The fourth point of the testimony of Scripture that there would be a last judgment is as follows:
The justice of God demands that there would be a perfect execution of his will in terms of the good that befalls the believer and the ill that befalls the wicked. One must, however, not look to this life to determine the existence of the good for the believer and the ill for wicked, because the same persecution is loving discipline to the believer and also fatal judgment to the wicked. The believer is sanctified by the persecution drawing closer to God in his likeness to Christ, while the wicked spirals into evil further separating himself from God. To accurately determine this it is inescapable that one should look to another dimension or life in which God will render full justice to everyone.
Scripture teaches us this as it comforts us that we ought to stand firm in what might appear to be punishment but it is a loving Father dealing with those whom he loved from before creation.
II Thessalonians 1:3-10 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
Luke 16:25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
The purpose of God can never be changed or thwarted. God always obtains his end. God chose that there would be a human race before He created the heavens and the earth and then He set forth and created man for this purpose, that he might be the temple in which He would dwell, and that He might communicate joy and blessedness to man.
But because God is not glorified by irrational beings being compelled by their nature to do what they do, He chose to instill in man a rationale, a free will through which He determined that he would be glorified.
Man exercised this free will to reach out to evil when our First Parents freely chose to ally themselves with the devil against God, proving that man’s free will was not yet matured and tempered to withstand evil temptations.
Man was set on a path to glory through affliction and persecution tempering their hearts against evil temptations and armoring them with the helmet of faith and the breastplate of righteousness through the Son. All of mankind was thrown into the cesspool of death deserving to remain there forever as its just desert. Only those whose names have been written into the book of life were shown mercy, not taking away the just punishment that they would receive. When the stripes of punishment and the scorn of shame are dispensed, the ones who received the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts of their lives have the body of Christ covering them, protecting them against the blows, not enduring the blows as they were supposed to. Those who do not have Christ as their Protector receive the blows personally as they justly deserve.
One is compelled to look beyond this life because while the persecution appear to be the same for both believer and non-believer, it is the unwavering joy of the believer that sets him apart from the wicked, knowing that the trials of this life is the sign of a loving Father assuring him of a perfect life to come.
The joy of the believer is a constant irritation for the wicked; not understanding that God would not create so excellent a creature as man for perpetual misery. God is never disappointed in His purpose, nor will He permit the temple of the Holy Ghost to be given over to perpetual corruption.
This joy and happiness, too, is a part of the image of God in which man was created, and as it was corrupted by the devil, God, who is greater than the devil, has restored it. Therefore, it is not only probable, but it is most certain that man was not created to suffer these evils but for a better end, which is tasted already in this life but will be consummated when Christ comes again.
I Corinthians 6:19, 20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. 20You were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.
Psalm 45:7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.
I Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
3. The final point of the testimony of Scripture that there would be a last judgment is found in the glory of God. God created man that he might forever praise and glorify Him, which cannot take place without the resurrection and the last judgment.
In this life, man is subject to imperfection and an inability to freely glorify God, since his First Parents were unable to pass that ability on to their posterity. Man can, therefore, in his life, not give God the glory that He deserves and demands.
Only after a final judgment in which the author of evil, the deceiver through whom the corruption came about, has been destroyed and the corruption has been healed, and man has been restored in the likeness of Christ, can God be properly glorified.
Scripture testifies that God’s glory demands that a final judgment come about at the end of time; at that time when all of the elect have been sanctified, born again, and ready to reunite their souls with their new bodies, which are like that of Jesus Christ; able to satisfactorily glorify God the Father.
Now that we have determined that a last or final judgment in which all evil will be destroyed and the elect would be received into the glorious presence of God, it is necessary that we look at what exactly this judgment would be.
In every judgment here on earth, we have the accused, the accuser, the judge, the case, the trial, the law according to which a decision is given, the sentence of acquittal or condemnation, and the execution thereof according to the law.
From this it is easy to give a definition of the final judgment, which God will execute through Christ. The judge, in this case, will have no need of accusers or witnesses, inasmuch as He himself will make the works of all known, being himself the searcher of all hearts.
There will then merely be the judge, the guilty, the law, the sentence and its execution. The final judgment is, therefore, that judgment which will take place at the end of the world, when Christ the judge will descend in a visible manner from heaven in a cloud in the glory and majesty of his Father and the holy angels, when all men who have lived from the beginning of the world will be raised. Those who will then be living shall be suddenly changed. All will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, who will pass sentence upon all, and cast the wicked with the devils into everlasting punishment. He will receive the godly to himself, that they may with him, and the blessed angels, enjoy eternal felicity and glory in heaven.
Acts 1:11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
If we have to list the different aspects of the last judgment, it may be compiled as follows:
1. the disclosure of all hearts
2. the revelation of all those things which have been done by men,
3. a separation between the righteous and the wicked, which God will execute through Christ,
4. Christ will pronounce and execute sentence upon all according to the doctrine of the law and gospel, which will result in
5. the perfect deliverance of the church, and
6. the banishment of the wicked and devils into everlasting punishment.
Let us see what the Scriptures teach regarding these six points that we have listed.
1 and 2. The disclosure of all hearts. There will be a disclosure and revelation of all the thoughts and actions of men; for the books shall be opened, that the secrets of the heart may be made known.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Jeremiah 17:10 "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."
Jeremiah 32:19 Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve.
Daniel 7:10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Romans 2:6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done."
Romans 14:10,12 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
II Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
3. There will be separation between the righteous and the wicked.
Matthew 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
This separation will be made by God himself and therefore, be most holy and righteous. Is God unjust?
Romans 3:6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?
Job 34:18, 19 Is he not the One who says to kings, 'You are worthless,' and to nobles, 'You are wicked,’ 19who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?
Psalm 9:8 He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.
It will be effected through Christ because
John 5:22 … the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
Acts 17:31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
Matthew 25:34, 41 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 41Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
The execution will be eternal.
Daniel 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Matthew 25:46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
The righteous and wicked will be judged according to the law and gospel, which means that they will be declared righteous or wicked at the court of Christ. The acquittal of the righteous will be principally according to the gospel, but will be confirmed by the law.
The condemnation of the wicked will be mainly by the law and confirmed by the gospel. Sentence will be passed upon the wicked according to their own merits but passed upon the righteous according to the merits of Christ applied to them by faith, the truth of which will then be made known by their works which shall be brought to light. The righteous themselves will then also confess that their reward is not of merit, but of grace in that which they shall be heard to say “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? (Matthew 25:37-39).
We are by nature all subject to the wrath of God. Yet, we shall be pronounced blessed, not in Adam, but in Christ, the blessed seed. It is for this reason that sentence shall be passed upon the righteous according to the gospel.
Judgment will be rendered even to the elect according to their works not because their works are meritorious, but because they are the effects of faith. They shall receive according to their works, which are the effects of their faith, that is, they shall be judged according to their faith, which is the same thing as to be judged according to the gospel.
The judgment which Christ will execute will be more according to the effects of faith than according to the faith itself, because he will have it made known why he judges the way he does, in order that the wicked may not challenge his righteousness as though he bestowed eternal life unjustly upon the faithful.
He will prove from the fruits of their faith that it was a true faith they possessed, and that they are the persons to whom eternal life is due according to the promise.
He will exhibit to the wicked the works of the righteous, and bring them forward as evidences for the purpose of demonstrating to the ungodly that they have applied unto themselves the merits of Christ. God will also render to the faithful according to their works, that we may take comfort therefrom in this life, having the assurance that we shall be placed with him on His throne where He sits at the right hand of the Father.