I had a nice visit with a friend in the hospital the other day.  Somehow this topic of the judgment came up and he said that he was confident that we would not be judged for our sins, but that we would be judged for the missed opportunities and the lack of zeal in our hearts for serving the Lord.  In other words, we would be judged for actions after our salvation.

Now, he said that he didn’t mean sins; he believed that our future sins were washed away with our past sins.  What he meant was our works for the Lord.  Perhaps I should say our performance.  It fascinates me that it always seems to come back to our performance. 

Once we become Christians, according to this way of thinking, we become responsible to perform according to a certain set of standards.  Failure to do so will bring shame and regret, perhaps even condemnation.  Could you lose your salvation based on poor performance?  Some believe that.  At the minimum, we will be judged somehow, someday, for our poor performance.   After all, we all know that we have missed opportunities to stand up for the Lord and we have even continued to do things that He considers sinful.  So, some type of spiritual consequence seems reasonable—according to this type of thinking.

But if we believe that our sins are removed and there will never be any condemnation for us, as the Scripture says, then the negative side of our performance is a moot point.  The fact that I miss opportunities or that I continue to do sinful things certainly does not surprise the Lord.  He knows that I am learning to walk with Him, but my flesh continues to have a strong influence in my life.  God knows these things and He still accepts me.

And the fact that some of my works are stained by my fleshly input isn’t a surprise to God or to me.  In some ways the surprise is that some of my works are not stained in that way.  Amazingly, wondrously, the Lord does use me and does bring glory to Himself through me.  So, if some of my works are burned up in the fire, why would that be a disappointment to me?  That’s what I expect.  The only emotion I will feel is the joy of seeing that somehow He managed to do His work in, through, and with me. 

Will I regret not giving more?  Will I be ashamed that I didn’t witness more or serve more?  I really don’t think so.  It isn’t that I am “doing just fine.”  I know that the flesh is still active and still influential.  I also know that all the glory for any good in me belongs to Jesus.

So, I told my friend that there will only be joy in that day, according to my thinking and according to what I believe the Scripture teaches.  He had to stop and think and I hope that he continues to think.


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6 responses to “But…but…but…

  1. I was taught as your friend was. It really left me not wanting to see Christ’s return for fear of judgement. I felt as if previous actions before coming to Christ would be forgiven but after I was saved than there really wasn’t any hope for things done wrong because I was being held accountable. I would be judged if I didn’t do things for Christ and lived a “good enough” christian life.

    • I wonder how many believers are afraid of dying simply because they have been taught to be afraid of the judgment. One of the most important distinctions for us to see is that between believers and unbelievers. Unbelievers should be afraid, and should turn to Jesus. Believers, however, can look toward death with joy and hope. The same is true of the return of Jesus. It will be a wonderful day!

  2. Kay

    Thank you, Dave. My former spouse is from a religion of guilt. 40 years after leaving it, he still believes in performance…for me, which means performance for himself AND others. He denies it and yet lives it. IF it weren’t for wide-awake Christians I am now living the walk with, I would still be trying, failing, praying for forgiveness, you know the merry-go-round, intensely angry with my flesh responses. Then, at the Judgment Seat/White Throne, whatever I believed at the moment, I would be punished for ….. whatever I did or didn’t do.
    My own flesh and experience showed I was living sinfully/independently and yet saved by Grace, an unloving way to respond to my Lord and that has been curbed by His Love and Truth poured out also through you and others. It has taken a mighty amount of Christian counseling to turn the tide that would wash over me at times since I know how very lacking I am.

    • I know that it is easy to define grace according to our own little perspective, but it is so sad to see people live by the law and think they are living under grace. If you change the definition of grace so that it is compromised, you rob people of the freedom and joy they should have in Christ. If it’s about performance, it isn’t about grace.

  3. graceandgiggles

    I will start off by saying that I hope your friend is doing okay. If in fact the “visit” in the hospital was due to health.

    I’ve been thinking lately of the “Yes, But” religion or philosophy. Yes, you are saved because of Jesus Christ, but you must ____________.

    And how it amazes me that this kind of mindset keeps us at the center of it all. How convenient for us fleshy people*grin*

    I have often heard sermons with “Well done my good and faithful servant”, as the line we are all supposed to strive for in this life, so we get the “reward” in heaven. Working, working, working, working, for it. Like the child of an abusive or neglectful parent; always striving for that pat on the back because they noticed we did well. I try not to take hold of that kind of thinking but instead believe that our faith in Him, trust in Him, gratitude towards Him, rest in Him, etc. is what He is looking for. It’s not an easy mindset as most people/churches are looking for “proof”; for works.

  4. My friend’s wife was in the hospital and she is doing well, thanks. The “yes, but” crowd has done a lot of damage. By affirming grace and then adding law, they trick people into losing their hope and joy. They bring people to salvation apart from the law, then drag them back under the law to live the Christian life.
    The passage about the “good and faithful servant” is a great example of how preachers must be very careful to apply Scripture to the right people. That was clearly in a section for the Jews under the law. The pastor who applies it to believers will probably also claim to teach that we are saved by grace, rather than by works. Yet, the whole passage is judging the Jews on the basis of their inability to serve faithfully by their works. They should have seen their failure in the words of Jesus and they should have seen their need for a Savior.

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