August 20, 2012 by Jason Hood
As popular as it now is in some circles to deny that believers experience any judgment whatsoever, the New Testament (including Jesus in the gospels, Paul in Acts and his letters, and elsewhere in the NT) and early Christianity are crystal clear that Christian eschatology includes the judgment of our actions at the feet of Jesus.
Judgment of all is placed at Jesus’ feet in a variety of NT texts and the earliest creeds of orthodoxy, which include a comprehensive reference to the judgment of “the quick and the dead.” James proves the point when he warns of stricter judgment for Christian teachers (3:1).
Many wish to exempt Christians from all scrutiny on the basis of texts such as Paul’s insistence that “there is therefore now no condemnation for all who are in Jesus the Messiah” (Rom 8:1). But in context Paul is not teaching that there’s no critical analysis of our actions, words, and thoughts, or no consequences for misdeeds, but that Christians are saved from a judgment of death (7:9-10, 24).
There are a number of valuable things lost when we neglect, deny, or downplay this teaching:
- The NT regularly uses final judgment as a motivation for action and a warning against disobedience and carelessness.
- The notion that the Lord’s judgment alleviates our vengeance in the present surely applies to wrongs—however heinous, malicious, or mild—perpetrated by believers.
- For biblical writers, judgment testifies to God’s impartiality.
- In the historical creeds and the NT sources, judgment from Jesus is a matter of Christology, such that to deny this fact constitutes a dethroning of Jesus, a Christological error verging on heresy. Jesus shares Yahweh’s position as the Judge of the world, before whom every knee will bow.