What will Judgment Day be Like?

Mention the phrase “Judgment Day” to ten different people and you’ll probably hear ten different explanations of the biblical term. Some promote the false idea that Christ may return in some sort of covert mission, and if we’re not equipped properly we’ll miss it like people who can’t see a 3D movie because they don’t have the special glasses. Others figure that Christ’s coming on the last day to end the world is such a long time off that they can eat, drink, and be merry with no concern for spiritual priorities. Still others accumulate their good works like vouchers for eternal life, waiting for the day when they can cash them all in to an extremely impressed God. So what will it really be like?

Do you feel even just a little anxiety about where you’ll be on Judgment Day, how you’ll respond to the global chaos, and what kind of forms you’ll need to fill out at the pearly gates, if you even make it there safely? And what if, in heaven, they use Word Perfect instead of Microsoft Word, and what if dogs are allowed in heaven but no cats, and what if you can’t bring any beverage containers filled with your favorite soda or coffee – we’ll only drink prune juice in paradise?

Like a promotional brochure for the perfect vacation, the Bible answers any anxiety about Judgment Day and heaven not with every specific little detail (although we do have a few) but with the big, reassuring promise: Judgment Day will be just right. Plan for it. Anticipate it. But don’t worry about it.

In a response to this confusion concerning Judgment Day, the Bible touches us with the actual temperature of Judgment Day. The Bible wants us to have the full assurance that Judgment Day won’t be so hot that it burns us with fires only meant for hell, and Judgment Day won’t be so cold and heaven so sterile that we’ll be frozen with boredom and chilled with thoughts of how nice we had it on earth. “God’s judgment is right,” the Bible reassures, and then adds, “God is just” (2 Thessalonians 1:1-2). Those two words, “right” and “just,” actually mean the same thing, and putting them together is a perfect way to capture and convey their correct meaning. Just right. That applies to God, it applies to every one of his actions, and it applies to Judgment Day.

God is just right when he says that you have wronged him and others sinfully. God is just right when he says that his Son, Jesus Christ, has paid with his life for your sins and has risen from the dead to blaze a path of eternal life for you. Put your worries about Judgment Day to rest in the hands of a gracious God.

Therefore you are not worried about Judgment Day when by faith you understand that heaven’s owner has already written your name in heaven’s reservation book. It’ll be just right, even if you’re not too sure about the details. God will take care of anyone who trusts him. He’ll send his angels to escort you safely through the chaos with priority, first-class service. He’ll welcome you warmly as a host expecting you. He’ll show you to the spread of his banquet of love and let you taste of his eternal feast.

But what if, on Judgment Day, you choose door number two instead of door number three? What if, on Judgment Day, you zig instead of zag? What if you’re miles away from loved ones or minutes short of accomplishing a really good thing? How can you live knowing that you might mess it all up and miss out on heaven forever? You can live knowing that God will never mess it up, and will never miss the slightest technicality when it comes to taking you to heaven. Your perseverance through earthly life as well as your perpetual heavenly life are both in God’s hands. Judgment Day will be just right.

Why Do I Feel Guilty?

You have seen the struggle before, haven’t you? The TV sitcom shows the main character with an angel in white on one shoulder and a little devil, complete with pitchfork and tail, on the other side. The good angel is encouraging the individual to do what is good and right. The bad angel is encouraging that same individual to do something that he knows is wrong.

Although the scenario is set up to amuse us, it is surprisingly close to what goes on inside of us.There are times in our lives when we are forced to make tough choices. Some choices we are able to take time to consider. Other choices must be made quickly without giving them much thought. No matter what types of choices we make, we are forced to live with them. Living with choices that we know are wrong produces guilt.

Guilt is a tough thing to live with, and it is even tougher to get rid of it. But, as disturbing as guilty feelings are, they are really a gift from God. Guilt leads us to ask the question, “What can I do to make up for all the wrong that I have done? How can I fix it?” Unfortunately, most wrong decisions we make cannot be taken back or undone. As a result, many people live with guilt for years without any place to turn for help.

Thank God that he has a way of taking care of guilt. Instead of having us try to make up for what we have done, he sent a Savior to remove our guilt. When Jesus went to the cross, God placed all our wrong, including the guilt and blame that come with it, on Jesus’ shoulders. When Jesus died, his last words were, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) which means, “It is paid in full.” Jesus paid the price for and removed our sin. It is as if the wrong that we did that produced the guilt never happened.

Are you feeling guilty today? Don’t live with it another day. Turn to Jesus who forgives sin and removes guilt (Psalm 25:4-18).

What is a Lutheran?

Lutherans get their name from Martin Luther, a man born in Germany in 1483. Luther was baptized and grew up as a member of the Catholic church. His leaders in the church gave Luther an assignment. He was to study and teach the Bible.

The Bible showed Luther that the church was not teaching God’s pure truth. The church was not teaching the Bible’s answer to this life-and-death question: How can I know that God loves me and forgives my sins?

Luther taught God’s answer to this question as he learned it from the Bible. As a result, he was put out of the Catholic church. Those who believed and confessed as Luther did were called “Lutherans” by their enemies. Christians who accept and teach what “Lutherans” taught call themselves “Lutheran” today. Some “Lutherans” no longer accept everything that Luther taught but still call themselves “Lutherans.”

How can I know that God loves me and forgives my sins?

The main topic Luther found in the Bible is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the eternal Son of God. He is also the sinless son of the virgin Mary. Jesus lived a perfect life. He earned God’s love for the whole human race—for you, too. Jesus died a criminal’s death, nailed to a cross. He bore the whole punishment for the sins of the whole human race—for your sins, too. Jesus came out of the grave on the third day after he was crucified. He proved he’s God’s Son, the living Savior of the world—your Savior, too. He invites everyone to trust him.

Lutherans confess, as Luther did: we are saved by God’s grace alone. Forgiveness and eternal life are entirely a gift of God’s grace—or, undeserved love—earned by Jesus. We are saved through faith alone, not by anything we do. Faith—trusting Jesus—is God’s free gift, too. How can we know all this is true? From the Bible, God’s word; alone, not on the authority of any church or human teacher.

The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Do I need church?

Baseball fans go to baseball games. Football fans go to football games. People belong to health clubs. People join churches. Why?

Fans attend games because they love the game. Being among a loud and boisterous home crowd conveys the excitement and fervor of the moment better than watching the game on television at home alone. Even gathered among a few friends at home is better than just watching the Super Bowl alone.

The whole purpose of Weight Watchers is to meet every week to offer one another encouragement in the fight against the bulge. Rejoicing with those who have made progress and comforting those who have had set backs is a prime reason for membership.

An individual can read the Bible alone, speak to the Lord in prayer alone, and sing praises to God alone. But the excitement of praising God with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is so much better even with a few friends. Being with fellow believers to celebrate the victory our God has won for us over sin, death, and the devil is such an encouragement to us as we live our lives here on earth.

We as believers join a church because we as Christians are not meant for isolation. The devil comes looking to tempt us when we are alone. He knows it is easier to get us to despair, to worry, and to be discouraged when we are alone. The encouragement of fellow believers is a prime reason for having a church to call home.

One may feel at times that they don’t need the encouragement of others. The role God is playing in their life is good and they are happy. But another one of our roles as a believer is to serve one another in love. Our presence as part of a church is an encouragement to fellow believers. We can share how God is working in our lives, how we are comforted knowing He is in control of the world, how we have peace because we are forgiven for all we have done, and how we are sure of eternal life in heaven.

A piece of coal taken out of the fireplace and left to burn alone will soon grow cold. But those pieces of coal left together will burn bright and hot because of the coals around them. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).