Lo! He comes with clouds descending
The Advent carol brings us to the next topic. Jesus Christ will return. That is not something we only remember at Advent. The Anglican liturgy remembers that in the communion liturgy:
Christ has died
Christ is risen
Christ will come again
The return of Jesus Christ to judge the earth is not an optional extra in the Christian faith. It is something that is going to happen. We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ. (1 Corinthians 5:10)
“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. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 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. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“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.”
Not the best Bible passage for those who put the spiritual above the secular, the will of God is that we are to help others, to live lives on Earth as citizens of heaven.
We are justified by faith alone. That is one of the five Solas1 of Martin Luther, held by Lutherans and the Reformed tradition of Christianity, and which I also hold to. So how do we get round this, Jesus is saying that people are judged by what they have done here, isn’t he?
Yes he is.
But Evangelical teaching centres, rightly, on the cross, but we can lose sight of what the resurrection of Christ means. Christ died and is raised, and we have died and are raised in him, given new life in the Kingdom of God. WE do not get into the Kingdom of God other than by God’s grace and through faith. Not by works, we cannot earn a place in God’s Kingdom, Christ has done it all.
But once in God’s kingdom we have to live by the rules of God’s kingdom, and those rules are the rules of love for both God and for other people. Living in God’s kingdom means living by God’s standards.
Christ’s judgement, the Son of Man’s judgement is the same here as when I blogged on the fall in an earlier blog this Advent, When we rebel against God, God says, “Have it your way.” So we judge ourselves and get the eternity we choose.
Come, thou long expected Jesus.