Why does the Bible talk about a judgment of works all the time?
Ecclesiastes 12 “here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
This judgment of works was expected during the time of Great tribulation in AD66-70.
Daniel 12 “There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Luke 21 “20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.”
Paul wrote about this here on the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ when He would judge everyone by works without favoritism.
Romans 2 ” 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism…..16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”
This is not works-based salvation.
Salvation is always about faith in the Old and New Testament.
The Biblical faith is ALWAYS about radical WORKS of obedience to the commandments of God, like Abraham who left his land and sacrificed Isaac by faith, or the disciples of Jesus sold everything and followed Jesus by faith.
This is why Paul said this:
2 Corinthians 5 “9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
The Biblical faith is not about doing nothing.
Faith must always produce obedience.
It is not OSAS (once saved always saved).
Faith was about obeying God until the end, and that is why works were being judged in the end. Salvation only was given in the end if they had faith (obedience) till the end.
It is like running a race. Nobody gets the prize of salvation at the beginning but only if they run successfully till the end without cheating the rules (sin) or by giving up (unbelief).
1 Corinthians 6 “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
Hebrews 12 ” And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Colossians 3 “23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.”
The believer did not get saved in the beginning but had to endure by faith till the end to be saved at the 2nd coming.
Matthew 24 “9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
The Biblical faith was not just believing and doing nothing, but belief is to obey Jesus’ commandments.
Luke 6 ““Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? “
Matthew 7 “21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Luke 14 “27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…..those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
The Biblical faith and salvation was HARD. It was not easy like most people preach today. It cost them everything to follow Jesus. It was radical obedience even to the point of dying in persecution. It was radical repentance from sin and love for Jesus.
Matthew 19 “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments….. “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Matthew 5 “I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it….20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven….. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell…….48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The Law demanded perfection in love for God and others.
But nobody could do it and that is why Jesus came to give the grace to forgive sins and the power to obey the law.
Perfect righteousness was granted by faith in Jesus Christ.
But Faith must be obedience to the Law of Christ.
James 2 “14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? ….8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”
The goal of faith in Jesus was to become perfect and be without sin.
1 John 2-3 ” My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin….6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did…..4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him….7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.”
The goal of faith was to be righteous like Jesus.
Jesus did not sin but learned obedience to God by dying on the cross.
This is why the believers were required to follow Jesus to stop sinning and fulfill the law by loving others as Jesus loved them. The love of Jesus did not sin and they were commanded to fulfill the law in the same way as Jesus.
John 13 “34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The believer is not separate from a disciple.
The believer is a disciple and must follow Jesus to enter the kingdom.
Jesus came to forgive their past sins and give them the Holy Spirit so that they would stop present and future sins. The Spirit was the power to walk like Jesus.
Romans 8 “2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. …that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit…..12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
If the believer disobeyed Jesus then they would not be saved.
It is because they were required to fulfill the law.
The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the law.
They could not keep the law in the flesh but now they received grace to fulfill the law and become righteous by faith in Jesus that required obedience to His commands.
Hebrews 8 “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.”
Matthew 28 “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey EVERYTHING I have commanded you. “
They had to obey till the end to be saved, but if they went into sin then they would not be saved.
Galatians 6 “8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
The end goal of the faith is obedience to the law of Christ (radical love for God and people)
Romans 1 “5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.”
The entire world was condemned because they sinned like Adam, so then Jesus came as the new Adam who learned obedience by suffering on the cross.
Romans 5 “12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—….19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”
Hebrews 5 “8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him “
Those who obey Jesus become righteous by following Him to the cross, carrying the cross, loving like He did and then they will stop sinning to be perfect by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was the only one who obeyed to become righteous and then He died on the cross to forgive past sins and rose from the dead to make believers slaves of righteousness, free of sin.
Righteousness is not positional, but it is the actual sinless perfection of Jesus himself living in the believer.
Jesus did not sin and therefore He is righteous.
The believer was forgiven of past sins but now given the righteousness of Jesus to not sin anymore.
Revelation 19 “For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)”
The same righteousness of Jesus was given to the believer who had to FOLLOW Jesus to the cross and stop sinning just as Jesus did not sin even though He was crucified. They had to overcome just like Jesus overcame.
1 Peter “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin…..13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
They had to work out their salvation by following Jesus, in humility, loving others, suffering with Jesus so that they would be raised with Him in glory, otherwise they would not be saved.
Philippians 2 “5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:… he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!…12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”
Philippians 3 “10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
You see this is why Jesus died on the cross to end sins and rose from the dead to bring Righteousness.
The believer was called to give up sin and walk in righteousness to enter the kingdom of God just like Jesus entered.
1 Peter 3 “24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;”
Romans 6 “20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Peter 4 “15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.”
The believers had to get repent from ALL sin and be saved to enter the new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3 “9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him…..17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord “
The commandment of Jesus was to repent from sin and love one another as Jesus loved without sin….to carry the cross, to endure in faith, to overcome the great tribulation in the 1st century.
Revelation 14 “12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.”
No sinners would enter the new heaven and earth but only those who did right, those who obeyed the commandments of Jesus.
Revelation 21 “26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
This is why the judgment of the Bible is consistently based on works for all people, and those who followed Jesus in obeying his commands are in the book of life. The believers are the ones who lived righteously like Jesus.
Revelation 20 “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books… 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Jesus said he was coming SOON in the lifetime of the 12 apostles to judge the world according to works.
Revelation 22 “7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”…10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Matthew 16 “24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. 28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Matthew 24 “30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other….34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
James 5 “7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!”
Everything in Revelation was going to be fulfilled in the 1st Century:
Revelation 1 “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ”
The main event of Revelation and the New Testament was the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ to raise the dead and judge all men according to works….and those who had the Biblical faith truly obeyed God and Jesus radically, carrying the cross, loving others, not sinning.
But Jesus did not come in the 1st Century.
The new heaven and earth did not happen.
The dead were not raised.
The judgment day did not happen.
It’s because nobody could follow Jesus in the 1st Century.
They all failed in that great tribulation when Jerusalem was destroyed.
If Jesus had returned and destroyed the world, then VERY FEW would have been saved.
99.9% of the world would be in hell if Jesus came back in the 1st century or today.
The Churches of today don’t follow Jesus and just ignore all His teachings.
The people who try to follow Jesus realize that we cannot do it.
In the end, I see the Bible as a story of man’s failure to have the radical Biblical faith.
In the end, Jesus said all those things in the Bible showing that nobody can obey God.
This is why I believe in the grace of Jesus and not in my own faith.
My faith is nothing like the Biblical faith and 99.9% of Christians don’t follow Jesus either.
Jesus is much more gracious than the Bible says, and that is why He did not return the judge the world.
His words on the cross stand out for me.
He knows we cannot believe or obey Him.
He knows we cannot love like He loves.
He knows we cannot be perfectly sinless.
He knows we fail to repetitive sins.
He knows we struggle with unbelief.
He knows that we are faithless.
He knows we are weak and just like the dust.
On the cross, He said “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”
When people give up on the Bible and see that they cannot follow Jesus, you will hear Him say that you are forgiven and righteous without doing anything.
This is the unconditional love of God.