Just for Catholics

The Last Judgment

Question: If true believers are not judged for their sins, then why do we stand before the judgment seat of God when we die? I was taught it was to give an account of our lives to God. Then our destiny would be sealed.

Answer: Without exception, every person will appear before the judgment seat of God. The first purpose is to divide humanity into two groups: 'the wheat' and 'the tares'; 'the sheep' and 'the goats'; 'the saved' and 'the lost.' Jesus warns us that professing Christians will be revealed as hypocrites when their evil works are exposed on that Day.

Now what about the true Christian, who sincerely believes in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone for salvation, who hates sin and strives to please God? Why should he give an account of his life to God? Is it to determine whether he has made it to heaven?

No! The Christian does not have to wait until the judgment day to know that he has eternal life. He already has eternal life, and he knows it:

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know (present knowledge) that you have (present possession) eternal life (1 John 5:13).

Amazing! I know I have eternal life because God's Word says so. At the resurrection, I will come to a fuller experience of the eternal life that I now already possess. Moreover I was given eternal life not because I earned it by my good works; eternal life is the gift of God (Romans 6:23).

The Christian does not stand before God to be decided whether he would be "justified" (declared just) or "condemned" (declared guilty). The Bible assures the believer that he is already justified: "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). "Having been justified" - something already done for the Christian. God has already declared every believer "justified" on the basis of what Christ has done for them, and not because of his own goodness. It is a wonderful truth. Jesus assures His people that they 'shall not come into judgment' (John 5:24).

So why stand before the judgment seat of Christ at all, if the Christian is not judged for his sins on that Day? Simply to be rewarded for his good works. "He (Christ) will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27). For the Christian, the Day of the Lord is more like graduation day than an accusation before the criminal court. He has worked for the Lord's glory; now the Lord will reward him according to his efforts. "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" (Revelation 22:12).

The Christian, being sure that he is forgiven and that he already has eternal life, does not dread the great Day. On the contrary, he eagerly awaits the coming of the Lord. It is his appointment, not with an angry God, but with his beloved spouse.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A