The Parousia-Judgment

Introduction

The idea of appearing in a court of law makes most people nervous, even if they are innocent. The thought of appearing before the Divine Court of God is cause for serious thought. Does the Creator have a right to inspect his own creation? Will the "Judge of all the Earth" have a reckoning with all mankind? How will this Judgment Day take place? Who will be judged? On what basis will each individual be held to an accounting with God?

A Judgment Day for All Mankind

A Judgment According to the Hebrew Bible

The very first reference of God the Creator as a Judge occurs early in the Bible. The first use of the word "judge" with regard to God is used by a woman, the wife of Abraham. (Genesis 16:5) It is Sarahís husband, Abraham who uses this designation for God Almighty Yahweh in Genesis 18:25 when the old man asks, "Is the judge of the whole world not to act justly?" (NJB) This question indicates that "the whole world" or "all the earth" will one day face a divine judgment from a Source perfectly capable of seeing into the hearts and minds of every human being.

This idea of a personal judgment by God is expressed by many faithful worshippers of old. David and other psalmists actually ask God to judge them. (Psalm 7:8, 11; 26:1; 43:1) The same psalmists declare there is a future judgment of all the earth. Consider Psalm 67:4, "Let the nations rejoice and sing for joy, for you (Yahweh) judge the world with justice, you judge the peoples with fairness, you guide the nations on earth." (NJB) We note Godís judgment is not necessarily something to fear, for here in this hymn the thought of His judging matters brings forth joy.

Psalm 86 is titled, "Against the judges of the nations," by the New Jerusalem Bible. This is a psalm that the Nazarene himself quotes to the Jews who judged him. (John 10:30-36) The final verse (Psalm 82:8) sings, "Arise, God, judge the world, for all nations belong to you." Here Godís authority to judge is declared because He is the Creator and has a right to examine his own creatures and how they have behaved personally or nationally.

In the Psalms it appears the oppressed may expect Godís judgment in favor of them and against the oppressors. (Psalm 68:5; Psalm 72:4) Conversely, the proud rightly tremble at the words, "Arise (Yahweh), judge the world, give back the proud what they deserve." (Psalm 94:2)

The Jewish Prophets foretold that Godís own appointee, Messiah, would judge mankind in righteousness, that is, in fairness and according to what is just. Note Isaiah 11:1-4, "A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse. ... On (Messiah) will rest the spirit of Yahweh. ... (Messiahís) judgment will not be by appearance, his verdict not given on hearsay. He will judge the weak with integrity and give fair sentence for the humblest in the land." (NJB) When Yahweh judges He also instructs so earthís inhabitants will learn as Isaiah 26:9 comfortingly foretells: "For when your judgments appear on earth the inhabitants of the world learn what saving justice is." Thus, Godís Judgment Day will be a lesson to all.

A Judgment Day According to the Christian Bible

Written by inspired Jews (Romans 3:1), the Christian Bible also designates God as Judge of the whole world. (Romans 3:6) However, the Christian Bible indicates other judges will be involved in this. First, Godís own Son will have judgment committed to him as his Fatherís own appointee. (John 5:27, 30) This is extremely honest and fair on Godís part to let someone who actually walked the earth as a human being be the primary judge. For having endure so much hardship and oppression, he is in the best position to know what it means to be an inhabitant of this earth. (Isaiah 53:3; Hebrews 5:7, 8) So, like the Jewish Prophets, Messiah is to be the judge of all mankind.

