What Judgment Lies Ahead? (#594)

After a brief contemplation as to whether or not Mark Zuckerberg is the antichrist or a pastor wanna be, and how much gets distorted in our lives when we have to monetize our gifts. After that Wayne and Brad fall into a conversation about judgment at the end of the age. Are we going to stand accountable to God for what we've done and said during our lives and how we've treated others? Scripture seems to suggest that we will. Or, does the Resurrection zero out our past and everything starts over from there, as many believe? As God's children judgment is not something we need to fear, but embrace with joy. Father is coming to set things right in the universe and that may give us the opportunity to be part of some amazing hearings in the brokenness of human relationships. What a way to start eternity!

Podcast Notes:
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45 Comments

  1. I am so disappointed with this discussion. I hear so much focus on performance so that we can gain. Too much about self reflection.

    For me I am so overwhelmed by God’s love for me and Jesus complete solution for all my failings. This love is not only for me but for every person. I so love God back for His love for me. It changes me in how I look, think, and act towards others who He loves just as much as me. I am learning to live out the Christ love that is inside of me. My mind is being renewed with His mind daily. I see that loving others is a primary way that I show my love to Christ. It is in my loving others that I hope other people will come to know God’s complete love for them. I want them to see His love by the way I love them.

    I am not seeking or focusing on any reward. I can not think of anything better than the Love I have experienced and want to share it with others. Focusing on reward feels too much like religion too me. I was once buried under the performance of religion and now have a simple faith. Loving God and loving others for me it is not a religious performance. It a natural outgrowth of Christ’s life within. I see that He is changing me and it will be great joy to place my crown at His feet. He is my reward and the life He has given me.

    I love you guys and appreciate your podcasts and the selfless giving of yourselves for others.

  2. How is what you talking about any different than “Karma”. This podcast makes for great Bible study. I know there are references to a hierarchy in the spiritual realms. We know there is evil. I don’t think this life is all a big board game.

    The “reward” thing has always kind of stumped me because I’m going to be happy just to have Jesus recognize me. No illusions of grandeur here. BUT if we look at “getting credit” for trying to right the things we have done wrong well that is something I can work on.

    I love the analogy of this life being a womb for the next life but lots of people believe this and are quite happy to leave Jesus out of the picture.

  3. Appreciated your comments Bev. To me there’s a lot of mystery as to how that will play out. Love your worda “just to have Him recognize me”. When the disciples asked whether the blind man suffered bc of his parents or his own sin, Jesus said neither….the focus was the glory of Father. So….no karma there according to Jesus. Yes….to work on setting right what we’ve done wrong….full plates for us to work on.

  4. Hi Tom, love the arena for different facets of the same topic. I see the different sides of what Brad and Wayne stated (implications of how we live here) and bc I too come from a legalistic performance driven background, I also am sortig through what it means to slowly live in freedom from that…coming to know God as He is…not who I imagined Him to be. What a rich combination of facets to brig together!

  5. I am just thinking out loud (through commenting) as I write these incomplete thoughts out.

    The way we live here – which is nothing compared to forever – creates rewards forever. Something about being held accountable for my living in this world for maybe 80 years, compared to 80000000000000000000…, seems unfitting and unjust. I am not presenting this as an excuse to do whatever either, but I do not understand how one earthly lifetime has such a significant influence forever!? Especially, since we are born with, or nurtured into the attributes of “lost…blind…sheep…even my righteousness is like filthy rags…knowing not what we do…seeing but we don’t see…hearing but we don’t see…”

    Perhaps we are measured against what we incrementally come to revelationally know and live in and act upon, versus what we ought to do. I don’t know. Are we accountable to the ideal standard, or what I am capable of in any given moment?

    Judged by the law of love, and how well I love others seems more fitting…I think. But even being judged by the law of love somehow seems not totally just in that I realize how much I stink at loving; and I do not know how to make myself any more loving than I am in any given moment. I can force myself to will and obey a prescribed way of being that is seen as loving, but my motives are still impure. Even if I want to do good and love, I realize I still miss the mark way too many times.

    How I live here pays dividends there (heaven) SOMEHOW, sounds fitting.

    Adding the the perspective of not wanting to usher people back to the religious treadmill of performance was reassuring, because I was sorta getting the feel of a good old fashion bible preachin on works and efforts and being and doing better for god, and earning my treasures in Heaven as a way of modifying my behavior (which may be no more mature than trying to motivate a dog to obey a command with a treat). I do not believe that is where either of you are coming from, but I still do not have a sound understanding of rewards in Heave.

    I wonder if those who genuinely do not have a focus on trying to earn a reward, are rewarded…again, I don’t know.

  6. Holy smokes, a few years back this pod cast would have totally freaked me out! I mean I would have been in deep fear and torment and I know I’m not alone. I was a bit surprised when I realized that I had lived through it (: What I know is that we are not alone in any of this because we were never meant to do it on our own. I also know that for many years the scripture was communicated and heard by me in a distorted way so when I get scared I back away for a bit and wait for the Lord to highlight what I need to know and sometimes that means I can let it go. Sometimes it’s realizing that it’s just not what he is talking to me about at the moment. Which to me speaks of rest and trust. More could be said but I think I’ll stop there for now.

  7. Just going to risk giving my opinion/beliefs on this subject. To my study, the plural “reward(s) is not used. It is singular “reward”, and I believe Jesus is the reward. He will judge the “works” (not us) we do to see if they are of our own efforts (hay and stubble) or whether they were done by his spirit, through us, as we walk in the works that he prepared for us to walk in. If they are the latter, he will get all the glory. Outside of that the other works will be burned up. As far as our failures, they are surely forgiven (done in our flesh – everything that is not “of faith” is sin).

    Gradations of position in heaven does not pass the smell test for me. It may be the thing I disdain most about earthly comparisons and grading (vertical strata). It often takes the form of something like “I/we are not perfect” but we are more behaviourly perfect than someone else is often implied, consciously or not. Our perfection and righteousness is complete in Jesus and our identification with/in him. Of course there would have to a significant deception involved if we think we have license to sin as a result of being forgiven in advance, but it is just a choice to live by the flesh as opposed to the spirit. I think implying license to sin is a relational deficiency emanating from a lack of engaging in the knowing OF god and deferring to an intellectual knowledge of what Jesus has given as a gift.

    I also take comfort in that I am made strong in my weaknesses. It would appear the weaknesses are not necessarily all transformed to behavioural strengths. If not so, then the question that arises after “re-commitments” or greater determinations is how much is enough (all behaviour based systems of religion).

    I guess if I’m wrong I should brush up on my “toilet cleaning systems” to fulfill my responsibilities in heaven….. As far as judgement by Jesus of believers, I think our focus will be on the glory and supreme sufficiency of our saviour and lord!

    • Thank you Tom for clarifying so much of what was going through my mind! Your words on the burning up of the self-works, made more sense to me than anything that was said in the podcast! I was so troubled and went back into that “works mentality thinking” even though I’ve been walking in Freedom for 10 years now! I wanted to say thank you for making your comments here, and being used by God to bring my thinking back into truth!

