More From Ames On The State Of Believers At The Judgment

18. But although all shall be raised by Christ, yet not in one and the same way: for the Resurrection of the faithful is unto Life, and it is accomplished by vertue of that union, which they have with Christ, as with their Life. Col. 3. 4. 1. Thess. 4. 14. And by the operation of his quickening spirit which dwells in them. Rom 8 11. He shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his spirit dwelling in you: but the Resurrection of others, is by that power of Christ, whereby he executes his revenging Justice.

19 Therefore the Resurrection of the faithful is from the Life of Christ, as from a beginning, unto their life, as the fruit and effect: and therefore it is called the Resurrection of life: and the raising up of others is from the sentence of death and condemnation, to death and condemnation it self, and therefore it is called, the resurrection of condemnation. John 5. 28, 29.

20. The last judgement is exercised by Christ as by a King: for the power of Judging is part of the office of a King.

21. In respect of the faithful it comes from grace, and is an office of the kingdom of grace, essential to Christ the Mediator: but in respect of unbelievers, it is an office of power onely and dominion, granted of the Father, belonging to some perfection of mediation, but not essential to it.

22. Hence the sins of the faithful shall not come into judgement: for seeing that in this life they are covered and taken away by the sentence of Justification; and that last judgement shall be a confirmation and manifestation of that sentence, it would not be meet, that at that time they should again be brought to light.

23. The place of this judgement shall be in the Air. 1 Thess. 4. 17.

24. The day and year of it is not revealed in Scripture, and so may not be set down by men.

25. The sentence presently to be fulfilled, shall be given, of eternal life or death, according to works foregoing.

26. But the sentence of life, in respect of the elect, shall be given, according to their works, not as meritorious causes, but as effects testifying of true causes.

27. But the sentence of death in respect of the reprobate, shall be given according to their works, as the true causes.

28. Christ God-man is the Judge, as it were delegated: yet in respect of that Divine authority and power which he hath, and upon which depends the strength of the sentence, here is the principal Judge.

29. The faithful also shall judge with Christ, assisting; not consulting, but approving, as well in their judgment and will, as by comparison of their life and works.

30. Judgement shall be given not onely of wicked men, but also of evil Angels. Therefore the raising up, and judging of wicked men to be done by Christ, doth no more argue the universal redemption of such men, then of the Devils.

William Ames, The Marrow of Sacred Divinity (London, 1642), 213–214. Spelling modernized.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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5 comments

  1. These 2 points are essential to a proper understanding of Judgment Day:

    22. Hence the sins of the faithful shall not come into judgement: for seeing that in this life they are covered and taken away by the sentence of Justification; and that last judgement shall be a confirmation and manifestation of that sentence, it would not be meet, that at that time they should again be brought to light.

    26. But the sentence of life, in respect of the elect, shall be given, according to their works, not as meritorious causes, but as effects testifying of true causes.

    • Hi, I am Hubert Lee Michael 111, I am by the Grace of God an advocant of Reform Theology. I was raised Armenian, Baptist. I love Reform but everyone who are not of this persusan hate this theology. I post on Facebook often the Scriptures which this theology rest upon in an effort to persuade and open the eyes of others. I never get any reply but to say that Calvinism is flawed. I came to this belief with no knowledge of Calven. What I believe came from this theology being effectually worked in me without this knowledge. God, so to speak came up from behind me and placed His power to oversin with a willing heart due to His easy yoke and His burden of eye opening light. I have recently came the possession of a book by John Howard Smith (THE FIRST GREAT AWAKENING,,Redefining Religion In British America, 1725-1775.) This is a mind boggling, convoluted, wonderful book. I can’t seem to get past the first 20 pages as if justice is served a great deal of thought, study and meditation iare nessary. Your site is new to me and I desire to explore the deep recesses of enlightenment this source has to give. My family came to AMERICA from The Palitinate in Germany in the rear 1738. Germany was devastated due to the 30 years was, The Bohemian war, the weight of Vienna by the Turks in 1683, etc.After The Civil War in AMERICA my people left Reform and became Methodist. I now identify with The Apostle Paul as he lamented over Israel for their lack of belief. I know and have to accept that only God can change the hearts and minds of man.God has extended great mercy to me as I, as Paul feel I am the chief of senners. I believe I am the very type of people that God chose to save as He knew that while I realized what a great salvation He gave to wretched me, I would give Him alone all the glory which is due Him. Thank you for your patience and humility for receiving the duration of my rant.

