Defining Good And Bad Works

Q. You’re fond of saying that we’re saved because of what we believe, not because of how we behave. So then, is it my understanding that when we are judged for the things “good or bad” as it says, it’s more of a review of self conduct, obedience, learning to resist temptation, these kinds of things? Is it more like what “rewards” we will be given so to speak? Since we are sealed based on our belief only, then what we choose to do with our lives is what merits rewards but isn’t necessarily “required” of us?

A. When Paul said we’ll all have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive what’s due us for the things we’ve done, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10), he was talking about the Bema Seat judgment, the only judgment believers will face. This judgment will take place after the rapture and is explained in greater detail in 1 Cor. 3:10-15 . In that context “good” is likened to gold, silver, and precious gems, and will stand the test of fire. “Bad” is called wood hay or stubble, and will be burned up.

In John 15:5-6 Jesus explained that our good works are those done in His strength and at His bidding (remaining in Him). They bear much fruit. The bad ones are those we undertake in our own strength. Regardless of the outcome they’re of no value to the Lord at all, and are like the branches the gardener prunes and burns in the fire.

You are correct in saying that this judgment will concern what we do with our life after we’re born again and what rewards we might qualify for.

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