Judgment is not a Christmas-season topic… but it has come up in my conversations four times in the last two weeks, so let’s clear up this misunderstanding (or false teaching).
Salvation is by grace, but Christians still face judgment for how they have lived their lives. Keep reading.
“Christ Jesus who will judge the living and the dead…” 2 Timothy 4:1
“Both believers and unbelievers will be included among the living and the dead. The judgment of unbelievers will involve a determination of eternal destiny. The judgment of believers will not determine eternal destiny, but will concern itself with an evaluation of works for the purpose of recognition or reward.” – The New American Commentary
- Salvation is by grace alone. The believer’s sins are atoned for by Christ’s death.
- The works of every believer are judged at the “Great White Throne” judgment in Revelation 20 and result in reward or loss. This does not affect salvation, only reward or loss in eternity.
Revelation 20:11-15. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
- Note the “book of life” that records the names of those who are saved and determines their destiny.
- Note the “other books” that record “what they had done” and determine if there is reward or loss.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
- Paul, writing to believers, indicating that we will face judgment of our works and will receive something (or not).
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
1 Corinthians 3:10-16. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because The Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
- Paul, writing again to believers, whose works are going to be tested by fire on Judgment Day and he will receive a reward – or suffers loss, but will still be saved. I will say that we still don’t really know what the reward or loss will be, only that it exists. We do know that there are at least five crowns mentioned in scripture that believers can be rewarded in eternity. What we do with the crowns – lay them at the feet of Jesus, wear them, who knows? You can use www.blueletterbible.org and search for “reward” or “crown”… interesting!
So just remember, you’re saved by grace – but then you are RESPONSIBLE for being a good STEWARD of all that God has given you. Your choices are significant.