  8. I was pretty disappointed by this discussion as well. It even triggered some fear in me about facing Jesus, something that hasn’t happened in my thoughts of Him for at least 40 years. Obviously, fear isn’t from the Lord, so I put that aside. This was a pretty condemning podcast, though. I don’t care if there are stars in a crown for me Someday. I don’t even care whether or not I ever get a crown. How am I supposed to know whether or not I’ve done whatever it’s supposed to take to get a good job in heaven, anyway? – that was a new one. Honestly, I just hope I get to monopolize Jesus’ time there and that there will be plenty of chocolate around. The whole issue of our works burning up is the wrong focus. There’s a great picture in the book, Tales of the Kingdom, where the refugees who live in Great Park all walk through a circle of fire on celebration nights. Walking around in their day to day lives, they are unlovely and scarred. But when they walk, unharmed, through the Fire they become who they really are while everything they are not disappears. I can think of no better explanation for what was meant about our works burning up than that. Thanks for the many great conversations you guys have shared with us. Maybe this one needs to pass through the fire, though.

  9. from my experience, the more love occupies one’s heart, the more this life matters. the importance of what lies beyond is fading as love focuses my attention on this life…
    seems to me, that god’s judgment would be more helpful if it happened during this life instead of at the end. judgment that isn’t transformative in this life seems moot because it diminishes love’s purpose of rebirthing us into lovers; not performers. fear will never transform us into lovers of god or anyone else.

  10. I have to say that I agree with much that has been replied here. This podcast momentarily put me back in my Independent Fundamental Baptist church. I love Wayne and Brad and they have been so helpful to me–so I don’t want to negate that. However, I do think that Brad (and Wayne if he agrees with Brad) may need to do some re studying or at least some re-clarifying for the listeners. There is obviously some misunderstandings here. I agree with Tom…Christ is the reward and did He accomplish it ALL or didn’t he?
    The Mirror Translations has 2 Cor. 5:10 this way: “For we have all been thoroughly scrutinized in the judgment of Jesus. We are taken care of and restored to the life of our design, regardless of what happened to us in our individual lives, whatever amazing or meaningless things we encountered in the body.”
    The translator goes on with a long explanation as to why he translated it this way…going back to the original language/words used. I won’t take the space to type it all out here. I recommend the translation by Francios du Toit. (Actually called a paraphrase). It is still in the process of being translated.
    Regardless, none of us has it all figured out–not even Wayne and Brad. 😉 (We love you guys!) However, when in doubt about issues like this I find myself coming back to the question of “What is good news?” “What brings LIFE?” “What restores?” “What brings wholeness to me?” “Rest?” “Peace?” “What takes away my fear?” Only Perfect Love…and we are told that Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. The only Jesus to come and ‘judge’ is the same one that was here the first time. And He always showed grace and compassion…

  11. We did know this podcast wasn’t for everyone. For those it pushed back into some performance-based thinking I apologize and am glad to hear you’re processing it in a way that gets you back to love, even if you have to ignore it. Obviously ramping up condemnation or driving people to performance was not our intent. Brad and my conversations do not look to stay only in safe places. Neither of us found ourselves back in condemnation or guilt as we were trying to sort out what judgment looks like in the security of a Father’s affection, but also in his passion to set right the world and help us be healers within it. It has always been my view that the Father’s love doesn’t just leave us stuck in our brokenness but invites us to transformation in a way that liberates us and in a way that brings his light, love, and light into the world around us.

  12. We are all dead in our trespasses and sin when God calls us to salvation. We stand before His judgment seat of Christ when we are offered a Way of escape from death and sin. Nothing can hide a man or woman from the ultimate decision to accept or reject salvation. When an individual decision is made, one is either free from sin or consumed by it. We receive the mark our hearts choose…the Seal of the Holy Spirit or the Mark of the Beast (Sin).

    10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in
    the body, whether good or evil. (II Corinthians 5:10, CSB)

    Many read this scripture to mean that we are judged for our physical acts while on earth. A more careful reading of this entire passage, one discovers that Paul is addressing the heart desire of the seeker while in the body…rather than good or evil acts. Does the heart want good or evil?

    So often, Biblical scholars and readers automatically think of physical acts rather than read this as the spiritual desires of our hearts: “whether good or evil.” God is omniscient. He already knows our actions—from physical birth to physical death. Sins are not the problem. Our heart desire is what God judges…not our acts.

  13. One of the things I get from having listened to literally hundreds of these pod casts is an absolute confidence that these guys are always working to reveal what is probably the most important facet of Gods nature – which is his amazing heart towards those who will dare to trust that he is good, giving him the opportunity to draw us into trust and love of him as his children.
    Confession time – I literally can’t wait each week to listen to the pod casts and even though I regularly have to get out of town (go bush) for a couple of weeks every month or so to give the immune system a break from the colds and flu’s (which I seem to permanently live with these days) – I always look forward to catching up on the pod casts and find I am often laughing along with them, nodding knowingly to Jesus or finding myself pondering some new way of looking at it all that these boys have bought out in their conversations. Though I confess, I do tend to listen to the pod casts when I lie down for my arvo nap, and so if the conversation captures me I stay awake until it finishes – though now and then when it doesn’t, it helps me drift off to sleep [sorry boys, I had to say it :-)].
    Personally, I will always be grateful for you guys, and to you guys, and I am seriously looking forward to giving you both a big warm hug, whether in this life or the next (especially you old-timer as, if my memory serves me correctly, I already owe you one).
    There were some things that stood out in this conversation which, like many, I have given a little thought to over the years but couldn’t say I have really ever drawn it all together neither.
    Many of us don’t recognise that the Greek word we translate as ‘judgement’, in the context of a family based relationship (father and child) is speaking of something no different to what natural parents do every day with their own children e.g. as parents, we are constantly ‘making decisions’ about where our kids are at – especially in terms of whether a situation or circumstance requires ‘discipline’ (corrective training), corporal punishment (taken to the woodshed) – but never ever do we have to deal with the issue of capital punishment with them which, when we’re talking about our heavenly dad, would be the equivalent of eternal separation. And we all know that in our relationship with our kids, that as quickly as we can, we must clear the air in our relationship with them otherwise if they remain concerned that something is still coming in the future for any misbehaviour, disobedience or harm done in relationships, they will shrink back from us in our everyday relationship or friendship with them.
    It is, in my opinion, absolutely no different in our daily relationship with Jesus or our heavenly dad. And so I have come to accept that I get to have a fresh start every day with my heavenly dad even though it may take some time to work through some of the things that are problematic – such as me doing harm to my relationship with him, others or myself.
    When it comes to the whole concept of the ‘bema’ “judgement” and what we often refer to as ‘rewards’ – I have little to no doubt in my mind that Paul was making reference here to the Greek Olympic Games of his time and at this stage, I have come to think of the ‘race’ that he refers to as the race we all run or participate in as being all about our striving in this life against the principalities and powers of this age – with the ultimate goal of the race being all about our taking our place in his new Kingdom family. This approach will naturally have us striving against that ‘alien invaders’ attempts to sabotage our walking and working with Jesus and each other in oneness and unity, freedom and love as one family under one father, giving us a greater or better opportunity to fulfil his redemptive purpose for us individually and collectively in this life also. I think this is a good article for those who want to explore the ‘bema’ issue a little more https://bible.org/article/doctrine-rewards-judgment-seat-bema-christ
    Transformation for me in my mind is a clear product of God’s work of first ‘restoring’ certain areas in our relationship with him (and each other), then out of restoring those things, then ‘releasing’ us i.e. through restoring our trust and love of Jesus himself as our only real and only reliable source of truth and paternal care in this life, Jesus is able to release us into ‘truth, release us into righteousness and holiness and release us into good works or serving his redemptive purposes in this life.
    I could go on but I think you are getting the picture here and once again, this post is getting a bit long – but it appears there is a bit of space here this time 🙂
    Again, I will always be grateful to Brad and Wayne for what they do here and one of the reasons, to be quite honest, is that the idea of sitting down in front of microphone and do what these guys are doing week after week totally terrifies me – as they don’t sit down and premeditate or pre-plan what they’re going to talk about and do hours of research lining up their theological ducks on that issue to make sure they don’t tread on toes, they just come in with one or two things on their minds or an email or something someone has said on a post and see in what ways God might encourage us all ….

