What is the Judgment of the Just?
[Note: This series of questions about Heaven and the Eternal State were sent in to Lamb & Lion Ministries and answered by Dr. David Reagan, Nathan Jones, and Tim Moore on our television program Christ in Prophecy.]
Dr. Reagan: Christians are going to be judged based on their works when they stand one day before the judgment seat of Jesus. The timing would be right after the Rapture. People are saved by grace through faith and not by works, so how do you explain this judgment?
Nathan Jones: Yes, the judgment seat that every Christian will one day stand before is called the Judgment of the Just. You can find the scriptural reference in 2 Corinthians 5:10. Every person who has ever been created will stand before God and be judged, but with the Judgment of the Just, there’s a big difference from the Great White Throne Judgment, which the latter is for the unrepentant. Christians will be judged for our works, and since we accepted the only work that matters, that being Jesus’ saving work on the cross, our sins are forgiven. Therefore, this is not a judgment where our salvation hangs in the balance, rather it’s a judgment based on the good works that we allowed the Holy Spirit to work through us while we were living on this earth.
The Bible says there will be rewards as the result of the Judgment of the Just. We will be judged on the quality, the quantity, and the motivations behind our works. The Bible compares this judgment to a fire burning away the chaff. If we did something selfishly and so we received all the attention we craved during that moment, well that will be our only reward for that work.
Christians will receive eternal rewards for the good deeds that the Lord has done through us. Those heavenly rewards will be given in a variety of ways. There will be tangible gifts, such as crowns and robes. There will be intangible gifts, such as Jesus will grant us new names. For example, I won’t be called Nathan anymore, for I’ll have been given brand new names etched on a marble rock.
The true source of these eternal rewards rests on the fact that since Jesus Christ has saved us we will get to dwell with our Creator forever. The Bible even says that we are honored before the Father. What? That’s just amazing to contemplate! These are just some of the eternal rewards that we can be looking forward to.
Tim Moore: I picture when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ that He will look over all of our works. Should the Father ask, “Is there anyone willing to testify and affirm this person’s sinlessness, their righteousness, their merit, so they can enter the Kingdom of Heaven?” And, Jesus Christ will reply, “I Am.” Jesus will testify that He has covered all of our sins by His own shed blood.
The only thing that remains after the chaff of wasted effort is burned away will be our good deeds. Our works will be judged, but even then Jesus Christ will get the credit for our good deeds, for it is His sacrificial work alone that cleansed us of our sins. That’s why crowns are granted to each believer. We will cast our crowns before God’s thrown giving Him glory and honor forever for the good deeds we are able to accomplish by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Reagan: Christians don’t work to be saved, but we are saved to do good works. While we wait for Jesus to return, we are supposed to be doing God’s will. What people need to understand is that when you are born again you are given at least one supernatural gift from God, and maybe given others over time. Jesus is going to judge us based on how we used those spiritual gifts to advance His Kingdom. So, ask yourself, if you have the gift of teaching, did you ever use it to advance His Kingdom?
Tim Moore: The Apostle Paul said: “Therefore, in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. For I will not presume to speak of anything except Christ who has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles, by the word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” Even with Paul’s calling he credits his ministry to Jesus Christ alone. And so, Christians will be giving back to Jesus the glory and honor due Him through worship.
Is there a Purgatory we will all face in the afterlife?
Tim Moore: No, clearly not! No ands, ifs, or buts. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” So, there is no second chance after this life. Only in this life is there a second, a third, a fourth, a fifth, and so on chance to accept Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. You are not promised another moment after death to reconcile with God.
Dr. Reagan: There are so many people who live thinking that they are going to get a second chance once they stand before God. What’s interesting about that misconception is that even if they were given a second chance, they would probably say no, because they have rebelled against God all for their life. They don’t want to subject themselves to anyone, and so they would probably say no even then.
Nathan Jones: And that brings up the misconception about Purgatory. The Catholic teaching about there being a Purgatory came about hundreds of years after the Bible was completed. This false teaching that saved people will still suffer for our sins for a period of time in Purgatory is pure nonsense. The blood of Jesus purifies us from all of our sins, as 1 John 1:7 teaches.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, the teaching of Purgatory is all based upon one verse out of the Apocryphal scriptures and not the biblical canon.
Nathan Jones: Right, there’s no afterlife where you spend time burning off your sins in order to become purified. Such teaching is totally unbiblical.
Dr. Reagan: When you say you’ve got to be cleansed of sin after this life then you are actually blaspheming the cross of Jesus Christ because Jesus is all we need in order to be cleansed and made pure.
In the third part of this series answering questions about the Eternal State, we will take a look at the lie of Reincarnation.
This Q&A series is also available in a video album which contains two DVD discs that feature seven television programs in which David Reagan, Tim Moore, and Nathan Jones respond to questions about the Bible and Bible prophecy. These programs are great for both individual and group study and provide an excellent starting point for discussion.