Works And Grace In The Judgment

What this all means is that justification is God’s final judgment. As Wilfried Joest writes, “there is no second decision after justification.” In the language of the Reformation, the “sole and sufficient basis” for our justification before God’s eschatological tribunal is Jesus Christ….

Jono Linebaugh, “The Good News Of Final Judgment

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  1. I really love the eschatological approach to justification that this post presents. This is much needed as some of the future oriented references to judgement in Romans 2 that Linebaugh cites are used by Catholics in an attempt to disprove our doctrine of justification. I always point out that, that arguement is concluded in Romans 3 with “by works of the law no flesh will be justified,” so our understanding of Romans 2 has to comport with Paul’s own interpretation of himself.

    That said I have a question about the material. The text in 1 Cor. 3 that says “his works will be burned up but he himself will be saved” seem to imply that God doesn’t accept the works of certain believers at all. It is taken by some to imply that some Christians bear fruit and some don’t. So that you’ll understand where this is coming from, I’m talking about arminian dispensational teachers who insist that according to one’s choice, you may or may not submit to your life in any sense to Jesus apart from mentally assenting to his truth claims. How shall we respond to this? I understand that this teaching clearly goes against other scriptures, say Rom. 6-8, Heb. 11, Gal. 5, Eph. 2, etc. But I want to seek to understand Paul in 1 Cor. 3.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I’ve been thinking about this question recently, and have yet to come to a satisfactory answer in my own mind. If I pull the nearest relevant books off my shelf, I can see in Vos (‘Pauline Eschatology’), Berkhof (ST) and Bavinck (RD) a clear willingness to speak of degrees of glory and reward for believers in the new creation, and all belabour the point that this in no way contradicts, or undermines, the strict reality of justification by faith. Vos probably goes furthest, with the following as a illustrative comment of his position: “believers, although in their case no ‘earning’ in the strict sense is according to Paul’s general teaching conceivable, they are nevertheless admitted into a status within the regime of grace where with strict maintenance of the denial of merit, they are permitted to lay up a store of recompense for themselves towards the day in which all accounts are to be settled.” However, these three gentlemen mentioned all hold this broadly similar position.

    Do you know how this issue has been seen by the Reformed historically? WCF doesn’t appear (on a cursory glance) to mention varying degrees of reward, and I don’t have any other confession immediately to hand to check, but it would be interesting to know.

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