Associated Judges

However, Messiah is not alone in this judging. He is to be joined by a tried and tested body of associates, the Saints of the Most High. These were faithful footstep followers of the Nazarene when they lived on earth. Daniel the prophet foretells such a select group of judges: "(The Most High) gave judgment to the Saints. ... And the kingdom and the power ... under the whole heaven were given to the Saints of the Most High." (Daniel 7:22 LXX; see also footnote n. of the NJB)

The Nazarene himself teaches his own disciples will share in this judging. At Matthew 19:28 it is written: "Amen, I tell you (disciples), my followers, in the New Genesis, when the Son of Man sits down on his glorious [judgment] throne, you will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Greek palin-genesia, compare RSV: new world; KNX: new birth; MON: New Creation; WMS: new order of life; BER: new age)

Paul also makes it clear that the Saints will be judges along with the Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:2 he writes, " ... the Saints will judge the world." This seems most fitting as the judges will be peers of the human race: men and women who endured life as Christians, often under much oppression. Indeed, it ought to be comforting to all those women who have ever lived that women will be among these judges -- women who endured loyally in their earthly walk as females. (Galatians 3:28)

The Bibleís last book, Revelation, also indicates these faithful Christians will serve as judges during the Thousand Year reign of Messiah. Revelation 20:4, "And I saw thrones and those who sat on them, and judgment was given to them." Apparently John makes a connection here with Daniel 7:22 for he uses the same Greek phrase as found in the Jewish Greek Septuagint of that verse.

A Judgment Day

That all mankind must face a future judgment following their life on this planet is taught by the Nazarene as well as Paul. Jesus puts it very straight when he teaches, "I tell you that every unprofitable thing [or, "thoughtless word" NEB] men speak they will give an account for on Judgment Day. For by your words you will be declared Guilty or Not Guilty." (Matthew 12:36, 37) Jesus uses this phrase "Judgment Day" or "The Judgment" several times. (Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:41, 22, 36; 23:33; compare also Luke 10:14, 31, 32)

In the Gospel of John the Nazarene makes it clear he did not come to judge the world in his first presence (or, parousia). However, there would be a future judgment in what Jesus calls "the Last Day." (John 3:17; 5:29; 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:47, 48) Jesus associates this Last Day of judgment with the "resurrection."

Paul also parallels judgment day with the resurrection. He tells some Greek judges, "(The God) has set a day in which He will righteously judge the earthís inhabitants by a man He has chosen. By resurrecting this Man from the dead all may trust (God)." (Acts 17:31) In his letter to the Romans, Paul echoes the Nazarene regarding judgment day: "Do you think you will escape Godís judgment? ... You are storing up for yourselves wrath on the Day of Wrath at the revelation of the righteous judgment of The God. (He) will pay back to each person according to their own works. ... This will be in the Day when The God, by means of Christ Jesus, judges the secret things of all mankind." (Romans 2:5, 6, 16) And again, he writes: "Why do you judge your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of The God. ... Therefore, in reality, each person will give his own statement about himself to The God." (Romans 14:10, 12)

When Does this Judgment Occur?

Paul assures us, "It is the lot of men to die once and afterwards to be judged." (Hebrews 9:27 NEB, WEY) However, in a general sense, when does this judgment take place? The only Bible book to clarify this particular question is Revelation 20:5, 12: "The rest of the dead did not come to life [in a resurrection] until the end of the Thousand Years. ... And I beheld the dead -- the great and the small -- standing in view of the (white) throne [of Messiah] and small books were opened ... and the dead were judged by those things written in the small books according to each ones works." (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:24) Therefore, all mankind, other than those described in Revelation 20:4 as the judges, are resurrected at the end of the Thousand Years. Then billions of former inhabitants of the earth will be judged according to the record of their works kept in the divine logs. (Compare the same language in Daniel 7:10 and Romans 2:6.)

From the above is it fair to conclude that all mankind will receive a judgment based on their life on earth? Does not the Bible teach God has appointed His own Son, as well as Christian Saints, as the judges on this Judgment Day? However, what about the Saints themselves? When and on what basis are they judged?

The Parousia-Judgment on the Household of God

There is a special resurrection and judgment which does not include mankind in general. Who are resurrected first? Who are judged first? On what basis are they judged? When does this occur with what outcome?

