We believe that Jesus Christ our Lord will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. At His ascension, two angels appeared to the disciples and said to them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). He will come again in glory, not to deal with sin, but to judge all men, as St. Paul says, “As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sin of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrew 9:28).
Various sayings of the Lord Christ prove His second coming in full details (Matthew 10:23; 16:27; Mark 13:24-27; John 5:22; 14:3). He also mentioned it in His teachings, like the parable of the wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), and the parable of the master coming back from the wedding (Luke 12:36-38, 46). He says clearly, “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory… When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (Matthew 24:30; 25:31). St. Paul says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first, and then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
Day of Judgment
The coming of the Lord at the end of the ages will be the “Day of Judgment.” It is the same day prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 7) in the Old Testament and predicted by the Lord Jesus Himself (Matthew 24). The exact time of the last day and His second coming is not foretold, so that men will always be prepared by constant vigil, continuous repentance, and good works. In Christ, there is no excuse for ignorance and sin, as the Lord Jesus says, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind” (John 9:39).
At the judgment day, there will be separation one from another, according to the faith acting through love (John 3:18-21; Matthew 25:31-46). The Lord Christ says, “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…’ Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angel…’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46). So, at judgment day, there will be those “on the left hand” who will go “into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angel” (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20), and those “on the right hand” who will go “into eternal life.” It is the fault of men, for the Lord says, “As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). God takes no pleasure at all that the unrighteous should die, as He says, “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ... and not that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23); He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He expressed His utmost love to save everyone from eternal death and to have eternal life, as St. John says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
The Merciful Just Judge
It is the compassion of God that justice will be served on judgment day. It is unjust that all people be rewarded whether they labored or not, or whether they comforted or tormented during their lifetime on earth (Matthew 10:39;). Rather, there will be eternal punishment for the wicked (2 Peter 3:7; Jude 1:14-16; 2 Corinthians 5:10). If there would be no punishment, why should we labor and tire ourselves in spiritual struggling to resist evil in our lifetime? Why did Christ command us to watch and pray, during His talk about His second coming? What is the necessity of all the commandments if there is not punishment?
The great Apostle St. Paul, who went to the third heaven and saw unutterable things; who preached to most parts of the known world at that time; who labored more than all the apostles; who healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons; was concerned about his eternal future because if negligence happened in controlling his body through fasting, asceticism and spiritual exercises, he will be rejected from the eternal life. He says, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
The mercy of God kept us alive until this moment (Romans 9:29), giving us an opportunity to repent to change our way (2 Peter 3:9) before leaving this world, to avoid rejection and eternal punishment (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10) which He warned us from with different ways and sayings. If we imagine that everyone, righteous and wicked, believers and unbelievers, will be saved from the divine punishment, what we should say about those believers who perished because of their wicked deeds, and were not rewarded by entering the kingdom (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 25:1-13; Matthew 26:24-25; 1 John 3:15; Acts 5:1-11), or those who renounce the faith (Philippians 3:18-19; Matthew 5:22-23; Luke 13:24-30)? And what would we say about the wicked people whom will obtain the coming wrath, who will be terrified and in vain will try to hide (Revelation 6:12-17; Luke 23:30; Psalms 137:7-10)? “For if we sin willingly after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
The Book of Revelation declares that there will be general judgment for judging everyone for his deeds, which matches the other inspired writings (Revelation 22:12; 14:13; 20:12,13; Mark 9:41-48; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6; 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). No one will be able to enter the kingdom except those whose names are found written in the book of life (Revelation 21:27); while the remnant, who did not repent and correct their way, will go to eternal punishment. For this reason, we find a list for the rejected from the kingdom (Revelation 21:8; 22:15; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Ephesians 5:3-5; Galatians 5:19-21; John 3:18, 19; 1Corinthians 3:16, 17; 1John 3:15). Those, whose names are not found written in the book of life, will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone together with Satan (Revelation 20:14-15).
Terrifying or Joyful
That day will be awesome and terrifying to the unbelievers and the unprepared people (Revelation 6:12-17; Revelation 9:6; Luke 23:30; Hebrew 10:31) because fleeing the divine, just judgment is absolutely impossible. There will not be repentance or intercession at that day (Psalms 6:5). At the same time, that day will be joyful for the righteous believers, who were longing for it while they were on earth (Philippians 1:21, 23). On that day, the righteous will go to eternal life, while the wicked to eternal torment (Daniel 12:2; Romans 1:18) “… that they all may be condemned who did not believe in the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). After the judgment, the believers will be in a parade to the heavenly Groom, our Lord Jesus Christ, because all of us, whether men or women, represent one bride betrothed to Him by His precious blood offered to redeem us, according to St. Paul, “I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). The Lord Christ, in many of His parables, represents that the kingdom of heaven is like a wedding (Matthew 25:1-3; 22:1-14). In the book of Revelation, St. John says, “I heard, as it were, the voice of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ’Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clear and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ’Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ And he said to me, ’These are the true sayings of God’ (Revelation 19:6-9).
Flee the Coming Wrath
Christ’s salvation is offered for every man to be saved from the coming wrath if he believes (John 3:36; Acts 4:12; Hebrew 2:3) and is baptized (Mark 16:16) and purified his heart through the continuous repentance, without which man will perish (Luke 13:3, 5). Repentance is a continuous life because we will be judged, not only for our deeds, but also for our bad and idle words (Matthew 12:34-37), and our intentions (Hebrew 4:12, 13; 1 Corinthian 4:5; Romans 2:16). Those who are born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:5) should struggle to keep their garments without corruption or blemish (Revelation 16:15; 7:13,14) to be able to attend the eternal wedding in the wedding garment (Matthew 33:12,13).
Truly, the eternal reward will be given for everyone according to his deeds. Therefore some will bring forth fruits a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:8, 23). Everyone will receive his own reward according to his own labor (1 Corinthians 3:8; Romans 2:6), so they will differ from each other in glory, or rather the levels of glory shining from them will differ from one another, as the Bible says, “For one star differs from another star in glory” (1 Corinthians 15:41; cf. Daniel 12:3). There are some who will be granted to be closer than others, like those who are given to sit on the right and left sides of Christ in His kingdom (Matthew 20:23; Mark 10:40). The same variation is happening in hell, since we find some of the wicked more tolerable than others; and some will receive greater condemnation and greater punishment (Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47; James 3:1; Hebrew 10:29). There will be those who will be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30), and others will go to the everlasting fire (Matthew 25:41), into hell (Luke 12:5).
Yes, reaching the kingdom requires continuous struggle in our spiritual life (2 Timothy 2:5; Hebrew 12:4). Once you reach it, you will forget all your tiredness, as you will say to the Lord, “When did we do this (Matthew 26:37-39)?... I forgot completely all my tiredness”. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 7:17; 21:4) and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor (1 Corinthians 3:8), and will hear his beatitude from the Lord’s mouth saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21, 23). St. Peter says, “For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). There is a precious opportunity before everyone to enter heaven, but the most important thing is to make use of it.