Posted by: reformedmusings | June 27, 2007

Final Judgment Again

I addressed Dr. Leithart’s post on this subject in my post Hi Ho, Hi Ho, quoting his original post at length there. You may want to go back and read or reread these posts before pressing on here. Since those posts, blog commenters continue to insist on a final judgment of works for believers despite Biblical and Confessional evidence to the contrary. I thought I’d put forth one more post to close out my presentation on the subject.

In the last round, I covered WCF 33.1 in some detail. This time, let’s look at the Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC):

Q. 88. What shall immediately follow after the resurrection?

A. Immediately after the resurrection shall follow the general and final judgment of angels and men; the day and hour whereof no man knoweth, that all may watch and pray, and be ever ready for the coming of the Lord.

Notice that the Catechism says that men will be judged at the last day. Nobody disputes that, but on what basis? That is fleshed out in the next two questions:

Q. 89. What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?

A. At the day of judgment, the wicked shall be set on Christ’s left hand, and, upon clear evidence, and full conviction of their own consciences, shall have the fearful but just sentence of condemnation pronounced against them; and thereupon shall be cast out from the favourable presence of God, and the glorious fellowship with Christ, his saints, and all his holy angels, into hell, to be punished with unspeakable torments, both of body and soul, with the devil and his angels forever.

Q. 90. What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?

A. At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men, and shall be received into heaven, where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment. [my empahsis]

Notice that Question 90 says that the righteous, who are the elect by God’s eternal decree, are not judged by their work as the Federal Vision holds, but are rather “acknowledged and acquitted.” This squares exactly with Robert Shaw’s and A.A. Hodges’ comments on WCF 33.1 quoted in my previous post Hi Ho, Hi Ho, as well as the Westminster Annotations comments on Revelation 20:12 and Dr. R. Scott Clark’s post Judgment v Vindication.

About Question 90, Johannes Vos in his commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism (page 214) says:

4. What is the meaning of the statement that the righteous shall be set on Christ’s right hand?

This means (a) that the Lord Jesus Christ acting as Judge, will publicly declare, before the whole universe, that these people, who have been persecuted and reproached because of their faith in him, are his own people, upon whom his special love has been bestowed, and qhom he as redeemed from sin to be his spiritual body; (b) that Christ, acting as Judge, will pronounce his people to be not guilty of the slightest sin, and perfectly righteous before the law of God, because he himself as borne the guilt of their sins by his atonement, and because of his own perfect righteousness which has been reckoned (or “imputed”) to them just as if it were their own personal righteousness. (my emphasis)

Along with the material in my last post on this subject, the WLC and Vos directly refute Dr. Leithart’s statement of the Federal Vision contention that:

When anyone associated with the FV says “final verdict of justification,” they mean “final judgment.”

It appears that the committee condemns the very view that WCF 33.1 articulates, since the Confession says explicitly that what we receive at the final judgment will be “according to what they have done,” which is clearly something other than the “perfect obedience and satisfaction of Christ received through faith alone.”

It may be clear to Federal Visionsist, but it wasn’t to the Westminster Divines, their commentators, or their successors in the Reformed faith. The statement that the final judgment is based on “something other than the “perfect obedience and satisfaction of Christ received through faith alone.”” is directly contrary to WCF 33.1 and WLC Q. 90 and therefore out of accord, exactly as the PCA’s 35th General Assembly overwhelmingly acknowledged.

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Responses

  1. […] final justification here, here, and here; and touched on baptismal efficacy here. In those posts, I draw on early Reformed writers to show […]


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