Judgement: Stop the World I Want to get off!
Question? What happens when you die?
The 5 people you meet in Heaven: Who would you like to meet and why?
When the Jews were in exile in Babylon, some of them lost hope in an earthly Messiah coming to save Israel from their enemies. Instead they looked to a heavenly Messiah to rescue them.
This Messiah would: • Be a heavenly King • Save the righteous and punish the wicked • Save Israel and Punish Israel’s enemies • End human history and begin the rule of God. • The word for these kinds of ideas is apocalyptic.
Judgment in the Bible. • In the Old Testament, God is a just judge who rewards goodness with blessing and evil with wrath. • In the New Testament the last Judgment is seen as God’s final Judgment on each individual according to their deeds.
We have seen that the source passage: (Matthew 25: 31 ff) of the Sheep and the Goats spells out very clearly the basis on which Judgment of the sheep and goats will be based. Actions on earth are seen to have a direct impact on the Christian’s place in the afterlife
Christianity links ideas of Judgment specifically with the person of Jesus. • He is the Messiah or Christ (the anointed one) who brings the start of the Kingdom of God on Earth.
Jesus, the apocalyptic Messiah • Jesus’ followers, the early Christians, came to believe that Jesus was the heavenly Messiah as well as the earthly one. Although he was not a warrior or a King, they believed that Jesus came to preach God’s Kingdom on earth. They thought he was the ‘son of David’ Israel's greatest King.
But also... • Jesus cast out demons • Jesus healed the sick • Jesus showed great power over nature • Jesus raised dead people to life • Jesus rose to life from the tomb • Jesus appeared to his disciples • Jesus ascended to heaven.
According to Luke, Jesus came to offer salvation to the whole world and to preach the Kingdom of God. • Luke believed that Jesus did not just offer a new life now. He offered a new life after death to all those who believed in him. • Jesus preached that one day he would return and the Kingdom of God would be established in power forever.
Jesus and the Second Coming • Jesus had predicted the end times. He said those days will be terrible. There would be wars and revolutions. There would be suffering and death. • The Second Coming: "You lot?"
The parable of the sheep and goats shows that it is one’s actions towards one’s neighbours which are central to Christian duty. • However, because Jesus himself identifies with ‘the other’ as a prisoner, hungry person etc. the issue of Judgement also hinges on belief and turning to Jesus as the Son of the Father. • For whoever believes in the Son of the Father is promised eternal life (John 5: 22).
Fill in the table. List (a) right actions on which the Christian will be judged as righteous; and (b) wrong actions on which the Christian will be judged as unrighteous. • Note: for both categories think of ethics, beliefs and relationship with others
Sheep and the Goats Righteous behaviour Unrighteous behaviour
TASK If this turned out to be your last day on earth what would your good /bad scales look like??
Heaven has been described in different ways in the course of Christian history. Some see it as blissful rest, others as a vision of God, and others as a holy city. All agree that in heaven all will live eternally in God’s presence and be in a loving relationship with him Literal and symbolic understandings of heaven and hell • The consequences of Judgment for the Christian are often seen in terms of two opposing realms, heaven (the place of those judged righteous) and hell (the place of those judged unrighteous).
Hell, in contrast, is seen as place of torture and fire, where the unrighteous are separated from God. • Donut Hell
For Christians, heaven is the place of God where all those judged righteous on the last day will receive their eternal reward and reign with Christ in glory. • Whilst the general resurrection will be at the last day, some Christians speak of individual resurrections after death, where the redeemed are with God in heaven.
Question? • Would an afterlife with God be better than one without?
For example, Jesus on the cross says to the repentant robber ‘today you shall be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23: 43).
The New Testament gives us some clues regarding the nature of heaven. Jesus calls it his ‘Father’s house’ and ‘paradise’. • New Testament parables picture heaven as a communal experience (a banquet, wedding feast etc.). The Book of Revelation sees it as a heavenly Jerusalem.
Revelation speaks of those in heaven having access to the tree of life. This tree was the one from which Adam was forbidden to eat.
Heaven therefore seems to involve a picture of paradise restored; and an image of humanity in relationship with God as originally intended • What kids have to say about heaven
The righteous will reign with Christ, possess life everlasting, be free from suffering and enjoy eternal rest. • In a similar vein Augustine in his work, The City of God, described heaven as beautiful beyond imagination and desires. • Roman Catholics especially link heaven with the so-called beatific vision, a face-to-face vision of God.
Others have viewed heaven and eternal life symbolically, on the grounds that we can never know with any certainty the characteristics of life after death. Eternal life in this respect can be seen as a relationship with God that will continue. Many therefore see the beginnings of eternal life here on earth
Rudolf Bultmann saw eternal life as a means of freeing oneself of the baggage of the past, wiping the slate clean, being open to possibilities in the future and offering a response of faith in Christ. Hans Kung stated that eternal life should view the world from a God-like perspective, promoting peace, freedom and justice.
In Christian theology, hell is seen as the complete opposite of heaven. • It is eternal separation from God. Hell translates a Hebrew term ‘Sheol’, denoting the place of the departed, and a Greek term ‘Gehenna’, which is the place of punishment for the sinful following death.
According to traditional theology, souls in hell experience loss of contact with God and punishment with fire. All chances of happiness and peace are lost in hell. The New Testament pictures hell as a prison (1 Peter 3: 19) with gates and bars (Matthew 16: 18). It is the place of the lost often characterised by fire (Mark 9: 43).
Some Christians, however, have felt uneasy with the idea of hell; not least because it seems to go against the idea that God will overcome evil; also such a form of ‘justice’ seems to question the idea of an all-loving God.
In 1996 the Church of England, in a report entitled The Mystery of Salvation, said that hell should be understood symbolically as annihilation. If one does not go to heaven, one becomes in effect ‘nothing’.