People’s deeds will refute Satan’s criticism of God’s judgments.

SUMMARY

SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS CONCLUSIONS

To an extent, this article summarizes the articles on the seven seals. Previous articles concluded that:

    1. The sealed book in God’s right hand is the Book of Life, containing God’s judgments as to who will receive eternal life.
    2. The seals of the book are Satan’s accusations against those people.
    3. That the book is sealed up so that no one “was able to open the book or to look into it” (Rev 5:3) symbolizes that God’s created intelligent beings are unable to refute Satan’s accusations.
    4. John’s great weeping (Rev 5:4) represents the great sorrow in heaven caused by this “war in heaven” (Rev 12:7).
    5. Christ’s victory on earth brought an end to the sorrow (Rev 5:5) and caused Satan to be banished from heaven (Rev 12:8-9). Christ, on the other hand, was acclaimed trust-“worthy” to refute Satan’s accusations: “Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals” (5:9).
    6. The CrossChrist’s victory did not immediately bring an end to the crisis. He is still busy breaking the seals today. Christ’s return and the implementation of God’s judgments are delayed until the last seal has been broken and the intelligent beings have the assurance that God’s judgments are perfect.
    7. That Jesus breaks the seals symbolizes that Christ directs events on earth to show that Satan’s objections are deceptive.

THE DEEDS OF PEOPLE BREAK THE SEALS.

Various books will be opened in the last judgment (Rev 20:12-13):

    • One of these is the book of life.
    • The other books contain the “deeds” of people by which people will be judged.

Consequently, the “deeds” of people, as recorded in the “books,” are the evidence that will allow God’s intelligent creatures to understand that God’s judgment, as contained in “the book of life,” are perfect. Therefore, when Christ breaks the seals, it symbolizes that He directs events on earth in such a way that the deeds of people will reveal their true natures; what they really are; that which the Creator is already able to see in the hearts of people, and on which He also based His judgments. These “deeds” will confirm that God judges perfectly.

Both the deeds of God’s people and the deeds of Satan’s people are recorded in the books.

THE WORLD IS PREPARING FOR THE FINAL BATTLE.

There will again be a battle between Christ and Satan; through their people on earth. Both sides are preparing for this battle:

Generally, God limits Satan with respect to what he is allowed to do against God’s people (e.g. Job 1:12). However, in this final battle, God will allow Satan to use the full force of his demonic powers unrestricted to persecute and deceive.

God’s end-time people, on the other hand, will be equipped with every spiritual power available to them. Symbolized by the seal of the living God (Rev 7:2), they will reach a level of spiritual maturity that was previously perhaps visible in individuals such as Job, but never before in God’s people as a group:

WHY GOD’S PEOPLE HAVE TO SUFFER

God does not allow His people to suffer without purpose. God claims certain people as worthy of eternal life. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. By rejecting God’s assessment or judgment of His elect, Satan actually accuses God of unfair judgment. Satan’s goal is to save himself. He wants to show to the universe that God makes mistakes in His judgments. If it can be shown that God’s judgments are faulty, even to the slightest degree, the implications for the creation will be massive. Satan and his angels would have grounds for their claim that they have been judged unfairly.

By choosing death rather than going against God’s laws, they will show that the people listed in the book of life will not surrender His principles. This will justify God’s decision to save them.

THE PURPOSE OF THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

The frequent mention in the plagues that the worshipers of the beast do not repent, even when confronted with clear evidence that they are wrong, implies that the purpose of the plagues is to show that the people with the mark of the beast will not repent under any circumstances; that they have become haters of God—solidly confirmed in their ways—irreversibly committed to evil.

– END OF SUMMARY –

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Previous articles concluded that:

    1. The sealed book is the book of life,
    2. The seals are Satan’s accusations against the people listed in the book,
    3. For the created beings of God’s universe to feel safe and happy, they need to know that God’s judgments, of who will live and who will die, are without error, and
    4. Breaking the seals symbolizes that Satan’s accusations are refuted.

The contribution of the current article is that it is the deeds of people that confirm that God judges perfectly. In other words, when Jesus breaks the seals of the book, it symbolizes that He directs events on earth so that the deeds of people will reveal their true natures. In this way is revealed that which the Creator already saw in the hearts of people, on which He based His judgment.

