Going for the Gold. By Joe L. Wall. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. 180 pp. Paper, $6.95.
“[The] whole subject of rewards for the believer is one, I am afraid, rarely thought of by the ordinary Christian, or even the average student of the Scriptures. But it is both a joyous and solemn theme and should serve as a potent incentive for holiness of life [see Wilbur Smith, ‘Inheritance and Reward in Heaven,’ Eternity, March 1977, p. 79, as cited in Going for the Gold, p. 20.]”
The absence of teaching on this very important subject remains a perplexing mystery, because the bēma (Judgment Seat) of Christ surfaces in a profusion of passages in the NT. Today when the judgment of believers is taught, it is sometimes down-played as insignificant, and Christians are sometimes cautioned that living for reward is not a proper motivation for them. However, the presentation of the judgment Seat of Christ in Going for the Gold is different. In this book, Dr. Joe Wall, chancellor of Colorado Christian University, defines the importance of this judgment and points out the motivation it should generate for every believer to live for Christ.
The book is divided into three parts. Part one presents general information: the future reality of the judgment of believers and the motivation it can provide for us now; an overview of future judgments (of believers and unbelievers); an overview of the bēma of Christ; what happens to a believer after he dies; a synopsis of the scriptural picture of heaven; prophetic events relating to the judgment of believers; and indications that the bema may be very soon. Part two looks at the Judgment Seat of Christ more specifically by examining eternal rewards, the basis of rewards for believers, what believers can do now to prepare for the judgment Seat, and the possibility of a “negative” judgment for some believers. Part three is meant to be an applicational section based on the believers’ future judgment and contains information about rewards as “crowns,” divine guidance and future reward, “persevering under trial,” evangelism and future reward, and reward for godly church leaders.
There are three major strengths of this book which members of GES will appreciate. First, the author is a proponent of grace. For example, he denounces Lordship Salvation, then states: “… we need to make certain our hearers in no way are left with the impression that their salvation depends on them, their feelings, their deeds, or even how much faith they can build up. Rather it depends entirely on Christ, and it is appropriated by the simplest of trust in Him” (p. 58).
Second, a clear and biblical presentation of the Judgment Seat of Christ is given. Not only are the ideas of reward and loss of reward presented accurately, but also the way believers attain reward-by living faithfully for Christ by God’s grace. Wall also emphasizes the biblical teaching that future reward is a valid motivation to stimulate believers to faithful living.
Third, the author attempts to show how this topic relates to us by application. He gives clear principles for Christians to apply in order to obtain eternal honor from the King.
Along with the strengths of this book, there are some evident weaknesses. First, much information is included which is not directly related to the issue of rewards. For this reason, chapters 1–6 and 12–16 could have been eliminated. (Though Wall does present valid application from this study in part two of the book, much of part three-the applicational section of the book-does not appear to harmonize well with the topic at hand.)
Second, this reviewer would like to have seen the author demonstrate more in-depth exegesis on passages relative to his topic. These passages, properly developed expositionally, would demonstrate the Grace position and provide readers with a powerful motivation for faithful living. Currently Lordship Salvation advocates and those holding to a strong perseverance-of-the-saints view use some of these to maintain their theological positions.
Third, better editorial work could have eliminated grammatical errors and redundancies, reduced unnecessary material, and encouraged the author to provide evidence for some of his statements and inferences.
Still, Going for the Gold is recommended for its clarity and accuracy on the basic principles of the judgment Seat of Christ. Since the judgment of believers will affect all Christians for eternity, we need to understand it and prepare for it. This book can serve to get us started in that direction.
Cresco Community Chapel