Justin Perdue: Hi, this is Justin. Are you ready to stand before the judgment seat of Christ? Are your good works the kind that will endure or are they all just going to be burned up? We answer a listener’s question about these very things.
We get this question all the time at Theocast – about the judgment seat of Christ and about heavenly reward – and we want to look at it today from a biblical perspective. We will survey a number of the passages that are commonly referenced with respect to this. We hope that the conversation is clarifying, helpful, and encouraging. Stay tuned.
So we got a listener question recently, and we get this question a decent amount. Even in my time at Theocast, we’ve gotten correspondence about the topic that we’re going to be discussing today. I think it’s one that has produced a lot of confusion in the church and people were just unsure of what to do with these particular passages that we’re going to be looking at today.
The topic for today’s discussion is that of the judgment seat of Christ for believers, and in particular the judgment according to works or giving an account of our lives and heavenly reward for good works done. We’re basically going to be answering the question, “how should we understand the judgment seat of Christ and the principle of heavenly reward for Christians?”
Before we dive into the particular passages, it is worth mentioning that there is not much ink spilled in the New Testament on this. There were really only a handful of passages that deal with reward and the judgment seat of Christ. We’re going to try to highlight each of those today and spend more time in a couple of them because they’re lengthier. But we’re going to try to highlight and survey all of them and hopefully bring some clarity into this conversation.
Jon Moffitt: I would say those popular ones, for sure.
Justin Perdue: Sure, we’ll spend more time on those. That’s where we’re headed: the judgment seat of Christ and heavenly reward.
Jon, help us, brother. How do we understand these things?
Jon Moffitt: It has been used, I’ve seen it used my entire Christian life, and it pops up here and there. We are going to several different texts threads and we’ll see links where this language is used to control the Christian from final justification to rewards to fear of standing before God because of judgment.
I would say that normally when this passage is presented, it’s never explained in context – the book and purpose of the book and the section of Scripture. They don’t take time to look at the tone, the purpose, and the goal. They just assume that it says, you’re going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, so you better be aware, and you better be fearful because what you do matters.
When I was in seminary, I can remember an entire four classes where we were studying the different rewards and he had systematized the different rewards one could potentially have based upon their level of effort and work here. You could have a kingdom, you could be a landowner, etc. Your status here will determine your status in the new kingdom. We are going to definitely do a podcast on this coming soon about the laborers in the vineyard.
Justin Perdue: Even the parable of the talents, potentially.
Jon Moffitt: Right. Does that mean that pastors have the greatest seats or missionaries have the greatest positions in heaven? What it turns into is that we become so focused on what we’re going to gain and what we’re going to get out of this Christian life as it relates to physical status and physical rewards in heaven that it can and does cause great discouragement. It can cause comparative righteousness where we feel that we are better than others because of the labor that we put in.
What we here at Theocast want to always do is bring relief and rest for the Christian. We want to motivate you to demonstrate kindness and grace and mercy – we want to motivate you towards the gospel. I believe that this idea of putting fear in someone’s Christian life, depending on what they’re doing because they’re going to stand before Christ, or motivating them towards reward is dangerous. We’re going to look at the context and realize that this is not what the writers of the New Testament had in mind, specifically Paul and the writer of Hebrews. So we’ll start with 1 Corinthians.
Justin Perdue: One other general comment from me before we look at particular passages. I think our overarching understanding of these passages is going to become clear, but I think for us, rather than these texts producing fear or encouraging people to just accumulate as much stuff for themselves as they can, our understanding of these texts are that they are to give hope and encouragement in the midst of life in a fallen world.
Even in one particular example, the judgment seat of Christ is meant to humble all of us so that we love one another better. That’s our general take on these things and we’re going to try to unpack them passage by passage.
Jon, we want to start in 1 Corinthians 3. Is that where we’re going to go?
Jon Moffitt: Yeah. I think we’re going to do things a little bit differently today than normal. We keep things general, but we felt like it was a good podcast to actually look at the texts and show people that… before we get into these passages, we encourage you that if someone brings to you a verse or two that are famous verses like “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” it would do you well to go back and read the chapter and then maybe even read the whole letter and find out what’s the purpose of it.
Justin and I did this together. We said before we bring this before the listeners, let’s talk and make sure that we understand what the purpose of the book is. What’s the purpose of this section? What is this chapter covering?
Justin Perdue: We spent 30 minutes reading and talking and looking at the words, sentences, context, and everything else.