The current article continues to explain how:

    • The deeds of God’s people justify God’s grace and
    • The deeds of Satan’s people show that they are irreversibly committed to evil. 

To provide a foundation for this conclusion, this article summarizes the conclusions of previous articles on the seven seals.

REVELATION 5 IS THE TIME OF THE CROSS.

Revelation 5:3-4 describes a time when there was a crisis in heaven. In the right hand of Him who sat on the throne, there was a book, sealed up with seven seals (Rev 5:1). “No one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it” (Rev 5:3). This caused John to “weep greatly” (Rev 5:4). 

But, as from verse 5, the sorrow turns to joy. One of the elders said to John, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah … has overcome so as to open the book.” Then John saw “a Lamb standing, as if slain” (Rev 5:6). The symbol of a slain lamb points to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. The crisis in the first four verses of Revelation 5, therefore, represents the time before Christ’s death. The remainder of Revelation 5 is Jesus’ glorification at His Father’s right hand after His ascension; an event that is frequently mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g., Acts 5:31; Heb 8:1; 12:2).

CONCLUSIONS FROM PREVIOUS ARTICLES

Previous articles on the seven seals have concluded as follows:

THERE WAS A CRISIS IN HEAVEN.

    • The book in God’s right hand (Rev 5:1) is the Book of Life. It contains God’s decisions, as to who is saved to eternal life.
    • That the book of life is sealed up so that no one “was able to open the book or to look into it” (Rev 5:3) symbolizes that God’s created intelligent beings are unable to fully understand God’s judgments. God knows all things but His creatures do not. And, to judge between those that will live and those that must die (Rom 8:13), is extremely complex.
    • The seals of the book are Satan’s informed and well-articulated accusations against the people listed in the book of life (Rev 12:10). (Consider, for example, the accusations which Satan could bring in against king David.) None of God’s intelligent creatures were able to counter Satan’s arguments or to show that God’s judgments are perfect in all instances.
    • God has condemned Satan and his angels. It is to protect himself that Satan wants to show that God’s judgments are flawed.
    • John’s great weeping (Rev 5:4) symbolizes the great sorrow in heaven caused by the uncertainty over the perfect accuracy of God’s judgments, for as long as Satan’s accusations remain unrefuted, evil must continue to exist and God’s people cannot be resurrected. If those questions can never be answered, sin will always exist and God’s dead people will never be raised to life.

CHRIST’S VICTORY ON EARTH MADE AN END TO THE CRISIS IN HEAVEN.

    • Satan blamed His rebellion on God. He claimed that the fault lies with God because nobody is able to comply with God’s norms under all circumstances. Therefore, Satan claimed, God is unjust when He forgives some sinners but condemns others. To address this accusation, Jesus became a vulnerable human being and subjected Himself to Satan’s temptation and persecution. He became a human being to show that there is no fault in God’s expectations and norms – that it is possible to remain true to God under the most severe circumstances.
    • As indicated by the instruction to John: “stop weeping” (Rev 5:5), Christ’s victory on earth brought an end to the sorrow and caused heaven to rejoice.
    • The Christ-event on earth brought a huge shift in the sentiments of the beings in heaven:
      • Any sympathy which they previously had with Satan, vanished, and he was banished from heaven (Rev 12:9, 12).
      • Christ, on the other hand, became accepted as the “true witness” (Rev 3:14; cf. 1:5). As such, He was acclaimed trust-“worthy” to explain God’s judgments: “Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals” (Rev 5:9).

JESUS STILL HAVE TO BREAK THE SEALS.

    • Christ’s death did not make an end to the crisis immediately. In Revelation 5, He received the book of life after He ascended to heaven (Rev 5:7) but He breaks the seals one-by-one in Revelation 6. The sixth seal takes us to “the great day of their wrath” (Rev 6:17). This refers to Christ’s return. In other words, He will break the seals and open the book over a period of thousands of years. Before His death, no solution was in sight. But His death—which was His victory—set a process in motion that will eventually bring the crisis to an end.
    • Jesus’ faithfulness validated the basis for God’s judgments but does not yet show that the right people are listed in the book of life. Since it is enormously important for the safety and happiness of the created beings that they are fully assured that God judges perfectly, God delays the implementation of His judgments until the intelligent beings have that assurance.
    • When Jesus breaks the seals, things happen on earth (Rev 6). That Jesus breaks the seals symbolizes that Christ directs events on earth. Since the seals are Satan’s objections to God’s judgments, these earth-events refute Satan’s objections and reveal the perfection of God’s judgments.
    • After all seals have been broken, which means that all of Satan’s accusations have been fully refuted, then there will be no further need to allow evil to reign on earth. Then Christ will return, as symbolizes by the seventh seal (Rev 8:1). The silence of that seal symbolizes the sorrow in the Father’s heart and in the whole universe at the destruction of the lost at the return of Christ (Rev 19:21).

