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The Victorious Day

15 February 2012 by Matt Gumm

Q. 56. How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?
A. Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men, shall come again at the last day in great power, and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father's, with all his holy angels, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, to judge the world in righteousness.

Despite major disagreements in many areas in the discussion of the end times, there is a relatively decent consensus on the most important item—that Jesus Christ will return as a conquering king.

My own church's confession of faith provides an interesting case study. The church doesn't take a detailed stance on eschatology. In point of fact, we don't really have a church-wide consensus on eschatology, and every major position is represented within the body, so our non-specific statement suits us well.

But while ours may be an unusual example, I'm guessing it is far from unique. More importantly, a situation like ours isn't required to appreciate the genius of the Catechism on this point. The focus here is on the most important aspect of eschatology—an aspect that, quite frankly, seems to be lost in many, if not most, contemporary discussions on end times. You could be a dedicated dispensationalist or an adamant amillenialist and still be happy with the answer. [It's the post-millenialists who are more excitable here, but they forgive your little faith -- FT] And if not, then you should be.

Here's why. Everything said here is explicitly backed by Scripture. It is a summary statement of what's certain about the future; there's no need to guess—and no need to argue. What's more, everything that's said here is motivation for living life now. How many times have you heard someone reluctant to take a position on future things, either because they don't want to be divisive, or more often because of the future's irrelevance for today?

I shame-facedly confess I've been that person, particularly with some of my more...ahem, opinionated brethren. Yet when I read what's said here, I'm completely disarmed; the Scriptural affirmations I read here leave me without excuses, replacing my indifference with compelling answers to the "so what" question.

Because when I'm frustrated by injustice, angered by pervasive wickedness, and overwhelmed by the spiritual darkness all around, I can take comfort that Jesus will return in His glory, and the glory of His Father, and all His angels.

Or when I find myself regarding my own sin more than Christ, spiritually lazy, and reluctant to evangelize, I'm reminded that Jesus will judge the world in righteousness, so I must live my own life with righteousness, and I must endeavor to help as many as possible flee the wrath to come.

And when I'm grief-stricken by the loss of loved ones, as I was this past Christmas, I can take comfort in knowing that the future holds a trumpet blast, and the dead in Christ will rise. Death is not the end, but an enemy yet to be conquered by the returning king.

Why should I care about the future? Because, in the end, Jesus wins.