Jon Moffitt: Right. Just to make sure that we had an agreement on what those were. Justin and I have had conversations about this for a long time now. It’s not the first time we thought about it.
Let’s jump into the text because one, not only are we going to answer this question, but I was telling Justin that I think the exact opposite is going to happen: those who normally are afraid and find discouragement in these verses are going to find hope and encouragement. It’s going to be flipped on its head where you’ll find rest.
Justin Perdue: Last public service announcement for interpreting Scripture: not only do you need to always take things in context as John was just encouraging us to, and as we are going to try to do today, but something that we would discourage you from doing is what might be called proof-texting where you just isolate verses and use them to prove a point.
Something else that we warn people against is an outlook, a perspective, or a hermeneutic called Biblicism where you take verses and pit them against one another. It almost makes the Bible come across as schizophrenia: we would pit the idea of standing before the judgment seat of Christ over and against our promise of justification by grace, through faith, and in Christ alone. We ought not do that with Scripture. We need to be able to hold these things together in an appropriate tension even, but we ought not cancel one text with another or pit one text against another – and Biblicism does that all the time where it creates tension and mystery where there isn’t any in Scripture.
I hope that’s helpful to the listener. So Jon, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 3.
Jon Moffitt: A famous letter where Paul is dealing with a number of issues. The church is divided, all over the place, and promoting all kinds of promiscuity and issues within. In this particular section in the beginning of the letter in chapter three, you are dealing with the issue of the church becoming divided. Paul is not trying to whip them into shape as far as it comes to morality. Paul does this almost in every single one of his letters: you see it plainly in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 2 where he’s trying to create unity within the body where the focus is on. He says in Colossians 2 that there are people who have come into the church and they’re taking your focus off of the Head, which is Christ. He’s using the same kind of language here.
We know the famous accusation. He begins by saying to them, “I wish I could give you and call you spiritual people, but you are so far of the flesh.” Then he goes to explain. He goes, “Listen, your foundation, the way in which you are building your spiritual life, is on men. You are dividing yourself. Some of you are saying you’re with Apollos or you’re with Paul.” He gets really irritated with them. Even if you begin in verse seven, it says, “So neither he who plants or he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” He’s beginning saying, “The labors you’re doing right now are creating legitimacy based upon who has trained you.”
Justin Perdue: “There’s jealousy among you,” he says, “there’s strife among you.” They’re wigging out over what tribe they’re a part of, in one sense. Are you with Apollos? Are you with Paul? Are you with Cephas or Peter? He’s saying none of those things are of any value. There’s one thing that’s a value and that’s where he’s going in verse 11: there’s one foundation of the church and that is Jesus Christ. Then he’s going to talk about doing good works upon that foundation beginning in verse 12.
Jon Moffitt: If you miss verse 11, then you missed the whole illustration of what he’s saying. The Corinthian church is divided. They’re building their reputation, their foundation, upon the reputation of another man in his righteousness or his spiritual level or his giftedness. Paul comes in and he says, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on a foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay straw-” Again, famous section, right? We’re talking about that which is going to be burned, “each one’s works will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
Justin Perdue: A couple of observations for me. This is just a broad observation of Corinthians in general. Paul rebukes the Corinthian Christians for a lot of things in the whole letter, but he is not calling into question their salvation. He even makes that clear here that it’s not that you will not be saved, but he is pointing out that some people are going to do works by faith in Christ, built upon the foundation of Christ, not motivated by following particular men or tribalism or anything like that. Then there are going to be other kinds of works that are done out of these selfish, vain, and silly motivations, where it’s out of strife and jealousy and all these things. I think that’s the distinction that he’s drawing is that there are going to be some works done by faith in Jesus, built upon the foundation of Christ and not motivated by this silliness, then there are going to be other things done in a different vein. Some of those works are going to stand and some of them will not, but it’s not a fearful thing. It’s not that the works that you have done that aren’t going to stand are going to damn you – it’s not that. He is saying that they are not of the value that work done by faith in Christ for the sake of the unity of the church and the good of your brothers and sisters. Those works will stand in a way that these other silly things will not.
Jon Moffitt: How many times did Paul have to say, “We walk by faith, not by sight,” right? The Christian life, what we do – Hebrews 11:6 – without faith, it’s impossible to please God.
Here is an issue of their putting their faith in alignment to something other than Christ.
Justin Perdue: They’re looking to something other than Jesus.
