GOD WILL JUDGE ALL MANKIND
Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” MATTHEW 25:41
The certainty of final judgment forms the frame within which the New Testament message of saving grace is set. Paul in particular stresses this certainty, highlighting it to the sophisticated Athenians (Acts 17:30-31) and spelling it out in detail in the first section of Romans, the New Testament book that contains his fullest exposition of the gospel (Rom. 2:5-16). It is from “the coming wrath” on “the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed,” says Paul, that Jesus Christ saves us (1 Thess. 1:10; Rom. 2:5; cf. Rom. 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6; John 3:36; Rev. 6:17; 19:15). Throughout Scripture, God’s indignation, anger, and fury, which are often spoken of, are judicial; these words always point to the holy Creator actively judging sin, just as wrath does here. The message of coming judgment for all mankind, with Jesus Christ completing the work of his mediatorial kingdom by acting as judge on his Father’s behalf, runs throughout the New Testament (Matt. 13:40-43; 25:41-46; John 5:22-30; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 9:27; 10:25-31; 12:23; 2 Pet. 3:7; Jude 6-7; Rev. 20:11-15). When Christ comes again and history is completed, all humans of all ages will be raised for judgment and will take their place before Christ’s judgment seat. The event is unimaginable, no doubt, but human imagination is no measure of what a sovereign God can and will do.
At the judgment all will give account of themselves to God, and God through Christ “will give to each person according to what he has done” (Rom. 2:6; cf. Ps. 62:12; Matt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 22:12). The regenerate, who as servants of Christ have learned to love righteousness and desire the glory of a holy heaven, will be acknowledged, and on the basis of Christ’s atonement and merit on their behalf they will be awarded that which they seek. The rest will receive a destiny commensurate with the godless way of life they have chosen, and that destiny will come to them on the basis of their own demerit (Rom. 2:6-11). How much they knew of the will of God will be the standard by which their demerit is assessed (Matt. 11:20-24; Luke 11:42-48; Rom. 2:12).
The judgment will demonstrate, and so finally vindicate, the perfect justice of God. In a world of sinners, in which God has “let all nations go their own way” (Acts 14:16), it is no wonder that evil is rampant and that doubts arise as to whether God, if sovereign, can be just, or, if just, can be sovereign. But for God to judge justly is his glory, and the Last Judgment will be his final self-vindication against the suspicion that he has ceased to care about righteousness (Ps. 50:16-21; Rev. 6:10; 16:5-7; 19:1-5).
In the case of those who profess to be Christ’s, review of their actual words and works (Matt. 12:36-37) will have the special point of uncovering the evidence that shows whether their profession is the fruit of an honest regenerate heart (Matt. 12:33-35) or merely the parrot-cry of a hypocritical religiosity (Matt. 7:21-23). Everything about everybody will be exposed on Judgment Day (1 Cor. 4:5), and each will receive from God according to what he or she really is. Those whose professed faith did not express itself in a new life-style, marked by hatred of sin and works of loving service to God and others, will be lost (Matt. 18:23-35; 25:34-46; James 2:14-26).
Fallen angels (demons) will be judged on the last day (Matt. 8:29; Jude 6), and the saints will be involved in the process (1 Cor. 6:3), though Scripture does not reveal their precise role.
Knowledge of future judgment is always a summons to present repentance. Only the penitent will be prepared for judgment when it comes.
From: Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs by JI Packer