Judgment, forgiveness, and the believer

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by tominister, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. tominister

    tominister
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    Okay... I've got a little question to bounce around here. Or maybe it's not so little. And it's actually more like two questions, when you get right down to it. But I do want to bounce it around here!

    I'm not trying to advocate any particular position here; I'm trying to think through an issue, and I'm hoping ya'll can help me. This means that any answer someone gives, I may respond to with arguments against it, just to test it against the possible challenges it would need to withstand. And I'm still plugging away with my own resources.

    I'm coming into this with the clear understanding that loss of salvation is not a possibility (I'm not sure where everyone here stands on that, but I'm not interested in debating it.)

    Here's the textbook answer, the position I've held to for a long time (and would frankly love to keep holding, because it makes wonderful logic, and it keeps things nice and simple): All sin was judged on the cross. When a believer trusts Jesus Christ for salvation, all of their sins are forgiven -- past, present, and future. Therefore, at the judgment seat of Christ, sin will not be judged -- only service. It will not be a judgment unto punishment, but unto reward. The only "punishment" or "condemnation" in view would be that of not receiving rewards we could have had.

    This position gives a clear delineation from the RCC doctrine of purgatory, and it gives wonderful insulation from the possibility of loss of salvation.

    This viewpoint is supported by passages such as John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Hebrews 10:14-17 could also be strong support -- "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

    But then we reach passages such as II Corinthians 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." Note that we will not merely receive for good (which would fit with receiving reward), but also that we will receive the bad (not merely NOT receive for the bad). This concept of judgment fits with the parables related to judgment at the return of the Lord -- the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 and the parable of the unjust servant in Luke 12 both show hand-selected servants of the master being punished for their misdeeds upon his return. It'd be tough to relate both those parables entirely to unbelievers or to Israel.

    But even outside of those passages dealing directly with judgment, there's a problem with the textbook answer I gave above. Here's the problem. It breaks down right from the start. In some sense, believers still need forgiveness after salvation when they commit sin. Right after telling new believers that all their sins, past, present, and future have been forgiven, we show them to I John 1:9, which tells them to confess sins in order to receive forgiveness. Jesus Christ still works as our intercessor and advocate with the Father, and there's no question that God chastens (punishment for wrong behavior with the goal of correction) all believers. So the argument that all sin is forgiven at the point of salvation and therefore will not be judged by God doesn't seem to hold water, because He's judging sin in believers all the time, and believers still need forgiveness when they commit sin.

    There's no question that all sin was atoned for on the cross -- not just for believers, but even for those who never receive salvation, Jesus Christ died. (I John 2:2) But forgiveness is never applied at all to those who refuse Jesus Christ. And it's not applied at all to the elect (however you choose to define that) until the point that they receive Jesus Christ. I'm finding myself wondering if it's truly all forgiven (past, present, and future) then, or if sin can't actually be forgiven until it takes place. If that's the case, what is our guarantee that there will not be consequences for sin faced at the judgment seat of Christ?

    I note that the Holy Spirit is the "earnest" of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:1) "until the redemption of the purchased possession." So in some sense, redemption hasn't taken place yet (we are apparently the purchased possession, "bought with a price.") So perhaps, to use an analogy, the price has been paid, but the product hasn't been delivered yet, the receit hasn't been redeemed in some way.

    To wrap it up, three verses dealing with condemnation. I already quoted John 5:24 -- "shall not come into condemnation." Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (This is a case where which textual base you work from makes a big difference; I'm a TR guy, and this doesn't seem to be the place to dispute that.) And then James 3:1 "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." (Note use of future tense there -- if this just applies to something in this life, it would have already been ongoing, and thus more likely to have been expressed with the present tense.) There's three different words for condemnation there; I'm sure that has a lot to do with this. My best guess is that the one in John 5 applies specifically to eternal damnation, and that's something that no one who trusts Jesus will come into. The other two are a bit hazier for me, but they would fit very well with the idea that we will indeed be judged, with the possibility of condemnation, in the future, for what we've done in this life, but the condemnation can be avoided if we are walking in the Spirit (which is different than being in the Spirit -- we are all "in the Spirit," but, "walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.)

    In a nutshell: can someone help me demonstrate that the judgment seat of Christ will NOT involve the consideration of sins committed in this life? And in doing so, perhaps shed some light on the nature of forgiveness, as applied to the believer -- at what point is it effected in entirety?
     
  2. Ed Edwards

    Ed Edwards
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    I remember this story:
    I went to heaven, Peter met me there. He said all the bad things I did would be added up & the good stuff -- which ever was more would determine if I went to Heaven or Hell.

    To make a long story short, I ended up with 987,654 bad points.
    So I said "well, I tought Young Adults Sunday School class for 14 years"; OK sez Peter: "+14 points. "And i tought Men's class for 23 years"; OK sez Peter: +23 points. Well, with being faithful to my wife and usually kind to my kids and not kicking the cat too hard or two often, I ended up with 1,564 points on the plus side. 987,654 - 1,564 = 986,000 points on the bad side - I.E. 'go to hell'. Whoa! sez I, Jesus, I thought I could do better than that! Pete says "what about Jesus". Well I accepted Jesus as my savior. Oh, sez pete, why didn't you say something, that will PLUS a million points giving you a total of 14,000 -- 'Welcome to Heaven'!!

    Well, Peter has already opened the door to us gentiles as well as the Jews. So Peter won't meet us at Heven's door. In fact, it will be at the Bema Seat (Judgement Seat) of Christ where the rewards are handed out. For the years I taught Sunday School out of a sense of community serrvice - I'll get nothing (loss). For those things I've done for the right reason (cause I love Jesus) - I'll get great reward.

    The two statements quoted above go together, they are one thought. JESUS SAVES, and not ed.
     
  3. tominister

    tominister
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    Thanks for your reply. :)


    Right. And I'm not questioning that. I'm already stipulating, as is (to me) abundantly plain in Scripture, that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone, that loss of salvation is not possible, and that the so-called Bema Seat judgment is only for believers. This whole thread has to do with the believer, and I said in the original post that loss of salvation is not an option.

    That still leaves the questions I was asking above about the nature and timing of forgiveness as applied to the believer (preferably interacting both with the Scriptures that declare the price fully paid on the cross and the ones that declare God's judgment on sinning believers and the need for believers to confess sins to receive forgiveness) and sound Scriptural support for the idea that the Bema Seat will be in no way punitive (again interacting with the Scriptures I gave above that seem to suggest it may be). I'd love to go back to the textbook answer, the one I expressed in my post and you reiterated in yours -- but I need to see that it's consistent with all the relevant Scripture.
     

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