Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.—1 John 2:28Thank you, most sincerely, for your patience over the last two weeks. We just completed filming 17 one-hour presentations to be released soon on DVD. But, rest assured, I’m back now, and thus this week’s E-sight. Thank you for understanding.
Over the course of the last two weeks I had the chance to interact with a young man who was quite distraught. He has heard so much about faith, God’s mercy, love and grace, but it had made no difference to him in a practical way. His fear, or rather lack of assurance, was still rooted and grounded. His question to me was, “Yes, all that is fine and good, but I’m still going to be judged by my works.”
I immediately understood his dilemma. And, yes, you cannot deny the plain, clear teaching of the scriptures that “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Romans 14:10) and, yes, Paul is clear, “each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12), and, yes, “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 Corinthians 5:10).
My friend was quick to also quote this well-known statement: “The condition of eternal life is now just what it always has been,–just what it was in Paradise before the fall of our first parents,–perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness. If eternal life were granted on any condition short of this, then the happiness of the whole universe would be imperiled. The way would be open for sin, with all its train of woe and misery, to be immortalized” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 62).
Where my new friend failed was in the fact that he did not continue reading to the next paragraph. The very next paragraph states, “It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God’s law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves righteous. Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned” (White, p. 62, emphasis added).
Did you catch that? Yes, the judgment is based on works, but whose works would you rather be standing in, yours or Christ’s? It is not your own righteousness that saves you, but the righteousness of Christ which saves you both now and in the judgment. This is exactly why eternal life is a free gift given to all. Jesus has given His righteousness, the condition of eternal life, to all.
Jeremiah is clear:
“In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness’” (Jeremiah 23:6).
“In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the LORD is our righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16).
Paul unequivocally states, “We shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). Not by our own. On that day, whose life would you rather answer for, the one you’ve lived–or the life that Jesus lived and has given to every man, woman, and child as a gift? There is not the slightest reason why each and every person should not pass through the judgment with all hope and joy, save the single fact that they themselves would not have it that way. Christ’s “works” have been given to all, whether any person receives them as their own is another question.
Be at peace, my friend, you’ve learned the fear of God, now learn to love Him. Begin to see yourself not as you are in and of yourself, but according to what you are in Christ. This is His gift to you.
“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:17-19).