We jump right back in with the Larger Catechism Question 90: What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?
A.: At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on His right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with Him in the judging of reprobate angels and men, and shall be received into heaven, where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the
Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment.
What follows is a brief run down of what the above entails:
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the guarantee of the Christian hope of resurrection. It was the great event that demonstrated that death really is conquered (1 Thess. 4:14). (465)
Verse 14 also tells us that when Christ returns He will “bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”...Christ’s “coming with His saints” is not to be separated from His “coming for His saints.” The Second Coming will be both with and for His redeemed people.
In verse 15, where Paul says that “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep,” he is saying that those who will be alive at Christ’s Coming will have no advantage over those believers who have died before His Coming. (465)
(1) The one who will come again is no less than “the Lord Himself” incarnate. ...
(2) The Lord’s Second Coming will be one of majesty and honor. ....
(3) The faithful departed will be raised from the dead before those who are alive at the time when Christ returns.
(4) Then, when the believing dead are raised, those believers who are alive at the Second Coming “shall be caught up together with them in the clouds.” ...
(5) When the Lord comes, all believers, resurrected and living, “shall be caught up…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” The verb translated “caught up” means “to seize, to carry off by a force that cannot be resisted.”...As John Calvin said, “As a field marshal gathers his armies to battle by the sound of the trumpet, so Christ will
summon all the dead with a voice that rings and resounds throughout the whole world.”186 ...
(6) At the Second Coming of Christ, all believers will “meet the Lord.” The word “meet” denotes “the formal reception of a newly arriving king or governor,” and it implies the “welcome of a great person upon his arrival.” ....
(7) When Christ comes all believers will “meet the Lord in the air.” The significance of the meeting place being in “the air” is that in the New Testament the abode of demons is “the air,” for Satan is “the prince of the powers of the air” (Eph. 2:2). “The
fact that the Lord chooses to meet His saints there, on the demons’ home ground so to speak, shows something of His complete mastery over them.”187
(8) At the Second Coming, all believers will be “caught up… in the clouds” with Christ. Christ’s Ascension and His Return are accompanied with “clouds.”...In both testaments the clouds of heaven are a symbol of God’s presence, judgment and salvation. They point us to the “glory cloud,” the Shekinah glory, the pillar of fire, the radiant visualization of the glory of God, that on occasion filled the Temple, and which was the vivid sign of His favorable presence with His people. ...
(9) “And so we shall always be with the Lord.” ....
(10) We are to “comfort one another with these words.” We are to strengthen one another’s hands with these truths. This good news should move us to seek one another out to strengthen one another in Christ. Death makes no difference to our relationship to God in Christ!
186. Morris, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, 145; ftnt.
187. Morris, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, 146.
"And He will put the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left (Matt. 25:33)."
The royal and multiracial race of the redeemed in Christ will on that day be eternally and totally segregated from the depraved and multiracial race of the damned in Adam. The redeemed shall forever live under the reign of grace, and the damned shall forever live under the reign of sin and death, for all who are in Adam die and all who are in Christ live. ...
To be seated at the right hand of Christ is to be given the highest place of honor and privilege a human being is capable of having conferred upon him. (469)
Jesus was not ashamed to identify Himself with His people, when He condescended in His incarnation to take their human nature upon Himself: “He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). And on the Last Day He shall acknowledge them openly and publicly in the presence of the human race and the entire universe, as the people whom He has chosen, redeemed and sanctified for Himself, and in whom the work of salvation has been brought to perfection. (470)
He who openly and bravely acknowledges Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior “before men,” Christ Himself will openly acknowledge as His beloved disciple on Judgment Day “before My Father who is in heaven.” But he who refuses to confess Christ publicly and who disowns Him, Christ will publicly and contemptuously disown and repudiate on Judgment Day. (472)
“Saints”, i.e., those who are consecrated to God in Christ by faith, “judge the world” now, whenever we assess the world’s thoughts, actions and creations in the light of the Word of God. They will rule, manage and judge the world when both Jews and
Gentiles are converted and the earth is Christianized (Rom. 11; 1 Cor. 15:24–28; Isa. 2, 4, 11). And in the Final Judgment at the very end of history, the saints shall be Christ’s “associate judges” (under Him) in the judging of “the world” and of “angels,” presumably fallen, as a function of their royal rule as crowned kings in Christ (1
Pet. 2:9), as those “seated… with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). (473)
[Matt. 25:34, 46]
(1) Those to whom He says these words are His “sheep,” which is a common word in the Bible for God’s elect. ...
(2) Those to whom Christ says these words are called by Him “the blessed of the Father,” because they are the ones God the Father chose to bless. ...
(3) In verse 46, these blessed sheep are called “the righteous,” not because they have a righteousness which they have earned and produced on their own, but because they are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus their Lord and Savior, the
righteousness of Christ’s perfect obedience credited to them by the eternal mercy of God.
(4) Christ calls His sheep to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”...This invitation by Christ to enter His kingdom is rooted in the sovereign and eternal good pleasure of God. ...