We have already seen that the prophet Daniel foretold a special body of people called the Saints of the Most High who would become judges. Jesus and Paul taught the same. (Daniel 7:22, 28; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Corinthians 6:2) We have also seen how this group of Christian Saints will be judges -- as well as kings and priests -- with the Messiah for a Thousand Years. They are raised before all others in what Revelation 20:6 calls "the first resurrection."

Judgment on the Household of God

That the "household of God" would be judged first is shown by Peter when he writes: "The appointed time of the judgment starts with the House of The God. ... (Judgment) starts first with us (chosen ones)." (1 Peter 4:17; 1:1) Paul indicates something similar in Hebrews 11:39, 40)

This subject of the judgment at the household is one the Nazarene takes up in a number of his parables. These parables deal with the lord of a household who leaves on a long journey to receive kingship and then after a long time to return. (Matthew 25:19; Luke 19:12) This royal return is also called the parousia, a Greek word used often of the royal visit of an important person. (See The Expanded Vineís, page 200, 3. PAROUSIA) The word parousia is used by the translator of Jesusí words only three times in Matthew 24:27, 37, 39. The parousia is associated with Arrival of the Son of Man to gather his chosen ones. (Matthew 24:28, 31, 40-42)

Following the use of the word parousia in the Gospel of Matthew four parables follow: the faithful and discreet slave (Matthew 24:45-51; compare also Luke 12:35-48), the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the Lord of the household judges accounts (Matthew 25:14-30), and, finally, the parable of the sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31-46) All these parables seem to deal with those Jesus called "the chosen ones." That is, those who are the "Saints of the Most High." We note in Matthew 25:31 when the Son of Man (the same as the lord of the house or the bridegroom) comes to his throne of judgment only the angels are in attendance. It seems fair that if the Saints were already in heaven, and as they are to be judges of the world, the Son of Man would come with his Saints. This omission seems to indicate this judgment on the sheep and goats is upon the Household slaves in the other parables.

Since these parables have a strong bearing on the future judgment of all Christians, we suggest we take a careful reading of them most seriously. It is well worth our time to meditate at length on this parousia-judgment. Consider, for example, the parable of the faithful stewards at Luke 12:35-48. The Master (the Lord Jesus) of the Household returns (the parousia) from a journey to judge his own stewards. The Lord has entrusted the care of the Household to these slaves and gave them orders to remain on the watch for his unexpected arrival.

In this parable there are four types of "slaves" or "stewards." The first is "the faithful steward" who lovingly cared for the material needs of fellow household members. This type of slave is rewarded appointment over all the Lordís belongings. (Luke 12:41-44; Daniel 7:28)

The second type is the one who believes his Master has "delayed his coming." As a consequence of this doubt this slave evidently begins to care only for himself in gluttony and drunkenness, indicating a materialistic life-style. In addition, this slave also begins to smite his fellows. This second type of slave is severely punished upon that unexpected Arrival (parousia) of the Lord and assigned a portion with the unfaithful. (Luke 12:45, 46)

The third type of slave is one who understood what the Lord wanted but did not prepare or line-up with the Lordís will. This slave is not assigned a part with the unfaithful. Rather, he is severely disciplined and flayed with many stripes. (Luke 12:46)

There is a fourth and final type of slave. This slave did not know or understand the Lordís instructions and consequently did things deserving of a few strokes. (Luke 12:48)

The Nazareneís moral to the parable is, "Everyone who is given much, much is demanded; and the person put in charge of much, more will be asked of them." (Luke 12:48) Thus, within the Household of Faith there are degrees of understanding and responsibility. (James 3:1-3)

Therefore, upon the resurrection of all Christians there will be an accounting with two primary outcomes. The Nazarene makes this clear when he alludes to Daniel 12:2 in John 5:28, 29, "The hour comes when all those in memorial tombs will hear the voice of (the Son) and come out --- those who did good things to a resurrection of life; those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment (condemnation)." In this later phrase the Nazarene gives an interpretative paraphrase to Daniel 12:2ís "awake ... to reproach and everlasting shame." (LXX)