AGE-OLD TRUTHS

I realize that these conclusions will sound very strange to the average reader. This is not how the Bible is normally explained. However, these conclusions do not change the fundamental truths of the Bible but only explain them in a different way and, may I add, explain them in a way that breaks through the usual religious clichés to explain them both logically and Biblically sound.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

The contribution of the current article is that it is the deeds of people that confirm God’s judgments. By breaking the seals, Jesus directs events on earth to allow people’s deeds to reveal that which the Creator alone is able to see in the hearts of people, on which He based His judgment. As explained below, both the judgments of God’s and the beast’s people are revealed by their deeds:

By choosing death rather than go against God’s laws, God’s people will reveal the glory of God in such a way that it would be a witness to every power and authority, created or yet to be created, for all of eternity. (Rick Joyner – The Call)

The deeds of Satan’s people show that they are irreversibly committed to evil.

MAN IS JUDGED BY HIS DEEDS.

Another departure from standard theology in this article is that people are judged by their deeds. This is discussed in a separate article that concludes that:

    • Man is judged by his deeds.
    • The works of the law” refers to the external ceremonies and rituals of the Mosaic Law by which the Jews attempted to justify themselves before God.
    • The “deeds” by which people are judged include the entire being; his words, deeds, thoughts, desires, and faith.

THE DEEDS OF PEOPLE BREAK THE SEALS.

In the last judgment:

Books were opened; and
another book was opened, which is the book of life;
and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds
” (Rev 20:12).

In other words:

    • One of these books is the book of life.
    • The other books contain the “deeds” of people by which people will be judged.

This means that the “deeds” of people, as recorded in the “books,” are the evidence that will allow God’s intelligent creatures to understand that God’s judgment, as contained in “the book of life,” are perfect; why God decided that the people in the book and only they will inherit eternal life. 

However, above we argued that the seal-events confirm God’s judgments. Now we have also said that the deeds of people confirm His judgments. It follows that the seal-events are the “deeds” of people. In other words, when Christ breaks the seals, it symbolizes that He directs events on earth in such a way that the deeds of people will reveal the true nature of their hearts; what they really are.

The following two sections will discuss how the “deeds” are revealed of:

      • God’s people and
      • Satan’s people.

THE DEEDS OF GOD’S PEOPLE

THE SEALS PREDICT A HISTORY OF PERSECUTION.

The vision of the seals – received nearly 2000 years ago – predicted that the history of the church will be one of persecution. In the First Seal, the gospel goes forth. The next three horsemen describe the suffering and sacrifice of God’s people, as they live and proclaim the gospel. The Fifth Seal brings us to the specific point in history when many Christians have already died for their faith (Rev 6:9) but the persecution will continue: The souls under the altar are told that:

They should rest for a little while longer,
until the number of their fellow servants …
who were to be killed even as they had been,
would be completed also
” (Rev 6:11).

A previous article concluded that the fifth seal is the beginning of the time of the end; a term from Daniel 12. This means that the persecution, after the point in time in the fifth seal, is the end-time persecution of Revelation 13: 

The image of the beast would … cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Rev 13:15).

WHY JOB SUFFERED

God does not allow His people to suffer without purpose.

