Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

judged over and over by works

6/5/16

 

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is one long story of judgment according to works. Even after Christ, the church could not escape an attachment to this form of judgment. Though the ethical teachings of Jesus rejected judgment and though Paul drew a sharp line between NT grace and works, the history of Christian Orthodoxy reflects no change from Judaism's emphasis on righteousness by works.

 

When the Bible says that God looks not on the outward appearance but judges based on the heart, aren't works included in what can be observed on the outside of a man? Are works then the proper basis for judgment by God or man?

 

Each of us is a mixture of good and bad works. How much good versus bad would qualify me to pass such a judgment? That is the basic unanswered question for any who anticipate a judgment of works. What are the acceptance criteria?

 

Some may find comfort in the assertion that, since God will judge our works, we don't need to worry about His criteria. It seems rather dismissive for those to be judged to express such disregard for the standard to be used. Since we must sidestep this question of how judgment works with God, why do we feel so confident in the human standards we use in judging our neighbors. If God's standard is unknown how can our human standard be so certain?

 

If judgment according to works is still God's way, what has changed with Christ? Israelites were judged in accordance with obedience to the law, which involved ritual acts and practices. If gaining God's approval still depends on obedience, as taught by Christian Orthodoxy, Christianity just becomes another iteration of judgment by works. Obedience means complying with rules and requirements. The works/acts/behaviors of the obedient are said to bring reward and those of the disobedient to bring punishment. In none of this story, Old Testament or New, do we ever get past judgment according to works.

 

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