If there is no condemnation for believers….
What are Christians judged for in 2 Corinthians 5?
It is amazing to think that because we have a relationship with Christ and that we are his “beloved children” that we can walk in confidence in our eternal security. It is one truth about grace and mercy that I hold onto deeply. When you and I turned over our trust to Jesus Christ alone for salvation, His work on the cross assured that we will never face the weight of our sin on the other side of eternity.
We indeed have no fear of condemnation because of how God views us through the lens of Christ! Why then, in 2 Corinthians 5, does it say that “we all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ?” What is this judgment? How are our good and bad deeds being judged? Are our deeds important? Does this not stand in stark contrast to the fact that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone?
To better answer this question, we need to go back to what was commonly understood as “judgment seat.” When you or I think of judgment, we think of a judicial system that condemns people for their law-breaking. This is not what is meant by this passage. Many modern theologians such as John Piper, John MacArthur and Tim Keller view it more as a “reward seat” in which the motives for our actions are laid before Christ and evaluated.
When we understand that this is what happens when we stand before Jesus, we don’t need to worry over every thoughtless sin that has happened in our lives. We do not need to walk in fear that if we’re truly in Christ, He’ll condemn us for not being good enough. What will be exposed is the reason why we did good works to begin with. This moment will be public evidence of our salvation. The evidence of our lives as transformed is that we “walk in the good works prepared in advance for us to do” after we come to salvation in Christ alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-10).
The teaching about the judgment seat before which all believers will ultimately stand should absolutely remind us that we have been saved, not for a life of aimless wandering or apathy, but to a life of holiness that is to be set apart to serve Christ in full submission to Him. It should be a motivator for all believers. One day, you and I are going to stand before a Holy God. Think about that for a moment! When you stand before Him, the entirety of your life is going to be exposed. This future moment should drive us towards further dependence, it should motivate you and I to share the truth about His gospel to our friends, family and co-workers!
Yes, we are saved by grace alone, but yours and my daily works are indeed important. I, for one, do not want to stand before Him being exposed as never producing fruit that lasted. Can you imagine the regret and sadness that could accompany this time when we see all the missed opportunities that God had planned for us? We tremble at the thought of this, but the beautiful thing about the gospel is that if you really are in Christ, even there His grace will meet you. Believers are absolutely secure in their position with Christ, but as John Piper states in regards to this moment, “Our deeds are not the basis of our salvation, they are the evidence of our salvation. They are not foundation, they are demonstration.”
“Our deeds are not the basis of our salvation, they are the evidence of our salvation. They are not foundation, they are demonstration.”
May the truth of this text drive you deeper into relationship with Christ and motivate you even further to be completely dependent on Him for anything good that happens in and through you.
Key questions to pray through:
- Do I serve God to bring Him glory or simply to feel good about myself?
- Am I God dependent in my actions or am I living daily in my own strength?
- Have I ever trusted in Christ alone for salvation?
- Do I have a reverent fear of the Lord?
- Am I using my time, talents, and treasures to bring God glory?