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Judgment

 

Romans 2:1-6 and Romans 14:10 tell us what we fear to hear – that is that we shall be judged. 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 tells us that the fire will come and test our works; all the things we have done which are not of God will be burned away; we stand before God, the Only Just Judge who will weigh what we have done and pronounce

The world is out of joint, and we are so with it. When the new world comes all will be transformed, including ourselves. Whatever some modernists want to argue, it is plain enough that the Church teaches the physical resurrection of the body. Sometimes our language implies that Heaven is somehow separate from the world and that our final destination is not here; but it seems equally to be the case that we might read the Bible as telling us that this earth will also be transformed and that we shall be here in eternal life. I do not say it is so, but what I do suggest is that whilst we are told much about hell, we are told little about our final destination if it is Heaven. If, as we hope, we shall be on God’s presence, well God stands outside of time and space, or encompasses them and everything else, so there is no particular reason not to see Heaven as very close to us – even though we see if as through a glass darkly.

It is clear from the NT that if someone rejects God and does not want to be part of His kingdom, then God respects that free-will judgment. It would be nice to believe that at the last moment every such person would repent and turn to Him – but I see no scriptural warrant, or any from tradition, to suppose that is so. This bears hard on one such as myself whose father always rejected God and anything to do with Christianity with a fierce hostility; I can’t see God forcing my father to do what he never wanted to do, so I fear for his final fate. It would be comforting me to be able to believe otherwise, but that would be to impose my own needs on the New Testament; the temptation to do that is strong in all sorts of areas, but we are called to conform ourselves to Him – not Him to us.

God is the Just Judge, and He will take into account everything we have done; he knows the innermost thoughts of our hearts, and nothing we do or think is hidden from Him; He will judge with mercy, but judge He will; and what we have done with the life He has given to us will the subject matter of that judgment. What we do here is a preparation for Heaven, and even though we can know little of what that is, there’s no reason to suppose that it will involve sitting around with harps (where did that one come from, by the way?). My temptation is to think of it as this world, but put right, redeemed by God, in which the old Eden will be restored and we shall be with Him for ever.