Getting Ready for the Judgment Day

 Question: What does the Bible say about Judgment Day or the Day of Judgment? How does this affect us as Christians?

Discussion: You'll find an overview in II Peter 3, but all three chapters of that short book offer insights on how Christians are to live prior to Judgment Day. Words of warning and words of assurance about the coming judgment can also be found in many other scriptures, such as I Thessalonians 5, Hebrews 10, the short book of I John, and the one-chapter book of Jude. To research additional references, just look up related words or phrases in a concordance. If your edition of the Bible does not provide that study help, most bookstores can order a Bible concordance in separate book form in various translations, including the Revised Standard Version (RSV) and New American Bible (NAB). Also, some Internet copies of the Bible allow you to do a word search online.

Obviously, we don't have the space to discuss all of the scriptures about Judgment Day, but if we focus on a few, we might glimpse a big picture. Let's look, for instance, at the most popular verse in the Bible, along with the next one, since, together, they address your question: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16-17, KJV). Those two verses provide a clear statement of God's general thoughts on judgment as well as the divine plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Similarly, 679 of the Catechism explains, "Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He 'acquired' this right by his cross. The Father has given 'all judgment to the Son.' Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself."

 

The crucial point is that Jesus — Son of Mary, Son of God — totally gave himself to love, removing all barriers between us and God. Although wholly perfect, Jesus Christ took on sin that was not even His, but ours. Jesus also overcame death even though He had the power to soar into heaven without the discomfort of dying, much less enduring the excruciating pain of the Cross. Since He did all of this for us to overcome death and to show us the way to unending life, we might ask ourselves if His actions show that He wants to get rid of us or cast us into hell? Clearly not! Jesus Christ wants us with Him forever. So, even though He has the God-power and God-authority to judge us severely, His perfectly loving solution was to take onto Himself all of the judgment we deserve.

Now and forever, our hope resides in that One True and Holy Love. Therefore, we might want to see what Jesus Himself said for us to expect on Judgment Day. For example, in Matthew 12:36-37, He gave this vital warning: "I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (NAB.) Those verses clarify our need to assess each remark that comes from our mouths as we become truer in knowing what we think, then saying what we mean and meaning what we say. As I Peter 4:8 says, "Love covers a multitude of sins." Conversely, a "careless word" has a potentially harmful effect, not unlike the wounding deliberately caused by hateful, cruel, or spiteful words.

Unfortunately, most of us have discovered that a word, a look, or even a bad thought about someone can come across as judgment, but the Bible cautions us against actually judging anyone. For example, Romans 14:7-13 (NAB) says: "None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Why then do you judge your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written: 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.' So (then) each of us shall give an account of himself (to God). Then let us no longer judge one another, but rather resolve never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." 

God the Father gave God the Son the final word on everyone, and so should we. In John 5:22-23, Jesus explains, "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him." In verses 24-27, Jesus Christ goes on to assure us, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man" (KJV).

The right and ability to judge people's motives and actions belongs to Christ alone. Also, the biblical admonitions against judging anything before its time warn us about placing a final verdict on ourselves. As the Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 4:4-6 (NAB), "It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God." Wow! Those who remain true to our Lord Jesus Christ might receive God's praise on Judgment Day, and what a glorious day that would be!

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