Our Works Will Be Evaluated
One of the distinctions of Free Grace theology is the teaching about the believer’s judgment for rewards. All Christians will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Jesus will evaluate every Christian’s service record, “whether good or bad” and we will receive payment for services rendered in this life (2 Cor 5:9-10; Rom 14:10-12).
Why Rewards Make People Uncomfortable
Not every Christian knows or likes this doctrine. For some, the idea of being judged by the Lord based on our service record causes distress because of the uncertainty of the outcome at this judgment. Others may chaff at the idea of judgment altogether. They may not think it fair for the Lord to reward those who faithfully served Him. Still others may have concern because in looking at their own lives they do not think they measure up to God’s standards or have done enough for the Lord. They fear the Lord will find their service record worthless or inadequate and as a result they feel shame now (cf. 1 Cor 3:12-15).
And sometimes the messengers (like those at GES) who teach about the Judgment Seat of Christ and eternal rewards are blamed when Christians become distressed over this topic. But they shouldn’t be.
Let me illustrate this. I am a Certified Public Accountant and a tax practitioner. In the past several months I have had to tell my clients the unpleasant news that many of them will be paying significantly higher income taxes. Needless to say, this has been a trying experience. When you inform someone that their income taxes have increased significantly—including combined federal and state tax rates of 58%—you can probably imagine what some of the reactions might be. However, as I write this, none of my clients have shot the messenger! While many have expressed disgust, and others anger, most have been thankful for having been informed ahead of time and they seek advice about ways to minimize their tax bite.
Likewise, Christians confronted with the Judgment Seat of Christ and the teachings about rewards, should exhibit a similar attitude. We should be thankful for the advance warning.
There are many passages in the Bible that teach about rewards. Some are uplifting and encouraging. Others serve as warnings that describe loss and shame. It is these later passages that cause some Christians distress. No one wants to “shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1 John 2:28, NASB). No one wants to “suffer loss” (2 John 8). No one wants to be rebuked by the Lord (e.g., Matt 25:26-28). Certainly these passages, plus many others, attest to the advance warning given to Christians on this subject.
Why does this matter? Perhaps those Christians who are distressed by this teaching, and who want to shoot the messenger because of it, should feel grateful instead. Without warning and instruction from the Scriptures about the Judgment Seat of Christ or its consequences, we could not become properly prepared for that day. Would a Christian really prefer to remain ignorant about these things? I think not. It would be like finding out on April 15 that your income taxes have significantly increased, and you owe a large sum of money to the government. Just as advanced warning helps us deal with the consequences of taxes, likewise advanced warning from the Scriptures helps us prepare for the Judgment Seat of Christ. We can look to see if we are serving the Lord in a manner that is pleasing to Him, which is by faith: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Heb 11:6).
And please remember, don’t shoot the messenger! Rather, be grateful for the advance warning. I know I am.