  14. Just a kind word and a note of caution to some of the folks reacting to the podcast: Knowing that it would be a challenge to some (or many), I would prayerfully encourage you to give it another listen… Having read many of the comments here, I went back and listened to what we shared — and as opposed to apologizing for it, I really would stand wholeheartedly, 100% behind what we talked about. I listened to not just our words, but the context and the heart with which I know we discussed a challenging and often misunderstood subject, and I didn’t hear anything I would want to change. I would say it again, louder and give chapter and verse if necessary. Whether we like it or not, believe it or not, or think that it gels with my present understanding of God and his nature, or not — the truth is we will all face judgment and the fruit of my life in God will in fact be evaluated, the quality of my work, the reality of my heart and motives in it, etc. There is no inconsistency with that and a loving God who is full of grace and mercy. Salvation is different than the reality of eternal rewards. My life and work will in fact be tested by fire, and if it was done in faith, out of obedience to Christ, in response to God’s love, and the motive is one of worship of God and serving others as opposed to self–that is the stuff of gold, silver, and precious stones –that will endure, for which my labor will be rewarded. Stuff done for the wrong motives and self-seeking in nature (wood, hay and stubble stuff) will burn — and I will suffer “loss” in that regard. The scriptures surrounding all that are not vague and unclear. I think our reactions to past abuses or religious performance treadmill stuff may cause us to hear things of that nature as something to reject, but I would encourage you to not do so. Study it for yourself and come to your own conclusions — I don’t need you to believe or validate mine. Romans would define sin– as anything that you and I do, that is not done from faith (my having a genuinely examined conclusion, an educated conscience, and established conviction of what I believe is true, what God’s word says on a matter…). We are encouraged (Rom15:22) –the faith which you, have as your own conviction before God. and Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. Acting without knowing, failing to study and search out a matter, so as to have an informed conviction of what is right and wrong… and my going ahead anyway … is what Paul is saying for us NOT to do — the doubt and double minded-ness behind that is my not acting in faith and brings condemnation. Part of the work of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth, is to come into this world and covict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment… (John 16:8 — and read it in context). there is a lot more that Jesus wanted to say to his disciples on the subject, but they could not bear them, at that time. This is a subject I have actually studied in depth for years and wrestled with… and as for me, I am fully convinced of the reality that each one of us will be evaluated (judged) and the who I have become as well as the what I have done all matters — God really does see and know, and he honors and rewards the fruit of our labor in the kingdom. You can perhaps twist the motives behind that, but if you really do know God and His heart, I’m not thinking you will — the heart of what we were talking about is a life of gratitude that is lived out as an act of worship in response to God’s love and under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. As someone who revels in the whole living loved dimension– I think it is wonderful news that God sees and knows and He cares about what I do… I love that it matters to Him. And my whole passion is to say “yes” to Him and invite His work to transform me and not stop. This isn’t some goofy religious performance treadmill — it is a desire to make the most of the time that I do have, and do so in step with His leading in my life. If that is to “rest” and soak and savor in His affection — then do so! (I’m not sure we are meant to ever leave that place as our foundation) — but there is also genuine work for me to do, a calling to discover and pursue, and fruit that has chosen for me to bear, and for that fruit to remain ( not burn)… I don’t see how that is contradictory or in conflict — it’s part of the divine dance and my response to His leading and direction in my life. No need to fear or to be in condemnation — because I no longer have a passion to just live for my own ends, but rather to actively engage in the joy and privilege of His work in the earth, however that is to be expressed in and through me.

    If you want to chase down some verses to grapple with: 2 Cor 5:9-10ff, Col 3:17, Mt.5:21-37, 12:36-37, John 5:29, 1 Cor 4:5, Rom 2:16, Eccl 3:17, 11:9, 12:13-14…. and those are just a tiny sampling; grab a concordance and go for it. There is a treasure of wisdom to be discovered. Judgment for the believer is not something to be feared, but something we can joyfully be excited about when we know His heart and what He is seeking to do in and through us.

    If I am a knuckled-head on some misguided road — pray for me. But as for now, what we shared in this podcast is something I would wholeheartedly stand behind as an integral part of this journey.

    • Because it was troubling to me, I had initially listened to the podcast twice. After your comments Brad, I listened to it again. Once again I was troubled. When you asked for prayer, I trust it wasn’t said as a flip reaction to apparent agreeing to disagree and leaving it there, but rather as a call to let God sort this out in all of us believers. I too would ask you to pray for me for that purpose.

      Not just as as a disclaimer, but I do appreciate you and Wayne for so much of what you both share. Do I agree with all of it, not always. Sometimes I take matters to God for clarity or dare I say, adjudication/convincing. But I am always open to change in my convictions or beliefs. Sometimes I come to see differently and sometimes my beliefs are strengthened – in a kind of synonymous with encouragement way.

      In re-listening, I heard explanations that seemed schizophrenic at times. An example would be at 13:40, you state “…judgement seat of Christ as a fearful thing”, but then efforts are made to emphasize that the judgement should not induce fear? Then there were the references to things that “weren’t dealt with here needing to be dealt with there”. I think everything was dealt with at the cross. I also took notice of when the question of varying degrees or amounts of rewards was asked, how often the disclaimer of not knowing what all that is or how it works was invoked. Is it possible that is because the logical extension of the premise betrays the fact that the premise may be faulty/non truth?

      I’m realizing as I write this how inadequate typing comments is when I would love to engage in a face to face discussion where the goal isn’t to convince the other of their wrong, but to allow the holy spirit to direct the conversation where he would will it (resulting in agreement, or more questions, or holding some things a little more loosely for further clarification or transformation as the process of all of our journeys evolve, etc.)

      In your comments you reference John 16:8, but you seemed to have turned it into the holy spirit convicting us (believers) of sin, righteousness and judgement. You encourage context, but I would respectfully suggest you even misstated what it says. Verse 9 clarifies that he will convict (convince to the point that one holds an accurate/truthful conviction) unbelievers (the world) of the sin of not believing in Jesus – that can’t be us believers, us (believers) of righteousness (imputed to us in reality despite the fact that we don’t physically see him) and judgement, seemingly Satan as he references the prince of this world. I believe the so-called conviction of the holy spirit of sin in/of believers (as it is so often used/misused) is a huge stumbling block. Who does the scriptures say is the accuser of the brethren? I believe the holy spirit comes to believers and convinces us of our righteous identity as a reality and invites us to live by the spirit (in his power and way of living) and convinces us that living according to our flesh is not good for us (reference podcasts on sin is its’ punishment) or the kingdom.

