Vol. 8, No. 6
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Through a number of lessons, we have been urged to "Come Meet Jesus": as Creator; as Pre-Incarnate God; as the Incarnate God; as Master Teacher; at the Cross; as Savior; as Messiah and King; as High Priest; as Mediator, Intercessor and Advocate; as Lawgiver and Prophet; as the Head of his church, body and house. One final lesson after this one will call upon us to "Come Meet Jesus the Preeminent One. This current lesson encourages us to "Come Meet Jesus as the Judge." We will do this by proposing some questions for which we will look for biblical answers.
What does the Bible teach about the certainty of a Final Judgment? The Bible teaches that Final Judgment is an appointment for which a soul can neither be late nor avoid (Hebrews 9:27). Final Judgment, and Jesus Christ being the Judge, is a matter of fundamental, Christian doctrine (Hebrews 6:1-2). Final Judgment will be so thorough that even "the secrets of men" and "the counsels... ["purposes" Biblesoft's] of hearts" will be examined (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5).
As the Scriptures represent the final judgment "as certain [Eccl. 11:9], universal [2 Cor. 5:10], righteous [Rom. 2:5], decisive [1 Cor. 15:52], and eternal as to its consequences [Heb. 6:2], let us be concerned for the welfare of our immortal interests, flee to the refuge set before us, improve our precious time, depend on the merits of the Redeemer, and adhere to the dictates of the divine word, that we may be found of him in peace." (Easton)
JUDGMENT, LAST In Christian theology the Last Judgment is an act in which God interposes directly into human history, brings the course of this world to a final close, determines the eternal fate of human beings, and places them in surroundings spiritually adapted to their final condition. (ISBE)
Who will be judged in the Final Judgment? The living and the dead will be judged in Final Judgment. The apostle Peter preached (and Luke the inspired historian recorded) that Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; cf. 1 Peter 4:5). The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). The "small and great" will be judged (Revelation 20:12). "Ungodly men" will be judged (2 Peter 3:7; Jude 14-15). "The persons to be judged are, (1) the whole race of Adam without a single exception (Matt. 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; Rev. 20:11-15); and (2) the fallen angels (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6)" (Easton).
By what standard will Final Judgment proceed? Souls will be judged according to how they conducted themselves on earth toward their fellow man. Jesus Christ portrayed Final Judgment as pertaining to how people treated each other, especially how the less fortunate were treated (Matthew 25:31-46). Souls will be judged according to what they have "done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10). Solomon cautioned youth, for instance, to be careful respecting how they lived their lives because God would remember to bring their conduct into Final Judgment (Ecclesiastes 11:9).
Souls will be judged according to righteousness. The apostle Paul preached in Athens that Jesus "will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31). There is a difference between the righteousness of man and the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). Man must appeal to Jesus Christ on his terms to be deemed righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Every soul will be judged according to the divine revelation by which he was bound (Revelation 20:12). Every soul will be judged 'according to his works' (Revelation 20:12; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
Who will be the Judge in the Final Judgment? Jesus Christ will be the Judge in Final Judgment. The Heavenly Father assigned the role of Judge to Jesus and gave him the authority to execute Final Judgment (John 5:22, 27-29). Everyone must appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). No human being has the prerogative or right to pass Final Judgment on anyone (James 4:12).
What will be the result of the Final Judgment? Only two possibilities exist for outcomes of the Final Judgment. Jesus Christ identified the two possibilities as "the resurrection of life" and "the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29). Otherwise, Scripture refers to eternal heaven and eternal hell (Matthew 23:23; 25:46; John 14:3). Scripture nowhere portrays more than two possible eternal destinations, though some religious people imagine that there are four or more possible eternal destinations.
Admission to eternal heaven with God is variously illustrated in Scripture. The apostle Paul referred to the "righteous judge" giving "a crown of righteousness" to each soul who is commended at the Final Judgment (2 Timothy 4:8). The apostle John recorded Jesus referring to "a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). The apostle Peter called it "a crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:4).
In conclusion, Jesus Christ alone has the authority and the responsibility as Judge of humanity in the Final Judgment. There are only two possible eternal destinations following Final Judgment. Mankind will be judged in Final Judgment according to what he has done or failed to do while on earth (Matthew 25:31-46; James 4:17). Mankind will be judged in Final Judgment according to the revelation of God under which men lived respectively (Revelation 20:11-15).
What can we do to prepare ourselves for the Final Judgment and the certain prospect of meeting Jesus Christ as the great Judge? First, we can obey the Gospel of Christ whereby our sins are removed and we become Christians (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 11:26). Second, we can remain faithful to Christ and repent when we stumble in sin (Revelation 2:10; 1 John 1:9).
Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.
Easton, M.G. Easton's Bible Dictionary. Oak Harbor: Logos, 1996.
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (ISBE). CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1996.