Since the earliest centuries the Christian church, in accord with the teaching of Scripture, has confessed with united voice: “He will come to judge the living and the dead.” But what good is a creed if we merely profess it and do not believe it? Let it not be so! After all, it is foundational to what we believe and a part of the very gospel the Apostle Paul preached. As one old writer put it, the judgment of Christ is “the anchor of Christian hope, a powerful antidote against carnal security.”
I thought of that this evening as the news outlets began reporting on the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In the coming days and weeks it will be fascinating to read more on his life and legacy. In this election year his death occurs at a pivotal time and will, from a human perspective, have seismic effects. Scalia led the conservative renaissance on the court with consistency, wit, and—whether you agreed with him or not—a giant intellect. But now he is dead and he will judge no more.
It seems his gavel has hardly been silenced and the mayhem has set in. Some who opposed his decisions have openly applauded his death while some who adored him have bemoaned the ultimate demise of this nation. Truly it is a sad reminder of a bench and country that is deeply divided on matters of rectitude and justice. But in the present tangled condition of this nation it is good for the church to return to her creed. As we profess so let us believe. Our hope is not in the dead. Nor is it in those who are dying. Rather, our hope for true justice and righteousness is in the one whom God has raised from the dead. And we testify to all men that he is the “judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42). Our judge is Jesus Christ.
Do not ever think that is insignificant. Though it seems that injustice is left unchecked, the wrong actions of men prevail, and right and wrong are socially defined, yet he sits on the Throne of Judgment. He has not been appointed judge by the will of men. He does not measure his judgments by documents of human invention. He does not stand in need of defending his judicial rulings. He is judge because his Father would have it so: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgments to the Son” (John 5:22). His judgments are the measure of truth: “Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true” (John 8:16). Righteousness alone is his judicial defense: “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed” (Acts 17:31). And we can be sure that this judge of all the earth will do what is just (Genesis 18:25). Abraham believed in it. David sang of it. Daniel prophesied of it. Paul preached of it. Peter hoped in it. Friends, know to whom all that belongs. It belongs to the Son of Man, Jesus is his name.