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 that both the wicked and the righteous will one day be raised for a final judgement. And in my last article we saw that on the day of judgement, the wicked will be condemned and cast out of God’s presence. But what will happen to the righteous on the day of judgement?
At the day of judgement, the righteous will be taken to meet the Lord. Paul says: ‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Then, the righteous will be set at Christ’s right hand and invited into eternal life. Jesus taught: ‘He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world’ (Matthew 25:33-34).
There in heaven the righteous shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery. Paul taught that Christ will do this for his bride, the church: ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless’ (Ephesians 5:25-27).
In heaven, the righteous will then gather with other believers and with the angels. The author of Hebrews says: ‘But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel’ (Hebrews 12:22-24).
But notice at the end of that quote, who else will be with the righteous: Jesus himself. The apostle John teaches this same truth: ‘Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’ (1 John 3:2).
But how do you get to share in such a magnificent future? Surely no one is righteous enough to warrant such blessing?
The Bible teaches us that you can be righteous by faith: ‘But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe’ (Romans 3:21-22).
So are you looking forward to the day of judgement because you trust in Christ and have his righteousness? Or have you rejected God’s mercy and only await condemnation?