Both Paul and John echo this same wording of the Nazarene and Daniel. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For it is a necessity that all of us (Saints) must appear in front of the judgment-seat of the Christ so that everyone may be repaid for that performance done (while in) the body -- whether good or vile." Paul borrows the same words of the Nazarene regarding two outcomes to the Christian resurrection. The beloved apostle John does the same by associating these two outcomes of the resurrection at the parousia. He writes in 1 John 2:28 (and 4:17), "And now, little children, remain in (the Son) so that when he becomes visible we might speak freely (in the day of judgment) and not be shamed from him in his Presence (parousia)." (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:23) John shows two outcomes to this parousia resurrection and judgment: freedom to speak because of a clear conscience, and, shame. This later word is the same one used in Daniel 12:2 (LXX).

Judging from the Nazarene, Paul, and John we see the truth: the Christian, or "first resurrection," occurs upon the Arrival or parousia of Christ. This is followed by the parousia-judgment where all ages of the Church stand before the throne of Christ. The outcome will depend on words and actions performed during our life-time with the result some will be able to hold their heads high and speak freely about the good they have done. While others will be shamed and suffer "everlasting reproach" for having been habitual practicers of what is vile. (Daniel 12:2 LXX)

With this outcome in mind we Christians must be very interested in what "good things" are. What is the basis for judgment upon the Household of Faith at the parousia of Christ? How can we be assured of not being "shamed away in his Presence"? (1 John 2:28)

The Basis for Judgment

Considering the teachings of the Nazarene there are primarily three areas which out to grasp our attention. These three will be the basis for judgment:

That there is some "basis for judgment" the Nazarene taught. His words are found in the context of that most famous of all verses, John 3:16: "Now this is the basis of the judgment that the Light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the Light because their works were wicked. For everyone who practices vile things hates the Light, refusing to approach the Light so that his works might be reproved. But the one who is truthful approaches the Light so that his works are manifest as working in union with God." (John 3:19-21) According to the Nazarene the basis for judgment are works, whether vile or in harmony with God. From the above verse in John 3:16-21 two things are required: faith and works. What kind of works?

1. Love of Others

Consider the parable of the sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31-46) This is the parousia-judgment at the Return of Christ to begin judging his own Household which has been scattered into all nations. (Isaiah 11:12; Matthew 24:31; James 1:1; Revelation 7:9) Both the sheep and the goats recognize the King as their Lord. (Matthew 25:37, 44; compare also Matthew 7:21) Note on what basis the sheep are recognized as the "righteous" who will "inherit the kingdom." (1 Corinthians 15:50; Daniel 7:28)

The "sheep" took positive action in their loving charity toward even the humblest of Christís brothers. (Hebrews 2:10-12) The judging King tells the "sheep" what actions they took as if it were done to him: "Amen, I tell you: according to how much you did to one of the least ones of my brothers, you did to me." The King lists six things done by the "sheep" ---

  1. Feed the hungry (Isaiah 58:7; Ezekiel 18:16)
  2. Give drink to the thirsty (Matthew 10:42; Mark 9:41)
  3. Hospitality to a stranger (Job 31:32; Hebrews 13:2; 3 John 5)
  4. Clothing the ill-clad (Ezekiel 18:7; James 2:15)
  5. Look after the sick (Acts 5:15, 16; 9:37; Philippians 2:26, 27; 2 Timothy 4:20)
  6. Visit imprisoned brethren (2 Timothy 1:16)

These positive actions echo the teachings of the Nazarene as well as his inspired disciples. For the Lord teaches that there is "credit" in charitable actions toward oneís enemies. Luke 6:31-36 has Jesus teaching: "Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them. And if you love those loving you, of what credit is it to you? For even the sinners love those loving them. And if you do good to those doing good to you, really of what credit is it to you? Even the sinners do the same. Also, if you lend [without interest] to those from whom you hope to receive, of what credit is it to you? Even sinners lend [without interest] to sinners that they may get back as much. To the contrary, continue to love your enemies and to do good and to lend [without interest], not hoping for anything back; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked. Continue (charitable giving), just as your Father (charitably gives to you)." (NWT)

