Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment
Now we come to the last chapter of the Confession, which deals with the last day, particularly, the Last Judgment. Is there a Day of Judgment? How will we be judged? Will believers be judged? Will angels also be judged? What is the relation of works to the judgment? What is Hell? Is it never-ending torment or annihilation? Who is the one who torments? How is God’s glory manifested in Heaven and Hell?
§1 All Persons That Have Lived Upon The Earth Shall Appear Before The Tribunal Of Christ
- God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ; to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; 1 in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, 2 but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, 3 to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. 4
- John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31
- 1 Cor. 6:3; Jude 6
- Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:6-16; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Rev. 20:11-15
- 2 Cor. 5:10, 1 Cor. 4:5, Matt. 12:36
God has determined and appointed a day wherein He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30-31), Who has all power and judgment...given to Him by the Father (John 5:22). It is certain that this day will come because God has determined and appointed it. On this day, not only the apostate angels (Jude 6; 1 Cor. 6:3) but also all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Even Christians will have to appear before the tribunal of Christ. What is the reason for their appearance? It is to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds (Matt. 12:36) and to be rewarded according to what they have done...whether good or evil (e.g., Rev. 20:11-15). God will reward us or take rewards away according to the works which we have done in the body. All our good works have been washed away by the blood of Christ and rewarded by grace. But there will be some who will lose rewards because of their works. The wicked will be condemned by their works because they demonstrate their nature as fallen and wicked.
The Day of Judgment is not the day that will determine the destinies of men; their destinies were fixed at the time they died (Heb 9:27; see here). We deny the doctrine of soul-sleep, the righteous pass from this life into the Intermediate State in bliss, while the wicked go into misery upon their deaths. But what is then the difference between what the wicked and righteous experience now in the Intermediate State and what they will experience after the Day of Judgment? Well for one, they were already judged at death and their judgment was private (Heb 9:27), but the Day of Judgment is public in which the secrets of men will be disclosed. Second, the joy and also the misery of men in the Intermediate State is bodiless. Their bodies lie rotting in the grave, while their souls are in places of peace or anguish. At the Day of Judgment, all the dead will be resurrected, their souls uniting with their bodies, and then come to appear before the throne of God. The difference then is that their everlasting punishment or their everlasting bliss is in body and soul, while in the Intermediate State it is in the soul alone. Moreover, the wicked will then be publicly condemned before the world, ...