      When I read “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”. All too often I hear “so how do we love him? … by keeping his commandments is the answer given. I would suggest this is not helpful. What is the driver/causal agent in what god says there? Loving him (causal dynamic) will produce the effect of keeping his commandments. Our focus is engaging in the knowing of and loving of him trusting he will produce the desired effect.

      Then there was the Fram oil filter analogy, you can pay me now or you can pay me later….. I would suggest Jesus paid it before/now and forever. Again, if anyone is taking the facts of the gospel and its’ implications as licence to sin, or it doesn’t matter …well that is just a whole different discussion. I believe it is more tied to the depart from me I never knew you dynamic. I think it is what not taking the lord’s name in vain is about as opposed to blaspheming his name in the language people use when cussing.

      I would highlight that I believe we are encouraged to confess and deal with sin against another for the purpose of healing, but I don’t believe in confessing to god in order to get ongoing forgiveness. We live in a state of forgiveness/perfection gifted by him, our righteousness. Of course I don’t mind my deeds being judged, but that is because of who is doing the judging and the purpose for that judging. But do “I” want to be judged based on my deeds, no! I want myself judged based on the deeds of Jesus. I trust that I am judged by god as he judges his son (I am told I am also his son – that is, just like Jesus.

      How I would love to hang with you guys, but circumstance prevents it physically occurring (I couldn’t afford the Israel trip …smile…) but am thankful for the connection in the “electronic world” (although it is always limited and never fully satisfying – if I had the choice it would be physically personal). Until convinced/convicted otherwise, I maintain that Jesus is the reward. Our actions will be tested to see if they were his and thus bring glory to him, or burn up so as to “keep pure” his glorious being and deeds. If our “good and right actions” are judged/tested as real, who gets the glory? When I see god working through someone, I am disarmed by the sheer glory I see as I see him, god, in and through that person’s deed. It seems relatively easy to make that discernment (particularly in the many apparently fraudulent claims of religious performers invoking god in vain when it appears to be little more than human effort for some fleshly purpose (monetizing, building big organizations, manipulating the poor or seemingly easily deceived, etc.)

      I read the references you suggested and I am not convinced otherwise (for one thing, many were OT and pre-cross despite being in the NT, not unlike the sermon on the mount whose purpose was to point out we can’t do it/meet the required standard that Jesus meets). Could we both be reading the same scriptures and accurately coming to different convictions/beliefs, probably not. However we can journey together trusting that god will continue to renew our minds in all areas as we choose to live by his spirit inside the big soul rather than the confines of our flesh. I trust you will pray for me and I will pray for you. May we see him increasingly clearly.

      As regards heaven, I base my confidence and the resultant joy on the one who will do the judging. His words often state “heaven is like…..” . I believe this is because we can’t ‘think or imagine ” it with a degree of specificity that would in anyway tempt us to try to control the resultant reality that is completely in his control. I believe I am seated in the heavenly’s with Christ Jesus now…. do I fully comprehend that all now, no, but the mere taste of it, and gazing upon the one who said it, gives me freedom, rest and gratitude.

      Peace, my brother.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more. Whether we are “right” or “wrong” theologically …God sees my heart and gives me my heart’s desire…I totally want only Him! What a wonderful “rest” to know that we are His eternally.

      • Thanks Tom, I was going to write something very similar.
        Sorry Brad, I respectfully have to disagree with you on many levels.

        I am placing my full confidence in the works of Jesus Christ, HIS righteousness, HIS obedience, HIS faith. My best efforts are going to fall short. I embrace that fully that God works in use to will and to do, that He is the potter and I am the clay, that He is the vine and we are the branches, He is the author and finisher of our faith. From this place of understanding I can yield myself to the Spirit to help me grow, to love through me.

        But if he chooses not to work in some areas, or I am not ready for Him to work in some areas, and then die, it seems to me that to be judged and not rewarded for being unable to do so because of His decision to not work this out in me, makes all the above concepts lies.

        The reward is Jesus. If we put our faith in Jesus then our works are not judged because we are in Christ. If we choose to live by the law and base our life on works, then we will be judged by the law, and since we all fall short, we are condemned. My ability to love does not come from trying harder or being motivated by reward, this sounds like the flesh. My ability to love comes from “walking in the Spirit”, having Him love through me, being changed by Him, and receiving His fruit as I abide in the vine. This is natural outworking that happens over time. I do not need the “carrot” of rewards, or the “stick” of reprimand for not achieving these rewards to motivate me. Rather His kindness leads to repentance (changing of my mind) and also to the renewing of my mind. As that happens, the rest starts to fall into place. And He gets the glory because He is doing it in me. Any crowns per se, are cast at His feet.

        The rewards concept for me is old covenant, old testament based. The epistles never talk about “rewards”, simply “reward” and that reward is Christ. When I come before Christ, I am putting all my eggs in the basket of Christ’s accomplishment, and anything good that I have done accomplished is His work of grace in me. I know how hopeless I am in trying to accomplish righteous behaviour in my own strength. And if I now have to strive for some form of hierarchy of rewards in heaven, I know I will be prone to try in to accomplish that in religious fleshly attempts. Which is not faith and not pleasing to God.

        I think the concept of “rewards” as described in this podcast are used to try to encourage or even manipulate Christians into behaviour modification. When Christians are not “behaving properly”, I want to be cautious and not judge them. Perhaps they are not ready. Perhaps God is doing something else we cannot see. You cannot see in me what God is doing but He is at work on something. Maybe not the thing that is bothering you, but He is working in them if they believe in Him. If I screw it up, I hope that some grace is extended to me when I get it wrong. And likewise I do the same for you.

        I have come to outright reject the concept that that my works will be played out before God at the judgment seat. For the faithless they will be judged in their works. If my works are looked at, I will plead the blood, and remind the Judge that I am in Christ and therefore perfect. And I get all His rewards, and His inheritance. What can be better than that?

        Of course all of this is with the understanding that when I come to faith in Christ, the Spirit enters me and begins to do a work in me – and that I am in agreement with that that concept. If someone simply want religion and the doing good works, then does the Spirit even dwell in the heart in the first place? I am not sure some “Christians” are even true believers these days. But that is a whole other topic. 🙂

