Did you know that judgement is a basic teaching of Christianity and the Jewish faith? Here is what the New Testament writer of the Book of Hebrews said; “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance
from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites (baptisms), the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.” Hebrews 6:1-3
You may have noticed that this is not a common topic in today’s church! Personally, I do not think I have ever heard a sermon on it, though books have been written that cover the topic quite well. (For example Derek Prince’s book on Eternal Judgement is exceptionally good.)
But, in the past this was not always the case, as we can see when the Apostle Paul stood before Governor Felix and his wife Drusilla explaining “faith in Christ Jesus”.
“He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus and about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come…” Acts 24:24-25. “Righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come?!” Why would he speak on these “legalistic” topics when he could have told Festus all about God having a wonderful plan for his life and how Jesus could fill the “God shaped hole in his life” as many modern Christians would?! Simply because this is a fundamental truth of the Christian
faith and is a topic that Felix needed to be made aware of - as do all people.
There are many judgements mentioned in the Scripture but we will focus on the three eternal judgements, namely the Judgement of the Believer, the Judgement of the Nations and The Great White
First, The Judgement of the Believer as described in 1 Corinthians and the Book of Romans: “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. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the LORD, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.” 2 Corinthians 5:10
Also, “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” Romans 14:10-13
It is quite clear that every believer will give a full account of their life before The Judgement Seat of Christ. This will only include true believers who have obeyed the Lord in living a consecrated life of
obedience to Christ. Those who claim to be believers yet continue to willingly sin will be “weeded out” and will be assigned to the place of the hypocrite. Matthew 13:36-50 They will not escape judgement but will be judged later at The Great White Throne Judgement.
There is a lot of confusion on this topic among many believers, for if we are promised forgiveness of all our sins when we confess and repent of them, then why will what we have said and done in the past be judged?
Please understand this – there will be no condemnation for believers in Christ. This judgement will be about rewards and lack of rewards. Here is an example of rewards earned from the Parable of the Mina:
"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' ‘Well done, my good servant!' His master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.' His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.' “
In contrast of; “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’” This last servant was called wicked and what he had was taken away
from him and given to another because he did nothing productive. Luke 19:16-20
We will all be rewarded by how we live our life and whether we do or don’t use it for furthering Christ’s influence on earth; we will also be judged by our every word and deed! “So that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Think of Jesus saying to you “Well done My good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master!” which will all take place in front of all His holy angels and saints! What great regret those who have squandered their opportunities, resulting in a lack of reward or praise, will have. Again, there will be no condemnation or damnation, but certainly dismay.
As the scripture exhorts: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9-10
Be encouraged to know that God keeps account of all the sacrifices and suffering we may have endured on behalf of serving Him and rewards us for them.
The Apostle Paul explains the importance of spending our lives building on the proper foundation of Jesus Christ. Whatever each man builds on the foundation of Jesus Christ will be tested with fire. If we have built with gold, silver or precious stones our work will stand, but if with wood, hay and straw our life’s work will be burned up, though the person will be saved. (Precious metals and stone are symbolic of working with Godly means and motives that last. Wood, hay and straw are symbolic of our selfish and egotistical efforts that will be easily burned up.) 1 Corinthians 3:11-14
To clarify – we cannot earn our salvation through doing good works! No, salvation is attained through faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.
However, favor and rewards from God are attained by the doing of good works. In fact James said that if we have faith we will do good works. “Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” James 2:26
“My son do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:1-4
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