“Judgment Day.”‘ Old-fashioned and outdated? Superstitious nonsense? A load of rubbish? A dangerous idea?
These are some of the most typical responses of ordinary people to dodgy religious types talking about a final time of God’s judgement on the world!
However, Christianity argues not only that such a day will come, but that it will be a good thing.
Here are some reasons why that might be the case.
All injustices will be truly dealt with
We turn on the news and are presented with stories about muggings, stabbings, cover-ups (Hillsborough), terrorism, rape, murder. The vast majority of people despair at these, and we have a deep-seated desire to see justice done.
We trust that, to some degree, wrongs are right through our justice system. Yet that often leaves much to be desired. There’s so much that people ‘get away with’. There are miscarriages of justice. And can thirty years in prison make up for the murder of a loved one?
A final ‘Judgment Day’ would mean that none of these wrongs will go unpunished, even if they did whilst they were alive. One day everyone will get what they deserve, and all wrongs put right.
We have a deep desire for justice
This seems to resonate with our human desire for justice to be done. If the world is just a cosmic accident as many of us have been led to believe by our British secular culture (your teachers at school probably didn’t try to give you a reasonable and persuasive argument for belief in God) then why do we care about justice so much?
The Bible tells us a final day of judgement is good news because the person in the judgment seat will have perfect judgment. No-one will say God wasn’t fair because, unlike human judges and courts, has a perfect moral character and sees and knows all things - exactly who you would want to be a judge.
We love Jesus’ standards
The Bible tells us very clearly that the basis upon which God will judge will be the words of the Lord Jesus Christ:
‘… the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.’ (John 12:48)
Even today, Jesus’ instructions to show compassion, love, generosity and forgiveness, shape and influence our lives. People love the words of Jesus because they seem to be so self-evidently true. “Love your neighbour as yourself.” “Turn the other cheek.” “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” And his teaching and example form the basis of what we consider to be right and wrong even now. His standards seem to be beautiful, and timeless.
We are all found wanting
And yet, none of us have lived up to the standards he has set us. Even the very best of people have fallen short of what he requires. It’s what the Bible calls, in another old-fashioned sounding word, ‘sin’.
On God’s day of justice, we will all be found wanting.
But whilst Jesus does teach us God’s expectations of us, the Bible’s purpose is to tell us about how Jesus came to rescue us from the judgement we must deserve for failing to do it!
The judge becomes the judged
In a stunning move, the Bible tells us that Jesus, God’s Son, would take the punishment our failure deserves when he died on the cross. The judge would become the judged for our sake, so we can walk free.
If we believe that he died in our place (on a cross outside Jerusalem all those years ago) for the punishment we deserve for all our wrongdoing then he will forgive us. That is a promise.
Jesus’ first coming to the world, as rescuer through his death and resurrection, has given anyone, including you, the opportunity to be prepared for his second coming as judge.
And for the person who puts their trust in Jesus, a final day of justice is the gateway into God’s new and perfect world, where there will be no injustice and no wrong.
Perhaps the idea of a ‘Judgment Day’ is not so bad after all…
Jamie Mason - GCW Pastoral Assistant
If you have questions about the points raised we'd love to hear from you. GCW strongly invites people who disagree with Christian beliefs, or who are just unsure, to investigate their doubts with us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.