Letters From The Mailbox: Part Three

Today I received an interesting e-mail from a reader that asks something that many readers have likely pondered about before, so I thought I would share it:

“Hi Nathan and [name redacted],”

I have heard sermons in the past about us being judged by God.  IF I was understanding correctly.  They were talking about AFTER we were resurrected.

That never made sense to me, in that we are being judged now, and not after our change.

Then I thought, It must mean for judging us for our assignments rewards/or positions.

But I do not know where that verse is.  Would you have a hint about what I am talking about?

I know those after the 2nd resurrection will be judged after they are resurrected.

I just didn’t know if I just didn’t understand the speakers correctly.

It has been more than one speaker.

I went to my Strong’s Concordance, and there were way too many scriptures on the different forms of judging.

Even though I spent some time perusing them.

If you don’t have a scripture in mind, then don’t worry about it, but I would like for you to get back to me, that you don’t know, in case.

Your sister in Christ,
[redacted]”

***

The subject of judgment in the Bible is indeed far too complicated for a simple subject.  After all, there are all kinds of judgment spoken of.  There is the judgment we engage in as part of self-examination, the judgment of various authorities of us, as well as God’s judgment. There is judgment in this life and judgment in the world to come.  Nevertheless, even within that large sphere of judgment there is at least one scripture that does relate precisely to the judgment of believers after the resurrection in the way spoken of by various ministers.  You did understand them correctly.  Let us examine 2 Corinthians 5:9-11, which says:  “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.  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.  Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”

When we examine this passage, it is in the context of our assurance of the resurrection and our reconciliation to God.  Moreover, what Paul appears to have in mind is not a metaphorical appearance of ourselves at present before the judgment seat of Christ but a definitive appearance after our resurrection in which we will receive some sort of judgment for the good and bad deeds we have done.  Nor is this concern isolated to this one passage.  When we compare it with Matthew 25, we see a similar set of concerns when we look at the various passages there.  First, Matthew 25 begins with the parable of the ten virgins, in which half of the young women are wise and enter into His Kingdom, and the other half have the door shut upon them and are denied entry into the marriage supper.  After that the parable of the talents shows the profitable servants being given rule over many things when Jesus Christ has come to settle accounts but the unprofitable servant being cast into the outer darkness.  And then after this, the parable of the sheep and the goats follows with a message that those who were kind and compassionate to the least of these were granted entrance into the Kingdom while those who were not so were given everlasting punishment.

This ought to be sufficient for us to understand that the Bible does portray a period where believers will be judged for their deeds.  In part, as you mention, this will include a judgment of our deeds for rewards, but it does appear as well to be a settling of accounts.  Those whom God considers to be his servants, whether they have been good ones or bad ones, have one shot at salvation, and that is here and now.  Paul’s statements about this in 2 Corinthians 5 suggest that we would be right to view this judgment as serious.  The passages in Matthew as well suggest the seriousness of this judgment.  I am not sure why it is that the ministers did not wish to explain it in detail.  Perhaps they assumed that listeners would understand the seriousness of the judgment of believers, and that whatever judgment goes on here and now, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ upon His return, and it will be decided at that time both whether we have been good and faithful servants to Him or not.  And if we are, what our rewards and offices will be.  Such a matter seems far too important, at least to me, to be left for ministers to assume that the audience understood what it meant.  It is, rather, something that deserves explanation, as I have attempted briefly here.  Hopefully this helps you to better understand what the ministers were saying.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Letters From The Mailbox: Part Three

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    Great post! I looked up some scriptures that alluded to the subject of the saints being judged now for future, eternal reward: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (I Peter 4:17). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10). [The apostle Paul writes], “So that we glory in you…for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure; which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer… When He shall come to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day… That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God…” (II Thes. 1:4-5, 10, 12). “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world” (I John 4:17). Paul also exhorted the Corinthians to “speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; by that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10). He also warned the Romans against judging and fighting among themselves for “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Romans 14:10). These scriptures all give direct testimony that we, the converted Christians in this life, are being judged now and will be held into spiritual account after our physical days are done. I, however, do not believe that those who died in rebellion against God’s spirit will revive into their judgment phase at the immediate appearing of Christ. All will appear before His judgment seat, but the Bible does not state that those who did righteously and those who did not will occur at the same time. However, it probably does holds true for the living wicked–such as the five foolish virgins or the evil servant of Matthew 25.

    • Yes, that is true. The living rebellious will likely be judged at the time that Jesus Christ returns, but the point I wanted to make is that Jesus’ return will also involve a judgment. There are so many senses of judgment that it is not always easy to keep them separate in our heads and languages. I see our judgment here and now as a matter of trial, that we are being tested and refined and improved and tried, but that when Jesus Christ returns, He will give the verdict and rewards to His servants, itself a more definitive judgment. Our language, though, as in so many cases, is rather vagueish.

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