Ames On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

Lesson 4: In that judgment the condition of the pious and of the impious will be utterly dissimilar and opposed.

This is taught in the text by the separation of the sheep and the goats, by the right hand and the left hand, and by “come, ye blessed” and “depart, ye cursed.”


  1. There is a great dissimilarity and opposition between the lives and ways of the impious and [those of] the pious while they are in this world.
  2. There is a great dissimilarity and opposition between the promises that pertain to the pious and the threats that concern the impious.
  3. There is the greatest dissimilarity and opposition between the manifestation of the greatest mercy and the manifestation of the greatest avenging of justice.

For admonition, so that we might separate ourselves from impious persons to whatever extent and in whatever way it can be done. That is, although we may not be able to be separate in regard to place, we ought to be as dissimilar as possible as much in the inner affection of our soul as [we are] from their outer conversation.

—William Ames, A Sketch of the Christian’s Catechism, trans. Todd Rester, ed. R. Scott Clark (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books), on Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 19.

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. I report that with which I do not agree, from Roger Olson.

    “But we must also agree that the rewards will be real and meaningful rewards for freely deciding to allow the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit to work in believers’ lives. My fear is that Calvin robs rewards of any meaning and implies that God is actually rewarding himself and not believers. If that is the case, why mention rewards at all? Why preach or teach heavenly rewards as motivation for obedience and service as the New Testament clearly does?
    Ah, yes…the Calvinist will say “foreordained means to a foreordained end.” Back to that. But this seems to take to an extreme a right emphasis on God’s sovereignty and glory. The upshot of it all, then, is that whatever a believer is or is not accomplishing is out of his or her control. And that at the judgment seat of Christ all God will be doing is rewarding himself. Now, this might make sense WERE IT NOT FOR THE DEGREES OF REWARDS ISSUE. Clearly there will be degrees of rewards. How is God glorified in awarding to himself a lesser reward than is possible?

    My point is that the Calvinist doctrine of rewards involves a conundrum. It actually makes no sense at all. Which is perhaps WHY preaching and teaching about heavenly rewards has virtually ceased. They only make sense within a synergistic view of sanctification.
    In the past, and perhaps to some extent still today, SOME Reformed preachers have taught that justification and regeneration are monergistic while sanctification is not.

    That doesn’t seem to fit with a consistently Calvinist understanding of God’s sovereignty, however, and as Calvinism has become increasingly consistent … any element of synergism, even in sanctification, is slipping away (if not totally condemned).

    It seems to me that heavenly rewards is an inescapable biblical truth. Calvin believed that. And yet it makes no sense within a strictly, consistently monergistic soteriology (in which even sanctification is interpreted as solely God’s work to the exclusion of any free human contribution in which “free” is understood as power of contrary choice).

  2. Duties that are rewarded need not be strictly earned. If not earned, then isn’t it of favor or grace? Fathers to their children is one example. Even more so for believers whose duties offered obediently in faith are still with sin (not full-hearted, double motives) and fall short of the only measure of acceptance – the law of God. Yet God accepts our imperfect obedience even as he accepts us though we are sinners, for Christ’s sake. God showers us with blessings that can only find justification in Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sin and perfect obedience under the law – for us. And it is to that end that Jesus continually intercedes for the saints that their imperfect prayers and duties offered in imperfect faith in him be acceptable to God our father (i.e. answered and rewarded with blessings). Who are we to object if God bestows by grace a reward on this or that saint for this or that duty?

    “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

    “…25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. 26In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Comments are closed.