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Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian
Prof. David McKay  |  Belfast, Northern Ireland
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Judgment Day
SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2015
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
It must be true! It was on the front of The Times – JUDGMENT DAY. How could we have missed it? Where were the cataclysms, the fire, the floods, the earthquakes, the turmoil? It all seemed strangely quiet. How could the Day of Judgment have come and gone and we didn’t notice? Surely it must be the most unmissable event ever – or have we got it all wrong?

Well, we haven’t. The Judgment Day of The Times had nothing to do with the climax of the history of the present world. The day in question was 7 May, the day of the general Election. The judgment was not the final verdict of the Judge of all the earth, but the judgment of the British electorate, or at least the portion of it that bothered to go to a polling station and register its choice (or send in its postal ballot, before someone points that out!). Whatever we may think of the result, the judgment in question is unlikely to have eternal consequences. Promises will be broken in the customary way, pledges will be forgotten, commitments will be found to be undeliverable in the light of changed circumstances, but in five years the whole process will begin again. I’m sure you can hardly wait.

The idea of an actual Judgment Day that will signal the end of history as we know it is to many people utterly incredible. Biblical language may be borrowed by political commentators who speak of the Ajockalypse (the surge of the Scottish National Party) and of Armacleggon (the demise of Nick Clegg’s leadership of the LibDems), but it’s no more than verbal cleverness that draws on memories of a culture once shaped by Christian truth. If there is no God to call anyone to account, then by definition there can be no Judgment Day. Even if there is a God, the common view indicates that he is a generous, understanding deity, easily satisfied with sincere effort to be a decent human being, not making unreasonable demands that nobody could ever fulfil. How could he ever condemn those who did their best? We wouldn’t – why would God? In the easy-going pluralistic culture in which we live, all roads lead to God, one way is just as good as the rest, and tolerance is the great virtue.

Only it isn’t like that.

As Paul told the philosophers of the Areopagus in Athens, God ‘has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead’ (Acts 17:31). The mockery and incredulity (and misunderstanding) of many in Paul’s audience were probably not so very different from the reaction we encounter today, but the truth remains the truth. There will indeed be a Judgment Day.

Forget the excesses of some Christian art, with demons gleefully torturing the damned. Chief among the condemned will be Satan and his cohorts, the objects of God’s righteous judgment, not the executioners of it. All men and women will appear before the Judge who has all the evidence and who evaluates it according to the standard of his own infinite holiness. There will be no miscarriages of justice, and refusal to recognise this court impossible. All who are still in their natural sinful condition, ‘in Adam’ (1 Corinthians 15:22), will experience eternal death, separation from God and all that is holy, in conscious endurance of the Lord’s righteous wrath. That is what a life lived without regard to the one true God merits. It is curious, and a relic of the image of God, that many recognise there are sins which deserve such consequences (perhaps murder, the violation of children), yet who carefully draw the line before any of their own failings are taken into account. Yet all are guilty of the greatest sin: living without God. There will be no escape.

How could anyone rejoice at the prospect of the Judgment Day? According to Psalm 96 the entire creation rejoices before the Lord ‘for he comes to judge the earth’ (v13). In particular he ‘will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.’ A vital element of God’s judgment will be the vindication of his people and the completion of their salvation. All the blessings purchased by Christ, including the resurrection of the body and the rewarding of faithful service, will be conferred on those who are ‘in Christ’ by God’s grace. Believers are righteous in Christ and the faithful Judge will declare to the entire universe that they indeed are righteous in his sight. All the glory for their salvation will be his and they will be with the Lord for ever in the new creation, ‘where righteousness dwells’ (2 Peter 3:13), a joyful prospect indeed!
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No doubt about it
TUESDAY, APRIL 07, 2015
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
The Bible has had a profound effect on the English language, as it has had on many other languages. Words, phrases, characters and incidents have found their way into common usage, even when their biblical origins have been forgotten. Hence we...
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United to Christ
FRIDAY, MARCH 06, 2015
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
The devil loves to divide. We see it right back in Eden, where he divided man from his Creator, husband from wife, man from the very ground beneath his feet. It was just the start of a long career of causing strife, conflict and division in the...
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All grace provided
THURSDAY, JANUARY 08, 2015
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
30 years in the gospel ministry – it makes you think! Reaching that milestone in 2014 certainly had that effect on me. A fellow minister, a close friend, has arrived at exactly the same point, and so inevitably we compare notes, usually...
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Where are you going?
MONDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2014
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
It makes sense. If you set out on a journey not knowing your destination, you will get lost. Not even the most accurate SatNav will save you from that embarrassment. If you don’t really know where you are going, how can you hope to arrive safe...
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Not like other men
FRIDAY, AUGUST 08, 2014
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
It would be dangerously easy. Just look at what is happening in society around us. The legalisation of ‘gay marriage’. Increasing pressure for acceptance of physician-assisted suicide, along with the inevitable redefinition of the role of...
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Are you happy?
WEDNESDAY, MAY 07, 2014
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
Are you happy? For many people that’s the big question. We live in a society where often the highest value to pursue is happiness. The most significant goal in life, we are told, is the enjoyment of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. It’s not...
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Who are you?
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 04, 2014
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
I don’t suppose it was much of a surprise that the talks facilitated by Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan failed to establish an agreement among Northern Ireland politicians on the contentious issues which have recently highlighted the deep...
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Forsaken - for us
MONDAY, OCTOBER 07, 2013
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
In a crisis it is a precious thing to have the support of those who love us. It makes even the worst situation easier to bear if we know we are not alone. The greatest comfort for the Christian is that God is with us, whatever the trial. Even...
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Born to be King
TUESDAY, AUGUST 06, 2013
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
You couldn’t miss it. Well, I suppose, really, you couldn’t get away from it. Going abroad was no use – there were few accessible corners of the globe where you would have been safe. A prince was born! After all the waiting and speculation,...
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