Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Last Judgment & The Presbyterians

"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done." -Revelation 20:12,13 (NRSV)

There's a famous painting of the last judgment by Michaelangelo and in it people are being lifted up into Heaven by the saints by their rosaries... and that's kind of what my Church (the Roman Catholic one) teaches. That God makes unjust people just, that they become like Christ and are his children and so are in reality different than the reprobate. I'm obligated to believe that, but I'm sure on that great and terrible day when I face the almighty, obedience to magisterial teaching will not be my first priority.

Christ said that Heaven and Earth will pass away, but his words will not pass away. So I think the words I will speak will be those of the Psalm:

"enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." - Psalm 143

I was thinking about it in confession yesterday, it seems like such a simple system, but what can a sinner honestly say to the infinite holiness of God? I read this again today, it's one of my favourite sermons:

"O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder... nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment....but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day's opportunity such as you now enjoy! ...
And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day!" - Jonathan Edwards "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God" (possibly the best sermon ever written)

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." - Romans 4:5-8

"Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God." - Chapter XI, Westminster Confession of Faith

I may look like a Catholic, but sometimes I feel like a Presbyterian, life is very confusing, who knows where it leads ... in the mean time, I think I'll memorize Romans 4:5 just in case the Presbyterians are right, and I need it in my last defense on judgment day.

I'm not saying that the above quotes are true, I'm just saying personally they strike a chord in me.

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