March, 1996

Part I:


here are apparently many fine preachers today who teach us that apart from the event of the judgement where salvation is decided after the resurrection, Christians will again appear before the judgement seat of Christ to have their works examined to see if they have earned eternal rewards. Now as far as our salvation is concerned, these teachers say, and rightfully so, that we are to rely totally on the work of Christ and not on anything that we have done, and that Christ took on himself the penalty for our sin, therefore we are justified. This is to say on the one hand, in regard to your salvation, your works profit you nothing, and because of your faith in Christ, God grants you His righteousness, thus you are not condemned at this judgement; but on the other hand, these teachers say, that there is another judgement in which your works now count for something and earn for you eternal rewards! These teachers often make a distinction between pre- and post-redemptive works in this way: When you accept Christ, all is forgiven and you have a clean slate. From this day on your service for the Lord will be evaluated. You can earn points by doing extra work for the Lord. And if you sin, your points are erased. After the resurrection, there is a ceremony (the second judgement) where you will be rewarded according to your score.

Where did this idea come from? Let's look at the relevant scripture:

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

Confusion on this passage can result if the return of Christ suggests to you the immediate end of events on the earth, and the beginning of eternal life with Christ in heaven. But there is much yet to happen here on the earth. Christ is going to set up His reign over the earth. (Isaiah 2:2-4,42:4, Jeremiah 23:5) According to Revelation chapter 20, it will be another thousand years before the white throne judgement. Consider the perspective of the Corinthians. Christ had been on the earth during their lifetimes. They expected the return of Christ during their lifetimes. That means they expected to live out their years with Christ also on the earth. Judgement Day is far future in their perspective. The reward is to be given when Christ returns to this earthly temporal life. It is not eternal.

The word "saved" (Greek: sozo) (meaning save, deliver, protect) no doubt suggests to many that the rewards are eternal, if it means being saved from eternal damnation in this case, but the word is not always used this way. For example, consider the case of the bleeding woman:

"...for she said to herself, 'If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well (sozo)." But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well (sozo)." And the woman was made well (sozo) from that hour." (Matthew 9:21-22

The word "saved" could more easily refer to being saved from the fire. Also, how could it be suggested that a Christian teacher is in danger of hellfire for teaching wood, hay and stubble? You would have to believe a Christian could lose his salvation. So, the use of the word "saved" does not suggest that the "reward" in this passage is eternal.

The "Day" refers to the Day of the Lord and is an event when God inflicts His punishment on the earth:

Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up--and it shall be brought low-- upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan; upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up; upon every high tower, and upon every fortified wall; upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all the beautiful sloops. The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, but the idols He shall utterly abolish. They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily. In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made, each for himself to worship, to the moles and bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily. (Isaiah 2:10-21)

Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. "I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. (Isaiah 13:9-11)

Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty. (Joel 1:15)

"The Day" also does not suggest the "reward" mentioned in the Corinthian passage is eternal. "The Day" refers to an event (or events) that happen in this earthly life. To help see what the "reward" is, read the following shortened paraphrase in the entire context, from 1st Corinthians 1:10 to 4:21.

Brothers, I beg you, in Christ's name, that you all be in agreement, and that there be no divisions among you. Someone from the Chloe family told me that you have arguments. One of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, and perhaps one or two others. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wise words, so that the cross of Christ should be made ineffective. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Where is the wise? Where is the scholar? Where is the intellectual of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise that no flesh should glory in His presence. It is also written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." And brothers, when I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom for I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

The wisdom we speak from God is a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For who knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own "reward" according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a "reward". If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, (will not die physically in the fire). Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." Therefore let no one glory in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come-all are yours. And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the real motives; and then each one's praise will come from God. Now these things, brothers, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?

You are acting as though you are already kings! And in contrast we have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Again, yet shorter:

You are dividing the church by honoring one teacher above another. You are not as smart as you think and pride has clouded your judgement. Let Christ bring to light who deserves praise when he returns.

Because the Corinthians were criticized for bragging "I am of Paul" or "I am of Apollos" and the like, and because Paul said that these teachers would obtain their praise from God when God brings all things to light, the "reward" is likely a recognition for a job well done. Ironically, though the passage was written to teach the Corinthians not to seek after rewards for their teachers, it is now being used to encourage the seeking after rewards! The idea of eternal rewards is not consistent with the context!

