1Kor 15,24-26).

The one who will be in the last judgment of the judges of those who have been made righteous by Christ and those who are still sinners, is none other than Jesus Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for all. "For the Father judges no one," said Jesus, "but has given all judgment to the Son" (John 5,22).

The one who judges the righteous, the un-evangelized and even the wicked is the one who gave his life so that others could live forever. Jesus Christ has already taken the judgment on sin and sinfulness. This does not mean that those who reject Christ can avoid suffering the fate that will bring their own decision. What the image of the compassionate judge, Jesus Christ, tells us is that he desires that all men attain eternal life - and he will offer it to all those who place their faith in him.

Those who are called in Christ - "chosen" by Christ's election - can face the judgment with confidence and joy, knowing that their salvation is secure in Him. The un-evangelized - those who did not have the opportunity to hear the gospel and put their faith in Christ - will also find that the Lord has provided for them. The judgment should be a time of joy for everyone, since it will usher in the glory of the eternal kingdom of God, where in all eternity nothing but goodness will exist.

by Paul Kroll


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