Summary: The Creed says "from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead". Jesus’ coming and judgment go hand in hand. How should we be living our lives in the light of this?
The Apostle’s Creed
Together: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead;
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy *catholic church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
"come to judge the living and the dead"
You cannot separate Jesus’ return from judgment. Jesus is coming back to restore, renew, reign, complete what he began 2000 years ago. But before that he is going to wage war, conquer, judge and destroy.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. ... Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Rev.19:11-16)
The Jesus of Revelation is what the Jesus of the manger was born to become. -- conqueror and judge Ruling with an iron scepter; the armies of heaven following after; bringing on war.
Many say that they can’t conceive of a God who would ever judge or punish anyone -- that would be unloving. But think of the alternative: A God who lets everyone get away with everything. Imagine a God who shrugged his shoulder or turned a blind eye to murder, abuse, rape, and exploitation of young girls; to crimes committed by Hitler, Stalin or Sadam Hussein. Would THAT be a "loving" God; a "good" God?
What about all the things done to you personally? You yourself have experienced betrayal, unjust criticism, ridicule; you have been taken advantage of. Perhaps you have been the victim of a crime, or bullying or abuse of some kind. Doesn’t your own heart cry out for justice? What if there was a God who paid everything back? Everything taken from you restored. Every wrong done against you made right.
Justice is about making things right.
“But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth, and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.” - Isaiah 11:4
-This is the expression of Isaiah’s hope, that one day God will set things right.
We love stories that end with justice -- the bad guy or people getting what they deserve, and the good guys living happily ever after. The Bible ends this way as well.
If Jesus would never return, and there would be no judgment, then there would never be "closure" or a happy ending.
“Sing for joy before the Lord, because He is coming. For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and His peoples in faithfulness.” (Ps.96:13)
Christian: Does the thought of Jesus coming and coming to judge fill you with joy? It should! Imagine: Every wrong made right; everything broken made whole; all evil judged, condemned and banished forever.
No wonder: "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev.22:20) -- this needs to be our prayer as well. Not only for our sakes, but also for the sakes of those who are suffering; especially Christians.
Picture this! A cold, dark prison cell in the northern interior of China.
The cell is only 20’ by 20’ and occupied by 40 prisoners. One of these prisoners is a Chinese underground church pastor in his mid-40s, sentenced to a three-year prison term for preaching the Gospel of Christ. At 5:30 a.m., after being allowed four hours of sleep, a swift blow awakens him to his back from the boot of a communist prison guard. Pastor Stephen is allowed to have one of the two bowls of soup that will be his food for the day including the one small steamed roll he is given each day; he will consume perhaps 500 calories.
Now all 40 prisoners are taken to a room and put in two lines facing each other and forced to kneel. In front of each prisoner is placed a box containing unassembled Christmas lights. The guard viciously barks out the command and Pastor Stephen quickly grabs the empty strings of lights and begins to assemble them. He takes the tiny individual light bulbs and threads the two small metal wires extending from the glass through the plastic holder and bends them into place. Before long, his fingers are raw and bleeding. Then he puts the bulb into the fitting on the string of lights and clamps it into place with his teeth, as prisoners are not allowed tools. His quota for the day - 5000 bulbs. Work will continue for 16 to 20 hours or all night if necessary. If the guards are unsatisfied with the speed or quality of the work, he will be beaten mercilessly. Such is a normal workday for this humble servant of God. (Taken from The Lights of Christmas)