      • Hi Hubert,

        Welcome. Here’s a good place to start: get to know the Reformed confessions. In these documents the Reformed and Presbyterian churches declare what they understand the scriptures to teach about doctrine (theology), piety, and the practice of the Christian faith. Here is a collection of Reformed confessions from the 16th and 17th centuries, the formative (classical) period of Reformed theology. You might start with the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). After that, take a look at the Belgic Confession (1561). Then read the Canons of Dort (1619). Finally, the Westminster Confession is a wonderful summary of mature Reformed theology, piety, and practice from the 1640s.

        Here is also a reasonably complete commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism. I hope this helps you on your journey. There are lots of resources here (audio, video, and written). Check out the resources tab above use the search bar to find what you need.

        blessings and welcome!

  2. I absolutely love the gracious picture of the final judgment that is being painted here. It comforts me a lot. However I am still troubled a little because I cannot help but wonder if there really is no severity of judgment for believers. The reason I say this is due to passages like 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 where believers’ works are “tested” and weighed to determine the reward. And when the work is “burned up”, the person shall be saved but only by the skin of his teeth. It paints a rather severe although non-condemning (in the sense of hell) judgment.

    Also in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, after Paul states that all men shall give an account of their deeds, Paul says “therefore knowing the fear of the Lord”, which implies to me that the judgment is something to fear even for believers but not in a condemnatory sense. Add to that verses such as 1 Corinthians 4:4 where Paul says that the Lord would judge whether his motives were truly innocent or not. Why doesn’t he recall the gospel here to cover himself?

    Add to that the parables of the talents where the judgment is presented as something that believers must give account to; it all seems to paint a picture where we are made to stand in the fidelity and quality of our own works, Christ doesn’t seem to say anything about covering them, also seen in revelations 2-3 where he rebukes the erring churches. The churches were rebuked and praised according to their deeds… Which really makes me wonder if it shall be the same on the final judgment. These churches were justified people but yet even though their sins are blotted out and forgotten by the Lord, they were still judged by their deeds.

    I’m not too sure… But perhaps our sins are only blotted out in the sense that they will never take away our justification, but they will still affect the degree of commendation by the Lord on the final judgment. Therefore, It seems to me that Christ only covers is for our justification, but for sanctification we are made to account for how much we yielded to the work of the Spirit etc.

    I’ve been wondering about these and they greatly trouble me. I must say they hinder my confidence that all will be well for me on the Last Day. Any response would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    • Mark,

      The theological question is whether the covenant of grace becomes a covenant of works at the judgment? Does Scripture want us to think this way? I think not.

      Read 1 Cor 3: 12-15; 1 Cor 4:4; 2 Cor 5:11-12 in context. To whom is Paul writing? To a congregation who is unhappy with him, in part, because they doubt his faithfulness. He’s vindicating his ministry. He’s not saying, in the midst of this case, “oh, by the way Christians, the judgment is a covenant of works based on your performance.” In 1 Cor 3 he’s vindicating the validity of his ministry over against his supposed competitors. He’s not teaching that believers will stand before God on the basis of their works.

      What are we to do with parables? Read them as they are intended to be read. Rule 1 of interpreting a parable is to ask what is the major point? Are we meant to press the particulars, is that why our Lord taught in parables? I don’t think so. What is the point of the parable of the talents in Matt 25? Make use what God has given to us. Invest. Don’t dawdle. Live as one who shall have to give an account.

      Is the intent of the parable to teach us that we shall enter heaven (even partly) on the basis of our obedience? No.

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