      • Hey Tom,

        Yes, face to face conversation would probably be a whole lot better than the limits found here. I wish I had to time to parse through all your different points of concern; I’ll try, but unfortunately the present demands don’t afford me the time to do that very well. I think there is a fundamental difference that is revealed in Scripture between the nature of our receiving the free gift of salvation that has everything to do with the finished complete work of what Jesus did on the cross and nothing to do with my works, other than whether or not I opt in to relationship with Him or not, and receive the gift. My eternal destination, entrance into heaven (salvation/being born again) — I assume we would be in agreement on–is all about what Jesus did. But the Scriptures would also reveal that there is this thing called the judgment seat of Christ, which is for believers — not unbelievers. Unbelievers will appear at the White Throne Judgement — that is not the same as the Judgment Seat of Christ. I get that you may not like the notion that there are different gradations in heaven, and that it doesn’t pass your smell test — but I’m not sure how else you interpret 1 Cor.15 :41-42. Paul is talking about how just as the stars differ in glory, so shall we in the resurrection. in 1 Cor 9:24ff he uses athletic analogies and admonishes us to run in such as way so as to win; he speaks of those who compete in the games do so for a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable, and encourages us to do so exercising self-control, discipline and with vision/aim such that we might not be disqualified. I won’t pretend to have the definitive interpretation and to suggest I know exactly what all those things mean or how they apply, but taken in context, the clear implication for believers is how we live down here has ramifications in regard to the hereafter. I personally don’t have much of any struggle with that. Not sure what the bad smell is. There are even red letter Scriptures from Jesus that are admonishing us by way of analogy to be ready for the coming of the Son of Man much like men waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast. (Luke 12: 35-48) — The disciples were scratching their heads wondering if the parable was for them or for everyone else… and the answer Jesus gave was to ask them a question in response: “Who then in the faithful and sensible steward, whom the master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?”… Blessed is the slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. — and then he speaks of the unfaithful ones who would receive lashes, and how there is a standard of gradation in accordance with the light and knowledge they had…. You look at the parable of the talents and the reality is that we are not given the same things, and we are not all judged according to the same standards. I’m not competing with anyone else — I am looking to live in obedience to His direction for me, my life, the stewardship of my life in response to Him… and the big take away for me, is not worrying about the minutia of the specificity of the reward, but understanding that what I do matters, how I live here in this life is important, and what I do with what he has entrusted to me is all going to be assessed. Is that sobering? I most certainly think it is — but in knowing His heart and how He has been at work in me, both to will and to do– precisely because I am not seeking my own, as sobering as it may be– it’s not something I need to fear. You hear that as schizophrenic. I don’t. I don’t think the fear of the Lord is something we throw out. I don’t live in fear, but rather seek to be motivated by love. Love is what displaces fear in me–but knowing the reality that I will have to give an account for my life (as a believer) — the reality of judgment (consequences) operates much like a check and balance on the pull and enticement of sin. I don’t want to do that stuff — not worth it now, and not worth it then. I don’t hear or perceive that as lifeless, legalistic religion — I see it as the beginning of wisdom. Salvation and eternal rewards are different. People seem to stumble and get all bothered by the notion of rewards and the suggestion of difference and gradation (or strata as you put it) — but I think you have to do interpretative gymnastics to just dismiss those? ( Reading all of Mt.25 — the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the talents, and the judgement of nations, separating of the sheep and goats. — cf. Luke 19:11-27.). Clearly folks are given different measures, and the main and plain is that they will be evaluated for what they did with what they were given, and would be judged/rewarded accordingly. The notion of the “one and done” oversimplification I think is lacking and ignores much of what both Jesus and Paul are declaring in the NT that relates to the age to come. We as believers will have the fruit of our lives “judged”, evaluated… honored/valued (as someone else suggested)–not for the merits of salvation, but for the determining of rewards that relate to the hereafter. We are encouraged to make the most of every opportunity knowing the days are evil, to take head how we live, how we build, that the motives in our heart matter, and to be encouraged that the present, momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison …. I am encouraged by the fact that God sees and knows and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. That’s not a treadmill, it is a motivation to live in light of eternity. That may not speak to your concerns … but for me, they are positive encouragements that instruct and motivate me to give myself to the things of the kingdom. If it doesn’t for you — not a bother. Each one of us is supposed to follow His voice as the One True Shepherd would direct you. I, too, trust the God of Justice to do what is Right — His judgments are true. Fix your gaze on Him and I’m pretty sure He as the phenomenal leader He is knows how to lead and guide us. Much love!

        • Hi Brad,

          Thank you for responding to some of the comments. It is a significant dynamic engaging you, whereas circumstance has limited my knowing of you mostly to knowing something about you (as gleaned from hearing you on podcasts and reading some on line).

          I don’t think there is much disagreement that faith is about more than a ticket to heaven. Eternal life (the life of God) is in the present (and forever in the time context -part of knowing God is understanding him inside and out of time). Perhaps when it comes to “how then shall we live”, I believe that “delighting in the Lord and He gives me the desires of my heart” (the actual desires) so that I choose (having my will directed by Him) what I want, not out of compulsion driven by any form of quid pro quo, just love dominating the dynamic and casting out unhealthy or debilitating fear along the way, as you highlighted. (no should dynamic driving the bus). I suspect we are on the same page. What remains is an appreciation of the gloriousness of God and the privilege of sharing in the life of the One who is “being itself”, the Life, Truth and Way.

          Just quickly, I see some of what you reference (example – varying “glory of stars”) as an issue of uniqueness, not strata. It would not be dissimilar to the makeup of the body of Christ (isn’t it saddening how often differences can be stratified)? We live from glory to glory, not glory to “gloryer”. Jesus is the prize at the end of the race. You talked about no lying in heaven, how about no comparing that on earth so easily leads to shame and envy or arrogance. Like your podcast tag line says, slinging freedom all over the place.

          I hope you don’t mind if I share one story from my journey in the grace dynamic. I believe grace is not primarily a thing (as in a noun) but rather a means (as in a verb). Jesus is full of grace and through Him (and it) He “delivers all of Himself and His attributes” and empowers the life of God that we live in. The story is not meant to back door any kind of “lesson/point” in the discussions all have been engaging in.

          Very quickly, my dad was a “Baptist” pastor. He grew up in Russia, went through horrors of war, starvation and exile to labour camps. One can only imagine the cultural and experiential influences in his life. We enjoyed a very close relationship that deepened with the years. I say “only imagine” because there is likely no need to give the numerous examples of legalistic beliefs and, actions and attempts at controlling his behaviour and many others that touched his life. I raise that negative only in light of one of the points of the story. He truly lived his life for God (the best way he knew how, as he would so often say) and the fruit God bore on his branch seems substantial. At times he was frustrated with my behaviour(s) and the questioning that my pursuit of the “real God” involved. I suspect he wanted me to follow in a life “in the ministry”, but I ended up in policing, spending the majority of that career as a detective/investigator. (I reveal that at the risk of people’s potential misunderstandings of what cops are and the greater risk of suspecting that I may be trying to police people in my personal life as relates to journeying together…smile). Well, talk about “life in the world” and trying to separate from “of the world”, well, no place for “war stories”. Cliches and Christianese were tested and understandings developed inside the crucible of life “outside the bubble”. The unpacking continues….

          In the last years of his life we lived several thousand miles apart. About 2 months before he passed, he visited for a week where just he and I had alone time to talk face to face (as opposed to on the phone). All I can tell you is it was deep and meaningful. We shared about the love of God and all that had transpired in our lives and in our relationship. Not surprisingly, I was talking a lot about grace because it was the focal point (as a means) of having resolved so much as in “finding the real God”.

          However, despite so much discussion, I was slightly saddened how exploring grace always ended with him expressing some version of “grace yes, BUT…..”. Perhaps it was just the challenge of expressing ourselves within the limitations of language and personal understanding.

          On the morning I received news of his death, I made some travel arrangements and then went for a walk. My emotions and thoughts ebbed and flowed, taking numerous paths. At one point (and I remember exactly where I was in this familiar park), I heard (thought) something that I believe was the Holy Spirit. (All the discussion that has taken place in the podcasts and elsewhere, about “hearing God” is a beneficial focus of our understanding within the dynamic of our knowing of God. Words to adequately describe it can seem so limiting!)

          Anyway, my thoughts became singularly focused on the following discourse. I believe it was the Holy Spirit and what I heard was this “Tom, your dad wants me to deliver this message. He wants you to know that he gets it”. Please trust me that there was zero “I’m right and vindicated” dynamic whatsoever. Could it be argued that the thoughts were a product of the emotional and psychological dynamics I was experiencing that morning ….well, have at it … Perhaps the way/atmosphere in which the thoughts/message/communication came plays a big part in my believing that God spoke to me (not isolated to this one instance). Somehow, I was freed up to only remember the good about the times we experienced life together on this earth.