Job is an example of a believer that had to suffer. Job had no idea why he suffered. In the courts of heaven, God described Job as “blameless and upright” (Job 1:8). But Satan retorted, “put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 1:11). Then God gave Satan permission to test Job. God said: “he is in your power, only spare his life” (Job 2:6). Satan killed Job’s children, destroyed his property, and afflicted Job with horrible sores. “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:22). The article on Job concluded as follows:

God claims certain people as worthy of eternal life. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. By rejecting God’s assessment or judgment of His elect, Satan actually accuses God of unfair judgment. When Satan tested Job, he has actually tested God’s ability to judge. Satan’s goal is to save himself. He wants to show to the universe that God makes mistakes in His judgments. If it can be shown that God’s judgments are faulty, even to the slightest degree, the implications for the creation will be massive. Satan and his angels would have grounds for their claim that they have been judged unfairly.

However, Job’s faithfulness proved God right. The suffering of God’s people has the same purpose.

WHY CHRIST SUFFERED

This world is part of a cosmic struggle between good and evil. Jesus came to this earth to be tested; to determine whether He would remain faithful to God under the most severe persecution and temptations. It was a contest between the Son of God and Satan.

Jesus was persecuted and suffered greatly. Based on the example of Job, we can assume that God gave Satan permission to test Jesus by all possible means. However, in this case, Satan was also allowed to kill Him. Satan did everything in his power to break Jesus’ faith in God and to get Jesus to sin. In the deepest pit of emotional torment, Jesus cried out, “my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46) But even then Jesus remained faithful to God. He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15).

By His faithfulness, He won a huge victory in the cosmic war and was declared “worthy” to open the book of life (Rev 5:5, 9). This set a process in motion (the seven seals) that will result in the complete overthrow of Satan’s kingdom.

THE WORLD IS PREPARATION FOR THE FINAL BATTLE.

After the cross (Rev 12:5), when Satan was thrown out of heaven (Rev 12:8), he was thrown down to earth (Rev 12:9). In other words, the focus of the war has shifted from heaven to earth.

The world is preparing for the final battle. It will again be a battle between Christ and Satan; through their people on earth.

Generally, God limits Satan with respect to what he is allowed to do against God’s people but, in this final battle, God will allow Satan to use the full force of his demonic powers to persecute and deceive. During the darkest hour of this world’s history, the experience of Job and Christ will be the experience of the entire church.

God’s people, on the other hand, will also be equipped with every spiritual power available to them. They will receive the seal of God, which is something that only end-time believers will receive. 144000 will be sealed. This symbolic number indicates that God’s end-time people will reach a level of spiritual maturity that was previously perhaps visible in individuals such as Job, but never before in God’s people as a group:

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against … the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and … to stand firm” (Eph 6:12-13).

PURPOSE OF THE FINAL BATTLE

Through the faithfulness of God’s end-time people, Christ will win the final victory over Satan. They will show, even under the most severe temptation and circumstances, that the people listed in the book of life will not surrender His principles. This will justify God’s decision to save them. They are scared and fully aware of their sins. But they really want to believe in the God of the Bible and are willing to suffer all possible losses for Him.

RICK JOYNER ON THE FINAL BATTLE

Rick Joyner describes this end-time war well:

“The last-day church will not be greater than Paul’s generation, even if she does greater works … All that is done is done by My grace.  However, I will make more of My grace and power available to the last-day church, because she must accomplish more than the church in any age has yet accomplished.” (The Quest)

“Jesus could have judged the world after His resurrection, but the course of the world was allowed to continue so that His righteous ones could be proven and the power of what He did on the cross would be seen in mankind.”

“By choosing death rather than to go against God’s laws they will reveal the glory of God in such a way that it would be a witness to every power and authority, created or yet to be created, for all of eternity.  During this battle the glory of the cross would be revealed, and the wisdom of God would be known in a special way.” (The Call)

The main point of this quote is that this final battle will be a demonstration; firstly of God’s people, but ultimately, through them, of the glory and wisdom of God.

THEY WILL NOT DIE FOR THEMSELVES.

Jesus did not die for Himself. By remaining faithful to God under the most severe circumstances, He won the right to open the book of life. Consequently, He died for God’s people. In the same way, God’s end-time people will not die for themselves. Their faithfulness under the most severe circumstances will be the final key to refute Satan’s challenges to the grace which God grants His people. Consequently, they will suffer for the benefit of God’s people in all generations. They will show, as a witness to all intelligent beings in the universe, for all eternity, that God’s grace to His people in all ages is perfectly justified. This will enable God to make an end of sin and for Christ to return:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).

