2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Rom 2:6 He will render to each one according to his works:
Rom 2:7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
Rom 2:8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
1Pe 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.
The teachings of the Final Judgment in the Scriptures are not simple but a few fundamental things are necessary to know. For saints our ultimate judgment will be whether we have been united to Christ. Either we are justified or not. For the lost this is also true. If they are not saved they will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
But the way we lived also has much to do with our judgment. For the lost, their works will determine their suffering in the Lake of Fire. For the saved our works have a two-fold purpose. Our good works will be proof that we have been united to Christ so that if we did not bear fruit it will show that we were never saved to begin with; if we did bear fruit we will hear the much anticipated statement, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master”. Our works will also determine our reward and experience in eternity, although there is not much description of what this will look like in the Bible as seen in 2 Cor. 5:10 above.
The passage in 1 Peter above also uses the judgment as a means to motivate us in the way we live while on earth. I have used preparing for a college exam as a means to illustrate how we are motivated for the day we stand face to face with our Lord. I remember those that would goof off most of the semester and then go into panic mode just before the exam and study all night and usually do unsatisfactory work. We might say they waited until the end to live as they should have been living the entire semester. But there were those of us who tried to keep up with our assignments and reading so that we were ready to be tested because we had been obeying what the professors told us to do and when to do it and we did so not just to make a good grade but because we had an interest in what we were studying.
Peter in the above passage is telling us to begin to prepare to give an answer for the way we lived by living holy lives because without such holiness no man will see the Lord. But I want to carry the illustration just a little further. There are two ways to be motivated for the final exam. The first group basically is motivated by fear as they realize they aren’t ready and so go into panic mode. The second group we might say is motivated by a love for the subject. We see it all the time with students who go to school because their parents make them or to party for a few years but have no real desire to learn. Then there are those who have a goal in mind and want to learn a particular subject, get a degree and go into that profession.
In other words, we might ask the question, “Why did you go to school to start with?” Let’s say you went to school to learn the Bible because you wanted to preach. If you are part of the first group then one would have to wonder why you didn’t find the study of the subject and doing the assignments interesting. Why weren’t you motivated to do what you went to school to learn about? You entered into college to study so why aren’t you motivated to study what you claimed to be interested in? The second group is more consistent with their professed desire to preach because they throw themselves into the subject. Would we not tend to think that the first group really has not been called to preach while the second group gives evidence that they have been called?
So let’s carry this over into the Christian life. What are we to think of those that supposedly enter into the kingdom but have no real desire to serve in the kingdom nor do they have a desire to know the King and listen to what he has to say? It seems all they want to do is party and be the king themselves.
If we have entered “school” as disciples of Christ, then we did so because we know that in us dwells no good thing and that we know nothing of value apart from what our Teacher teaches us. He is also our Savior as well as our Lord; he and his kingdom are our new calling and if we don’t really prepare for graduation then we need to examine ourselves as to whether we are really in the kingdom or not.
If I can bring this back to motivation; we might ask ourselves what is motivating us for the Day of Reckoning? Is it fear because we really haven’t been preparing to meet the Lord? Or do we love the “subject” so much that we have been preparing all along? The problem with trying to cram for the finals is that it shows you don’t have a love for the subject; that you don’t have a new heart. We can’t cram for the judgment in the Christian life, if we haven’t been preparing then we won’t pass the test.