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PURPOSE OF JUDGMENT

As with all topics the purpose of judgment must be reflected on from a Theistic perspective, which also includes a Christological dimension. The combination of these two aspects is reflected in multiple ways throughout the Scriptures. For one illustration of this truth, consider the terminology of the end-time. The word “day” is used to speak in a general manner of the concluding events of history, those events that can be designated as eschatological. And this word “day” is spoken of in terms of both God and His Christ; note the following:

            God

                    "the day of God," (2 Pet. 3:12);

            His Christ

                    "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ," (1 Cor. 1:8);
                    "the day of the Lord Jesus," (1 Cor. 5:5);
                    "the day of Jesus Christ," (Phil. 1:6);
                    "the day of Christ," (Phil. 2:16);

            Both

                    "the day of the Lord," (1 Thess. 5:2; the day of the Lord
                    is the day of God in the OT, but the day of Christ in the NT).

“Day” must be understood Theologically, Christologically, and Eschatologically (see: The Day of the Lord). The phrasing above cannot be interpreted in a literal sense; for instance, there cannot be three different and distinct days: one related to God, one related to Christ, and one related to both. The days must be understood naturally or spiritually, that is, the varied phrases are speaking of one day, and not necessarily a twenty-four hour day, but the eschatological day—the day, or time-period—that concludes all things.

When judgment is the topic, it must be considered from the perspective that the Scriptures present, and no other perspective is acceptable. Reflection that begins with God ends with God, whereas reflection from a different locus ends with errant observations. With this principle as a guide, consider the following thoughts:

The purpose of the final judgment is the glory of God.

Perhaps no other purpose of judgment needs to be stated, because this purpose is so encompassing that beside it other aspects seem to be less significant. Nothing compares to the glory of God, because His glory is the end of all things. His glory is the theological conclusion of all proper reflection.

To relate judgment to His glory is to affirm the vindication of the Almighty. In judgment God is justified, and for God to be justified is for God to be glorified. It is not that God needs or desires justification, but it is that His righteous judgment will reveal Him to be the true God, the truly righteous God; and for God to be so revealed is for Him to receive glory.

In judgment man will be brought to the end of all philosophical and theological reflection, and the end will be the unavoidable and incontrovertible fact that the Creator of all things is indeed the Creator and that He alone can truthfully declare: “I, even I, am the Lord . . . and there is no one who can deliver out of My hand (Isa. 43:11, 13; see: 44:6, 8; 45:6, 21). For God to be so recognized and confessed is for God to be glorified.

Judgment will manifest the salvation of the elect and the condemnation of the wicked.

Judgment is not for the determination of destiny but the manifestation of destiny. From the beginning God has known the destiny of every person, for He is omniscient (see: God is Omniscient). At the resurrection of the individual, the resurrection will either be a resurrection to life or a resurrection to condemnation; in the words of Jesus:

An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (Jo. 5:28-29).

Thus the reality of judgment is that it is virtually synonymous with the individual’s resurrection (see: Reality of Judgment). The individual is raised to be judged; the individual is raised in judgment; the individual immediately goes to the destiny determined by the judgment. Judgment, therefore,  is instantaneous and is to be identified with the resurrection. In the words of Brunner: “Resurrection implies primarily resurrection to judgment” (Eternal Hope, 170).

Judgment reveals the nature of man, sinful and deserving of condemnation.

Man is not innocent, for he is not intrinsically good. Man is evil, both in his nature and in his actions (see: Sinful State and Sinful Acts, Darkened Image, Death, and Depravity). He is deserving of judgment and punishment on both accounts.

To live apart from God is to store up “wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom. 2:5). It is for the wrath that the unbeliever is already living under to be poured out into the life: “He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jo. 3:36). And in the manifestation of eternal and righteous wrath, the true nature of man is finally and fully exposed for what it is—a nature that has no fear of God and hates God (see: No Fear of God and Hatred of God).

Judgment reveals the inability of man to oppose God indefinitely.

Since Eden man has assumed a posture of opposition to God, the creature setting himself up in hostility to his Creator. It is man substituting a lie for the Truth, listening to Satan rather than God, choosing a bowl of stew over a birthright. Why would man assume such a strategy? Why would he think that it could survive, much less be victorious? The psalmist documents the foolish vanity:

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us” (Ps. 2:1-3).

The psalmist also gives the response of God:

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure (Ps. 2:4-5).

Opposition to God cannot and will not stand. To think that hostility to the Lord of all things can endure is the height of self-delusion and foolishness. The authority of the text stands in declaration against all such endeavor: “He shall speak to them in His wrath” (Ps. 2:5).

Through judgment the Kingdom is fully realized.

For all of history the Kingdom has been developing, although unseen and unknown by those who reject Revelation. But as early as Eden a glimpse of the Kingdom is seen: the Seed of the woman is predicted to bruise the head of the evil one (Gen. 3:15). And throughout the Old Testament the Kingdom is anticipated (see: Old Testament Anticipation), and in the New Testament the Kingdom is announced (see: The Last Days).

For the Kingdom to be fully realized the end must come—there must be judgment. Only those who are prepared for the Kingdom will inherit the Kingdom, and the judgment will manifest those individuals.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand,
"Come, you blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Matt. 25:34


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