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Christian Accountability

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While on earth, Jesus made the astonishing promise:” Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”[1] This certainly gives assurance to everyone who believes that immediately he possesses eternal life and will never be brought into judgment. And yet other Scriptures seem to contradict this declaration: For we shall all stand before the Judgment-Seat of Christ…So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.[2] How can we reconcile such statements?

Two Kinds of Judgments

It is important to realize that when Jesus was speaking of “not coming into judgment” it was in the context of eternal salvation. The believer already has eternal life. He already has passed from death into life. On that score, there is nothing to decide. There can be no judgment to determine whether a believer goes to Heaven or Hell since God has already handed down a definitive decision. That decision is called justification.[3] Since God freely gives salvation to everyone who believes, the case is closed before it is opened. In that sense there is no judgment for a Christian.[4]

But it is also true that the believer will face a judgment in which his life and works are examined. Consider the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”[5] The Apostle Paul stated it in this way: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.[6] The Christian is not in danger of losing his eternal salvation.[7] He is saved freely and forever by the grace of God. But once he is saved he is profoundly responsible for what he does for the rest of his life.[8] The Judge will review his life in its entirety – both good and bad.[9]

Getting Ready to Meet the Judge

Therefore, it behooves the Christian to give the Day of Accounting very serious thought. For example, unsavory secrets will be revealed[10] and even motives will be evaluated.[11] Thus, the believer should

·                     Savor secrets that will be rewarded![12]

·                     Perform acts of mercy in accord with God’s character![13]

·                     And, above all, cultivate love!

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.[14] God’s love should be the model for which we love one another[15] and thereby gain confidence for the Day of Judgment. And in doing so, we will attract even others to Christ.[16]  

Believer, can you say with the Apostle John: “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!”?/[17]/


[1] John 5:24. Similar promises are made in John 3:16, 3:36, 6:47 etc

[2] Rom. 14:10-12. Note also, 2 Cor. 5:10, 1 John 4:17, James 2:12-13, Rev. 22:12.

[3] See especially Rom. 4:4-5, Gal. 2:16, Rom. 8:33. Note that this has nothing to do with our works (Eph. 2:8-9)

[4] The eternal destiny of everyone who has passed from death to life is settled forever. There is, however, a judgment for the unbeliever at the end of the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ (see Rev. 20:11-15).

[5] Rev. 22:12. Reward is a translation of the Greek word μισθός misthos which means pay, wages. In other words, Jesus is saying “What a man has earned, he will get.”

[6] 2 Cor. 5:10. Note also 1 Cor. 3:9-15, Rom. 14:9-12,

[7] Every believer in Christ not only has eternal life but will still belong to Christ when he is raised up on the last day (John 6:37-40). No one who has drunk of the water of life will ever be thirsty for that water again (John 4:13-14).

[8] He can build his house on the sand or on the rock (Christ’s words) – Matthew 7:24-27. He can save his life or lose it depending on whether he lives selfishly or unselfishly in this life (Mark 8:34-35, Luke 9:23-24, John 12:25). He can lay up treasures on earth or in heaven depending on his priorities in this life (Luke 12:15-21, 32-34; Matt. 6:19-21).  Scripture says, “As I live,” says the Lord,” every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God.”

[9] 2 Cor. 5:10. The believer’s eternal destiny is not at issue in the judgment of believers; hence sin as a barrier to his entrance into eternal fellowship with God is not at issue either. But to review and assess a life, the Judge most consider the life in its entirety – including the bad (sins) with the good (acts controlled by the Holy Spirit).

[10] Luke 12:1-3,

[11] 1 Cor. 4:5.

[12] Matt. 6:3-4, 6, 17-18. (Cf. Rom. 2:16)

[13] James 2:13. Including treatment of widows and poor (James 1:27-2:12).

[14] 1 John 4:17-18.

[15] 1 John 4:10-11, 1 Pet. 4:6-8.

[16] 1 John 4:12-14; John 13:34-35, 17:20-23.

[17] Rev. 22:20.

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