In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. In previous weeks we’ve seen to that both Christians and non-Christians live in an intermediate state at their death as they wait for the resurrection of their bodies. But what happens after people are raised to life?
Immediately following the resurrection of all people there will be a general and final judgement of angels and men.
Jude, the brother of Jesus, tells us that fallen angels will be judged on judgement day: ‘And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day’ (Jude 1:6).
But Jude doesn’t stop there. Later in his letter Jude explains that not only angels, but all men will be judged on that last day: ‘Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him’ (Jude 1:14-15).
So a judgement of both angels and men is coming. But when is the judgement going to take place?
Matthew records in his gospel that Jesus said the following about the timing of the judgement day: ‘36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him’ (Matthew 24:36-44).
So, ultimately, we do not know when Jesus will return. It could be tomorrow, it could be in a thousand years.
Now, although we don’t know when the last judgement will take place, we can be ready for it! What do you need to do to be ready for the last judgement? You need to repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ’s death as the ransom price for your sins. If you turn to God now, prior to the judgement, then you will be saved and rewarded eternally. But if you delay and are not ready and Jesus returns tonight, you will be condemned along with everyone else who has rejected Christ.
So, will you repent and believe in Christ today and so be ready for Christ when he returns like a thief in the night?