Jon Moffitt: Right. Because of it, they’re causing division to where if everyone is building their foundation on Christ, it will unify us. And we will realize that there is no reason to boast, none whatsoever, because our foundation is Jesus Christ. Not anyone else.
Justin Perdue: One way I might sum this up is anything that you’re doing that’s causing unnecessary division in the church is going to be burned up. Anything that you’re doing in Christ Jesus, by faith, that is producing unity, but in particular unity around Christ, will stand.
Jon Moffitt: He goes on and says, “Do you not know that you “plural” are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” Now we always assume that’s drugs, sexuality, and even tattoos for some…
Justin Perdue: We assume that that’s an individual “you” and it’s not. That is corporate. Do you – the church – not understand that you – the church – are the temple of the Holy Spirit? And that the unity of the church and anybody who destroys the church – this is really bad. God takes offense when people destroy the unity and the love in the church.
Jon Moffitt: Paul’s strongest language comes to those who have divided the church. He says some things about certain men that they should treat themselves in ways that sound very painful. Anytime someone comes in and brings division amongst the body, that’s where Paul gets worked up.
He continues on in verse 18: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” He is dismantling all this. They are so impressed by the prowess of those who are around and they’re finding their legitimacy based upon who it is that they follow. Paul comes in and says this is causing division because they should find their hope inside Christ as their foundation, not another teacher.
Justin Perdue: Verse 21; let no one boast in men. The conclusion at the end of it, verse 23, because you’re Christ’s, you belong to Jesus, and Christ’s is God’s. So the issue is you ought not boast in men, you ought not to wig out and divide over which men you’re following. Do you not know that all of you are in Christ Jesus and Christ’s is God’s? He’s arguing for unity and love in the church in the context here. That’s how we should understand all of his language about works that will stand and works that will burn up. It has everything to do with that unity and love in the body and that one foundation of Christ – we’re rallying around Jesus and not anything else.
Jon Moffitt: It would be safe to say that I don’t think Paul here is throwing at us the fear tactic of get-yourself-in-line-or-else. He is actually saying like Hebrews does: don’t grasp on to anything but Christ.
Justin Perdue: He’s not also telling people that they need to concern themselves with doing a bunch of good stuff so that they’ll get a lot of stuff in heaven. That’s not the point. Make sure that you make bank for yourself in the new heaven and new earth – that’s not the point. The point is let’s exalt Christ, let’s extol the mercy, love, and grace of Christ, let’s build on the one foundation, which is Jesus, and let’s pursue unity in Christ in the church.
Jon Moffitt: Right now, when he says, “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward,” we have no idea what that means. And the fact that God’s going to give us a reward for trusting in Christ is crazy. Why would He do that?
Justin Perdue: It’s grace. I’ll throw this in. I think Mike Horton does a great job of describing something of what this reward will be. The praise and the rejoicing of heaven is going to be part of our reward in that on that day, when the good works of the saints are extolled in Christ Jesus, we are all going to be standing on the tabletops celebrating what’s been done for Christ’s sake, and not because we did something incredible. No, Christ is worthy, and praise be to his name that this was done in faith.
The language of reward is very ambiguous, and we don’t know what that means. A lot of times it’s talked about in very material terms like how big your house is going to be, or how much property you’re going to own, or how much money you’re going to have. That, at best, is being read into the text and at worst is just incredibly deceiving and it misguides people.
Jon Moffitt: I think the pridefulness of our heart causes us to… Again, we have the nature of comparative righteousness; it’s built within us. The depravity of man always wants to be able to look at the guy next to us and say, “I’m better and I’ve done more.” Where we learn from Scripture, that everyone has an equal need of grace, everyone is saved with the same amount of grace, and everyone is saved in the same manner – and the reward is Christ. The moment you put your faith in Christ, it’s been gifted to you. According to Ephesians 2, the moment you do that, your reward instantly – whether you live a thousand years or one day – is Christ and him crucified. We don’t know what those rewards are; we hear words like crowns. I think the point of it is that even for the writers in the New Testament, it’s outside of their earthly knowledge to know what this looks like; they’re just grasping at trying. I’m trying to use language when John writes in Revelation. I’m trying to use language that I don’t have words to describe what I’m seeing. Here’s my best shot using the languages here.
