In Paul’s letter to the Christians at the church of Corinth, he clearly told them that there would be a time when they would stand before the Lord Jesus in judgment, and would be judged by their actions, whether they were good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
Recently while speaking at a conference, a man came to me at the end of a meeting and informed me that he would not be judged. He continued by explaining why. He said, “I have already been judged. I have been cleansed of my sins, and I will not be at the great white throne judgment.” He was a little surprised when I said I completely agreed with him.
Because he had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, old things had passed away and all things had become new. He was cleansed of all sin and his salvation would never have to be judged. Also, he was right that he would not be at the great white throne judgment because that judgment takes place at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth, after the resurrection of the unrighteous dead. Everyone judged in the great white throne judgment will be judged unworthy.
This is not what Paul was talking about in his letter to the Corinthians. He was not talking about the great white throne judgment. Paul was simply saying that even though our eternal salvation was secure, because of the work of Jesus, that we as Christians will still be held accountable for the deeds of our flesh. Although the judgment seat of Christ is not where our salvation is judged, it is where our works are judged and that will determine the rewards that we receive.
In Revelation, Jesus said that He was coming quickly and that He was bringing with Him rewards that He would give to each person individually according to what they had done (Revelation 22:12). Who is He coming back for? According to 1 Thessalonians chapter four, He will descend from heaven and gather together His body (the church). The reward He is bringing with Him is not salvation because the church already has that, and salvation is based upon what He has done on the cross. By His own words, the rewards are something different based upon what we have done while on the earth.
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works (Matthew 16:27).
As we stand before the Lord giving an account for our deeds, the age-old excuses we use on earth will be worthless. We can give Him the reasons why we did or didn’t do what He asked, but there will be no excuse. Remember, Jesus said the rewards that He was bringing with Him would be distributed to each individual according to what he had done, not according to what he had intended to do.
As a born-again believer, you should rejoice when you see the Lord appear in the air knowing that you will forever be with Him. But there will be a greater joy in knowing that you have pleased Him in doing what He asked. Remember, Jesus is the one who asked His disciples, “Why do you call Me Lord and not do what I ask you to do?” (Luke 6:46). Our obedience is important to Him.
I am a strong believer in grace. Without grace, there is no hope for us. Grace is the power of God that allows us to accomplish the impossible. But grace cannot be the excuse we use when we stand at the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of our actions.
I’ve heard it said that Jesus has paid the price for all sin – past, present, and future – and that is true. He has also paid the price in full for the salvation of all mankind. Yes, Jesus has done everything. Because of His grace, we who are Christians are absolved from all punishment of sin and should not have sin-consciousness in our daily lives. But just because we have been cleansed of all sin does not excuse us from accountability of our actions.
Although it may seem like a paradox that we have been cleansed but are still accountable, we cannot ignore the truth that faith pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6) and faith without works is dead (James 2:17). While there will be no future judgment for sin for a Christian, there will be rewards for obedience.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).