          Thanks again for engaging and all that you give. Blessings to you.

  15. Brad and all I would like to toss this concept into the mix. I do not subscribe to “judgement” as the best word we could use to describe what God has for us? What if we were to use the concept of value? By that I don’t mean evaluate, I mean value; as in judgement day is simply the event of being valued by God.

    I work for a company that “proves” fluid meters. Proving means simply measuring the accuracy of the meter’s ability to measure the fluid. I see the judgement as effectively similar to that. Since he is absolute in value and we are not, what he has arranged for us is a realization of our value, both in terms of what he sees as our potential and what he sees as our actual.

    We are in death and resurrection, forced to come to terms with our value, both experientially accumulated and as a potential of our opportunity. It is the difference between what we are and what we could have been that is the real shocker. But in every case his love for us is the same, it is perfect. His appreciation for us is not lessened in potential but the actual realization of our voluntary commitment places us in a position to appreciate the reality he has for us and the reality we have actualized.

    Such an event gives us the ability to refocus our whole lives on him by giving us a much clearer view of reality. For the first time in our lives we are able to see truth for real and that makes us much more able to work with him.

    So instead of thinking of judgement as a legal term I prefer to see it as a clarification of reality. What is the worst that I will discover? Simply that I was wrong about some, or even most, of the concepts I had about him. To me that is called improvement.

  16. First of all I want to say that I love your podcast. I love the premises that it stands on and it has helped me greatly. Not necessarily always as in learning something but it has given me affirmation that I am not crazy and off the wall for what I am thinking and believing. It also has shown me that there are christians out there that are willing and able to have a real, honest open minded discussion on matters of our faith. I agree with much of what you say but not everything and the awesome thing is, that is ok with you and with me. This is a very illusive thing to find with anyone, christians or otherwise.
    As for this podcast…I agree with much of what you are saying, but not all. And as far as scripture goes, there is scripture to back up both sides of the issue. I, and other people have studied just as extensively as you and come up with a different perspective, even though I hear what you are saying. So, in my case when this happens I look at the fruit of both sides in my life and those that I know well. What you are saying puts my eyes on me too much and draws me in that direction, even though I know better. It may not create fear in me because I know the love and grace God has for me, but it does create a trepidation and again a draw toward performance anxiety so to speak. Right now I really want to quote scripture that I stand on but I hate scripture wars. So instead I will say this…when I know God loves me unconditionally, it empowers me to effortlessly love others in the same way. When I know that I am completely forgiven and God imputes no trespass against me, how can I possibly hold anything against anyone else? When I contemplate His great grace for me and how underserving I am, I am compelled to show that grace to all around me and even more than that, when I put my eyes and thoughts on how forgiven I am and that God holds nothing against me, I can live without demanding or expecting that same love, forgiveness and grace from other people. I am truly free.
    If you think that you are going to have to stand and be held accountable for everything you have done that is not up to God’s standards you will be there a very long time, much longer than you think. You are putting your works, actions intentions on a scale and trying to keep the good side up, no matter how you try to couch it. ( Are your bristles going up? lol)
    Are we going to be held accountable, no we are not. That is the whole point. That is the awesomeness of the Gospel. Does that mean that we can do whatever we want under the umbrella of grace? Of course not! And there are some who act that way but not many. But it is an act. They don’t truly understand. They are using grace just like law people use law to their own ends. they are not representative. Reconciliation and repentance between each other here is an awesome thing, but not always accepted or doable or easy. However reconciliation in Heaven will not be about making things right, but about discovering that things ARE right.!
    Does that mean we are not accountable to what we do to hurt people? Again, of course not. God’s will for us here is very real and obvious in regard to what we do for Him and how we treat other people. The Holy spirit shows us and guides in ways of loving and reconciling with each other. I thinks these works (not us) are judged here, and the Holy Spirit guides us through this.
    I honestly say that I cannot explain all the scripture references on both sides but I will say this….If you are right, I am going to have to pay my dues whether I fuss and bother about it here or not, so I choose not to. I tend to be a better person when I don’t anyway, so if there are rewards for good behavior, I will be better off . However, if I am right you will be pleasantly surprised, and you will probably wish you hadn’t spent time thinking about it. Either way we will be in the same place, enjoying God and each other for eternity.

  17. Oh Brad. I hope you don’t think we are attacking you. We love you guys. I just want to throw in a thought about I Cor. 15 passage. You said you” weren’t sure how else one could interpret it.” Just some food for thought…this is again from the Mirror translation…and I wonder what you think of it? Perhaps there is an even better way of understanding that makes God even better and even less scary? I know we don’t want to make God into what we want him to be, but doesn’t it seem right to think that God is even better? Regardless…there are other ways to interpret it. For example:
    Starting in 15:38 in the Mirror: God has designed a unique body for every plant species. The human body differs from the bodies of animals and so do the bodies of fish and birds differ from all other bodies. There are celestial bodies as well as terrestrial bodies. The glory of the one differs from the other. There are skin-bodies and spirit-bodies. (Our skin-bodies have a sell by date; our spirit-bodies are eternal. [2 Cor. 5:1]) The glory of the sun differs from the glory of the moon; (while the one radiates light, the other reflects light.) Also the stars differ from one another. Each one occupies its own unique place in space. So also with the resurrection from the dead, the body that was sown into the earth decays, but the risen person is immortal. It is sown in sadness but raised in honor; it is sown in frailty but raised in power. It is sown as a physical body and raised as a spiritual body. The fact that there is a physical body confirms that there is also a spiritual body. It is recorded in scripture how the first Adam became a living soul; the last Adam is a life radiating spirit. (In partaking of resurrection life now, we radiate the Christ life. No wonder then that Peter’s shadow healed people! Jesus is the last Adam; when he died mankind’s Adamic reference died. Jesus is the head of the human race. Human life is not defined by Adam but defined in Christ.)

    Thoughts? I just think that the way you interpret it leaves me feeling that I have to add to what Christ accomplished. Am I crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Jesus Christ now lives in me? Was what He did not enough? Does He represent me or do I represent myself? Which glorifies Him? If my efforts are involved then do I get to boast in self when I get my ‘rewards?’ I’m sorry, maybe you don’t think your interpretation should cause anyone anxiety but it sure does for me. Maybe there is even more freedom for you than even what you know now? Wouldn’t it be just like God to open your eyes even wider to the fact that His glory and goodness are even bigger and better than you knew? That sounds like the God I am coming to know better. He never ceases to amazing me and He grows bigger and better! Not trying to convince you of anything here…just trying to figure it all out…