Justin Perdue: I’m mindful of the thief on the cross where Jesus looks at him and says, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” If you want to know what the reward is ultimately, that’s it. That is promised to everybody who’s in Jesus by faith that you’ll be with him in paradise. Anything else on top of that, we can trust that God is good and that the new heaven and new earth are going to be epic. It’s going to be epic primarily because God and Christ are there, and we are with the Lord.
Let’s transition to 2 Corinthians 5 in light of what we’re just talking about right now. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “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.” Let’s think about this and its context. In 2 Corinthians, Paul is largely defending the legitimacy of his own apostolic ministry throughout that letter. At the end of 2 Corinthians 3, we’ve got some wonderful language about the revelation of Christ and how, as we behold Jesus, Paul is a minister of the new covenant and in the new covenant Christ is revealed; as we behold the Lord Jesus, we’re transformed from one degree of glory to another. He talks in the early part of 2 Corinthians 4 about how through the revelation of Jesus Christ, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God has shone in our hearts as we behold the face of Jesus Christ.
Then he talks about how we have treasures in jars of clay. I think what he’s talking about there is we have the treasure of the revelation of Jesus and we, as stewards of that, are like jars of clay holding a treasure within them – we’re just trying to steward this well as apostles. Then he gets into it at the very end of that. He talks about how they, like he and other apostles like him, as opposed to these super-apostles, often face afflictions and trials and things that are hard. Then he talks about the hope though. He says in verse 17 of 2 Corinthians 4, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Then beginning in 2 Corinthians 5:1, he starts to talk about heaven; he starts to talk about the guarantee of heaven and how it’s certain. He says in verse five, “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” That sounds just like Ephesians 1.
Jon Moffitt: Like a big flashing light for context.
Justin Perdue: God has done this, and the reason that you can have hope in current affliction and trial is because the new heaven and the new earth is coming and it’s certain, secure, and it’s guaranteed. God has done this; He has promised He’s faithful.
Verse six says, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while…”
Jon Moffitt: Which is in the same paragraph as the warning.
Justin Perdue: Yeah. “We know that while we’re at home in the body we’re away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, and not by sight.” Verse eight, “Yes, we are of good courage,” there it is again, “and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away,” this is verse nine, “we make it our aim to please him.” And then he says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of God.” It seems that in the context, we’re talking again of the guarantee of heaven. We’re talking about hope in the midst of affliction. Paul says we are of good courage and so we work, and we make it our aim to please God.
You talked earlier about how, often in this whole conversation about the judgment seat of Christ and even reward, fear is what controls. Paul says something very different in verse 14 of 2 Corinthians 5, “For the love of Christ controls us.” It seems that the controlling piece and the motivating factor is something altogether different than fear. Those are just a few thoughts from me on 2 Corinthians 5. Jon, jump in.
Jon Moffitt: I couldn’t agree with you more. When he says, “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.” In that context, think about when you’re in persecution and you’re struggling. I would even put it in today’s context when I’m having conversations with congregants where they are in despair; it feels like the world is collapsing in on us where it’s COVID-19. It’s racism, its sexual deviancy, politics, people are dying – I’ve had so many church members that have lost family members more this year than I’ve ever had in the past years. Then they can’t go to funerals because of COVID-19. This week alone, I’ve had two members who had serious surgeries. So it just feels like the sky is falling for some people. They know it’s not, but that is the feeling that they carry around with them – and I am sympathetic to that because I too feel the weight of all of this.
Then there’s the weight of my own sin and the weight of my own struggle. You literally begin to think, “Lord, this is chaos. Why can’t you just come back? Why are you making us endure this? You’re clearly not choosing to fix this because people are still dying, and they’re still suffering, and they’re still fighting, and there is still chaos. It’s been this way for thousands of years since the like flood. So you’re not coming back anytime soon even though we wait and anticipate your return.” So the attitude can be, as Paul says here, us just rather wanting to be with the Lord. And Paul said, let me encourage you, going back to 1 Corinthians 3, he had said that you’re a worker for God. God did not leave you here so that you can prove your salvation. God did not leave you here so you could do something that gains rewards for you. He left you here with a purpose and a mission, and that purpose and mission is to love others with the gospel, and to love each other for encouragement because the lost sheep still must be found.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” He’s saying what you do here matters because it’s the advancement of the gospel. I’ll go back to 2 Peter 1 where you don’t want to be of no effect or of no value, that what you’re doing here as a believer, as you’re following Christ, is actually advancing the mission which is the proclamation of the gospel to the believer and unbeliever alike. So when he gets down to it, it’s not a fear passage at all; you have the commendation of the Spirit, you have to walk by faith. “For the love of Christ controls us,” verse 14, “because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.” He’s giving this constant encouragement that you are two things: you are safe and secure. Look to the love of Christ.
