( From Chapter Six (Part 2A – The Last Judgment ): The Judgment of God from Life, Death and Destiny)
THE LAST JUDGMENT
Occasionally it is taught that the lost simply perish forever at death, without ever facing judgment. However, the Bible states consistently that God in Christ will raise up every human being for judgment, either for life or for condemnation:
…there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous…1
Nor does Scripture, Hebrew or Greek, allow any room for reincarnation, or a post-mortem second-chance. Nothing distracts or detracts from the significance of one’s present lifetime, as a unique historic opportunity and responsibility. At the last judgment Christ will assign to each of us his or her final destiny, in relation to God’s Kingdom, based upon his or her chosen relationship to God in this present life.
It is God who will decide our final destiny, for only God has that right, as our Creator and as the One who knows us completely. At the same time, this judgment of God will not be something alien, imposed on us by One who cannot “see as humans see” (Job 10:4) . It will be given by Jesus Christ, who is not only the Son of God, but also “the Son of Man” (John 5:27), “who in every respect has been tested as we are” (Heb. 4:15), and it will be a judgment our own conscience approves.2
In each case, the question to be decided will be: What is this person’s true relationship to God? Does this person belong in His Kingdom? That is, is this person recognised by Jesus Christ as belonging to Him: has Christ “known” him or her (Matt. 7:23)? The question, in each case, will be answered by Jesus in person and His judgment will be both definitive and irresistible.
Judgment will be given, in each case, with reference to that revelation of God and His will which has been available to the person concerned (Rom. 2:12). Therefore salvation is available to all, but by the same token all are accountable. The evidence examined will be one’s “works”3 and “words”,4 rather than one’s professed ideals, attitudes or beliefs. By the same token, rather than attending to public show or status, Christ will uncover the “secrets” of the heart.5
Judgment will be according to works, because these are the test of whether or not faith is genuine, whether or not one is truly receptive to God. The test of faith, of one’s true relationship with God, is Christlike love.6 On the other hand, only works that proceed from humble repentance and sincere faith are genuinely good in God’s sight. Love, both the inward attitude and the outward act, is the fruit of faith, as well as the test of faith. Furthermore, on this basis no-one can face God in his or her own right, “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Therefore, while judgment is according to works, salvation is through the grace of God, in the cross of Christ, by faith alone.
- Acts 24:15. See Acts 17:30-31; Matt. 13:36-43, 25:31-46; Rom. 2:6-16, 14:9-12 ; II Tim. 4:1; I Pet. 4:5; Rev. 20:11-15 [↩]
- See Romans 1:32, 2:15-16 [↩]
- Rom. 2:6, Matt. 7:21-23, II Cor. 5:10, Rev. 20:12 [↩]
- Matt. 12:33-34, 10:33 [↩]
- Rom. 2:16, I Cor. 4:5 [↩]
- Matt. 7:12, 15-20; John 13:34-35; I Cor. 13 [↩]