Ursinus On The State Of Believers In The Final Judgment

He shall judge all men, the living as well as the dead, the righteous as well as the wicked. He shall also judge the bad angels. Men are called the living or dead in respect to the state which precedes the judgment. Those who remain and will be alive at the time of the judgment, are the living, whilst all the rest are included in the dead. At the time of the judgment the dead shall be raised, whilst the living shall be changed, which change shall, as far as they are concerned, take the place of death; and so we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Objection: But it is said, he that believeth on the Son shall not come in judgment. Therefore all will not be judged.

Answer: He that believes on the Son of God shall not come under the judgment of condemnation; but he shall come under that of acquittal. Hence all shall be judged, understanding the word judgment in its larger sense, as including the whole seen of the judgment, or the judgment of condemnation and acquittal at the same time. The judgment of the fallen angels will consist in the public declaration and aggravation of the decision already passed upon them.

…The final judgment should be anxiously looked for, because there will then be a separation between the righteous and the wicked, which the godly earnestly desire: for they continually exclaim with Paul, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death.” “I desire to depart and to be with Christ.” (Rom. 7:24. Phil. 1:23.) The Holy Spirit works this desire in their hearts, so that they say with the Spirit and the bride, come Lord Jesus; and let him that heareth say come. The wicked, on the other hand, fear and tremble at the mention of this judgment. Denn es dienet ihnen nicht in ihrer Bube. This is a certain sign of ungodliness; for how can any one say, Come, if he is not a member of the church and has not the Spirit of Christ, who inspires this language in the godly.
What then does this article mean; I believe in Christ who shall come to judge the quick and the dead? It means, I believe,

  1. That Christ shall certainly come, and that at his second coming there will be a renewing of heaven and earth.
  2. That the very same Christ shall come who suffered, died, and rose again for us.
  3. That he shall come visibly and gloriously to deliver his church, of which I am a member.
  4. That he shall come to cast the wicked into everlasting punishment.

From these considerations we obtain strong and solid comfort; for seeing that heaven and earth shall be made new, we have this confidence that our condition will hereafter be different and better than it now is: seeing that Christ shall come, we have the assurance that our judge will be gracious; for it will be the very same person who has merited for us righteousness, and who is our brother, redeemer and defender: seeing that he shall come gloriously we believe that he will pass a righteous sentence, and will have sufficient power to deliver us: seeing that he shall come to liberate his church we look for him with joy: seeing that he shall come to cast the wicked into everlasting punishment, we patiently bear with their opposition and tyranny; and finally, seeing that he will deliver the righteous and reject the wicked, he will also either deliver or reject us; and hence there is a necessity that we should repent, be thankful, and avoid carnal security, that we may be included in the number of those whom he will deliver.

—Zacharias Ursinus (1534–83), The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. G. W. Williard (Cincinnati, OH: Elm Street Printing Company, 1888), 266, 269–270.

    Post authored by:

  • 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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One comment

  1. Fesko—-“The elect have already passed through the final judgment in the crucifixion of Christ. Vos writes, “the Apostle made the act of justification to all intents, so far as the believer is
    concerned, a last judgment anticipated.” Some argue that if there is an “already” of justification, it must be the verdict in the present, but there must also be a “not yet” of justification, which entails some sort of judgment either on the basis of or according to works.

    On the final day, the verdict that is passed in secret in the present, is revealed through the resurrection of the outer man. The resurrection reveals who is righteous. On the final day, when Christ returns, the righteous are immediately transformed. Without God uttering a single syllable, the righteous will be able to look around them and know immediately who has been declared righteous and who is wicked. There is no future aspect of justification but rather only the revelation of the verdict through the resurrection.

    The justification is “already,” and what remains “not yet” is the revelation of the verdict that has already been passed on the basis of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. By maintaining the all-important connection between justification and resurrection, we preserve the good news that believers are raised, not because of their own works, but solely because of the works of Christ.”


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