VII. What the process, the sentence and execution of the final judgment will be.

1. The dead shall be raised by the divine power and virtue of Christ, and by his human voice calling them forth. “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” (John 5:28.) The living shall be changed; their mortal bodies shall be made immortal.

2. Christ will gather all, both the righteous and the wicked, from the four corners of the earth, and cause them to stand before his judgment seat, through the ministry of the angels. This he will do, however, not from any necessity, but with authority; not because he will need their ministry, but that he may declare himself Lord of angels and of all creatures, and because it will contribute to his majesty and glory.

3. The world, the heavens and earth shall be dissolved by fire: there will be a change in the present state of things, but no annihilation.

4. There will be a separation between the righteous and the wicked, and a sentence passed upon each. The sentence which will be passed upon the wicked will be principally, as we have before shown, according to the law, yet in such a way as to be approved of by the gospel; whilst that which will be passed upon the righteous will be chiefly according to the gospel, yet so as to be sanctioned by the law. The righteous will, therefore, hear their sentence out of the Gospel, according as they have apprehended the merits of Christ by faith, of which faith their works will testify. “Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for,” &c. (Matt. 25:34.) The wicked, on the other hand, will hear the terrible sentence of the law: “Depart, ye accursed, into everlasting fire.” (Matt. 25:41.)

5. There will then follow the perfect glorification of the righteous, and the casting of the wicked into everlasting torments. Christ will then take the faithful to himself; for said he, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” “We shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (John 14:3. 1 Thes. 4:17.) But the ungodly shall be cast away with devils, and sentenced to everlasting punishment.

Obj. But it is said that the unbelieving are condemned already; and that the prince of this world is judged. Therefore they are already under sentence of condemnation and will not again be judged in the final judgment.

Ans. The devils and unbelieving are already condemned, and judged in the following respects: in the decree of God in the word of God in as far as it contains a revelation of his decree in their own consciences, and as it respects the commencement of their own condemnation. But in the final judgment their condemnation will be made public, for then there shall be,
1. A manifestation of the judgment of God, that those who perish are justly punished.
2. The ungodly shall also suffer punishment and torments in the body which now lies in the grave.
3. Their punishment will be greatly aggravated, and they will be put under such restraints that they shall no longer be able to injure the righteous, or to despise God and cast reproach upon his church. The great gulf fixed between them and us will effectually prevent them from ever doing us any harm.