    • Thanks Joan. No I don’t feel attacked. It does seem like this subject is touching the third rail on the tracks for a number of folks. I appreciate the heart and sentiment of much of what has been shared here, and would commend everyone to have their own convictions made sure forging them out of a study of God’s word and interactive dialogue with The Shepherd (which is my assumption that everyone here is doing). As someone who does enjoy a wonderful friendship with the Lord, and has been thoroughly pickled in His goodness, my convictions and understandings on this subject don’t take me down some legalistic “works” road that is in contradiction to grace, His finished “curative” work on the cross, not just some judicial/legislative pass… I don’t see this through the striving lens of self-effort and bean counting works of righteousness that would lead to some kind of boasting. Seems like the notion of our being judged as a believer (having already entered into heaven based on Jesus’ merits, not mine) triggers a whole host of the more heavy-handed, works-based, religious stuff which drive performance and corresponding notions of condemnation for failure, etc… I think having had that exposed by the power of the Gospel awhile back, I don’t see any of this from that vantage point and it doesn’t trigger those perspectives in me. There is much that I wholeheartedly agree with in these many comments, but I think some of it becomes human extrapolation of God’s goodness, more than it remains in harmony with some of the Scriptures I don’t know how to sidestep. Is Jesus our reward? Most definitely! But that’s horrific if you try to apply that to 1 Cor 3:10-15 & 2 Cor 5:10ff … clearly Paul is talking Jesus being our foundation, there is no other–and then what we do with our life builds upon that foundation — and God’s fire is going to test the quality of each man’s work–and the question is the nature of what I have been building with, will it remain or will it burn… if it remains, I then shall receive a reward (singular) — [the notion of eternal rewards (plural) is because each of us (singular) will be judged and once there is more than 2 of us, the singular reward becomes plural… as in there is more than one being given out. ] Scripture doesn’t directly define those, which is why I’m not going to try to authoritatively declare what they are… there is the mention of crowns, and Paul speaks of an imperishable nature, and eternal weight of glory… so I’m not thinking we are talking about stars on our chart so that we might feel more proud of ourselves than those silly saps who didn’t compete as well as “I” did — that kind of thinking is rubbish and not in keeping with what the environment of what heaven will be like — but that doesn’t remove in my mind the notion of a reward of some nature that seems to matter. Those whose works burn up, it clearly says will “suffer loss” — we are not and cannot be talking salvation. The reward in that context is NOT Jesus… I don’t lose Jesus, I don’t become any less loved, I’m not relegated to one of the “less than’s” in heaven. Paul (who is not coming at this from the OT, is not speaking “pre-cross”, who is one of the few folks to have actually been taken to the 3rd heaven and shown stuff he can’t easily speak of) –he is speaking about something other than just my salvation and entrance into heaven. This judgment is not about my ultimate eternal destination (heaven vs. hell) — this is an evaluative judgment, a testing by fire, of the nature of what I have done, (that I think is in complete harmony with 2 Cor 5:10 speaking specifically about the judgment seat of Christ wherein “each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body (i.e. my time here on earth), according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” I don’t know how to just skirt the plain reading of those words. I feel no need to come up with some alternate explanation that would suggest they don’t really mean what it says. I’m not evaluating whether or not I think Paul got it right or wrong here — I’m accepting it as truth and wisdom and wishing to conform what I think and believe, and thus how I will then live, accordingly. I am totally fine with the fact that I will have to give an account for every thought, word and deed…. That doesn’t scare me. It does sober me and is a help in restraining my selfish self that has not yet been fully transformed — but one of my absolute favorite verses is that “it is God who is at work in us both to will and to do” — so all of my interpreting this is in light of a spirit-indwell, spirit-filled, spirit-led, spirit-empowered life, not of self-effort or self-righteousness — but rather a life that is living loved and following Him. But I am still an engaged participant, with a will, someone who makes choices, and will be evaluated accordingly for my participation. None of that scares me because I will not be standing before a mean angry Judge — but a righteous One who is FOR me! But neither does that remove the reality that the quality of my work will be examined and tested… I for one, don’t want to “suffer loss” needlessly at that moment — regardless of what that is– I just don’t. I’m not living my life with some silly appeasement theology of how do I curry favor with the King so as to get some extra goodies, or how do I get promoted to the front of the class so I don’t have to sit in the nosebleed section of heaven. Yes, something is very goofy with those kind of thoughts — but hyperbole in either direction doesn’t change the fact that there remains for the believer an examination of what I did on the earth…

      None of what has been commented here convinces me in any way that what Paul is talking about (post cross, NT, as an apostle, who is a master builder and the guy who knows more about grace than perhaps any of us, who recognized that his super pharisee zeal was nothing but crap, etc) is something to dismiss. He is clearly talking about our being judged as believers — for our deeds done in the body, and recompensed for that. Others can say that bothers them and they can choose to think Paul got it wrong… I don’t think that is wisdom. 2 Cor 5:11– starts “therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men….” So despite my propensity for being pickled in and utterly resting in the love of God, and reveling in His goodness that certainly is far more amazing than I can grasp (although I got a pretty good taste of some of that thus far)–I’m not wanting to dismiss a very real and appropriate “fear of God” that Paul is talking about here (in the NT, post cross, grace-based, etc)… I think there are things we would do well to hold in tension –where the truth is probably a lot more “both/and” than the preference of my particular “either/or.” Because I do have to get back to a plethora of other demands, I’m not thinking I need to convince anyone of anything here, and I am 100% fine with a myriad of folks respectfully disagreeing and thinking I have some or much of this wrong. As for me, I don’t see the contradictions or schizophrenia. I fully embraced that I am saved by a Savior and not by anything that I do in that regard, other than receive his free gift. But a free gift is not the same thing as a reward. And the Bible is using those words, I’m not inventing them. A gift is a gift — you don’t earn that. A reward is not the same as a gift; it isn’t — and those seem to be given out on the basis of merit, according to the quality of the materials I chose to build with. I don’t think that is a twisting of those verses — that seems to me to be the main and plain reality they are trying to express. and thus I am to “take heed” about how I build? There is the gift of my salvation, and then there will be the examination and testing/judging/evaluation of stewardship of my life and what I did with what I was given. Those are 2 different aspects of this amazing invitation to Eternity. I think there are so many scriptures that clearly reveal that it very much matters how I go about living my life — for my own sake, and for the sake of others, and for the sake of the truth, etc… and I don’t think that is the dead religion of Pharisees. I think that is meant to be a very alive, real, full of the Holy Spirit, grace-filled expression of our life in God here on the earth — admonition from someone who very much knew the error and mistakes of our own religious zeal and self-effort. That guy, knowing the difference, still gives us glorious wonderful , full of grace and life and Spirit, commendations to spur ourselves and one another unto love and good works… for the sake of touching a dying and hurting world and revealing the heart of the One who dwells inside us. For what it is worth, that’s at least the perspective that I am coming from when we look at the subject of the judgment seat of Christ and the reality of believers lives being judged/evaluated and there being the existence of eternal reward(s). 🙂

  18. Hey…just saying I love the “e-conversation”….agree that it’s much better face to face and eyeball to eyeball…smile. Great to see the different thoughts, trying to see things with a little more clarity and being respectful. John L..love the way you put words to finding everything in Christ and the performance anxiety slowly being displaced. Coming from such legalism in my background, I am still processing these thoughts about God being all together loving…and the way we live here and choices we make bearing out an impact into eternity. In the middle of this processing, I appreciate the thoughts and input from everyone here (agreeing with everyone is not a necessity…it’s just great to see the different thoughts). Wayne and Brad…also echoing appreciation for what you do to make the dialogue possible even when we have different views. Blessings, Sue

