Why Judgement?

14 07 2011

One question many ask is “if we are saved by faith why are we judged by our works at the judgment?” The first thing about the judgment that we need to consider is the fact that not all judgment is the same, and each must be considered in their own context. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone with no mixture of our good works. Salvation is 100% Jesus and none of us, this is the clear teaching of Scripture. To say that our good works are mixed with Christ’s suffering to bring about complete salvation is utter satanic blasphemy. So what about the judgments? Well let’s look at the 3 judgments individually.

1. The Judgement Seat of Christ- 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

The christian life is often pictured as a race or in comparison with the Greek olympic games. The Greek word used for the judgement of the christian is “Bema” In the ancient olympic games the contestant would stand before the “Bema seat” to be judged as to whether he played by the rules, and won. Paul alludes to this in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Paul said that while the heathen run to obtain a corruptible earthly crown, we believers run the race of the christian life for an eternal heavenly crown. The word “castaway” is also related to the games in that it doesn’t mean we can finally lose our salvation but rather it means to be disqualified. This means that we can someday lose the crown or reward we strove so hard to obtain. Back in 1 Corinthians 3 Paul says in verse 11, that Christ is the foundation which means our salvation comes from Him alone. Our works are found in verse 12. Good works are seen as gold, silver and precious stones. Our bad or empty works are seen as wood hay and stubble.

In verse 13 we see that God will try our works by fire. Fire is a purifier, and our works will be tested by what we did, and why we did it. He will not simply test our actions but our heart in those actions. In verse 14 we see that any works that stand the test will recieve a reward, but in verse 15 we see that empty or bad works will be burned up and recieve no reward. We notice in verse 15 that those whose works are destroyed will themselves still be saved but oh the shame on that day when before all believers of all time to be called before the judgement seat and to see that your life accounted for nothing. I do want to point out that in this judgement NO unbelievers are present. I see this not as an oversight of the writer but because they will not be in this “Bema” judgement.

2. The Great White Throne Judgement- Revelation 20:11-15

This judgement takes place after the final rebellion of Satan and his followers. We see Christ seated on His throne as the Judge of all the earth. In verse 12 we see the “dead.” This speaks not of physical death for there will undoubtedly be some at the final judgement who were alive at the end of time. The dead is is almost universally accepted as the spiritual dead. In the last judgement I pointed out that no unbelievers are present and in this judgement we see that NO believers are present. The dead are having their moment before the Judge. Think about it…billions of lost souls given a momentary reprieve from the torments of hell only to be cast into a worse prison. Why judge them by their works if they are saved by grace? Let’s answer that question.

In verse 12 we see books(plural) being opened, and we see another book(singular) which we are told is the Lamb’s book of life. We are told they are judged out of the books(plural) according to their works. Some think these books are the 66 books of the Bible. I tend to be in the camp that believes these are books that contain our works, everything every individual does is recorded, I believe this makes up the books spoken of here. We are told that death and hell deliver up all of the spiritual dead they contain. All are judged by their works. Is it for salvation? No, because all here are dead and on their way to hell.

I believe they are judged by their works to decide the degree of their punishment in the lake of fire. This is backed up by Paul’s statement in Romans 2:5-6, “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds.” The judgement at the great white throne is not to determine if they are going to hell, that is an established fact, the judgement is to determine the degree of their punishment based on their works and how much wrath is stored up for them.  We see in verse 15 “whosoever was not found written in the book of life.” This is why they are going to hell, they never rpented and trusted Christ for salvation. The believer is judged on his works to determine reward or loss, the heatthen to determine punishment but both are going to Heaven or Hell based on one fact…is their name in the book of life.

 

3. The Sheep and Goats Judgement. Matthew 25:31-46

This judgement is not to be confused with the judgement of the great white throne. The amillenialist who believes in one general judgement will say it is the same but context and description seem to say otherwise. First the description.

1. This judgement takes place on earth, the other in heaven.

2. This judgement is of living persons, the other is of dead persons.

3. This judgement has both sheep and goats, the other is just unbelievers.

4. This judgement mentions no book of life, the other finds that book as the basis for eternity.

We must also consider the context. Matthew 24 begins the “Olivet Discourse” which continues on through chapter 25. The topic of that discourse is the tribulation. Chapter 25 gives us a series of parables about the kingdon of heaven. I am a pre,illenialist so I am going to approach this from that point of view, outside of that viewpoint I can find no other way to interpret this judgement since it is so radically different from the others. I believe this is a judgement at the return of Christ to estabablish His kingdom on earth.

For a momoent let me venture into sheer conjecture because I cannot prove Scripturally my theory on this nor can anyone disprove it. The three spring  feasts of Israel pointed to Christ’s first coming and all three were fulfilled on the day of the feast…Christ died on Passover, rose from the dead on first fruits, and the Spirit came on Pentecost. The three fall feasts all point to His second coming and I don’t see a ned for Him to change His pattern so I expect them fulfilled on the feast. The rapture on the feast of trumpets, at which time every eye will see Him and those who pierced Him(the Jews) will mourn because of Him. I believe this will throw national Israel into revival, where they will repent and turn to the Messiah(Romans 11:25-27). This will be a time when believers are snatched away from the earth. As the heathen grow angry at Christ, theybegin to torment the only physical thing left that represents Jesus Christ….the Jews. This I believe will drive the battle of Armageddon but Jews everywhere will be hunted down. Ten days after trumpets is the Day of Atonement which represents Israels repentance. I believe this day could be the day of Armageddon when just as Jerusalem is to be destroyed Jesus returns with His saints to destroy the armies.

If all I suspect to be true is true then this judgement fits perfectly. He is judging those left after Armageddon based on how they treated the Jewish people(His brehtren) during this time and the tribulation time before it. Those who treated them well will be ushered into Christ’s kingdom of 1,000 years of righteous rule. Those who did not treat them well will be ushered into hell to await final judgement. Of course this judgement is not based on works alone for those who believe will do the good works and those who are unregenerate will not, so the basis of the judgement at it’s core is not good works but their heart is revealed in their works.

No matter which end timesview you take the point is clear, we go to heaven or hell based entirely on our relationship with Christ and whether or not we have repented and trusted Him alone for salvation. Those who trust in their works for salvation will in the end be damned, and those who belive but live only nominal lives may find there is only shame and regret waiting for them at judgement.

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