The biblical doctrine of final judgement has several important consequence for our lives here and now.
- It satisfies our sense of a need for justice in the world. There is so much in the present world which is not fair. Good people suffer, while evil people get off scot free. Even the judicial system itself is susceptible to bias and bribery. The Bible tells us that there will be a final reckoning, when the ‘books’ (Rev 20:12 – symbolising God’s record of what everyone has done in this life) will be opened. the sovereign Lord will act decisively and without partiality, putting all wrongs to right (Col 3:25).
- It enables us to forgive others freely. We can leave the tasks acquittal and condemnation to an all-wise and all-knowing God (Rom 12:19). If we have been wronged in any way, we can hand over the consequences to God, leaving aside any desire for personal revenge. This leaves us free to pray for the person who has wronged us, seeking God’s forgiveness for them. In doing so, we know that we are following the example of our Saviour himself (1 Pet 2:22f; Lk 23:34; cp. Acts 7:60).
- It provides a motive for godly living. To be sure, we cannot earn forgiveness or salvation. But we can ‘lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven’ (Mt 6:20). Even for many unbelievers, an aware that there will be a final reckoning acts as a moral restraint on their lives.
- It offers a powerful motive for evangelism. If we believe that the decisions made in this life have eternal consequences, then we will plead with men and women to make their peace with God, while there is yet time (see Eze 33:11; 2 Pet 3:9).
Based on Grudem, Systematic Theology, p1147f