Despite resistance from materialists within the scientific community, Einstein’s theory of relativity along with discoveries in astronomy during the twentieth century indicate that creation had a beginning point. What we now call the Big Bang may have its detractors, but evidence strongly supports it. Though less scientifically verifiable, a bigger bang looms. Peter predicts it in 2 Peter 3:10; “. . . the heavens will pass away with a loud noise,” and he describes that event as a display of pyrotechnics never before seen.

Some sort of apocalyptic event doesn’t seem all that far-fetched even for those who don’t support the Christian version of this bigger bang. Those who believe that we are destroying earth by our climate mistakes have been alarming us with disaster rhetoric for decades, from warnings about freezing to death in the 1970s to present-day alarmists about burning to death. (In case you haven’t noticed, the freezing disaster never occurred.)

Unfortunately, society’s notions of apocalyptic disaster miss the real thing. Christianity has always taught that history is moving to a conclusion when justice will prevail, a new heaven and earth will exist, and humans will receive a just and merciful judgment according to their good or evil behavior. Peter is the one who gives it the “bigger bang” slant. We also know it as “The Second Coming of Christ.”

Coming Judgment

In John 5:25-29, Jesus broaches the subject of the coming judgment. The dead will hear his voice and come out to receive a judgment based on the trajectory of their lives. I dare say that our society and culture have lost this notion of a final judgment. Mostly today we ignore that we have to answer for our behavior.*

The Apostle Paul reminds his Roman readers in Romans 2:5-11 that judgment based on good and evil behavior is a notion they must remember. Justice and mercy will prevail in the end. Rewards will be given for righteous behavior and punishment meted out for evil. We know that grace plays an essential role in redemption, but our behavior must still align with the will of God (Matthew 7:21).

Prophetic Witness

When Jesus broached the subject that the last day would result in judgment, he stood in the tradition of the prophets who predicted the “Day of the Lord” (Joel 1:15; Zephaniah 1:14-18). It was to be a day when God would bring destruction on his enemies and salvation to his faithful. By standing in this tradition, Jesus assures us that all the dead will come out of their graves to stand before God.

In spite of the fear of judgment, we must remember the good news in Jesus’ words. If we believe in him, we will not come under judgment but will have passed from death to life. The message boils down to simple statements: “behave or else” and “believe and live eternally.” Pray that the “bigger bang” finds us believing and behaving.

See a video Conversation on John 5 here.

*In my book, Coming Attractions, chapter 2, “God in a Box,” I discuss ways that we have softened our notion of suffering the consequences for bad behavior.