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  • The Creed (Part 8)

    (Points for this article were taken from The Creed by Luke Timothy Johnson.1)

    Having previously addressed Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His ascension to heaven, where He sits at the right hand of the Father, the creed moves on to address future events foretold in Scripture.

    He will come again with glory
    to judge the living and the dead.
    His kingdom will never end.

    He Will Come Again with Glory

    Once again the creed draws from Scripture when addressing future events. The book of Daniel speaks of one like the son of man, who was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, whose kingdom will never be destroyed.2 The Gospel of Matthew speaks of a time When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.3

    The Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father.4

    To Judge the Living and the Dead

    Throughout the Old Testament, God is spoken of as the One who justly judges the world.

    Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?5

    The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.6

    The LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.7 

    Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD.8

    The New Testament makes reference to Jesus sharing God’s role as judge. The apostle Paul writes of that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.9 Paul also wrote,

    We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.10

    Elsewhere he stated,

    We will all stand before the judgment seat of God.11

    Throughout the New Testament, Jesus’ return and His judging the living and the dead are understood as future events.

    God … has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.12

    Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.13

    The apostle Paul’s description of Jesus’ return, in relation to believers, says nothing about judgment or punishment; rather Jesus is the one who delivers us from the wrath to come.14 And in the book of Hebrews it says,

    Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.15

    The Synoptic Gospels16 present a view of the events which will happen in the time before Jesus’ return. It is the Gospel of Matthew that presents the most expanded endtime scenario and includes within it reference to Jesus as the judge who welcomes some into His kingdom while others are rejected.

    When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”17

    Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” Then he will answer them, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.18

    His Kingdom Will Never End

    The Old Testament speaks of God as King, as in those times, the position of king was considered the most powerful position of authority; therefore it expressed that God ruled over all.

    The LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.19

    The LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.20

    In the New Testament, the book of Revelation conveys the battle between the forces of good and evil, with God being on the side of good. In this book, Jesus is seen as powerfully ruling in heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords.21 In the Gospel of Mark Jesus stated,

    The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.22

    The kingdom to which Jesus referred was not a specific geographical place; rather it has to do with one’s relationship with God, belief in Jesus, and salvation.

    Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. … unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”23

    In this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.24

    The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever.25

    The New Testament refers to God’s rule as one that is exercised by the Son together with the Father, calling it the kingdom of Christ and God,26 as well as the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.27 In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said to Peter, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.28 Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.29 When referring to the final judgment, the book of Matthew speaks of the Son of Man coming in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.30

    The Gospel of John emphasizes the image of Jesus as king.

    Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”31

    So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”32

    Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”33

    Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”34

    In the Gospel of Matthew, there are a variety of references made to the kingdom, again pointing to Jesus as King.

    [Jesus said to Peter,] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.35 

    Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne.”36

    When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.37 

    Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.38

    The Gospel of Luke states,

    He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.39

    Outside of the Gospels, Jesus is explicitly called king only in the book of Revelation.

    They will make war on the Lamb [Jesus], and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings.40

    Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.41

    He will come again with glory
    to judge the living and the dead.
    His kingdom will never end.

    (To be continued in Part Nine.)


    Note

    Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


    1 The Creed—What Christians Believe and Why It Matters (New York: Doubleday, 2003).

    2 Daniel 7:13–14.

    3 Matthew 25:31.

    4 Matthew 16:27.

    5 Genesis 18:25.

    6 Psalm 7:8.

    7 Isaiah 30:18.

    8 Ezekiel 18:30.

    9 Romans 2:16.

    10 2 Corinthians 5:10.

    11 Romans 14:10.

    12 Acts 17:30–31.

    13 2 Timothy 4:8.

    14 1 Thessalonians 1:10.

    15 Hebrews 9:28.

    16 The books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

    17 Matthew 25:31, 32, 34.

    18 Matthew 25:41–46.

    19 Psalm 95:3.

    20 Psalm 47:2. See also Isaiah 6:5, 33:22; Psalm 84:3.

    21 Revelation 19:16.

    22 Mark 1:15.

    23 John 3:3, 5.

    24 2 Peter 1:11.

    25 2 Timothy 4:18.

    26 Ephesians 5:5.

    27 Colossians 1:13–14.

    28 Matthew 16:19.

    29 Matthew 16:28.

    30 Matthew 25:31.

    31 John 1:49.

    32 John 12:13.

    33 John 18:36.

    34 John 19:19.

    35 Matthew 16:19.

    36 Matthew 19:28.

    37 Matthew 25:31.

    38 Matthew 16:28.

    39 Luke 1:32–33.

    40 Revelation 17:14.

    41 Revelation 1:5.

     

  • May 12 The Creed (Part 7)
  • May 9 Thoughts on the King
  • May 5 The Creed (Part 6)
  • Apr 28 The Creed (Part 5)
  • Apr 25 Perfect Peace
  • Apr 21 The Creed (Part 4)
  • Apr 14 The Creed (Part 3)
  • Apr 11 Dogs: One of God’s Wonders
  • Apr 7 The Creed (Part 2)
   

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