For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10

This is another one of the major passages giving rise to the second judgement doctrine. Examine the context of this passage. Beginning with chapter 2 verse 14 and ending with chapter 6 verse 10, Paul is talking about his job: "ministers of the new covenant" (3:6), "we do not preach ourselves, but Christ as Lord" (4:5). The judgement seat verse is in the middle of this section. The insertion of the word "we" by translators is unfortunate (and does not exist in the Greek), for it causes readers to think that the "we" is Paul and the rest of us believers. A better translation is "For all must appear before..." indicating that all of mankind is the subject of the sentence, just as in verse 14 of the same chapter:

For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; (2 Corinthians 5:14)

A judgement seat in the Roman Empire was where a ruler sat to hear the business of the day, and perhaps decide the fate of a criminal. It is used that way in the book of Acts several times. Paul uses the word twice, here and in Romans 14:10. The idea of God judging mankind after the resurrection was well known to the church in Corinth, and it should be for all of us who are in Christ as well

"And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. "Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! (Matthew 10:14,5)

"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36)

"Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." (John 5:28-9)

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds" (Romans 2:5,6)

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27)

The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment (2Peter 2:9)

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. (1John 4:17)

Many who read 2 Corinthians 5:10 see this judgement seat as a second judgement seat that is exclusively for believers. But it does not say that it is a second judgement seat, nor does it say it is only for believers. Look at this verse in context with paraphrase:

...We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our goal, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive what one deserves for the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the fear of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well-known to God, and I also trust are well-known in your consciences. For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to glory on our behalf, that you may have something to answer those who glory in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, because we think this way: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him that way no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:8-21)

In context it is easier to see why Paul mentions the judgement - because of his concern for unbelievers who will face condemnation. That is why in the next verse he "persuades men" (to accept Christ). This interpretation is consistent with the entire context, where he is talking about his position, the apostle to the Gentiles. What he does by ministering to the Gentiles is "well pleasing" to God, and he offers the Corinthians opportunity to appreciate what he is doing ("to glory on our behalf"). It is erroneous to invent a second judgement for believers from this passage.

But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we all shall stand before the judgement seat of God. For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12)

Just because Paul is talking to believers when he mentions the judgement seat is no justification for inventing a second judgement seat that is exclusively for believers. Here Paul points to the judgement seat to say "Remember the judgement seat? That means that your brother in Christ already has a Lord, and does not need you to watch his every move and to tell him how to live". The dictionary meaning of to give "account" is "to provide an explanation or justification for" but only Christ can provide us with justification at the judgement seat. Suppose that you were employed as a sales clerk, and it turned out that $20 was missing from your cash drawer. You would "give account" by paying the $20 from your own pocket. Similarly if you are at the judgement seat of Christ, and it is known that you did something inappropriate (i.e. you sinned) you would "give account" by paying the penalty for your sin. But that cannot happen if you are in Christ, for He Himself paid your penalty. Before you ever approached the judgement seat, Christ restored that $20 to the cash drawer.

To translate Romans 14:12 with the phrase "give account" is misleading. The word translated "give account" is the Greek word "logos", the same word that John made such poetic use of:

In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God. (John 1:1)

A good translation of verse 12 would be: "So then each of us answers to God". The passage from Romans 14 does not imply that there will be a scene in heaven where God sits on his throne and asks you "Well, how do you account for THIS sin?" -and the whole heavenly host is looking down on you and yelling "for SHAME, for SHAME". It actually has no reference to any episode after the resurrection, and means: Stop judging your brother, since after all, he already has a Lord that he answers to (here and now) and does not need you as his lord as well.

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)

A "reward" is usually something we look forward to; an athlete or a race car driver may receive a trophy as a reward, or a reward may be a sum of money for a job well done, but sometimes the word "reward" in the English, as well as the word in new testament Greek (misthos) is something that is not pleasant. This word actually means to be "payed in kind for". The book of 2nd Peter uses the word to indicate something unpleasant for the unjust:

"will receive the wages (Greek: misthos) of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime". (2Peter 2:13)

A question to raise about the previous two verses is: who is receiving the "reward"? Is it believers only, or does it include everybody? On examination of the contexts, you will conclude it includes everybody. Therefore the "reward" will be unpleasant for some in the case of these two verses.

Think of your conversion to Christ happening in three steps. One: You understand that God will judge, and that the way you live will have consequences at that judgement. (This is the rewarding of each person, according to what he has done.) Two: You become aware of God's law, and come to the realization that you are a sinner. Three: You accept the Savior, receive the life of Christ, and His Righteousness, so that at the judgement, your reward is what Christ deserves, not what you deserve. Matthew 16:27 and Revelation 22:12 refer then, to step number one. The response of the Christian to these two verses would appropriately be: "Thank you, Lord, that I will not get the reward I deserve!".

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 'And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 'Therefore you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 'Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" (Matthew 25:14-30)

You may have been taught that this refers to how Christians will be judged when Christ returns, and you will receive an eternal reward according to how you used your ability (talents) to serve the Lord. But this cannot be the case, for a Christian will not be condemned (cast into outer darkness). It is important to find the lesson that a parable makes. Here the lesson is "to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away". There are two others places in scripture where the same lesson is given. The parable of the minas in Luke 19, and in Matthew 13:12. Note in the Matthew passage who the ones are who "have" and the "have nots". The disciples are the ones who "have" and can expect to receive more: "to you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:11). The multitude are the "have nots". Note also that the disciples can expect to receive more in this earthly life. So the modern teaching that the giving out of rewards in the parable of the talents parallels an event after the resurrection (a second judgement) is a fabrication.

