A subscriber in Arizona asks, “You say that we will have to give an account of our stewardship of time and talent but that it does not affect our salvation. What do you think that giving account is for?”
* * *
Such statements of Scripture remind us that we are responsible for our deeds and our decisions during this life. The day will come when we each will answer to our Maker. There will come a time of reckoning, a “judgment” day, the Great Assize (Psalm 50). For those who are finally saved, this will be a moment of infinite exposure before God who knows every outward circumstance and inmost heart. When all our secrets are displayed publicly, we will likely experience both honor and shame, both embarrassment and pleasure (1 Pet. 1:7; Heb. 13:17). And, although none who enter the Eternal Kingdom will deserve what they receive, no good deed will go unrewarded and no bad act will pass divine notice (2 Cor. 5:10; Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:24-25; Rev. 22:12).
God will judge not only our deeds but also our accomplishments or “works.” For those that meet his approval, he will bestow reward. Earthly achievements that God finds lacking and not built on Christ will “burn up,” but we ourselves will still be saved (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Carl Ketcherside, a faithful gospel minister now deceased, used to speculate that God would say to some, “Come right on in, but leave your hobby-horse there at the door.” Paul also reminds us that while we each must answer some day to God, we do not have to answer now to each other. And none of us has a right to judge our brother or sister (Rom. 14:10-13).
In another sense, however, believers will not “enter into judgment,” for God has met us already in Jesus Christ (John 5:24-25). Scholars refer to this as “realized eschatology,” which means that the End of the world has come to us in the person of God’s incarnate Son even while the world rolls on. God has dealt with sinners in the representative, substitutionary life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, once for all time. The gospel assures believers that God accepts us, forgives us, and sets his favor on us forever (John 3:18; 1 John 3:14). We may have confidence in the Day of Judgment, for God now views us according to what he sees in his own beloved Son (1 John 4:17).