Revelation Day 53 - Each of Us Will Give an Account

DAY 53
Each of Us Will Give an Account
Romans 14:10-13

The old confession of faith shared by Christians everywhere, the Apostles’ Creed, says, “Jesus Christ shall return to judge the living and the dead.” Revelation 19-20 are clear that we will be judged and the judge is none other than Jesus himself. 

Today’s Scripture reading is from Romans to prove that our promised judgment is not isolated to one part of the Bible. It’s everywhere. In Romans 14, Paul confronted an argument about a practice he considered non-essential to the Christian life. Because of that, we should not judge one another for it. He reminded the Romans - and us - “each of us will give an account to God.”

Yesterday we talked about two facts related to our future judgment. Today we talk about the other three facts we can find in Revelation 19-20.

First, judgment sends us to heaven or hell. Don’t assume you know what “heaven” or “hell” mean based on pop culture or even a literal reading of Scripture (including Revelation!). Don’t assume “heaven” means clouds and golden streets. Don’t assume “hell” means literal fire and fork-tongued demons tormenting you. 

Heaven means being with God. Hell means being separated from God. Heaven really is joy. Hell really is agony. Behind all the imagery, Revelation’s point is simple: we either go to be with God or we go away from God. 

Second, judgment is final. There’s no appeals court. No re-dos. 

Finally, we’re judged “according to our works.” Rev. 20 says that twice, and other places in Scripture say it, too.

Does that mean our good deeds are weighed on a scale against our bad deeds like Islam teaches? No, God’s looking at the whole of our life together. Yes, we are justified, or made right with God, by our faith in Jesus Christ. But was this faith genuine? Did we truly trust Jesus with our lives enough to let him change us from the inside out with the help of his Holy Spirit? Galatians 5:6 says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Looking at my entire life, can God see my faith growing more and more of that expressive love?

Theologian Tom Oden put it this way: “Final judgment focuses upon whether one has been responsive or not to the gifts of God…The judgment finally comes down to whether one has or has not responded trustingly to God’s grace.” If we’ve never heard of Jesus, God will judge us fairly based on what we did with what we knew. If we’ve heard the gospel, trusted Jesus Christ to save us, and realigned our lives with his help, we’ll be fine. 

Believe it or not, we can be sure we are children of God, ready to pass to God’s judgment. We can be sure without being anxious or arrogant. Rev. 19-20 want us to be sure of God’s goodwill toward us, sure that those who trust Jesus with their lives will pass final judgment.

In your own words, what does it mean to be judged “according to our works?”

Lord, final judgment is a sobering thought. I don’t want to be arrogant about passing the judgment. I also don’t want to be anxious about whether or not I’ll pass. Instead, help me to have assurance of salvation because of my faith in Jesus and the comforting presence of your Spirit. Amen.
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