Chapter 32, Of the Last Judgment

Please note: The following are only rough notes for this chapter and are not a complete commentary. But I am posting them in the event they prove useful until the commentary for this chapter is complete.

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  1. 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; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon the[1]earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, 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. ( Acts 17:31; John 5:22, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:3;Jude 6; 2 Corinthians 5:10;Ecclesiastes 12:14;Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:10, 12; Matthew 25:32-46 )

 

God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ;

Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”     Acts 17:31 (ESV)

  • Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.         Matt 12:38-40 (ESV)

The implication is that Christ will only be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, because after that he will be raised up-resurrected.

Christ’s resurrection is a sign for all mankind, testifying of his authenticity, appointment and authority to judge the nations.

  • The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, John 5:22 (ESV)
  • And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. John 5:27 (ESV)

 

to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged,

  • Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 1 Cor 6:3 (ESV)
  • And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—   Jude 1:6 (ESV)

 

 

 

but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, 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.

  • “The subjects of the judgment will embrace the entire human race of every generation, each individual appearing immediately after his resurrection, in the completeness of his reintegrated person, both soul and body.”[2]         A. A. Hodge
  • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Cor 5:10 (ESV)
  • For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Eccl 12:14 (ESV)
  • I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, Matt 12:36 (ESV)
  • Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; Romans 14:10 (ESV)
  • So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:12 (ESV)

See also Matt 25:31-46 (ESV)

  • “There is no text which asserts that the Christian has anything to dread in the day of judgement. There are many texts, conversely, which teach that the true Christian has everything to look forward to in the day of judgement. It is the wicked, deceitful, deceived person who has everything to fear and the Christian has nothing to fear.
  • But someone may ask about 2 Corinthians 5:10, ‘Is this verse talking only about believers?’ No look at the following verses. The evil deeds which are recompensed with evil in this text are the evil deeds of an unconverted man. The good deeds are the deeds of the Christian man.”   Samuel Waldron

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  1. The end of God’s appointing this day, is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of his justice, in the eternal[3] damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient; for then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and glory with everlasting rewards, in the [4]presence of the Lord; but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast aside into everlasting torments, and punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. ( Romans 9:22, 23; Matthew 25:21, 34; 2 Timothy 4:8; Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:48; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 )

 

The end of God’s appointing this day,

  • “The opening phrase, the end of, means “the purpose of.” The confession is stating the purpose for the last judgment. Both heaven and hell have the same ultimate purpose: to glorify God.”[5] R.C. Sproul

 

 is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of his justice, in the eternal damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient;

  • What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— Romans 9:22-23 (ESV)

 

for then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and glory with everlasting rewards, in the presence of the Lord;

  • His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matt 25:21 (ESV)
  • Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matt 25:34 (ESV)
  • Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Tim 4:8 (ESV)

 

 but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast aside into everlasting torments,

  • Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.   John 3:18 (ESV)

 

 

 

 and punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

  • And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matt 25:46 (ESV)
  • ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’   Mark 9:48 (ESV)
  • and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 2 Thess 1:7-10 (ESV)

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  1. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity, so will he have the day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come, and may ever be prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus; come quickly. Amen. ( 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7; Mark 13:35-37; Luke 12:35-40; Revelation 22:20 )

 

As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment

This is why Christ taught so much about the last judgment. He came as the greatest Prophet to mankind to preach salvation and judgment; salvation for he who believes–thus escaping the wrath to come in the last judgment, and preaching judgment for those who will not believe.

  • Baptist Catechism
  • Q27: How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
  • A27: Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

 

  • “Some people think that a good God would never actually punish anyone. But just the reverse is true. A judge who never punishes the wicked is not a good judge. And God is the perfect judge, whose judgment is good.”[6]  R.C. Sproul
  • “The believer does not need to fear any of his worthless deeds will be exposed. Only the life-style of the righteous which vindicates his faith will come to view. May God make the day of judgement the hope he intends it to be for his people.”[7] Samuel Waldron

 

 

 

both to deter all men from sin,

The Day of Judgment serves as a deterrent of sin.

  • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 2 Cor 5:10-11 (ESV)

 

 and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity,

  • This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.   2 Thess 1:5-7 (ESV)

 

  so will he have the day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come

  • “The reason why God doesn’t reveal the day is to keep us alert and ready. We are to flee from carnal security. The longer God delays judgment, the more people begin to assume that there will be no judgment. They think they will continue to get away with their sin with impunity.  That is carnal security, the security of the flesh, the security of the hardened heart and of the stiff-necked person.  It is a false security.  We are to remind people that there will be a time of judgment, and that we do not know when it will be.  It could be tonight; it could be tomorrow.  It could be a thousand years from now.
  • There is a story about Dwight L. Moody, who preached an intense, fiery, evangelistic service one night in Chicago. At the close of the service, he told the people to go home and think about his admonition, and the following week they would be called to make a decision. That very night, after the service, came the Great Chicago Fire. Many of those who had attended his service died.  Moody said after that experience that he would never again postpone the calling of people to commit their lives to Christ.  You never know if you have more time.”[8]    R.C. Sproul

 

 

  • Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”   Mark 13:35-37 (ESV)
  • “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Luke 12:35-40 (ESV)

 

and may ever be prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus; come quickly. Amen.

  • “We should be in such a state of reconciliation with Christ that we earnestly desire that he not delay another day, but come right now. Do we instead say, “Lord, we want you to come, but give us a little bit of time to get our house in order or to take care of some things we would like to accomplish.” The prayer of the godly heart is “Lord come, and come quickly.”[9] R.C. Sproul

 

  • “The designed effect of the attitude of uncertainty with regard to the time of the second advent and general judgment in which the saints are placed is, that they should regard it as always immediately impending; that they should look forward to it with solemn awe, and yet with joyful confidence; and hence, in view of it, be incited to the performance of duty and the attainment of holiness, and comforted in sorrow.”[10]A. A. Hodge

So the 1689 Confession ends as the Word of God ends:

  • He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!   Rev 22:20 (ESV)

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[1] The 1689 adds this to the WCF and the Savoy.  The source is presumably Collins.  This obviously a grammatical change with no significance to the meaning, it just makes the wording better.

[2] A.A. Hodge, The Westminster Confession: A Commentary (The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh), pg. 391.

[3] The 1689 Confession adds this to the WCF and the Savoy. The source is presumably Collins.  This word clarifies the damnation.

[4] The 1689 Confession adds this to the WCF. The source is the Savoy Declaration.

[5] R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess (P&R Publishing, New Jersey), Volume III, pg. 190.

[6] R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess (P&R Publishing, New Jersey), Volume III, pg. 191.

[7] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press: Darlington, England), pg. 419.

[8]R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess (P&R Publishing, New Jersey), Volume III, pg. 195-196.

[9]R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess (P&R Publishing, New Jersey), Volume III, pg. 196.

[10]A.A. Hodge, The Westminster Confession: A Commentary (The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh), pg. 396.

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