We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, [to] receive what is due us for the things done while in the body.
2 Corinthians 5:10
James M. Gray, the third president of Moody Bible Institute, was once asked about the practical value of teaching about the Second Coming of Christ. He replied that all the virtues and graces revealed in the New Testament that are binding upon the believer are in some way associated with this doctrine. He believed that the spiritual maturity and moral character of the Christian are a reflection of how well they understand this teaching.
One reason for this connection between eschatology (the study of “last things”) and ethics (how we live) is the expectation of judgment. One day we must all give an account to God for what we have done. Those who have been redeemed by Christ’s blood will experience this day of reckoning very differently than those who have not. Those who have never trusted in Jesus Christ will be reckoned guilty for their sins. They will be excluded from the New Jerusalem and will eventually be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15). Those who have placed their faith in Christ will be reckoned as righteous and will be rewarded for their work on Christ’s behalf (1 Cor. 3:11–14).
Why the difference in treatment? The answer is found in Jesus Christ: “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Heb. 9:27–28).
Believers are not condemned in the final judgment because Jesus has already secured their eternal salvation. In the Christian life, godly living is motivated by a sense of gratefulness for a salvation that is to come rather than a fear of condemnation.
Apply the Word
We have spent this month examining many of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. But merely knowing doctrine cannot save you. Jesus Christ saves. If you believe in Him, His blood and righteousness will be your shield on the Day of Judgment. Reject Him and you will learn this: “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).