Will Christians Be Judged by Their Works

“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.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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4 Responses to Will Christians Be Judged by Their Works

  1. Evan says:

    Christians judged by their works? What an audacious statement! Just kidding; agreed, but that’s not a message often preached today. What I mostly hear taught now days is works in terms of loss/gain of reward in the believer’s life since many clergy consider salvation a slam-dunk done deal. That upsets me to no end as many sheep are being led astray and may have a false sense of assurance.

  2. Jon says:

    This may be an eschatological side issue, but I’ve wondered how the whole final judgement being crucial fits in with the scriptural notion I’ve noticed (or rather noticed through reading N.T. Wright) that the verdict is known before that last day.

    Revelation 20-21 indicates that there will be resurrection THEN final judgement. However, it seems that there is some kind of interim state for the dead before the resurrection, final judgment and subsequent new creation. That state clearly is either positive or negative and anticipates the final destination.


    “Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
    The dying thief is promised “paradise” that same day, which must be before the resurrection.

    “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Phil 1:23)
    Again this ‘being with Christ’ seems to refer to what happens on death.

    There are also a number of times where Paul alludes to ‘sleeping in Christ’ which seems different language from resurrection (1 Cor 11:30, 15:6, 18, 20 ,51; 1 Thess 4.13-15).

    “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)
    If he is going to his Father’s house to prepare a place I can’t see how this can be referring to the new creation as it hasn’t happened yet.

    “And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him”(Matt 17:3)
    Wherever they came from (and for that matter, wherever Elijah went when he hopped on a flying chariot) was not the new creation but was, presumably, a positive resting place.

    “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 2:59)
    The passage suggests that one’s spirit being received by Jesus happens immediately after death.


    There is also a hint of a similar waiting place for the damned (albeit angels in this passage) –
    “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell a and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment” (2 Peter 2:4)
    The word for translated as hell here is Tartarus not Gehenna, implying some kind of temporary dungeon.

    In short, these scriptures cast doubt on any notion that our final destinations are not really known or decided before the final judgement.

    What do you think?

    • Jim Riege says:

      Sorry to butt in, Jon, if you were specifically asking Paul, but I think you are correct. Our final destinations are already known, and the last judgment is the “sentencing phase.” Consider the parable of the sheep and the goats. They were already separated before they were “judged.”

    • paulfpavao says:

      Agree completely except on John 14, which I believe refers to the church. We are the dwelling places.

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