Mennonite Articles of Faith (1766) - Article 34
XXXIV. Of the Final Judgment.
That in immediate connection with the aforenamed resurrection of the dead the final and general judgment will take place, we believe -- first because of the idea of God's justice so deeply impressed on the conscience of all men that the consciousness of evil fills us with fear (Romans 2:15; Genesis 42:21, 22), and, on the contrary, the consciousness of good inspires a heartfelt confidence (1 John 3:20, 21), and this in such a manner that even the most godless can scarcely and at most only for a time deaden the impression (Isaiah 57:20, 21; Romans 6:13-17); secondly, because we do not always see justice carried out in this life (Psalms 73) and are thus led to look for it in the hereafter (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13; 2 Corinthians 5:10), since the above-mentioned idea can in no wise be denied or gotten rid of (Romans 1:19; 2:15), for which reasons all intelligent peoples in all ages, even though being without special divine revelation, have believed in a coming judgment. Our belief in this rests still much more on the explicit statements found in the Scriptures of the Old Testament (Ecclesiastes 12:14; 11:9; Daniel 7:9, 10; 12:1-3; Malachi 4:1) and more especially in those of the New.
The one who is to hold this great judgment is God, the Father (Acts 17:31; Romans 3:6) the Judge of all (Hebrews 12:23); yet it will be through Jesus Christ, His Son (Acts 10:42) to whom He has committed all judgment (John 5:22, 27) because of His willing humiliation and His obedience even unto death (Philippians 2:6-11) by which He, as mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:24), has obtained the right (Psalms 2:8-12) to rule over all. Psalms 72:8; John 5:27. Wherefore He will show His kingly power not only to His friends (Matthew 25:34; 28: 18-20) but also to His foes (Luke 19:27; Revelation 1:7) as it is written, -- "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth, and things under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:10, 11.
Those who shall be judged are all nations as whole (Matthew 25:31, 32) and every individual person in particular, be he great or small (Revelation 20:12, 13) rich or poor as well as the humblest beggar, yea also the fallen angels. Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 20:10.
The manner of the appearing of the great Judge, Jesus Christ, at His coming in judgment will be in the highest degree terrible, and the bringing of all nations before His judgment seat, without any escape (Matthew 24:29, 30); for the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16) with the clouds of heaven (Revelation 1:7; Daniel 7:13, 14), with great power and glory (Luke 9:26; 21:25-27), with ten thousands of His saints (Jude 14, 15), and all the holy angels with Him, amid accompanying circumstances so mighty that all nature will be moved and amazed. 2 Peter 3:10. When He shall thus sit upon the throne of His glory before the eyes of all, even of His bitterest enemies, then shall the angels of His power (Matthew 13:41-44; 2 Thessalonians 1:7) gather before His judgment seat all nations to give account (Romans 14:12; Matthew 25) of the time (Revelation 3:3; Luke 19:44), the means (Luke 16:2; Matthew 11:20-24; Hebrews 2:14) and the gifts which they have received. Luke 12:47, 48.
Moreover, the things concerning which account shall be required are not only a few of the most prominent actions of men, but every one of them in particular, subjective as well as objective (Hebrews 4:12, 13), not only words (Matthew 12:36, 37; Jude 15) and deeds (Romans 2:6; Revelation 2:23) but even the hidden thoughts (1 Corinthians 4:5) and inclinations of the heart. Romans 2:16.
The standard of judgment will be perfect righteousness itself (Isaiah 28:17; Psalms 9:8; 96:10; 98:9) which belongs to this great Judge as an essential quality (Psalms 45:7, 8; Hebrews 1:8, 9) by which He is always known. Genesis 18:25. And His judgment is unerring (Psalms 139:1-13; Isaiah 29:15, 16), since He is the omniscient one (John 2:25; Hebrews 4:13) the searcher of all hearts (Acts 1:24) before whom no manner of false plea or any pretence can in the least avail. Matthew 7:22, 23. Moreover, He will judge with exactness (Daniel 5:27; Proverbs 24:12) according to that which is written in the books of His omniscience (Malachi 3:16), of conscience (Romans 2:15), and of divine revelation (John 12:48; 5:45), in each case according to the circumstances under which the person has lived (Romans 2:12) and after the measure of gifts he received and the means and opportunities he had of obtaining the same (Matthew 13:16, 17) as well as the use or abuse or total neglect of them. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
All this shall proceed on the basis of the covenant of grace (John 3:14-18; 5:24) by virtue of which they who sincerely believe (Romans 8:1) who earnestly strive after that which is good (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:7-14; Hebrews 12:14) and do the same (1 John 2:4, 29; 3:4-10) even though in weakness (Psalms 103:10-14; 1 John 1:6-10) and amid much stumbling (James 3:2; Psalms 37:24), will obtain mercy for Christ's sake (Jude 21; Romans 6:23); those however who continue in unbelief and obey not the truth but obey unrighteousness, unto them shall be wrath and indignation. Romans 2:4-8.
As to the award of this righteous judgment we see that Jesus Christ the great Judge shall bring together as His chosen ones those who shall be found to be His sheep (John 10:27, 28), who have done good and have been faithful in a very little (Luke 16:10; 19:17), and shall set them on His right hand receiving them with this most gracious greeting: "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." But those who have done evil and not good (whose names are not found in the book of life, Revelation 3:5, 20:15; 21:27), set on His left hand as the servants of unrighteousness, He shall banish from His presence with these most terrible words: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
The time when this final judgment shall take place the Father has put in His own power (Mark 13:32-37; Acts 1:7) but upon us He enjoins a life of pious preparation and watchfulness in the fear of God. Luke 21:34-36.
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