“The claim is that Revelation has a series of Judgments, and the one who has faith in Christ avoids the judgment based on works.”
A friend wrote this to me. Here is my brief answer. I say brief because I could cite a lot more Scripture here than I do. I’m going to add the Scripture quotes in between the paragraphs of my answers for your reference, since the WordPress web site cannot use reftagger like my web site does.
Will Christians Be Judged by Their Works?
2 Cor. 5:10 answers the question about whether Christians will face a judgment based on works. Galatians 6:9 does, too, if you take it in its context of vv. 7-8. Read Gal. 6:9 and ask yourself what we will reap if we don’t grow weary in doing good? Read the verse right before it, and decide whether there is any other way to honestly interpret it.
- 2 Cor. 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that we may own up to the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad.”
- Gal. 6:7-9: “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever one sows, that will he reap. The one who sows to the flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. The one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not lose heart.”
Gal. 6:9 matches 2 Cor. 5:10, but it’s even more scary.
Then there is 1 Pet. 1:17, which tells us to live our lives in fear because those of us who call God Father are going to be judged by our works.
All of this matches Rom. 2:5-8, where we are told God will give eternal life to people who pursue immortality by patiently continuing to do good (almost the same wording as Gal. 6:9).
Those who deny that Christians will be judged by their works don’t believe the Bible. Simple as that. I know it’s terrifying to think that our eternal life is on the line at the judgment, even if we are Christians, but everyone believed that for about 15 centuries, and scripturally there is just no denying it is true.
Do We Need To Be Perfect to Enter the Kingdom
My friend wrote, “Also, another point of disagreement: they would say that you DO need to be perfect to enter the Kingdom since a Holy God cannot allow imperfection into his presence.”
We are not “earning” heaven. I don’t believe that even living a sinless life “earns” heaven. Heaven is a gift, but it is given only to the worthy.
My employees don’t earn bonuses. I give them bonuses, but I give those bonuses primarily to my hardest workers. It is a reward, but it is not a wage.
Does Scripture say the same?
You have a few names, even in Sardis, who have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. (Rev. 3:4)
Galatians 6:7-9, quote above, is just as clear. I could find a dozen similar passages. (One of my favorites is 2 Peter 1:3-11, but you have to go look that one up yourself.)
The point is, yes, we have to be perfect to enter heaven, and Jesus can accomplish that through his blood. John tell us that if we walk in the light, we will be continually cleansed by his blood (1 Jn. 1:7). Thus, to be worthy to enter the kingdom, we do not have to be perfect, but we do have to walk in the light. We do have to pursue holiness (Heb. 12:14). We do have to keep his commands (1 Jn. 2:3-4). How perfectly do we have to keep his commands? As perfectly as you can. God is merciful, but as Gal. 6:7 says, he will not be mocked. Eventually, if you keep sowing to the flesh, you will reap corruption rather than eternal life. Peter refers to it as “entangled again and overcome” (2 Pet. 2:20).
What Did Jesus Purchase with His Death?
The above being true and clear in Scripture, we have to keep that in mind when we go to interpreting what happened at Jesus’ death. After all, according to Paul he died so that he would be Lord of the living and the dead, so that we would no longer live for ourselves, and that we would be zealous for good works (Rom. 14:9; 2 Cor. 5:14; Tit. 2:13-14).
He also died for the forgiveness of sins. That is why we can experience the daily cleansing of his blood when we walk in the light. Do not be deceived, however, by modern false prophets who tell you that you will inherit the kingdom of God while walking in darkness.