People are worried about the world ending…what happens when the world ends.
If there is no God, then nothing, so why should we care about what is happening now, or ever. That is, if nothing awaits us beyond this life, then we need not worry about having purpose and therefore nothing should matter to us now – people are sick, people are dying, maybe it could be us, who cares?
But we do care. Why?
Well, before I answer that, let me remind us that this series is about the Apostles’ Creed. But we are at a transition point this week. The Creed has been primarily about the past until this point. But today’s phrase, “whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead,” points to the future. Jesus will come.
And when He comes again, it will not be as a servant, it will be as Lord. He will be King. And thus, He will judge.
The Real Judge
We all have a sense that judgment is right. And therefore, we all judge. We talk about fairness and equity and rights. All of these terms and more imply judgment. And thus, we recognize judgment as necessary, but we do not want to be judged ourselves. Ultimately, this is the answer to the question above. We care because something inside us seeks justice. The problem is that justice is not the same as fairness and what we want is fairness. But who determines fairness? If it is me, then sometimes you will not like what I think is fair. If you are the one determining, then, at times, I will not like what you think is fair. Therefore, for judgment to be real it must have come from a higher authority than humanity. For me, that authority is the one true God.
Now, many people believe that God will be the judge. But what most people do not consider is which Person will be the judge. Is the Judge God the Father, God the Son, or God the Spirit. I think most people would assume that the judge is the Father. But we do not have to assume. And we do not have to guess. The Bible is clear: the judge is Jesus.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote, “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” (5:10). But beyond the words of Paul, we can know straight from the mouth of Jesus. John recorded Jesus’ saying, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,…” (5:22).
So, Jesus will judge. And He is the Judge. But what kind of judge will He be?
The Righteous Judge
Paul calls the Lord, the righteous judge (2 Timothy 4.8). He wrote these words from a prison in Rome while awaiting his execution, which was imminent, although probably months away. He was comparing the judgment of Christ (who place a crown of righteousness on Paul’s head – v. 8), with the judgment of Nero who was to remove Paul’s head from his body.
Now, when we talk about judgment, we must be clear about what is meant. We are called to discern – that is, use judgment. In fact, the verse that many will use about us not judging others (Matthew 7.1) is in a passage that actually goes on to say that we are to help others (which requires judgment that they need help), but to do so after making sure we are right with God. (Read Matthew 7.1-5. Then read verse 6 which goes further into the need to “judge” the situation.)
But in our focus today we are talking about eternal judgment. We are not talking about helping others; the intent here is about condemnation And only Jesus can do that.
Any judicial system has issues. We are all prone to judge others based upon a lot of factors that are irrelevant such as theological understandings, skin color, political affiliation, nationality, or even geographic location within a country, state, or even city/town, etc.
But the judgment of Jesus will be based upon one thing – belief. And, in fact, Jesus will not have to condemn anyone on the day of judgment (see Rev 20) because as Jesus said just after one of the most oft-quoted verses in the Bible,
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of he only Son of God” (John 3.17-18).
So, the righteous Judge is not condemning people. He is just pronouncing the judgment that they have already chosen for themselves.
The Faithful and True Judge
In Revelation 19.11-19, Jesus is also referred to as Faithful and True. That faithfulness is to Himself as God. That truth is to His purposes as God. The reality is that we all want to think of ourselves as faithful to ourselves and true to our purposes. But we are not. We can see this in so many areas of our lives. Maybe it is treating one child differently than another. Maybe it is reacting differently to different people when they do the same thing. May it is when we give up on a New Year’s (or any other) Resolution. Etc.
But Jesus has never wavered. Jesus is always faithful. To Himself. And thus, to us. We can know exactly what He expects of us. We can also know His love for us never wavers. Ever. For He is faithful and He is true. And He wants us to be as well.
What is interesting is that those who are found faithful (not perfect, but faithful), will also sit as judges. In Revelation 2.26-27, Jesus says that the “one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end” will have authority. We will judge with Him, but under His authority. Furthermore, Paul wrote that the saints will judge the angels (1 Corinthians 6.3). That is, we do not become angels when we die – angels were created before mankind); instead, we will judge them.
And that leads us to the last point. A judgment is coming.
The Coming Judgment
For the sake of time, I will not read all of Matthew 24.32-42 and Matthew 25.31-34; 41. But let me summarize each.
At the end of Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of the fig tree. The fig tree is supposed to produce figs in season. It did not, so Jesus cursed it and it died. Jesus then talked about a future time when some will be ready and some will not, because the exact time of the coming judgment is not known. He does not even know (Matthew 24.36). So, just like the fig tree, we need to produce fruit in season – before it is too late. And this is our season.
At the end of Matthew 25, Jesus describes the final judgment as a separating of the sheep from the goats. In this passage, the idea is not just having belief, but what we do with that belief. Jesus gives scenarios such as being hungry, thirsty, and being a stranger and being welcomed by some, and rejected by others. While anyone can provide care for others, Jesus is saying that those who believe should show the necessary compassion to provide that care. That is what distinguished true belief from merely stating a knowledge of something, or in Jesus’ case, Someone.
Ultimately, both of these passages talk about what we will do because of what we know. It is belief that is important, but it is our fruit that shows belief. The goal of the servant is to first hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25.21, 23) so that we can hear the rest, “enter into the joy of your master.” But as I say often, to hear “Well done” we first have to do.
The Bible is clear that doing is not what grants you salvation, but what we do should be the result of what we believe (Ephesians 2.8-10). And we need to serve our King, but it is He, our King, the Lord, who will judge. Jesus is that King. And Jesus will return. And when He does, He will come in judgment.
Jesus is the ultimate judge. He Himself was judged by man, but when He returns He will judge mankind.
I do not know when He will return, but some people are concerned that the time we are living in right now may be the end. Maybe it is. Again, I do not know. But whether this is the end of not, Jesus will come again one day. If He comes today, are you ready? If He comes tomorrow, or next week, or next year, will you be ready?
If you are not sure, I encourage you to find a friend who knows Jesus, who loves Jesus, and wants you to know and love Him as well. Or, perhaps it would be easier for you to contact our church. You can email us at fairfaxmobaptistchurch.org or send us a message on FB. If you leave a comment in Facebook or YouTube, the comment could be overlooked depending on the number of comments received or when you leave the comment, so directly contacting us is a better option. If you do, someone will reply as soon as possible in order to set up a time to talk.