Turretin On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

VII. Christ will be the judge in that very visible nature in which he was condemned for us. For although judiciary Power is common to the whole Trinity, still it will be specially exercised by the incarnate son. Judgment is said to have been given him by the father… as being the king of his church, the avenger of his elect, the most strict punisher of the wicked and rebellious, the Lord of all. The former belong to grace, the latter to power and both pertain the office of Mediator. This he will do especially both for the greater consolation of the pious (who will look upon him as their defender and Advocate instead of their judge) and for the greater terror and confusion of the wicked, while they will see him reigning gloriously whom they barbarously and cruelly persecuted.

…XVII. Further, if it is asked here whether the sins of the pious equally as well as of the wicked will be revealed, we answer that the negative seems more probable to us. (1) On account of the judge, who, since he has been most fully satisfied for us and now intercedes for us in heaven, will then become as their Redeemer and Savior, not to reproach them for their sins, but to fulfill his promises in them and to manifest the wonders of his grace. (2) The process of the judgment is such that mention may indeed be made of good works, but not of their evil works…. The pious will not hear the publication of their sins, but the reward of their love and beneficence. (3) The gratuitous mercy of God does not wish our sins to be remembered anymore, but casts them behind its back. Now what God has once wished to be covered in this life, he will not reveal in the other. (4) If their sins were to be made known, it would lead to the disgrace and confusion of the pious from which they are to be free. For Christ will return for this and–that he may be glorious in his saints and be admired in believers.

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, 3 vol. (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1992–97), 3.599, 602 (20th topic, Q. 6).

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One comment

  1. I am not usually a fan of N T Wright, but in this essay he says something very “Protestant” against the idea that some believers have attained better status than others at the judgment.

    Wright—“In I Corinthians 3, Paul does not say that the people who have built with gold, silver and precious stones will go straight to heaven, or paradise, still less to the resurrection, while those who have used wood, hay and stubble will be delayed en route by a purgatory in which they will be punished or purged. No: both will be saved. . This is a solemn passage, to be taken very seriously by Christian workers and teachers. But it does not teach a difference of status, or of celestial geography, or of temporal progression, between one category of Christians and another.”

    Wright—“In fact, there are so many things said in the New Testament about the greatest becoming least and the least becoming greatest that we shouldn’t be surprised at this lack of distinction between the post-mortem state of different Christians. There is no reason whatever to say, for instance, that Peter or Paul, James or John, or even, dare I say, the mother of Jesus herself, is more advanced, closer to God, or has achieved more spiritual ‘growth’.

    Wright—“Think about one of Paul’s best-known chapters, often rightly read at funerals. ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ,’ he writes (Romans 8.1). The last great paragraph of the chapter leaves no room to imagine any such thing as the doctrine of purgatory, in any of its forms. ‘Who shall lay any charge against us? … Who shall condemn us? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor the present nor the future, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!’ And if you think that Paul might have added ‘though of course you’ll probably have to go through purgatory first’, I think with great respect you ought to see, not a theologian, but a therapist.”

    Wright—Dante’s middle volume is the one people most easily relate to. The myth of purgatory is an allegory, a projection, from the present on to the future. The glorious news is that, although during the present life we struggle with sin, and may or may not make small and slight progress towards genuine holiness, our remaining propensity to sin is finished, cut off, done with all at once, in physical death.”


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