How Works Affect Life After Death

We are not saved by works, but works do matter after death.

2 Peter 2:9 – then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.

2 Peter 3:7 – But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (perdition – eternal judgment)

Matthew 12:36 – “But I say to you that for every idle word men speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment.”

Hebrews 9:27 – And it is appointed for men to die once but after this the judgment.

Everyone needs to know that there is a judgment day coming. Each person will be judged. Will we be judged by “grace” or “works?” Yes! However, salvation is not grace and works, but we all will be judged by our works. There is a believers judgment and an unbelievers judgment and at both judgments, works are judged.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 – For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil. 

Revelation 20:13 – The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

1 Peter 1:17 – And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear.

Revelation 22:12 – “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

The Bible is very plain on this. Every single person that has been born or will be born will be judged and rewarded or punished according to their works while on earth.

Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (Verse 9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.

I believe Christians have to be able to explain this to new believers.l It is so important that people understand that we are saved by grace and not works, but that their works will be judged. Our belief and behavior should line up with each other.

Our belief determines where we will spend eternity. Our behavior determines how we spend eternity. In heaven, we will be rewarded for our works. In hell, people will be punished according to their deeds and works. Dependant on where you go is dependant on whether you believe on Jesus Christ or not.

There will be two judgments: The Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, every person there is a believer. At the Great White Throne Judgment, every person there is an unbeliever.

These judgments are not to determine anyone’s belief. That was already determined while they lived. It will be the works and behavior that will be judged. It matters how you live. According to Scripture: If you are a believer, it will alter your behavior. God’s grace gives us the desire and the power to want to serve God.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (This was written to the church at Corinth – believers.)

Romans 14:10 – But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians Chapter 3, Paul is straightening out their argument about who led them to Christ. He tells them not to divide over this. Jesus is the only judge and we all will stand before Him and answer to Him.

1 Corinthians 3:10 – 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 heed how he builds on it. (Verse 11) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (Verse 12) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, (Verse 13) 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. (Verse 14) If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. (Verse 15) If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

In other words: You can be a believer doing works that will last forever and receive a reward. You can also be a believer and have your works burned up.

Matthew 6:1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Verse 2) “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (Verse 3) “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (Verse 4) “that your charitable deed may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

So yes, we can actually do something that we think is good and lose the reward from the Father, but get the glory from men. Jesus said that if our deeds are done right, in the right way, with no bragging, the Father Himself will reward us openly!

1 John 2:28 – And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at his coming.

Why would some believers be ashamed at His coming? Because they waisted their life by never doing any good works for another person. How many believers are going to find out when they get to heaven that they didn’t store up any treasures in heaven because they chose to do nothing for the kingdom?

The Great White Throne Judgment

Revelation 20:11 – Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. (Verse 12) And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (The books, plural, hold all the works and deeds. The Book of Life holds the names of those who believe.) (Verse 13) The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

Will an unbeliever, but a good person, but refuses to believe in Christ, is generous, causes no harm to others, will he receive the same punishment as a murderer or a rapist? No, because there are different degrees of punishment.

Matthew 11:21 – “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Verse 22) “But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. (Verse 23) “And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (Verse 24) “But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”

Jesus, Himself, was in those cities doing mighty works, and they rejected Him. And He’s also telling them, if He had gone to Sodom and performed the same miracles there, they would have repented and not been destroyed! This proves that there will be degrees of punishment in hell.

Romans 2:5 – 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,…

If a person knows this and honestly believes in a hell, why would they not choose Jesus to escape this awful place? It’s not just about trying to live right, it’s about being forgiven for all the rotten things we have done and being loved and protected like no other person could ever do for us. His name is Jesus!

And just so you know that there will be believers held to a higher standard: James 3:1 – My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 

Which judgment do you want to attend? It’s your choice!

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