Confessing Our Faith in the Culture – Chapter 34

Of the Last Judgment

A. The Concept Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31

  1. an appointed day Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8

    1. at the time of Christ’s return Matthew 16:27

    2. not known precisely to any but the Father Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7

  2. all-inclusive

    1. both righteous and unrighteous present Matthew 25:32

  3. presided over by Christ himself John 5:22-23

B. The purpose

  1. to display the glory of God 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10

    1. by manifesting his mercy Romans 9:23; Ephesians 2:6-7

      1. in the salvation of his people

    2. by manifesting his justice Romans 2:5; 9:22

      1. in the condemnation of the reprobate

        It will furnish a worthy arena for the display of the attributes of God. A continuous purpose of God, in connection with his intelligent creatures, has been to make known to them the glory of his character. This is assigned as a reason even of his spiritual quickening of his people together with Christ. Eph. 2:4-7. Now, no mention can be made of any one of his attributes, which he has thus far revealed, which will not, at the judgement day, be signally displayed. This will be especially true of his vindicatory justice, the perfection of which has been, in some degree, dimmed, while, because of his forbearance and grace, he has delayed the due punishment of sin. Hence, this day is called “the great day of their wrath,” (Rev. 6:17), and “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God.” Rom. 2:5. Yet, how signally will then, also, appear the wisdom of his purpose, the truth and faithfulness of his promises, his power to accomplish his will, his universal benevolence, his sacrificing love, his unbounded mercy, his delivering power, his conquering grace, and, not to attempt to enumerate further, everything that can be imagined as constituting that holiness which, in one word, embraces all moral perfection. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology

  2. accomplished by

    1. public declaration of perfect divine judgment

      The righteous man, because of his presence with Christ, doubtless knows that his salvation is secure; but who can tell what alternate hopes and fears may constitute a part of the torture of the wicked in the intermediate state? But, even if he is also certain of his fate, there may be weighty reasons for a public manifestation of his position. … It may be that the day of judgment is appointed, in order that the full sentence, as to the reward or punishment of each man, may be uttered, when he stands clothed in the resurrection body, in which these are to be suffered, or enjoyed during all the future. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology

    2. fulfillment of promised blessings for the righteous Matthew 25:21, 34, 46; 2 Timothy 4:8

      1. everlasting life

      2. fulness of joy

      3. glory

      4. everlasting reward

    3. fulfillment of promised cursings for the unrighteous Matthew 25:41, 46

      1. eternal torments

      2. everlasting destruction

      3. executed by God himself in power and glory 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10

C. The use of the doctrine

  1. deterrent from sin 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

    1. for both righteous and unrighteous

  2. consolation for the saints 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7

    1. judgment passed on a righteous life-style

      Salvation is not by works, but its whole point is to produce works. Where a person’s life-style is not radically altered, there no gracious salvation has been at work. Judgment proceeds on the basis of our deeds, because our deeds, taken as a whole manifest our character and our character manifests our relationship to Christ and the presence or absence of faith in him. …The believer does not need to fear that any of his worthless deeds will be exposed. Only the life-style of righteousness which vindicates his faith will come to view. May God make the day of judgment the hope he intends it to be for his people. Sam Waldron, Exposition of the 1689

    2. vindication of his faith

      The wicked are condemned, because both of character and conduct. How this may be, can easily be understood. But the righteous are accepted, and rewarded, upon the same grounds. The reason of this is not so apparent. It doubtless is based upon the meritorious work of Christ, through which, by faith, they have been justified by God even in this life. But the references to their own personal acts show, also, a personal justification in that great day. This is the justification by works, seen in them even while on earth. It is the manifestation of the life-giving principle imparted to them on earth in regeneration, and exhibited by them during the processes of sanctification. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology

      The trial has also a light side. It will increase the joy and happiness of the righteous. The day of judgment will be a day of jubilee to them.

      [2] At that day Christ their judge will own them by name. Those whom the world scorned, and looked upon as madmen and fools, Christ will take by the hand, and openly acknowledge to be his favorites. What is his ‘confessing of men,’ but his openly acknowledging them to be precious in his eyes? Watson, Body of Divinity

  3. encourage a proper response to God’s holiness

    1. love and good works for the believer 2 Timothy 4:6-8

    2. repentance and faith for the unbeliever Luke 24:46-37

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