James, the disciple of the Nazarene, wrote in a similar vein: "The form of reverence that is clean and undefiled from God the Fatherís own viewpoint is to care for orphans and widows in their tribulation." (James 1:27) Thus any "religion" which lacks this feature of worship is not acceptable to God. Additionally, James writes that any faith lacking true charity is really dead: "If ever a brother or sister is ill-clad, lacking daily nourishment, but someone from among you says to them, ĎGo in peace. Keep warm and nourished.í-- but does not give them bodily necessities, of what benefit is it?" And thus, the faith, if it lacks works, is itself dead." (James 2:15-17)

Beloved John echoes his Lord when he writes: "But whoever has the worldly means of living and beholds his brother in need, and yet shuts up his own compassions, how does the love of the God remain in (such a person)? Little children, love not only in word and speech but also in work and truth." (1 John 3:17, 18) Thus, a Christian claiming to be a righteous "sheep" -- though his words may speak love -- and refrains from helping his needy brethren no longer remains within the confines of Godís love. Paul says the same when he appeals to the Corinthians: "If I have faith to move mountains but lack love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2)

Therefore, when before the Judgment-Seat of the Christ the first thing the King will be looking for is that "good" we have performed for the material well-being of the needy. No amount of faith will compensate for the sin of omission. We note the "goats" of Jesusí parable are so, not for evil deeds, but for failure to be charitable and caring to needy Saints. (Matthew 25:41-46) And so, Paul commends those who did not ignore the poverty of others: "For you sympathized those in prison and with joy you plundered your own belongings knowing you a better and abiding property. ... Do not forget benevolence and sharing, for the God is well pleased with such sacrifices." (Hebrews 10:34; 13:16)

There is something else the Messianic Judge will look for in the record of your love for others. How did you use your tongue? When accused of being an apostate and being demon-possessed, Jesus gives this most serious warning: "I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, but blasphemy of the Pneuma [spirit] will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man it will be forgiven; but anyone who speaks against the holy Pneuma [spirit] it will not be forgiven -- not in this present Age, nor in the coming New Age. ... For out of the heartís abundance the mouth speaks. The good person sends forth good out of a good treasure; and the wicked person out of a wicked heart sends forth wickedness. But, I tell you, everyone will render an account on Judgment Day for every thoughtless word. For by your words you will be declared ĎNot Guiltyí and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:31, 32, 34-36; compare Mark 3:23-30 and Luke 11:17-23)

In his Mountain Teachings the Nazarene gives a similar caution about the far-reaching affects of the tongue. Matthew 5:22 reports Jesus warning: "Whoever says (to his brother), ĎSenseless apostate!í is accountable to the fire of Gehenna." [For details on the Sermon on the Mount see the publication Nazarene Mountain Teachings.]

So, from the words of the Nazarene and his inspired disciples we know how serious it is that love characterize our dealings with others. It will have an everlasting affect on our judgment at the Parousia.

2. Faith in the PAROUSIA

The second vital characteristic the King will be looking for is faith or deep conviction manifest in speech, attitude and works. Often in the Nazareneís speech he use the word "faith" in the same breath with resurrection and judgment. (John 3:16-18, 36; 6:29, 35, 40; 11:25, 26)

Remember how the "wicked slave" was described by the Nazarene: "But if that (evil) slave says in his heart, ĎMy Lord is taking his time in comingí ... then (that evil slave) will be assigned his part with the unfaithful." (Luke 12:45, 46) This slave has lost his faith in the parousia. Note, he does not here tell others of his doubts. He keeps it in his heart. He may reason: "It has been nearly 2,000 years, and nothing has happened!" Possibly this slave speaks like the ridiculers Peter writes about: "Where is the promise of his parousia? Why, from the day our forefathers died everything remains the same since creationís beginning." (2 Peter 3:4)

