The Final Judgment
1. Universal – “All nations will be gathered before him.” (Matt. 25:32)
2. Singular – “For you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matt. 25:13). There will be one gathering, one assembly, one judgment. (Matt. 25:31-33).
3. Individual – “For to everyone who has, more will be given… but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away” (Matt. 25:30).
4. Eternal – “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:46). The term “everlasting” and “eternal” both come from the same Greek word; i.e. if the blessings of heaven are forever, so are the curses of hell. The theory of annihilation is not a Biblical concept. Eternal punishment is real and implies a conscious penalty justly deserved. If there were no punishment to be saved from, what would salvation really mean?
Matthew saves his portrait for last and paints a picture that is very sober, especially so in light of the prophecy Jesus had just made regarding the judgment of Israel (Matthew 24:1-35). Though some would face judgment in this life, all must stand before the King on the final day to receive their reward whether good or bad.
The attitudes of righteous and the wicked are set forth in stark contrast of one another. The righteous had an humble attitude of surprise, while the wicked had an attitude of indignance. Though obedient and rewarded for their obedience, none of the righteous felt as if they had earned salvation. The wicked on the other hand do not understand what they had not done to inherit eternal life. Salvation has always been by grace through faith in which there is no boasting (Eph. 2:8-9), yet has never precluded works of humble obedience (James 2:14-24). Salvation is not earned, but reward requires obedience.
The main point Matthew seems to be driving home in his final assessment is that how we treat brethren reflects our attitude toward Christ. To care for and minister to the children of God is a great honor not be taken lightly.
If the child of God will remain faithful unto death, God will invite him home to live with Him for all of eternity (Matt. 25:34). Since the foundation of the earth, God has been waiting to draw his special creation back to him and welcome them home (Matt. 25:34). What will He say unto you on that great and final day?