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The Day of Judgment
Beyond the death of our bodies lies the final judgment, the day when we must appear before the tribunal of Christ and give an account of our lives. The prospect of giving such an account evokes fear and anxiety in the human heart. Who among us has lived such a pure and holy life that we would be comfortable with all the world knowing its every detail? Yet every person who has ever lived must one day stand personally and publicly to answer for what he or she has done or failed to do. No one can escape, no one can melt away into the crowd.
Most believers are well aware that the Bible teaches there will be a day of judgment in which all nonbelievers will give an account of their lives to God. Jesus made this clear when He said, “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matt. 16:27). What is perhaps less well known is that “each person” includes believers themselves. They must give an account of their lives. The Bible affirms this in very clear terms. Writing to the believers in Rome, Paul said, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:10–12). To the believers in Corinth he said, “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). Regularly pondering our accountability to God is a proven aid in maintaining a sober, godly perspective on life and holding on to God’s priorities.
What will the final judgment be like? As Matthew’s Gospel describes it, the final judgment follows Christ’s second coming and the resurrection of the dead. Jesus Himself gives a graphic picture. After describing in detail His second coming in Matthew 24, He described the Day of Judgment in Matthew 25:31–46:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 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. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” Then he will answer them, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
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