The Final Judgment and the Christian Life
What happens to those who die while denying the truth of God in their lives? What will their rejection of the truth mean for them? Most people today do not want to think about the final judgment. For those who are young, death and eternity seem so far away. Yet if we would think seriously about eternity—heaven and hell—it would change the way we live today, and for many, it will change where they will spend eternity. Theologian and author R.C. Sproul noted, “Modern man is betting his eternal destiny that there is no final judgment.” This is a tragically fatal bet. The holiness and righteousness of God demand that He execute perfect justice on the final day. At the end of human history, God will judge the world, and His eternal purpose for redemptive history will, at last, be fulfilled.
Looming on the horizon of eternity, there is coming a terrifying final day of judgment. This world is spinning through space on a collision course with this final day of reckoning. Known as the great white throne judgment, this climactic hour of reckoning before God is described in numerous places throughout Scripture. The book of Romans identifies it as “the day of wrath” (Rom. 2:5). Jude calls it “the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). The Apostle Paul says that God “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). This day is fast approaching—a final judgment day in which God will hold court, and all the world will stand trial before Him. In this final judgment, God will open the books and present His case. Every lost sinner will be judged, and God will announce His just verdict and condemn every unbeliever to hell.
This final courtroom scene is described with dramatic detail in Revelation 20:11–15. This is the highest court in heaven or on earth. It is the supreme court of the universe, and there is no higher court of appeal. Every lost sinner will be individually summoned to take his stand before the divine judgment bar, where every unbeliever will have his day in court before the Lord Jesus Christ. The evidence will be presented, and it will be an irrefutable case presented by God Himself. There will be no rebuttal offered, no defense rendered, and no sympathy extended. There will be no grace, no advocate to defend the sinner, and no miscarriage of justice. There will be no successful appeal by the guilty, and no parole from prison as an escape. There will only be perfect judgment.
What should this scene from the last day say to us, who are believers in Jesus Christ? What should this final judgment require of believers? There are two main points of application that we must put into action. Both are critically important as we live with a proper response to this truth.
First, we must be humbled by this truth. There but for the grace of God, we would suffer the same torment. There but for the grace of God, we would be judged and condemned. There but for the grace of God, we would be damned forever. The only difference between us and those who will be condemned at the great white throne judgment is the unconditional love and unmerited favor of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every one of us who believes in Jesus Christ deserves to be condemned at this great white throne judgment. We likewise should be cast down into the lake of fire, for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet, God has taken our many sins and placed them behind His back. Jesus has removed our iniquities from us as far as the east is from the west. Christ has washed away our sins, imputed His perfect righteousness to us, and covered us with His blood, so that our sins will never be brought into account before God.
Let us, therefore, walk in lowly humility before our God. In light of this final day, there is no room for boasting by anyone. What lowliness of mind should grip each one who entrusts himself to Jesus Christ. We have no merit of our own but the merit of Him who lived in perfect obedience to the law and who died for those who have broken this law.
How humbly we should walk before our God. What thanksgiving we should offer to the Lord. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and nothing will ever separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:1, 39). How this should cause us to treasure our eternal salvation in Christ. Consider the great sin that has been forgiven you, and consider the great sacrifice that has been offered to take away your sin. Every one of us should walk lowly before our God in great humility.
Second, we must bear witness of this truth. The retribution of truth in the final judgment should stir us to evangelism. There are people all around us who have yet to come to Christ, who are outside of the kingdom of God and thus under His wrath. The experience of God’s redeeming love is restricted exclusively for those who are inside the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are outside of Christ are in a fearful place. It is incumbent upon each and every one of us to go into the world and entreat the unconverted to come to the salvation that has already been prepared by Christ.
What responsibility we have to go to our families, friends, classmates, and colleagues with a sense of urgency to share the love of God in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. How shall they escape if they neglect so great a salvation? How compulsory it is for us to go into all the world and to preach repentance before God and faith in Jesus Christ. How we must be used by God to reach others so that they may embrace the reality of truth in the word of the cross, rather than one day having to face the final retribution of truth in the final judgment.
This excerpt is adapted from The Moment of Truth by Steven Lawson.