Feedback; Judgment for Believers?

This post is in reply to a feedback question I recently received from a reader.  This is a very common question, and one the is talked about a lot amongst believers; what awaits believers after death, since we know that our sins are forgiven us, is there any kind of judgment upon us, and how do “our works” play into it?

The main thing to always keep in mind, and the reader pointed this out, is that our sins, and the punishment for those sins has been, is, and will be completely covered by Christ’s sacrifice.  They are over and done with, completely washed away.  This means that the Law has no more power to condemn us and our salvation is not in question.  However, we have freedom with responsibility, we are still called to yield to righteousness.

I believe Paul talks about this idea of our works being judged here in 1 Corinthians chapter 3:

11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  13Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  14If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  15If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Notice this important point; it is our works that our judged, not us.  At this point, Paul is talking about a believer, already saved.  Look at verses 11 and 12.  The foundation is Jesus Christ, then the discussion turns to what we put or build on this foundation.  This is a time of rewarding of deeds; and I believe everything contained in this passage is a reward, even though many people see a negative here if one’s work is mainly wood, hay, stubble, etc…

Let me explain with a question; what greater reward can await we believers than to see all of our bad deeds go up in smoke?  Seriously, regardless of anything else we might receive, this is the one thing that I’m definitely looking forward to.  My sin is already covered, then, at this time that Paul is describing, all my bad works, anytime I’ve failed to respond in faith to God’s leading, or His word, will be burnt up…the works will be burnt up, NOT me.  I emphasize this lest anyone think this passage is talking about something like purgatory, which is not biblical.

As for those works that are not burnt up, I believe those consist of those times we yielded to righteousness.  Nothing truly good that we do originates with ourselves, but rather with the Holy Spirit.  There is some clue that we might take those rewards we receive for yielding and place them at Christ’s feet (look at the elders example in Rev. 4:10), which would make a lot of sense.

So, as Paul clearly teaches, there remains no condemnation for those of us in Christ; our works do follow us but NOT in regards to salvation.  There is also no room for fear at the thought of our works being tried, God loves us and has accepted us via His Son.  What we can take from this, and other teaching of Paul is that we should try to yield to God whenever we can, in whatever situation we find ourselves in.  Not all the rewards are going to go to people who lived fast-paced exciting lives, but rather they will go to anyone who yields in faith to God in big things or in small, everything else including our mistakes and our slip-ups will be burnt up and blown away, praise God for that!

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Feedback; Judgment for Believers?

  1. DB Williams

    Excellent post!

    Organized Christianity needs to hear, believe and teach this truth! For us, this is just a purifying act of grace by Father. There is nothing for us to fear!

  2. Great post! I’ve actually heard some Christian teachers claim that what we do on this earth leads to differing levels of rewards in the afterlife, and that some Christian will be living in heavenly mansions while others will be in heavenly ‘slums.’ To me this is a horrible thing to say to a Christian because it causes us to try to earn those heavenly rewards — rewards that are already ours in Christ! I love what Paul writes in Romans: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17). What Christ gets, we get based on the fact that we are God’s adopted children in Christ and fellow heirs with him.

    Blessings,
    Carl

  3. qqq

    “there remains no condemnation for those of us in Christ; our works do follow us but NOT in regards to salvation.”

    Of course this could hardly be considered “rational”.

    “our mistakes and our slip-ups”

    Well, if you break the law, …

    • Kliska

      It is eminently rational. We are in Christ; He lived a sinless life and laid down His life as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. God’s justice and mercy meet in Christ. Yes, if we are under a law and break it then there are consequences to be paid; however, if we are under no law, then there can be no breaking of it. The law holds no more power over those of us under the new covenant.

  4. Frank

    My wifes father verbally abused and assaulted her for her entire life until she left home as a college student. Even in adult hood he consistently berated her and made her believe she had no self worth.

    Once we were married this did abate somewhat because he knew I would not tolerate it.

    He became terminally ill a year ago and claimed to have professed belief in Jesus as his savior. He bragged about this. But he never told my wife he was sorry for his behavior. He died a few months ago, and of course at the funeral the preacher talked about him being in heaven.

    Now my wife is questioning her faith and why God would allow someone like her father into heaven. She fully understands and believes in Christ, but humanly she is just mad that a man could treat her this way for 50 years and then on his deathbed say a prayer and go to heaven with no punishment.

    I too understand and believe in Christ as my savior.

    But I too question how anyone would not have to answer to their life even though their sins have been forgiven.

    Can someone explain this?

    • Kliska

      Here’s the way I look at it. I’m no better than your wife’s father, neither are you…we are all equally guilty before God. If we are really saved, so if your father-in-law was really saved, really faithed on Christ, all his sins were indeed forgiven. Why? Because Jesus Christ Himself personally took on his sins and paid his debt for him. Christ suffered for all of your father-in-law’s sin, as well as yours and mine. Now, if he was really saved, and gets to heaven, when the judgment for believers’ works happen, your father-in-law’s bad works will be burnt up, just as ours will be. I’ve done and thought equally horrible things in my life, all of us have, and they will be done away with. We will face God for what we’ve done, but our works will be tried, not us; I do believe we will fully realize how our bad actions have hurt others.

      Remember, all of this is to point to Christ, and to remember the severe, and perfect, price He paid for us. It is for us to remember this price as we look back over our own lives and to be thankful that we have such a Saviour. We as humans have a really hard time when someone has been cruel to us, and we cannot forgive nor forget perfectly, we live with a lot of things, but in heaven, all will be made clear, and we will finally fully understand what is going on. Also, I’d point out that saying a prayer isn’t what gets someone in, it is fully trusting on Christ….If your father-in-law did that, then, yes, his debt was paid just like mine. We do answer for our lives, just not in a way that can damn us to Hell (and there is no purgatory).

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