(5) Christ calls His sheep to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Their eternal and gracious reward is everlasting fellowship with the triune God in their inheritance of the Kingdom of God. (474-475)
Sin and misery are inseparably connected, in that the first brings the second. In heaven the child of God is delivered from both forever....His will is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone (Eph. 4:13; Heb. 12:23). (477-478)
According to Jesus, entering heaven is entering the inconceivable “joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21, 23), when the redeemed are made to “stand in the presence of His glory.”...Total joy is the inevitable result of perfect blessedness and sinlessness. (478)
Our will will be perfectly free from all sinful desires and preferences, it will chose nothing but what is good and holy, and in conformity to the will of God....And we will be physically and socially, as well as spiritually, divinely fitted for eternal perfection, perfectly adapted to participate in “that glory which the whole man shall be possessed of, and sanctified to be a temple of the Holy Ghost for ever.” 212. Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 2:290. (480)
In this life, by faith, we “come” to the Temple and House of God, i.e., “Mount Zion”, and enter fellowship with God and His people, i.e., “the city of the living God,” the center of covenant blessing, i.e., “the heavenly Jerusalem,” which fellowship also includes fellowship with “myriads of angels” and the entire “general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven”, including “the spirits of
righteous men made perfect.”...But in the next life with resurrection we enjoy all this fully and completely beyond anything we could receive by faith. (481)
The greatest happiness of the resurrected people of God in Heaven is the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. (WLC, Q. 90) ...
This heavenly vision of God is “the most perfect and clear knowledge of God and of divine things, such as can belong to a finite creature, opposed to the imperfect and obscure knowledge which is possessed here by faith.” 217. Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3:610. (482)
In this life, God communicates Himself to us by means of grace, such as, the Word of God and the Sacraments; but in Heaven He will communicate Himself to His people directly and immediately, i.e., without means. “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28), inasmuch as He will pour immediately upon the saints His light, love, holiness, joy,
glory, life and a fulness of all blessings and will dwell in them forever (Rev. 21:3). (485)
Our heavenly sight of God comes inseparably with love and joy, all three of which together make our happiness in heaven complete. The vision is accompanied by fruition, i.e., enjoyment derived from the vision of God along with the perfection of the image of God in the resurrected Christian. (485)
In Heaven, we will behold the face of God (Q. 86), the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit (Q. 90). (488)
This perfect happiness of heaven that centers on the vision and fruition of God shall be for all eternity. (492)
"First, they are those that have had the principle or seed of the same love that reigns in heaven implanted in their hearts, in this world, in the work of regeneration…Second, they are those who have freely chosen the happiness that flows from the exercise and enjoyment of such love as is in heaven above
all other conceivable happiness… Third, they are those who, from the love that is in them, are, in heart and life, in principle and practice, struggling after holiness. Holy love makes them long for holiness." 234. Edwards, Heaven: A World of Love, 48–49. (495)
(1) This glorious eternity in Heaven awaits all true believers in Jesus Christ, and only true believers in Jesus Christ. ...
(2) If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, who longs for this glorious eternity with Him, His Father and their Spirit, live everyday as an “heir of God and joint-heir with Christ” of these realities. ...
(3) Filled with this hope of glory, live every day as one who is looking “not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). ...
(4) Believer, live as one whose “citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). ...
The point Paul is making is this: Christians are servants of “another king, Jesus” (Acts 17:7)....Here on earth they are to live as his ambassadors and representatives, as citizens faithful and loyal to Him although they are for a time residing in the
territory of the enemy. They are to advance His crown rights, to obey His laws, and to do His will, recognizing that although they live “in” this world, they are not “of” this world. Furthermore, they are to wait patiently and hopefully for His triumphant Arrival to rescue them and history, to defeat His enemies, and to recover the territory His enemies illegally claimed, restoring His people to the place and glory promised them. ...
(5) Christ makes heaven heaven for Christians...
Where is Heaven?...This is not a vitally important question for us to answer now for heaven is wherever Christ is. However, the Bible does teach us to believe that this earth and universe in which we presently live, reconstructed and rejuvenated by the conflagration of the universe, will become the eternal home of redeemed people with Christ, in their resurrected bodies. (504)
First, the conflagration of the universe with fire described in 2 Peter 3:7,10 is not the annihilation of the universe...
God annihilates nothing He has created. (504)
Rather than being annihilated by the events described in 2 Peter 3, the universe will be purified by fire from all the effects of sin and restored to its original purity, beauty and glory...The Greek word for “new” denotes “renewal” and not
creation ex nihilo! (505-506)
Second, we know this to be the case because of the corroborating testimony of other passages of the Bible such as Romans 8:19–23 that speaks of “the anxious longing of the creation”, i.e., the entire created universe. It was “subjected to futility”, but at the return of Christ “the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (506)
“Through Christ and his cross the universe is brought back or restored to its proper
relationship to God.” 253. William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Colossians
and Philemon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House), 82. (507)
Third, many texts of Scripture speak of this earth as a permanent structure, and as given to man by God for his permanent home....The point is that God’s “sanctuary,” i.e., the Church and God’s “earth” will both last forever! (509)
Fourth, the analogy between the resurrection of the believer’s body and the renovation of the universe with fire supports this view....The new heavens and new earth will be vastly changed, altered, transformed and glorified, but they will be the same universe that we live in now. (509)
Fifth, the prophecies of the New Testament confirm this viewpoint. Just as Peter was “looking for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13), so John “saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (Rev. 21:1). As we have pointed out, the Greek word
for “new” in this description is not the word that denotes something brand new that has never been in existence before, but the Greek word that denotes the renewal of that which was previously in existence. (509)
Sixth, if the present universe is annihilated at the return of Christ, then
"Satan would have won a great victory by so corrupting the present cosmos that God could do nothing with it but blot it out of existence..." 256. Smith, Systematic Theology, 2:813 (509)