ARTICLE 37 – THE LAST JUDGMENT
Finally, we believe, according to the Word of God, that when the time, ordained by the Lord but unknown to all creatures, has come1 and the number of the elect is complete,2 our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, bodily and visibly,3 as He ascended (Acts 1:11), with great glory and majesty.4 He will declare Himself Judge of the living and the dead5 and set this old world afire in order to purge it.6 Then all people, men, women, and children, who ever lived, from the beginning of the world to the end, will appear in person before this great Judge.7 They will be summoned with the archangel’s call and with the sound of the trumpet of God (1 Thes 4:16).
Those who will have died before that time will arise out of the earth,8 as their spirits are once again united with their own bodies in which they lived. Those who will then be still alive will not die as the others but will be changed in the twinkling of an eye from perishable to imperishable.9 Then the books will be opened and the dead will be judged (Rev 20:12) according to what they have done in this world, whether good or evil (2 Cor 5:10).10 Indeed, all people will render account for every careless word they utter (Mat 12:36), which the world regards as mere jest and amusement. The secrets and hypocrisies of men will then be publicly uncovered in the sight of all. And so for good reason the thought of this judgment is horrible and dreadful to the wicked and evildoers11 but it is a great joy and comfort to the righteous and elect. For then their full redemption will be completed and they will receive the fruits of their labour and of the trouble they have suffered.12 Their innocence will be known to all and they will see the terrible vengeance that God will bring upon the wicked who persecuted, oppressed, and tormented them in this world.13
The wicked will be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences and will become immortal, but only to be tormented in the eternal fire14 prepared for the devil and his angels (Mat 25:41).15 On the other hand, the faithful and elect will be crowned with glory and honour. The Son of God will acknowledge their names before God His Father (Mat 10:32) and His elect angels.16 God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Rev 21:4),17 and their cause – at present condemned as heretical and evil by many judges and civil authorities – will be recognized as the cause of the Son of God. As a gracious reward, the Lord will cause them to possess such a glory as the heart of man could never conceive.18 Therefore we look forward to that great day with a great longing to enjoy to the full the promises of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:20).
1. Mat 24:36; Mat 25:13; 1 Thes 5:1,2. 2. Heb 11:39-40; Rev 6:11. 3. Rev 1:7. 4. Mat 24:30; Mat 25:31. 5. Mat 25:31-46; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5. 6. 2 Pet 3:10-13. 7. Deut 7:9-11; Rev 20:12-13. 8. Dan 12:2; John 5:28-29. 9. 1 Cor 15:51-52; Phil 3:20-21. 10. Heb 9:27; Rev 22:12. 11. Mat 11:22; Mat 23:33; Rom 2:5-6; Heb 10:27; 2 Pet 2:9; Jude 15; Rev 14:7a. 12. Luke 14:14; 2 Thes 1:3-10; 1 John 4:17. 13. Rev 15:4; Rev 18:20. 14. Mat 13:41-42; Mark 9:48; Luke 16:22-28; Rev 21:8. 15. Rev 20:10. 16. Rev 3:5. 17. Isa 15:8; Rev 7:17. 18. Dan 12:3; Mat 5:12; Mat 13:43; 1 Cor 2:9; Rev 21:9-22:5.