THE DEEDS OF SATAN’S PEOPLE

THE PURPOSE OF THE PLAGUES

The sixth seal is not a single event, but a time period that includes the seven last plagues, concluding with the return of Christ. The plagues are not arbitrary torment. They are a test:

The frequent mention of God’s righteousness (Rev 15:3, 4; 16:5, 7; 19:2) implies that the purpose of the plagues is to reveal the perfectness of God’s judgments.

In particular, the frequent mention in the plagues that the worshipers of the beast do not repent (Rev 16:9, 11, 21) implies that the purpose of the plagues is to show that the people with the mark of the beast will not repent under any circumstances; that they have become haters of God—solidly confirmed in their ways—irreversibly committed to evil.

They will refuse to repent, even when confronted with clear evidence that they are wrong:

They will see that the plagues do not fall on that hated minority (Rev 16:2, 10) that tormented them so much (Rev 11:10) by proclaiming the truth (Rev 14:6). They will see that the plagues only fall on the followers of the beast. They must realize, without a doubt, that this minority is God’s real people.

But they will not repent. On the contrary; they prepare to war against God (Rev 16:14-16). This will validate God’s judgment of them. It will show that God has no other option but to give “them over” (Rom 1:24, 26, 28).

TEST OF GOD’S JUDGMENTS

The seven plagues will only fall at the end of time, but they will confirm the accuracy of God’s judgments of all people that lived ever since the creation of the world.

THE WAR AT THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM

Before the Last Judgment at the end of the Millennium (Rev 20:11), all the lost who ever lived are resurrected (Rev 20:5), followed by their war against the people of God (Rev 20:7-10).

Why are they resurrected? What is the purpose of this war? 

Before the return of Christ, the heavenly beings were able to see Satan in action as the accuser (Rev 12:10).  They also have been able to witness the deeds of angels and people.  But God’s people have not received this evidence. When they are resurrected when Christ returns, they will have questions about their loved ones. They may be surprised by some people they find among the saved.  To enable them to understand, God’s people are granted 1000 years to study the “books” (Rev 20:12) and investigate the causes and consequences of everything that happened (Rev 20:4). However, they have never personally experienced seen Satan or Satan’s followers in the way that the heavenly beings saw them. For that reason, God allows a final demonstration of the nature of evil.

JUDGMENT BEFORE THEY GREAT WHITE THRONE

I saw the dead, the great and the small,
standing before the throne,
and books were opened
” (Rev 12:12).

Every person’s life is presented from the open books. The wicked see themselves just as God sees them. Each person beholds the spiritual influences of good and evil upon his or her life. They see the choices they made. He who sees the hearts and reads the motives reveals sin to them with factual clarity. The lost will know why they are condemned. Every motive will be fully exposed. The lost will admit that God judges perfectly.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

  • The “deeds” of people, as recorded in the “books,” are the evidence that will allow God’s intelligent creatures to understand that God’s judgment, as contained in “the book of life,” are perfect.
  • When Christ breaks the seals, it symbolizes that He directs events on earth in such a way that the deeds of people will reveal their true nature.
  • God’s end-time people will show that the people listed in the book of life will choose death rather than going against God’s laws. This will justify God’s decision to save them.
  • The deeds of Satan’s people will show that they have become haters of God—solidly confirmed in their ways—irreversibly committed to evil.

ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN SEALS

OVERVIEW

REVELATION 4

REVELATION 5

REVELATION 6

    • Seal 1: The white horse is the gospel.
    • Seals 2 to 4: Bloodshed, famine and death
    • Seal 5: Who are the souls under the altar?
    • Seal 6 includes the plagues and concludes with Christ’s return.

REVELATION 7

REVELATION 8

For further reading on Revelation, I recommend Jon Paulien’s commentary. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

Man is judged by his deeds; not justified by the works of the law.

SUMMARY

MAN IS JUDGED BY HIS DEEDS.

This website argues that man is judged by his deeds. For example:

    • Jesus:The hour comes when all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have DONE GOOD, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have DONE EVIL, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-19).
    • Paul: God … will render to each person according to his deeds: To those who by perseverance in DOING GOOD … eternal life; but to those who … OBEY UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, wrath and indignation” (Rom 2:5-8; cf. 2:9-13).
    • Revelation: “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God… they were judged every man according to their WORKS“ (Rev 20:12-13).

