Westminster XXXIII: Of the Last Judgment

1. God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31), to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father (John 5:22, 27). In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged (1 Cor. 6:3; Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4), but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil ( 2 Cor. 5:10; Eccl. 12:14; Rom. 2:16; 14:10, 12; Matt. 12:36–37).

The world will be judged on an appointed day, appointed by God. The judgment will be entirely righteous, and meted out by the Lord Jesus Christ. In this great day of assembly, all the angels will be judged, as well as every man who ever lived. They will be called to give an account for all their thoughts, words, and deeds.

2. The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of His justice, in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord: but the wicked who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power (Matt. 25:31–46; Rom. 2:5–6; Rom. 9:22–23; Matt. 25:21; Acts 3:19; 2 Thess. 1:7–10).

This day of judgment is the great display case of two of God’s attributes which would otherwise have gone unrecognized. Those two attributes are, respectively, His mercy to the elect, and His justice, which falls upon the reprobate. The elect will enter into everlasting life, and the lost will descend into eternal torments. The saved will be blessed in the presence of the Lord, while the lost will be shut out (covenantally) from the presence of the Lord.

3. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin; and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity (2 Pet. 3:11, 14; 2 Cor. 5:10–11; 2 Thess. 1:5–7; Luke 21:7, 28; Rom. 8:23–25): so will He have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen (Matt. 24:36, 42–44; Mark 13:35–37; Luke 12:35–36; Rev. 22:20).

Christ wants us to know two things about the great day of judgment. The first truth is that the day is fixed and coming. This deters men from sin, and it comforts the godly who must undergo adversity. But God also wants the name of the day to be unknown so that men will not drift into carnal reasoning about it—saying for example, that they will repent in time for the predicted day of judgment. We must live as though the day could be at any time.

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