What you do actually does matter. It’s not useless. Because I can tell you, it feels like life is worthless at the moment, nothing’s happening, the world’s going to hell in a hand basket, Christians are being stupid and they’re fighting with each other. Paul says everything is fine. In the midst of chaos, the love of Christ will keep you and realize what you do does matter. So don’t become lazy. Don’t give up. You don’t want your life to be useless. You want your life to be of value. It is an encouragement towards value and love, not fear and judgment.
Justin Perdue: That’s right. Let’s be fruitful. Let’s be effective. Let’s advance the cause of the gospel and God’s plan of redemption. The love of Christ controls us. He died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves but live for Christ’s sake – that’s verse 15.
Then he goes on to talk about being ambassadors for Christ in the latter part of 2 Corinthians 5 and yes, I agree that it’s not a threatening passage. It’s one of encouragement and spurring people on in the midst of suffering and difficulty. It’s like saying it’s worth it, that what we’re doing has value and it’s meaningful and we’re not wasting our time. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 it says labor in the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain. Rather than Paul standing in the back of the room, cracking the whip, and screaming at people, it’s more of him at the front saying, “Brothers and sisters, let’s lock arms and let’s work for the good of our brothers and sisters, and the good of our neighbor, and for the sake of Jesus. Let’s do this because we know that the end is incredible. We know where we’re headed. Let’s have hope in the midst of suffering and let’s do this together.” That’s seems to be the tone.
Jon Moffitt: To your point, it says in verse 21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Chapter six, “Working together with him Christ, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” It’s this constant motivation. You have the righteousness of Christ in the midst of pain, suffering, and chaos; you’re being left here and it’s for a reason.
I will say, Justin, that you and I both will admit we fall into the trap of thinking its God’s responsibility to keep our life clean, pure, and happy. We forget that God’s promise is not to fix this world and to not heal this land and not to remove all sickness and pain. I believe that this remains to remind us that this life cannot provide anything that He never promises.
Justin Perdue: Early this morning, before you and I got on to talk and then record, I was reading some and I was praying. The month of June has been bananas in my world. It has been a crazy season; COVID has taken a toll on me as a pastor and even as a Christian, we’ve moved this month into an apartment, and just various things going on. I felt kind of weary and at times, just very frustrated and discouraged. I’m grumbling in my heart and mind, if not out loud to my wife.
I was praying this morning that God would forgive me for those sins and that He would give me grace that I might not grumble and complain and be frustrated, and that I might have hope in this and realize this world is not my home and God is not obligated to make me comfortable. But He has given me an eternal and living hope through His Son. This is our experience practically every day in this Genesis 3 world.
Apostle Paul writes very honestly of these things. He talks in other contexts. 2 Corinthians 1, the very beginning of this letter, he tells the Corinthian Christians, “We do not want you to be ignorant of the things that we experienced.” They had it so bad that they were despairing of life itself – and here we are. I agree with everything that we’re saying, but it matters and it makes tons of sense that Paul would write in this way or speak this way to stir us up, spur us on, give us hope, reassure us and tell us to press on for the sake of Christ and for the sake of our neighbor – and it’s worth it because we know where we’re going.
Jon Moffitt: Paul dedicated his life for the building up of the church at large, not just one church, but also all churches. He commissions each local church to make it their aim and ambition. Ephesians 4, “Take every effort to maintain the bond of unity and peace,” is what he says in Ephesians 4:1-2. He gives this language of strategy as a believer to build and protect the church.
As we remain here in this life, you can pursue money, life, sex, fame, and all of that is going to disappoint you. You will be utterly disappointed at the end of your life. If you dedicate your life to the building up of the saints and the advancement of the church around the world, if that’s where you put your life and your focus, you’ll have purpose and meaning because it is for eternal value. Also, you understand that only in Christ do we have hope and joy and satisfaction. If I put my attention, my foundation on Jesus Christ, not building the church as far as bigger buildings and numbers – that’s not what I mean. I realized that the mission that I have here is not to find relief, but to give relief totally through the message of the gospel around the world and believing the gospel is God’s power and it can transform lives around the world. When he says that there’s a strong warning to the person who just is not very careful about their life and they allow their life to disband and destroy the church – there are some pretty strong warnings against that.