Part II:


But now the righteousness of God apart from the Law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ...(Romans 3:21,2)

The very idea of a second judgement to evaluate our Christian service to decide our worthiness, or deservedness in the kingdom of heaven is contrary to the gospel. For in the gospel I learned that I am a sinner, and that if I were to be judged on the basis of my works, I would be condemned to an everlasting hell:

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one, there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:9-18)

In humility I accepted my failure to be acceptable to God by my effort, and I thankfully accepted what God freely offered me: a way for my sin to be dealt with, and eternal life. Because I trust that Christ took upon Himself the penalty that I deserve, God gives me His Righteousness:

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2Corinthians 5:21)

The Bible teaches that when you accept Christ, God gives you His righteousness. But when you expect rewards based on your works you are setting aside God's righteousness that was given to you, and you are trusting in your own righteousness.

The Bible makes no distinction between pre- and post-redemptive works. When you accept Christ, he forgives you for your sin, the sin you committed yesterday, the sin you are committing now, and the sin that you will commit tomorrow. And what is sin? Everything about us that fails to live up to God's perfect standard, as revealed in His law. It makes no Biblical sense to invent another standard of "achievements" by which we will ultimately be graded. This idea does not come from scripture.

Christ Himself said that there would not be a second judgement for Christians:

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:17,18)

The word here translated "condemned" is the Greek word "krino" which is most often translated "judge". Therefore Christ said "He who believes is not judged". It is the same word as in Matthew 7 and Luke 12:

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (Matthew 7:1,2)

"Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?" (Luke 12:57 )

And why have many translators used the word "condemned"? Because for a Holy God to judge a sinner, the inevitable result is condemnation. The only way to avoid condemnation is for that sinner to undergo a transformation: An infusion of the Righteousness of Christ.

If our works are to be judged to see if we deserve rewards, by what measure shall that be determined? The only measure available is the Law. So your "deservedness" must be measured by the Law. But the Bible says:

"I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." (Galatians 2:21)

Clearly the Law cannot be used for this measure:

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13,14)

In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:13)

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)

The Law then, was cancelled. Nor will your sin be mentioned at the judgement seat:

"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." (Hebrews 8:12, Hebrews 10:17, Jeremiah 31:34)

"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25)

You may have heard: "You better not sin, or you may lose your rewards." But nowhere in the Bible does it say that. But there is a verse in the Bible that tells us what will happen if you are in Christ, and you sin:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1)

Paul teaches us that if we sin, God's grace toward us will expand or "abound" to cover that sin. The more we sin, the more grace is extended toward us, making us justified in God's sight. Of course, Paul goes on in chapter 6 to give a non-exhaustive list of why it is a bad idea to sin. And there is also the consequence of discipline in this life (1Corinthians 11:32, Hebrews 12:5,6). But the threat of "losing one's eternal rewards" cannot be any more effective at preventing sin than the threat of an eternal hell. Paul demonstrates the failure of a man confronted with this eternal threat in chapter 7 of Romans:

But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. (Romans 7:8-11)

What causes some teachers to invent the second judgement? Perhaps this is the same as what they were taught by their teachers, and for them, getting along with their teachers was a higher priority than pursuing what is true. Perhaps also it did not occur to them that the doctrine of the depravity of man was inconsistent with the idea that works could earn rewards. Or perhaps when they first received Christ they were not overwhelmed by the undeserved, gracious, full pardon that they received, which put their works behind Him. Or perhaps the failure to understand a few verses caused them to lapse into a legal relationship with Christ. They must think of God as a distant disciplinarian with Whom they will meet in the far future and not as loving father who interacts with us with rewards and discipline here and now.

Or perhaps they do not believe that a knowledge of forgiveness, an assurance of salvation, an appreciation for the sufferings of Christ, the love of God and fellowman, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, are sufficient to produce righteous behavior. Perhaps they are afraid that no one will volunteer to teach Sunday School, and that you won't put enough money in the offering plate. So they invented this incentive to motivate you.

But what is my motive to teach Sunday school if I am expecting a reward? Isn't it purely selfish? Am I not just looking out for myself? But if I on the other hand am serving Christ because I am responding to what He did for me in love, isn't that love in return? And isn't that what He commanded?

"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12)

And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1John 4:21)

The teachers of the Second Judgement Heresy may be motivated by pride, expecting that there will be a scene in Heaven where in the presence of the Almighty, the entire heavenly host and all who are in Christ, they will receive accolades from the Almighty for all the sacrifices they made (or whatever "wonderful works" they have in mind). In other words, they expect to receive glory in the presence of the Almighty! But Christ explained to us what our attitude should be:

"And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'? But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' "(Luke 17:7-10)

Friend, if I am in jail, and you come to visit me, what is your motive? Are you here because you want to be great in the kingdom of heaven? Or because you care about me? Because if you are here for selfish reasons I want you to go away.

Friend, if I visit your church, and you approach me to greet me, are you really glad to see me? Or are you just earning points?

Friend, after the resurrection, when you go before the throne of glory, the judgement seat of Christ, your only saving grace is that you are in Christ. Do not say "Please give me my rewards, as my works deserve."

Let us call a spade a spade,

for those who love the truth

will love us for it.