There is no getting around it–the Bible speaks of a coming day of ultimate and final judgement.
A day when Jesus will proclaim the eternal destinies of all people:
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” Revelation 20:12
This will be the event where God determines everyone’s spiritual condition–alive or dead.
It will be the ultimate separation of good and evil at the end of history. The Christian does not need to fear this moment. The unbeliever should.
The Biblical Fact of the Final Judgment
The Bible does not shy from the topic of a final judgment. Among all the details given on the final judgment, Jesus gives us one of the most vivid.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Matthew 25:31-46
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.
All the dead and the living–from the beginning of time to the end of time–will be judged.
Who and What Will Be Judged?
No man is excused from this judgment. Each of us will give account of ourselves to God. Believer and unbeliever alike will stand before the his judgment seat.
But the most condemning piece of evidence against the unbeliever will be their persistent rejection of God’s salvation.
Believers, on the other hand, will be judged out of The Book of Life–a list of all who accepted God’s mercy through Christ.
Indeed, all their deeds will also be judged. But they will be judged to bestow degrees of reward–not on their justification. For those who trust in the Lord, repent of sin and walk in his ways will not be condemned: ”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Who Will Judge?
The Bible is quite clear: the judge will be Jesus.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom. 2 Timothy 4:1
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42
Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. Acts 17:31
God gave the son this right to judge:
For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. John 5:26-27
Jesus’ death is a unique judgment where God paid the price justice demands for mankind’s sin. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the foundations on which sinners are saved. So it is significant that he is chosen to be the judge.
The Necessity of the Final Judgement
The final and ultimate judgment at the end of history is simply the culmination of redemptive history and God’s frequent judgment on his people. From the earliest of time, God has been mankind’s judge.
In the Old Testament God brought abundant blessing on mankind but he also visited judgment on them, too, for their constant rebellion and unfaithfulness.
Think the Flood, the tower of Babel and Sodom and Gomorrah. And to this day God’s judgment continues against sin and idolatry and unfaithfulness.
Judgments throughout history serve as warnings for the consequences of unbelief, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”
Yet, if believers pass from death into presence with God and unbelievers into a state of separation from God, why does God have a time of final judgment at all?
Simple. It serves the purpose of displaying before all rational creatures the declarative glory of God in a formal, forensic act.
Final Judgement Should Not Be Taken Lightly
The Bible’s message of God’s grace is set against the backdrop of a just God before whom we live. A just God who demands the satisfaction that crimes against him [for that is what sin is] be paid in full.
Crime demands justice. God’s judgment of unrepentant criminals naturally flows from this. On the other hand, his justification of repentant criminals flows from his grace. And this accomplishes one, very important thing…
In the end, all human history–from creation to the final judgment to heaven and hell–glorifies Jesus. He will be glorified through both grace and judgement.
For the believer, falling down before God’s throne to worship him will be a privilege. It will be all misery and torment for the unbeliever.
Let’s do what we can to make sure we bring as many believers with us.