Apostles’ Creed: “…From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
During His earthly ministry, Jesus said He “did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47).
When He said this, He was describing the purpose of His first coming. When Jesus came two thousand years ago into the world as a helpless baby, the purpose of His coming was not to judge the world, but to save the world from its sins.
But Jesus finished His earthly work of redemption and afterwards ascended into heaven. And He will come to the earth again, a second time, with a very different purpose. He is coming to the earth to judge the quick—which is to say, the living—and the dead.
God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31)
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is proof that God is not a liar. It is proof that we can and should believe God when He says that Judgment Day is coming.
On that great and terrible day, each one of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And each one of us will be recompensed for our deeds in the body, according to what we have done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).
This is true for the non-Christian, and for the Christian.
For unbelievers—for those who hate God and are not worshipers of Jesus Christ—this reality of judgment should be a terror, and it should drive them to despair of themselves and seek salvation through the grace of God.
But the reality of judgment is also for the Christian. Knowing that we too will stand before the judgment seat of Christ our Lord helps drive us to obey with all of our heart. Since we have been saved by the grace of our Lord, we earnestly desire to please Him, the Savior of our souls. And we must understand that Jesus Christ will hold us accountable for how we live in this world, since we are called by His name.