“The deeds we do, the words we say, into the still air they seem to fleet, we count them ever past; but they shall last, - in the dread judgment they and we shall meet” (John Keeble). On judgment day the Lord shall descend from Heaven (1 Thess. 4:16). The dead shall be raised and the living changed (1 Cor. 15:52; Jn. 5:28-29). There will be universal wailing (Rev. 1:7; 6:16-17). All nations shall be gathered before the great judge (Mt. 25:32). No one will be exempt. Then He will separate the sheep from the goats, wheat from the chaff. The great judge will welcome the righteous home, and He will condemn the wicked to everlasting punishment (Mt. 25:34, 41). Judgment will be individual and according to man’s works (2 Cor. 5:10). We will stand alone. Judgment will be according to God’s word. There will be no plea bargaining or excuses. Judgment will be complete, including: our thoughts and our words (Matt. 12:36-37). We will have no secrets or hidden skeletons as we stand before the judge (Rev. 20:12-14). Judgment will be final (Matt. 25:41-46). There will be no procrastination. Today is our second chance; at judgment all opportunities will have ceased. I don’t know about you but just to consider these things is pretty weighty and sure makes me want to do better at serving God.
However, there may be some surprises at judgment. Many will be surprised that judgment is real. Judgment will not be a dream. Today we may have a hard time realizing the reality of judgment. We live confidently that we have tomorrow. That is a foolish mistake. In judgment there will no mistake about reality and certainty. On that day many will scoff as they did Noah’s day (2 Pet. 3:3). However, all the scoffing will not diminish the reality of judgment. The scoffers did not stop the flood. Imagine how the scoffers felt as they gasped one last time before drowning. Do you think they realized that judgment was real?
The time of judgment will surprise some. Even though Enoch and Noah were warning people about the judgment to come, the masses did not listen. Today is no different. Scoffers hear the plea of judgment and they reason, “I was here yesterday, I will be here tomorrow. Why all the fuss?” Though God may appear to be long in executing His judgment, do not impose on His grace. The reason He waits is so that all may have the opportunity to come to repentance and avoid the awfulness of disobedience (2 Pet. 3:10). People worry about the time of His coming. If we know He is coming, when makes no difference. Judgment will be sudden to people who have not been watching. Such is not the case with the child of God. The child of God is always preparing for the coming judgment.
The purpose of judgment will surprise many. Judgment will not be a trial. Judgment will be the day of sentencing or vindication of God’s justice. Judgment will be a day of separating forever the righteous and unrighteous (Mt. 25:32). Jesus will judge the world by righteousness (Acts 17:31). On judgment day we will meet personal responsibility. It will be just me and the judge. Parents, spouses, best friends will not be able to help us. We will face an all seeing God. We will face him with terror if we have not been pleasing Him. On that day every knee will bow before Him (Phil. 2. 9, 10). God’s verdict will be right (Gen. 18:25). God’s justice will be vindicated. Think about it - we are making the decision for the judge each day of our lives. Judgment day will be a day of terror for some and a day of blessing for others (2 Thes. 1:6-9). The dividing line will be obedience or disobedience.
Judgment day will reveal a surprising standard. No religious creeds or traditions, man’s think so or feelings will judge us. Honesty, sincerity, or moral excellence will not be the standard. The standard will be God’s word (Jn. 12:48). We might argue with God’s word today, but there will be no arguing in that day. The voice of the judge will be heard loud and clear. There will be no mistaking His message. His word will be flawless.
Most surprised of all will be religious people. On that day the “church of your choice” will be no choice. “Better felt than told” religion will not stand on the same footing as the truth. There will be no such thing as “one doctrine is as good as another.” All sporadic participants in religion will be in attendance. There will be no vacations from judgment. All who pretend Christianity will be surprised that it really does matter who we make our friends. Things such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, dancing, fornication, adulterous marriages will all make a difference. All who have taught error and given false hope will realize truth does matter. How sad to pretend to be religious all of our lives only to hear “Depart from me, I never knew you” (Mat. 7:21-23). How tragic to think oneself right with God only to come to judgment and suddenly realize we have believed a lie (Mt. 15:13).
In view of what will happen on judgment will you be surprised? The marvelous aspect of God’s love is He has told about judgment. We can realize judgment is real, sure, and know His purpose. He has revealed His standard. We can be watchful for judgment. We do not need to face judgment fearfully (IJn. 4:18). He has given us His grace so that we can avoid the awfulness of judgment. God has done all He can do to help us. He does not want a single one of us to perish in judgment (ITim. 2:3-4). Do we want Him as bad as He wants us? That will determine what will happen at judgment.