As a young boy, when I did something wrong, mom would say … “I’m going to tell your father when he gets home from work”. That scared me because dad was just over six foot and well built. In those days a policeman was respected and even feared because he was literally “the long arm of the law.” As a young man in my early twenties I did something wrong and needed to appear before a magistrate. That scared me stiff.
Today, many people do not fear those in authority and some police do not deserve respect … but what startles me is that often either criminals or people being questioned do not respect the judge. A good example is our previous president and his advocate when appearing before Deputy Judge President Zondo at the State Capture Commission’s hearings. This type of behavior and attitude is common today … spurning those in authority … yet there is one authority that will not be evaded or argued with.
Often Christians run the thought … “there is a judgment day” to comfort us when we are harmed and there seems no way to correct our situation or image. It is true there is a Judgment Day and there is a Judge and no one ever born will escape Him. The previous president will not be able to delay a trial; Jeffrey Epstein will not be able to commit suicide; the gangster will not be able to eliminate whistle blowers, investigators like Charl Kinnear will not be silenced; those committing crimes will not have the option of paying “back the money” to prevent criminal charges and a possible jail term; the wife and child abuser, the rapist and sex predator will not be able to issue threats causing silence. There will be no defense teams concocting arguments to prevent guilty convictions.
1) There have been many judgments recorded in the Bible, but the one the Apostles Creed is referring to is what we may label the “Final Judgment”. By final we mean there will never be another opportunity to appear before this Judge. Once he rules it is a closed case. No appeals, no higher courts … it is final and the sentences will be executed immediately. There won’t be a return date for sentencing like Ghislaine Maxwell. It will be so final that there will be a climatic end to this earth and the creation as we know it.
2) The Day of Judgment could happen at any time. Jesus tells us that:
Mt 24:36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
As the Son, the Godman on earth, even Jesus did not know the date of the Judgment Day … yet he encouraged people:
Mt 24:44 “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
This day will arrive un-expectantly … and Jesus says His people need to be prepared for it.
3) The Judge Himself is already, ready. In so many court cases the judge is not ready to hear the case. How often are judges on leave, sick leave or busy with other cases and need postponements? This “final Judge” is completely ready and by implication rearing to go!
Jam 5:9 The Judge is standing at the door!
If He is standing at the courtroom door it means that Judgment Day is imminent.
4) This part of the Creed says … “from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead”.
(1) The living are those who are spiritually alive in Jesus Christ. They have been saved by grace through faith. They are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, now Born Again, living in faith and obedience to God as they develop in holiness.
(2) The dead are those who have not been reached with the Gospel or have willfully rejected the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. Judgment shall come to both groups.
(a) The “living”, believers shall be judged accurately. Their sin will come up and their fate will be decided by the Judge as “Not Guilty”. You see, the Blood Sacrifice of Jesus has been applied to their legal account and all sin, guilt and defilement has been paid for in full and removed totally and finally. The Judge of all the World will declare all the “living” guiltless.
(b) The “dead” will be judged accurately as well. Their sin too will come up and be weighed on the scales of eternity. The weight of their sin is so great, even though many of their sins are equal to the sin of the “living” … but the difference is they stand naked before the Judge of all the world. Unlike the “living”, they are not clothed in the Blood of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the believing world. They will not be able to stand before this Judge; they will have no defense counsel and there are no litigation circumstances. This Judge will find them guilty of their sin, rebellion and depravity.
5) Judgment is one side, sentencing is the other.
(1) The “living” have been found not guilty. They will receive their long expected reward and be ushered into God’s Eternal Paradise to live with Him eternally. The promise to the thief on the cross will become reality for every believer.
Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
(2) The “dead” will be cast into Eternal Damnation and face a forever existence of pain and agony.
Rev 20:14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
See Luke 16:24 (“dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire”); v28 (“place of torment”); Matthew 3:12 (“unquenchable fire”); 13:50 (“weeping and gnashing of teeth”); Revelation 21:8 (“weeping and gnashing of teeth”). Both places are final … irreversible!
Father, help me to make the necessary changes in my life so that I live exclusively for Jesus. Whatever sacrifices I need to make, help me to cut out of my life, home, relationships, hobbies, work whatever offends You. Amen.