In turn, I would say take all of this frustration, take all of this discouragement about what’s going on in your context. Even this fear – remove the fear and turn it into faith and encouragement and joy and say I actually have a purpose for life. God has left me here with a reason. I may be a truck driver, I may be a nurse, a mom, and I may be a pastor, but my responsibility is still the same: to love and care for and build up the people of God and the church as we minister around us and know that. That is an eternal value far greater than working on my own morality. I’m not saying morality doesn’t matter, but it’s so introspective versus pushing us outside of ourselves to a greater global purpose, which is the mission of Jesus Christ. We’re called to bear fruit.
Justin Perdue: Even thinking about 2 Peter 1 where he says be effective. The fruit is always a relational fruit and it’s a fruit in the context of the local church, it seems to me, when God talks about us being fruitful.
I’m mindful of like the parable of the sower. Whenever you think about being fruitful, a lot of times we freak out and we think wrongly that the Bible tells us to strive after effectiveness or to strive after unity or to strive after fruit and all those things as though you could blow this and really mess it up and not produce fruit. Christ says in the parable of the sower that those who are good soil will produce fruit. Some thirty-fold, some sixty, some a hundred.
I’m mindful of Ephesians 2:10 where we’re told to do good works, that we were created in Christ Jesus for good works, but that God has ordained them for us to walk in it. They were prepared beforehand. We need to trust Christ, strive after these things, and pursue these things knowing that the fruit will be born and that good will happen, and that the Lord is the one who does it. It’s all of grace. So I think those things are confidence giving.
Jon Moffitt: I was going to add one thing to the whole fruit conversation. In the fruit context, what we always miss is that Paul is talking about the unity and the encouragement of the body. That fruit is designed not to bring assurance or to secure yourself with God, but the fruit is for the benefit of others. “Consider how to build one another up in love and good works.” After he says this, even in Ephesians and in Hebrews, it gives you what can cause the division, which is a lack of patience, kindness, and mercy.
Justin Perdue: Talking about patience and forbearance, another text really quickly before we head to the members’ section. In the member section, we’re going to deal with Hebrews 13:17, James 3:1, and some of the passages that are aimed particularly at us giving an account. I want to do Romans 14 at least right now in a drive-by way. We may pick up more on this in the members’ section because this is another one.
Romans 14:10 says, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” Paul is talking about the stronger and the weaker in the church – this is very similar to things that he writes in 1 Corinthians 8, and even 1 Corinthians 10 like eating meat sacrificed to idols and all those things, how some understand that they’re free to do that in Christ and then some are really bothered by that in their consciences. So Paul is encouraging them to live with one another in a loving and understanding way. Essentially in verse 10 of chapter 14, he’s saying, “Why do you pass judgment on each other? Do you not realize that we all stand equally condemned in the flesh? Why in the world are you judging each other?” Basically, understand who you are in the flesh, understand that we are all debtors to grace and mercy, and love and deal with one another. Give charity, give grace, and bear with one another in love. That’s the encouragement. I think that’s a great word for everybody when it comes to the issues of Christian liberty and how we live in the church. Paul never gives a sweeping prohibition of anything. “Don’t ever under any circumstance eat meat sacrificed to idols.” He doesn’t say that. He tells him to do something much harder: love each other. He’s humbling them, in Romans 14, with the reality of the fact that in the flesh, they stand condemned. Therefore, because you’ve been saved by Jesus, love others who have been saved by Jesus.
A lot more could be said on that, but at least for the regular listeners, they can at least hear the Romans 14 piece.
Jon Moffitt: I would just say interact with us. We post our episodes in a Facebook group every week and it’s a great way to hop on there and ask us questions and follow-ups. It’s not a debate group, so if you’re going to go in there because you want to drop bombs and debate, that group is for people who are beat up, battered, and tired, and they just want to hear more of Christ. It’s a great group of friends that get in there to encourage. We help each other find churches and even good book resources. If you want to join the conversation, go join us at the Theocast Facebook group. That would be a good place to do that.
Jon and I are about to make our way over to the members podcast. If you don’t even know what that is, you could go to our website Theocast.org and find out more information about our membership and all of the good things that come up along with that. We are grateful to you for giving us a listen this week. We hope this conversation has been encouraging, clarifying, and helpful to you in various ways. We are going to handle, amongst other things, Hebrews 13:17, James 3:1, and maybe a little bit more Romans 14 in the members’ area. We will see you over there.