The Final Judgment--Michelangelo
We come today in our study of The Apostles' Creed to these words: "From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead." Quick, as used in this translation of the Creed, means "living" not necessarily "fast moving".
The Bible testifies throughout to the fact that there is going to be a final judgment. Paul said to the Athenians: "For he (God) has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." (Acts 17:31)
There is going to be a definite future day of judgment when all people who have ever lived will be judged. Furthermore, the one who is going to do the judging is none other than Jesus Christ, the God-man, the one who was raised from the dead. In that day, God the Son will judge our actions, our thoughts, and our words. (See 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:16; Matthew 12:36-37.) This final judgment will take place at the time of the Second Coming of Christ and the general resurrection from the dead. In the coming days we are going to look at what Paul has to say about the judgment day from 1 Thessalonians 5. But for now, notice how the judgment in 1 Thessalonians 5 immediately follows the return of Christ and the resurrection and rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4.
C. S. Lewis had these helpful words to say about the final judgment....
Some day... an absolutely correct verdict—if you like, a perfect critique—will be passed on what each of us is.
We have all encountered judgments or verdicts on ourselves in this life. Every now and then we discover what our fellow creatures really think of us. I don’t of course mean what they tell us to our faces: that we usually have to discount. I am thinking of what we sometimes overhear by accident or of the opinions about us which our neighbours or employees or subordinates unknowingly reveal in their actions: and of the terrible, or lovely, judgments artlessly betrayed by children or even animals. Such discoveries can be the bitterest or sweetest experiences we have. But of course both the bitter and the sweet are limited by our doubt as to the wisdom of those who judge. We always hope that those who so clearly think us cowards or bullies are ignorant and malicious; we always fear that those who trust us or admire us are misled by partiality. I suppose the experience of the final judgment (which may break in upon us at any moment) will be like these little experiences, but magnified to the Nth.
For it will be infallible judgment. If it is favorable we shall have no fear, if unfavorable, no hope that it is wrong. We shall not only believe, we shall know, beyond doubt in every fibre of our appalled or delighted being, that as the Judge has said, so we are: neither more nor less nor other. We shall perhaps even realize that in some dim fashion we could have known it all along. We shall know and all creation will know too: our ancestors, our parents, our wives or husbands, our children. The unanswerable and (by then) self-evident truth about each will be known to all.
I do not find that pictures of physical catastrophe—the sign in the clouds, those heavens rolled up like a scroll—help one so much as the naked idea of Judgment. We cannot always be excited. We can, perhaps, train ourselves to ask more and more often how the thing which we are saying or doing (or failing to do) at each moment will look when the irresistible light streams in upon it; that light which is so different from the light of this world—and yet, even now, we know just enough of it to take it into account. Women sometimes have the problem of trying to judge by artificial light how a dress will look by daylight. That is very like the problem of all of us: to dress our souls not for the electric lights of the present world but for the daylight of the next. The good dress is the one that will face that light. For that light will last longer.