It is true from our perspective prophetic matters can seem to delay or take a long time. Peter, however, writes about another perspective, a divine one: "With the Lord a thousand years is as one day." (2 Peter 3:8)

When the prophet Habakkuk kept asking, "How long?" Yahweh gave this promise: "Write the vision down, inscribe it on tablets to be easily read. For the vision is for its appointed time, it hastens towards its end and it will not lie; although it may take some time, wait for it, for come it certainly will before long." (Habakkuk 1:1; 2:2, 3 NJB) Note what quality God looks for in Habakkuk 2:4: "The righteous will live by faith in me." (LXX) This alert expectation is the same the Nazarene counsels over and over: "Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will come upon you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come down on all those living on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:34-36 NJB)

How can this faith in the parousia be manifest? If one truly expects something to happen, this conviction will be manifest in speech and lifestyle. Paul puts it so simply, "I believed, therefore, I spoke." (2 Corinthians 4:13) Faith causes us to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ into daily life. One of the subjects we will find ourselves discussing with others is the blessed promise of the parousia. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18) Our expectation of the parousia will be reflected in our attitude and life-style. We will keep "a simple eye" toward material things (Matthew 6:22-34) and devote our energies toward family and needy people in the community. (1 Timothy 5:8; James 1:27)

Like ancient Job we will be able to say: "I freed the poor in distress and the orphan who had no helper. The dying manís blessing rested on me and I gave the widowís heart cause to rejoice. ... I was eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. Who but me was father of the poor? The strangerís case had a hearing from me." (Job 29:12-16 NJB) Whenever the Lord returns he will find us providing food to our fellows within the Household of Faith. (Matthew 24:45; Luke 12:42)

It is important here to mention the tension between our expectation and our ignorance about the Lordís parousia. Jesus made it clear there was no way we could calculate a "day and hour" or even the "season" of the parousia. (Matthew 24:36, 43, 44; Mark 13:32-36; Acts 1:7) Indeed, the Nazarene told us what to do if some false prophet or pseudo- anointed came preaching, "The Time Is At Hand." Our Lord said, "Do not follow them!" (Luke 21:8; Mark 13:22) Every generation has had these "presumptuous" prophets -- including the millions that followed them -- and Moses assures us we need not fear them. (Deuteronomy 18:21, 22) They have no authority from Christ, or his Father Jehovah, to predict a certain generation, or a certain year, will be the moment of the parousia.

3. Nazarene Standards

Finally, there is another matter the King will note regarding our Christian lives. Have we been good or vile in our Christian walk? The Nazarene lists those matters which could defile our appearance before God. Read this list in Mark 7:21-23, "For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these things come from within and make a person unclean." (NJB) A life of faith and charity is not enough to assure "a resurrection to everlasting life." (John 5:29) A disciple of the Nazarene must avoid habitual sin, or the practice of that which is vile. (John 5:29; 1 John 3:7-9) There is that fruitage of the flesh which can prohibit a Christian from inheriting the kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Consider these injunctions by the Nazareneís inspired disciples: "We should cleanse ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1) "Become holy in all your conduct." (1 Peter 1:15) "Everyone who has this hope purifies himself just as that One is pure." (1 John 3:3)

There are those who insist that a Christian is "saved by Grace" and cannot thereafter fail in his Christian course. It ought to be noted, however, that Ephesians 2:5, 8 is in the past tense in most translations. Compare this past tense also at Romans 8:24; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5. There is also a present tense of "being saved." (1 Corinthians 1:18; 15:2; 2 Corinthians 2:15) As well as a future tense. (Romans 5:9, 10; 10:9; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 10:33) These three states may be illustrated by a lifeguard who saves a drowning victim. The person has been "saved" but this does not guarantee he can no longer drown.