This principle, therefore, is well established in the Scriptures. The question is how to reconcile this principle with Paul’s other statements that about salvation, namely:

    • By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom 3:20) and
    • By grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph 2:8).

WORKS OF THE LAW

That nobody is “justified” by the “works of the law” does not contradict the principle that man judged by his deeds:

    • The works of the law” refers to the external ceremonies and rituals of the Mosaic Law by which the Jews attempted to justify themselves before God. In this thinking, grace is not required; you earn salvation through the ceremonies and rituals. Paul opposed this view and wrote that nobody will be justified by “the works of the law.”
    • The “deeds” by which people are judged, on the other hand, refer to ethical behavior, or the lack there-of. These “deeds,” therefore, are very different from “the works of the law.” Furthermore, Paul argued that all people are sinners. For that reason, if we were to be judged purely by our deeds, we would all be doomed: Nobody will be saved (justified = put right with God) by good deeds. Rather, those people that qualify on the basis of their deeds, are saved by grace:
      • Judging by the deeds determines WHO must be saved.
      • By grace is HOW they are saved.

Consequently, to say that people are judged by their deeds does not contradict the statement that nobody is “justified” by the “works of the law.” 

THROUGH FAITH

People, therefore, are judged by their deeds but saved by grace. But then, why did Paul write that people are saved “through faith?” How can a person be judged by his deeds but also saved “through faith?

Actually, these are two ways of saying the same thing.

    • To be saved “through faith” implies that the person’s faith is assessed or judged.
    • That God judges our deeds does not mean that He judges only our external deeds. He also sees and judges the “inner man.” Therefore, to say that God judges our deeds should be understood as that God judges the entire being, including his words, deeds, thoughts, and desires. These things are determined by our faith or the lack of it. Therefore, to judge our deeds is to judge our faith.

– END OF SUMMARY – 

MAN IS JUDGED BY HIS DEEDS

This website argues that man is judged by his deeds.

THIS IS WHAT JESUS TAUGHT.

For example:

    • The hour comes when all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have DONE GOOD, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have DONE EVIL, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-19).
    • Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be JUSTIFIED, and by your words you shall be CONDEMNED” (Matt 12:36-17)
    • The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to HIS WORKS” (Matt 16:27).

AND WHAT PAUL TAUGHT

For example:

    • God … will render to each person according to his deeds: To those who by perseverance in DOING GOOD … eternal life; but to those who … OBEY UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, wrath and indignation” (Rom 2:5-8; cf. 2:9-13).
    • If you are LIVING ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are PUTTING TO DEATH THE DEEDS OF THE BODY, you will live” (Rom 8:13).
    • We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether GOOD OR BAD” (2 Cor 5:10; cf. 5:19-21; 11:15; 2 Tim 4:14).

AND WHAT REVELATION TEACHES

    • I will give unto every one of you according to your WORKS” (Rev 2:23).
    • I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God… they were judged every man according to their WORKS “ (Rev 20:12-13).

See Smashing Idols for a more complete list of examples.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

This principle, therefore, is well attested in the Scriptures. However, it is a departure from standard protestant theology. It conflicts with Reformed theology in which people are saved by grace and not by their works. In response to the works-theology of the Catholic Church, the reformers emphasized faith and grace, but they took it too far. The idea of grace and nothing else; that God decides who goes to heaven or hell, irrespective of what people are or do, is NOT consistent with the Bible. This article proposes a different perspective.

The rest of this article reconciles the principle that man is judged by his deeds with Paul’s other statements that about salvation, namely:

    • Nobody is “justified” by the “works of the law,” and
    • People are saved by grace through faith.

Paul was a complex thinker. To analyze his theology is difficult. Peter wrote:

Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you … in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort” (2 Peter 3:15-16).

WORKS OF THE LAW

Paul wrote that nobody is “justified” by the “works of the law” (e.g., Rom. 3:20). This does not contradict the principle that man judged by his deeds. We must read these statements in their historical contexts:

In the early decades of the Church, when Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians, there was a controversy in the church over whether Gentiles must observe the law of Moses (cf. Acts 15:5). To argue why they must, the Christian Pharisees said that “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). In response, Paul wrote that “man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal 2:16).

