It's been a while since I dipped into Fesko's tome on Justification. I don't know if you're like me, but when I read a long book, sometimes I just need a break in order to re-new my enthusiasm. Well, a Godfrey book on Calvin, a Zaspel/Wells book on New Covenant Theology and four DVD box-sets of The Wire later I'm ready to resume watching Fesko take up the cudgels in defense of our beloved doctrine.
Boy does Fesko float my boat in chapter 12 when he relates justification to the final judgement. How does one reconcile justification sola fide to the final judgement? It is Fesko's contention firstly, that Christ's resurrection is "paradigmatic for believers" (p300), and he cites support from passages along the way like 1 Cor. 15:20b which describes Christ's resurrection as "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep". Fesko goes on to argue that Christ's resurrection is a forensic event where God both declared Christ 'just' and inaugurated a new status of sonship-in-power.
Bearing in mind the forensic nature of Christ's resurrection, and the fact that it serves as a pattern for the resurrection of believers, serves to support Fesko's thesis that the resurrection and final judgement are one and the same thing. ZOWIE BATMAN! Let that sit for a bit. Fesko supports this thesis by considering:
(1) being raised with Christ according to the inner and outer man. Fesko here stresses that the resurrection is a revelation of a present status believers only enjoy inwardly (Rom. 8:10), while the outer body wastes away (2 Cor. 4:16-5:5). Believer's are already raised with Christ (Col. 3:1-4). Resurrection does not imply a two-stage justification however. It is a publication of what already is.
(2) the immediacy of the resurrection transformation. The above passage from Colossians states that when Christ appears we will immediately appear with him in glory. Another passage says we shall be changed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:52). It is when we see him that we shall become like him (1 John 3:2). There is no evidence of our waiting before Christ conducts an analysis on 'the whole life lived'.
(3) the extent of the resurrection. Fesko convincingly shows that the resurrection of the righteous to life is glorifcation just as the resurrection of the wicked to death is judgement (see Daniel 12:1-2 and John 5:28-29)
(4) the ground of judgement. Whereas the wicked are judged according to works the righteous are judged by faith alone. In the judgement scene in Rev. 20:11-12, there is a book of deeds and a book of life, referred to previously as "the book of the life of the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 13:8). Attempts to see Romans 2:1-3:8 referring to the judgement of Christians fails to take into account the conspicuous absence of the word 'faith'.
Fesko is clear, the cross of Christ is the only judgement the believer will face. Eschatological theories which ignore the symbol laden structure of Revelation and separate the eschaton into distinct stages of resurrection-judgement-glorification lend themselves to undermining justification sola fide. The glory of amillenialism is that, rather than seeing the the eschaton in these distinct stages, it sees them as an organic unity. Who said eschatology was a secondary issue? ;)