I has been a source of perplexity to many that the Bible teaches that while we are saved by grace, through faith alone, we are judged according to our works, and that everything we have done, including our words and thoughts, will be evaluated according to God’s Law. (See Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; James 2:8–12; I Corinthians 4:5.) Furthermore, the Bible is clear that our reward is given according to our works. (See Revelation 22:11, 12; Matthew 10:42.)
This can best be understood when we realize that salvation is a gift of grace, but it is not an unconditional gift—everybody in the world will not receive it. It is a gift that is given on certain explicit conditions, and the condition that the person saved must develop a Christ-like character through the grace provided through the Holy Spirit. (See Colossians 1:27; Romans 8:1–17; I John 3:1–24.) “Man has fallen; and it will be the work of a lifetime, be it longer or shorter, to recover from that fall, and regain, through Christ, the image of the divine, which he lost by sin and continued transgression. God requires a thorough transformation of soul, body, and spirit in order to regain the estate lost through Adam.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 448.
It is because the judgment will examine our character in detail to determine whether we are to receive the gift of salvation that Paul says, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. Peter also referred to this when he said, “be diligent, without spot and blameless, to be found by Him in peace.” II Peter 3:14. The person who keeps God’s Word is the one in whom God’s character has been perfected (I John 2:5) and who therefore will have assurance in the Day of Judgment (I John 4:17.) “All should bear in mind that it is only those who are without spot or wrinkle who can stand acquitted before God. The temper, the taste, the thoughts, the feelings, —all must be brought to the test of God’s Word.” Signs of the Times, May 19, 1887.
We are not rewarded according to our works, because God owes us anything.”The capital was the Lord’s; the improvement is His. Had not the Saviour bestowed upon them His love and grace, they would have been bankrupt for eternity. But when the Master receives the talents, He approves and rewards the workers as through the merit were all their own. His countenance is full of joy and satisfaction. He is filled with delight that He can bestow blessings upon them. For every service and every sacrifice He requites them, not because it is a debt He owes, but because His heart is overflowing with love and tenderness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 361.
“We must each have an experience for ourselves. The work of our salvation lies between God and our own souls. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before Him, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching a scrutiny as though there were not another being on the earth. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the Judgment shall sit and the books be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot at the end of the days.” Signs of the Times, October 8, 1885.
We each have a case pending at the bar of God, and although Noah, Job, and Daniel were in the land, they could not save son or daughter. They could only save their own souls by their righteousness. It is an individual work for you and me. There will be every attraction to draw us away from Christ’s righteousness, and the human heart is inclined to selfish gratification. Every soul who seeks righteousness will meet with perplexities; but shrink not at reproach or trial. Jesus was reproached by the sons of men, and can those of His household expect a better portion? There is help for everyone who in humble faith seeks it. When you put all your powers to the stretch that you may become acquainted with God, you will have His power added to your weakness. Every soul that enters through the gates into the city will go in as a conqueror.” Signs of the Times, November 17, 1887.
Friend, are you serious enough about salvation? Do you realize how solemn and serious our short life in this world really is? Are you, day by day, preparing for the Judgment, which started in 1844 and will soon be over, with no further opportunity for salvation forever?
John J. Grosboll