Paul makes it clear that though one has begun the race, the course must be run to the finish and final victory. Even Paul realized he could fail. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:12-14) He also writes to the Philippian congregation: "Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12 NWT) Compare also Hebrews 6:4-8, Hebrews 10:26-31, and 2 Peter 2:20-22. It is true this can be a daily struggle in one area or another. Paul calls it a war that can only be won through Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:17-25) [For details about perfecting the Christian character see the publication Nazarene Community 2000©.]

Living a Life of Love, Faith and Virtue in Expectation of the Parousia Judgment

There will be no escaping the judgment of God. In this regard, Paul asks, "But, O man, do you logically think -- while you criticize others though doing the same things -- that you will escape the judgment of the God?" (Romans 2:3; 2 Corinthians 5:10) The Return of Christ means a resurrection followed by a judgment according to our works in this life. (1 Corinthians 15:23) This life has been recorded by God like a book of accounts. Our love for others, our faith in his parousia, and our virtuous walk, will be the basis for this judgment. Upon our resurrection there will be only two results: everlasting life, or everlasting shame and reproach. (John 5:28, 29; Daniel 12:2) We will either be outspoken or embarrassed in the parousia of our Lord on judgment day. (1 John 2:28; 4:17)

If we view each new day as a new page in that record of our life, we will face each day with a serious frame of mind intent on walking as closely in the footsteps of our Lord as possible. (Revelation 14:4; 1 Peter 2:21) Think of this day as the final page in your "small book" (Revelation 20:13), that log God is keeping on your course on this earth. Begin each day with prayers that this new page will be one causing no shame on that "day of judgment."

Of course, no oneís life is perfect, for we all fail from time to time. (James 3:2; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:9-18) We expect God to judge the whole book, not just a single page. Consider David or Peter. Each failed in serious ways and if God were only to look at those pages these faithful men would not stand the test. Thankfully, by the blood of our Lord, as well as our own victorious struggle against sin, God will look at our entire record. It is our hope that this record will contain sterling examples of love, faith and virtue. Where we have erred our Father will find evidence of repentance and confession, followed by a turning from our wrongful course to a new walk in Christ.

Happily we have a "helper" to intercede in our behalf. Isaiah the prophet foretold: "For [Messiah] exposed himself to death and was numbered among the sinners, whereas he bore the guilt of the many and made intercession for sinners." (Isaiah 53:12 JPS) The beloved apostle echoes the same: "My little children, I am writing you so that you do not commit a sin. And if anyone should ever commit a sin we have a Helper facing toward the Father, a righteous one, Jesus Christ and he is an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 2:1, 2)

We remember the Nazareneís parable so as to avoid the sin of the faithless slave. We avoid harming our brothers and sisters in the faith as well as living a materialistic life-style. (Luke 12:45, 46) When simplified there are but two things God asks of us: "This is (the Fatherís) commandment that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and be loving one another as (His Son) commanded us." (1 John 3:23)

With our eyes of faith we see the vision of our High Priest interceding for us in the celestial realm: "How much more shall the blood of Christ -- who sacrificed himself without blemish through an everlasting spirit -- cleanse our conscience from dead works so that we may worship a living God. ... For Christ entered ... the actual celestialium to appear before the face of The God for us. ... Consequently he is able to completely save those approaching The God because he is always alive to be interceding for them. ...Therefore, brothers, we can speak openly about the way into [heavenly] holy places by the blood of Jesus which he introduced to us as a freshly slaughtered and living [sacrifice] through the curtain of his flesh. ... Let us approach with a genuine heart in complete conviction, having our hearts sprinkled from a wicked conscience, and having our body bathed in pure water." (Hebrews 9:14, 24; 7:25; 10:19, 20, 22) May we all live in Christ in such a way we may stand before the parousia-judgment throne without fear of embarrassment. (1 John 2:28)

Friends of the Nazarene Publishing

Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

Back to Index to Biblical Articles