How We Are Judged
By R. Herbert
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12). Most new Christians soon come to the understanding that we are saved by faith—that our own best efforts can never “earn” God’s forgiveness and acceptance, and that it is through faith that we receive the gift of salvation. But is that all there is to the Christian life—once “saved,” are we eventually rewarded according to our faith? Since the time of the Reformation, Protestants have stressed the concept of sola fide, or “faith only.” While this concept is firmly based on clear teachings in the writings of Paul regarding salvation, modern theologians admit that it does downplay other things written by the same apostle.
The same Paul who so strongly denies that works have any role in justifying us (Romans 3:20, 28; Romans 4:1–8; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:2–5; Philippians 3:9) is equally clear in stressing the role of obedience in final judgment (Romans 2:13; Romans 14:10–12; 1 Corinthians 3:10–15; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Corinthians 11:15; Galatians 6:7–8 and see also Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 10:25-28). Making things seem even more complex for some is the fact that Paul sometimes puts forward both these approaches within the same letters—as we see, for example, in his letter to the Romans: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law…. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:20-28). “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous” (Romans 2:13)…”
(This article is an excerpt from the Summer 2015 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)
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