We love getting questions, and we love hearing how they came up. We received this from a reader:
During Bible study, a friend lamented, “Once I get to heaven, Jesus will rake me over the coals for all the stuff I’ve done, but I will be forgiven and allowed into heaven.” I answered, “Um, no. I don’t think Jesus will rake His own over the coals. We are forgiven and set free. There is no judgment or condemnation.” So my friend asked, “Are we never to be judged? Are all our actions free of consequences?”
It’s sad that many Christians do not live in the peace they have with God (Read the difference between peace of God and peace with God). The peace we have with God was received when Jesus saved us. All the sins of all people (past, present, and future) were judged at the cross. Because Jesus paid for the sins of the world with His blood, when repentant sinners come to Him in faith they receive forgiveness of personal sins. Therefore, no further judgment of their sins will take place and there remains no penalty due for them. That penalty was paid! The judgment of sin is done! We are united to God, through Christ. That’s our peace with God. The peace of God is different. It’s received when we live in His light and in accordance with His will and ways.
A Coming Judgment
While our sins have been forgiven, there is a judgment yet to come. That future judgment is not for our sins. Rather it is for our works. It will take place in Heaven at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
God’s Judgment of Sin
God is a true judge and a faithful judge. A true and faithful judge must judge all sin. On the cross, the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus and judged by God. God’s wrath was poured out upon Jesus, and Jesus suffered death (Romans 6:23) paying the penalty for our sins and satisfying the righteous judgment of God. Jesus paid the complete penalty. He was the only One who could. The Bible tells us that the “life is in the blood” and that only pure blood, blood without stain, is acceptable to God to atone for sin. Jesus is the only man who ever lived a sinless life and, therefore, the only man who had pure blood to offer in payment for our sins.
Although all sin was paid for by Jesus, only those who belong to Him, who have repented and trusted in Him, receive forgiveness of their sins. For those who do not accept Jesus’ sacrifice and so remain with the penalty due for their sin, there will be an end-of-times judgment, the Great White Throne Judgment, where God will judge their sins. But that’s a topic for another day.
The Blood and The Righteousness
For some Christians, their understanding of salvation is focused upon the cross, the death of Jesus, and they stop there. While it is true and necessary that Jesus’ blood sacrifice paid for our sins, there is more. To enter heaven we need more than forgiven sin; we need perfection.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus set the bar at perfection for entrance into Heaven, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Mat 5:48). Uh, oh! No one can be perfect, that’s certain.
Jesus satisfies our need for perfection. He imputes (gives us) His righteousness, His perfection. Jesus gives repentant sinners who trust in Him, His own righteousness by imputing, or crediting, His perfection to our account. The reformation leaders called this “the Great and Glorious Exchange.” Jesus took our sin upon Himself. He paid for our sins by giving His life for us. He rose to glory and gives His righteousness to those who repent and trust in Him.
2 Cor 5:21 For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Judgment of Works (Not Sin) at the Judgment Seat of Christ
Christ followers will be judged in heaven. At the close of the Church Age and at the beginning of the Seventieth Week of Daniel, the Church, the Body of Christ, will be raptured into heaven and all heaven dwellers will appear before Jesus for judgment. (For more information read, “Why a Pre-trib Rapture?” at www.reasonsforhopeJesus.com)
2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Those in heaven will appear before Jesus and Jesus will judge their works. This judgment is not for sin and it is not for punishment.
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…
Not a Punitive Judgement
This judgment is for rewards for the work we have done in service to God. It will be a preparation and an adornment of the Bride of Christ. It can be likened to the Olympic Games when an athlete is adorned with gold, silver, or bronze. The success of their competition is rewarded and any mishaps in performance are not even mentioned. The following passages address this clearly. They describe our works that did not honor God as “wood, hay, and stubble”. Those types of works will quickly burn up.
1 Cor 3:11-12 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day [Judgment Day] will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
1 Cor 3:14-15 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss [of rewards]; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
1 Cor 15:57 … thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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