OF THE LAW

The difference between the words “deeds” and “works” is not important. For example, the NASB translates the Greek word ergon 65 times as “deed(s)” (e.g. Rom 2:6; Rev 20:12) and 96 times as “work(s)” (e.g. Matt 5:16).

But the phrase “of the Law” is important. Given the context in which Paul wrote,the works of the law” do not refer to good deeds in general (ethical behavior), but specifically to the external ceremonies and rituals of the Mosaic Law by which the Jews attempted to justify themselves before God. In the letter to the Galatians, the prime example is circumcision (e.g. Gal 5:2-3; 6:12-15).

The “deeds” by which people are judged, on the other hand, refer to ethical behavior, or the lack there-of. “The works of the Law,” therefore, are very different from the good and bad deeds by which man is judged.

BY GRACE

Another distinction is the need for grace:

    • In the Jewish “works of the Law”-thinking, grace is not required; you earn salvation through the ceremonies and rituals. Paul wrote that nobody will be justified this way.
    • Paul, on the other hand, argued that all people are sinners. For that reason, if we were to be judged by our deeds, we would all be doomed. Nobody will be saved (justified – put right with God) by their good deeds. In other words, we do not ‘earn’ justification by good deeds. Rather, those people that qualify on the basis of their deeds, are saved by grace:
      • Judging by the deeds determines WHO must be saved.
      • By grace is HOW they are saved.

People, therefore, are both judged by their deeds and saved by grace.

In conclusion, to say that people are judged by their deeds does not contradict the statement that nobody is “justified” by the “works of the law.” These are two competing means of salvation.

THROUGH FAITH

But then, if people are judged by their deeds, why did Paul write that people are saved “through faith?” Both “deeds” and “faith” define the person. While “deeds” describe the person from an external perspective, “faith” defines the person from an internal perspective. How can a person be judged by his deeds but also saved “through faith?

Actually, these are two ways of saying the same thing:

    • To be saved “through faith” implies that the person’s faith is assessed or judged.
    • That God judges our deeds does not mean that He judges only our external deeds. He also sees and judges the “inner man.” Therefore, to say that God judges our deeds should be understood as that God judges the entire being, including his words, deeds, thoughts, and desires. These things are determined by our faith or the lack of it. Therefore, to judge our deeds is to judge our faith.

ROMANS 7

Romans 7 explains this principle. Paul wrote:

I am not practicing what I would like to do,
but I am doing the very thing I hate.

I agree with the Law,
confessing that the Law is good
” (Rom 7:15-16).

The willing is present in me,
but the doing of the good is not.
For the good that I want, I do not do,
but I practice the very evil that I do not want
” (Rom 7:18-19).

I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
but I see a different law in the members of my body,
waging war against the law of my mind
and making me a prisoner of the law of sin
which is in my members
(Rom 7:22-23).

THE TWO PARTS OF MAN

Paul’s statements can be divided between the two parts of man:

    • In his “inner man” or “mind,” he concurs with “the law of God” and “would like to do” “the good.”
    • But in “the members of my body,” he is “a prisoner of the law of sin.” “I practice the very evil that I do not want.

In this, Paul serves as an example of all true Christians: They want to do good but they do evil.

SAVED THROUGH FAITH

But Paul concludes on a high note:

Wretched man that I am!
Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

(Rom 7:22-25)

In other words, despite of their evil deeds, God will free His people “from the body of this death.” If God judged us only by our external deeds, Paul would have been doomed, but God sees and judges the entire being, including “the good that I want” which reside in the mind and which is invisible to human eyes.

Paul does not use the word “faith” in Romans 7, but “the willing is present in me – the good that I want” is the result of faith. Faith, or the lack of it, is the driving force behind man’s thoughts, words, and actions. Both “faith” and “the good that I want” reside in the “inner man” and cannot be separated. Therefore, when Paul refers to “the inner man” or “my mind” (Rom 7:21-22), he is referring to faith.

We are trapped in bodies with sinful desires.  Every day we sin and fall short of what we are created to be. But if we have faith in God, we will want to do God’s will. Then God, by grace, on the basis of that faith, will accept us into His kingdom.

For a further discussion of these difficult concepts, see the article By Grace through Faith.

JUSTIFICATION
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