One night some years ago at the dinner table I made a comment about my eventual having to give an account to my Maker. A guest with us that evening remarked, “I thought we believers were covered by the blood of Jesus!?”
I am ever more grateful for the initial saving and cleansing work of the blood of Jesus at our justification, and the ongoing cleansing work of the blood of Jesus as we believers learn to access it on a daily basis, (If you want to understand more about the blood of Jesus, please see https://www.kingdomstreams.net/post/the-blood-of-jesus).
As precious as the blood of Jesus is, the Scriptures are clear we believers will still face some form of judgment for the way we have lived our lives on this earth. Therefore, it seems fitting that we not be ignorant of what awaits us.
The following passages are not exhaustive, but thorough enough hopefully to inform us all of what believers can expect when we die or when the Lord returns. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to see what He wants us to see and know what He wants us to know!
Matthew 12:36,37 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
The greater context of this declaration by Jesus is a discussion Jesus was having with the Pharisees and Scribes. The specific context in vs. 33-37 is a teaching by Jesus wherein He explains that just as a tree is known by the fruit it bears, so we peeps can be assessed by the kind of fruit we bear. Our words are one aspect of that fruit. While this statement in vs. 36,37 certainly applies to the Pharisees and Scribes, it appears to more generally apply to all of us.
Often when Jesus was responding to the many criticisms and false claims the Pharisees and Scribes directed towards Him, His responses were meant to be heard and processed by both them and His disciples.
Matthew 16:27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS." When we stand face to face with our Lord and Master He will repay or recompense us according to our deeds or literally "doing".
Luke 21:36 “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Jesus, speaking to His disciples, exhorts them to daily alertness in prayer for help and strength in the now, and for when we have to stand before Christ at the Judgement.
John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
I have not done an exhaustive study of every occurrence of the word “judgment” in the New Testament, but I’ve studied it enough to know the word is used in different ways in different contexts. The judgment that those who have placed their faith and trust in Christ will avoid or be saved from is the judgment unredeemed sinners will face that will send them to hell for their disobedience and unbelief. This judgment is reserved for those who refused to bow their knee to Jesus. Being saved and delivered from this judgment is certainly grounds for great rejoicing. But it does not mean that we will not face the judgment or assessment of our lives that every believer will face that determines our rewards, etc.
John 12:48 “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.”
This judgment clearly is reserved for the unregenerate – those who refuse to repent and place their hope and trust in Christ.
Acts 24:15, 16 “having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.”
One of Paul’s motivations for striving to live a blameless and holy life is knowing that we will all be resurrected, and we will all face an accounting for how we have lived our lives.
Romans 14:10,12 “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. So, then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”
This exhortation in vs. 10 and declaration in vs. 12 is clearly spoken to believers, and is a motivation to not judge one another since God has reserved the right to do that Himself; and all of us will be judged by Him.
I Corinthians 3:10-15 “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
I heard a preacher once preaching on this passage say that believers whose works are found to be “wood, hay and straw” will be “saved, but singed.” The works or deeds we have done by His Spirit and for His glory will remain and will procure for us rewards of some kind. The works or deeds we have done by the flesh for our own glory and selfish gain will be burned up – shown to be not pleasing to the Lord.
II Cor. 5:9-11 “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men….”
One of the motivations Paul and his associates had for living holy lives and being pleasing to the Lord was the expectation that they will each “appear before the judgment seat of Christ….”. The best way to be found pleasing to Him at the judgment, is by learning to be pleasing to Him in the now. This passage states that we will be recompensed for both our good deeds and bad ones.
James 3:1 “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”
This exhortation to aspiring teachers in the body of Christ informs us that some will have a higher bar of expectation and thus judgment than others. To the point where aspiring teachers really should think hard on why they want to teach.
James 5:12 “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment. “
First, please note James is clearly addressing believers. His behavioral concern here is swearing and taking oaths. The context (see vs. 8,9) is the final judgment wherein our speech will be evaluated and recompensed.
I Peter 1:17 “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;”
Peter is speaking to believers, who each will have to give an account of their work to God at the final judgment, and thus should be motivated to walk Him in fear and reverence.
I John 4:17 “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”
Every writer in the New Testament wants and expects those they are writing to (and us) to be free from anxiety about “the day of judgment”. While we should be sober about it, if we are striving by the Spirit to please Him, and if we are being perfected in love, we need not worry about it. Indeed, we may go into it with confidence because of our steady growth in being conformed to His image.
Well dear brothers and sisters, I hope this gives you a better understanding of what awaits us at the final judgment. My prayer for you and myself is that we will increasingly be ready for it by His matchless grace.