You walk into the room. You are a bit confused and apprehensive: what is going to happen? You stand before the teacher, and he gives you the final examination.
Are you ready? Have you prepared yourself? How will you fare?
All of us who have gone through school remember final exams. They were never pleasant; they often represented a significant part of our grade. The final exam was the last shot at redemption, the conclusion of a successful class, or the final failure. It all depended on our understanding of the class material, the teacher, and the nature of the exam itself.
The Scriptures make it clear that we will all experience the ultimate final examination when the Lord returns: the day of judgment.
The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).
Since the day of judgment is coming for you and me, it is good for us to understand all we can about the judgment day and the basis of the judgment!
We do not know when the day of judgment will come. Jesus’ return is described as being like “a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10). Contrary to the view of many, Jesus’ return will not be heralded by a “rapture,” then a “great tribulation,” and then a “millennium.” Instead, the Scriptures teach that Jesus could come at any moment, and when He does return, He will then immediately judge all mankind (Matthew 24:42-25:46). Either we will be ready for His return or we will not be ready. There is no other alternative!
God does not leave us in doubt regarding the basis of the judgment; in fact, you could call it an “open book” exam. We will be judged on the basis of our works, whether we have obeyed Jesus and served Him and His righteousness, or if we have not obeyed Jesus and served evil (Romans 2:5-11, Revelation 20:12-13). Those works will be judged by the standard of God’s Word, just as Jesus promised (John 12:48).
A day of judgment is coming, therefore, and on that day, each and every one of us will stand before God, give an account, and be judged on the basis of our obedience to God (Romans 14:12).
What shall we do then? Some people live in continual fear, knowing that the Lord is coming, but not knowing exactly when. Yet God would not have us live in fear! Instead, we ought to live in preparation (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10). If we believe that the Bible is true, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and will return one day to judge the living and the dead, then we must live according to that conviction. We must constantly be busy in His Kingdom doing His will (Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:16-19)! If we are faithful servants, it will not matter if the Lord returns today, tomorrow, or after our deaths. Let us be prepared for that final examination, and inherit eternal life!
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath set over his household, to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath.
But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, ‘My lord tarrieth’; and shall begin to beat his fellow-servants, and shall eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51).
Ethan R. Longhenry