Belgic Confession, Article 37: The Last Judgment

Article 37: The Last Judgment

Finally we believe,
according to God's Word,
that when the time appointed by the Lord is come
(which is unknown to all creatures)
and the number of the elect is complete,
our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven,
bodily and visibly,
as he ascended,
with great glory and majesty,
to declare himself the judge
of the living and the dead.
He will burn this old world,
in fire and flame,
in order to cleanse it.

Then all human creatures will appear in person
before the great judge—
men, women, and children,
who have lived from the beginning until the end
of the world.

They will be summoned there
"with the archangel's call
and with the sound of God's trumpet."81

For all those who died before that time
will be raised from the earth,
their spirits being joined and united
with their own bodies
in which they lived.
And as for those who are still alive,
they will not die like the others
but will be changed "in the twinkling of an eye"
from perishable to imperishable.82

Then the books (that is, the consciences) will be opened,
and the dead will be judged
according to the things they did in the world,83
whether good or evil.
Indeed, all people will give account
of all the idle words they have spoken,84
which the world regards
as only playing games.
And then the secrets and hypocrisies of all people
will be publicly uncovered
in the sight of all.

Therefore,
with good reason
the thought of this judgment
is horrible and dreadful
to wicked and evil people.
But it is very pleasant
and a great comfort
to the righteous and elect,
since their total redemption
will then be accomplished.
They will then receive the fruits of their labor
and of the trouble they have suffered;
their innocence will be openly recognized by all;
and they will see the terrible vengeance
that God will bring on the evil ones
who tyrannized, oppressed, and tormented them
in this world.

The evil ones will be convicted
by the witness of their own consciences,
and shall be made immortal—
but only to be tormented
in "the eternal fire
prepared for the devil and his angels."85

In contrast,
the faithful and elect will be crowned
with glory and honor.

The Son of God will profess their names86
before God his Father and the holy and elect angels;
all tears will be wiped from their eyes;87
and their cause—
at present condemned as heretical and evil
by many judges and civil officers—
will be acknowledged as the cause of the Son of God.

And as a gracious reward
the Lord will make them possess a glory
such as the human heart
could never imagine.

So we look forward to that great day with longing
in order to enjoy fully
the promises of God in Christ Jesus,
our Lord.

81 1 Thess. 4:16
82 1 Cor. 15:51-53
83 Rev. 20:12
84 Matt. 12:36
85 Matt. 25:41
86 Matt. 10:32
87 Rev. 7:17