  19. Hey all, let’s not forget that we are all called to the priority of ‘trust love and friendship’ in our relationship with Jesus and each other, and that issues related to our serving each other in this life (and in what way that impacts the next life) while clearly important, are also very clearly secondary. Otherwise, we return to a well beaten path (nearly 2 millennia) of making our trust love and friendship secondary to, or worse, conditional to our agreement over issues related to our serving each other. Yeah it does sound dumb when you put it that way doesn’t?
    We all know how easily we can find ourselves reversing these two, especially when our egos, our reputation or some sort of sense of ‘position’ as a source of truth and paternal care, or as the guru, or that expert or as that ‘answer guy’ et cetera feel threatened.
    And we all know that when this happens, it’s time to back off and give each other a bit of space (and respect) so Jesus can refocus us on what we all know is the most important thing to him which is the work he does to have us all walking and working with himself and each other in oneness and unity, freedom and love as one family under one father on a local level worldwide……

  20. And if at the end of the day I can cry, “Lord, Lord” and still hear, “depart…” then what hope do I have?

    • Hey Mitzi, I’m deeply sorry if this conversation has raised doubts about his love towards you. In my 40+ years of walking with him as one of his kids, I can say with absolute confidence that those who are afraid or fear the “depart from me I never knew you” or worse, fear that they may have blasphemed the Holy Spirit – from my experience – have always proven to be the ones least likely to ever be rejected by Jesus – as their concern about these things alone has always demonstrated to me that they clearly have a child’s desire towards their heavenly dad to be accepted and loved by him. As I have always found that those who are not concerned about these things, clearly do not know our loving heavenly dad and subsequently, have no desire to be reassured of his loving acceptance or his approval, nor do they desire to please him in this life.

    • Mitzi, I’m sorry that people have so skewed your view of God that you would fear this verse and among all the verses of the New Testament about your security in Father’s love, that this would be the one on your mind. Jesus is not so hard to follow, that those who desire him would be left out in some way. This verse is not about people who wanted Jesus and made some mistakes somewhere and Jesus casts them aside. This verse is about those who knowingly use the things of Christ to their own advantage without any desire to know him or follow him. Your hunger would tell me that’s not who you are and I pray that Father will draw you into his lap and make you certain deep inside that, “nothing can separate (you) from the love of God.” I’m praying for you.

    • Thanks, guys. Every time someone brings up this verse, I cringe. As soon as Brad said it, I thought…yep, there it is again. I think it hits me so hard because for all my seeking, I still haven’t found. It makes me doubtful of the whole thing and my doubt scares me. I need a father who can get past whatever stupid thing I don’t realize I’m doing/thinking and who isn’t stymied by little old me. Why isn’t he bigger than whatever I don’t know I’m doing/believing that keeps me from knowing his love? And facing even more of this after I die is just about the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard. I was hoping that whatever this garbage is that I’m unknowingly holding onto would peel off me like the skin off a rotten banana. Instead, it sounds like eternity is going to suck almost as much as this life has. Yay.

      • Once again, Mitzi, I am right there with you when you wrote this, “I need a father who can get past whatever stupid thing I don’t realize I’m doing/thinking and who isn’t stymied by little old me. Why isn’t he bigger than whatever I don’t know I’m doing/believing that keeps me from knowing his love?” My sentiments exactly! Thanks for being real and vulnerable!

        • Jim, something has happened to me. I can’t fake this thing anymore. I used to be really good at it (I’m talking…elder of the church kinda good at it), but I just can’t. Real and vulnerable is scary, but not as scary as the possibility of making it all the way through this life without the depth I seek. At this point I’d rather everyone see me as the hot mess I am than think I’m one of the uber spiritual elite. It’s not fun or easy, but neither was being a worship leader when it felt like all I was doing was manipulating a crowd for effect.

          • Mitzi, yes it (real and vulnerable) is scary!!! Similar to what you are saying, I lived faking it for so many years, all the while thinking I had “arrived.” However, I can see now that there was part of me that knew all along that I was hiding; but I ignored that place in me choosing to hide out of my fear and insecurity. I hid because I was soooo scared that I would be rejected if I exposed my broken and weak places to others. (The sad irony is, that the more I hid, the more I tried to control trying to protect myself, which pushed people away.) So I settled for the scraps of praise from others for how much knowledge and skill I had, as opposed to be real and join in with the humanity of others and learn to belong and not feel like an outsider.

            I still am a ‘hot mess’ full of insecurities and fears, but now I am more open about it, and I think learning to be more vulnerable with it, as I continuinue to lead with weakness. I still feel the pangs at times to hide and present something else, but it is much much less than 2 years ago.

            Thanks again for being vulnerable!!!! hearing your story and others are life giving! Helps me know I am not so alone as I struggle to figure this life out and maybe learn to participate with life like a little child. However, I am very discouraged about this whole process that seems like it takes sooo long, that I will never “get it” before I die.

        • I love hearing when people are so hungry that they are willing to risk “not faking it” to see what’s really true about God. And I appreciate your openness and honesty about it here. It is not an easy choice to make, often born more of desperation than reason. I get that, but what unfolds from there can be astounding. As they say, “When God shuts one door, he opens another, but it is hell in the hallway.” I think most of us on this journey understand that “hell.” It’s scary, disorienting, often lonely, but I do think it invites our soul into the spaces where it begins to open to God as he really is, not how we’ve been taught to think of him. But eventually it gives way to a sparkle of light, a rush of his tenderness and we begin to find different focal points by which to tack our journey. It may help to look for the bits of his glory he reveals in a day and celebrate that than look to an unknown future and grow discouraged by what it isn’t yet. He will find his way into your heart and begin to make all things new. It’s what he does. It’s hardest at the start, but I think only because it’s deep and real and transforming. With love….

          • I couldn’t agree more with the God Journey comment “I love hearing when people are so hungry that they are willing to risk “not faking it” to see what’s really true about God.” I was thinking the same thing about Mitzi and Jim and their vulnerability. It wasn’t until I started to be honest with myself about what I was feeling and questioning that I actually started to see Him for who he is. I had to take the mask off. For so long I hadn’t allowed the questions to enter my mind. I just pushed them back down. Getting to a place where you simply can’t swallow the status quo any longer is painful. I’ve heard it called, “becoming an atheist to the god of your imagination.” Not that I have everything figured out yet, but now I feel such a lift of the burden I carried. God is good now…and that isn’t just the right answer. The good news is actually good news to me now as I see more and more the love of God and the untwisting of so much that I had been taught to believe. I hope this gives Mizti and Jim Hope for the future…

          • “…born more of desperation than reason.” is exactly what it is for me. I don’t know if I am courageous or desperate; maybe they are two sides of the same coin. I am not even sure if I am hungry anymore, or just motivated ’cause I can not tolerate anything that smells of fake and hollow religious sentiment. I’ve never heard the phrase, “…but it is hell in the hallway.” But how appropriate! I have heard, “the truth shall set you free, but first it’s going to make you miserable” and “to become acquainted with oneself is a terrible shock.”
            “scary, disorienting, often lonely” is exactly where I am at…and it feels like hell!!!!
            I hope it does give way to a “sparkle of light, and a rush of tenderness…” because right now I feel soooo alone and lost!
            Thank you, Wayne (I am assuming it is you) for sharing what you have experienced and what you encourage me in! I hope that what you believe is real, will become real for me.

      • I just may be that Father wants to use this occasion to remove the fears from your heart about him and you so when you hear this verse you would never have to fear again. You do have a Father who can get you past anything from your past to set you free in his love. Until you see it for yourself, perhaps you can begin to hope in it because others of us know it is as true for you as it is for us. Believe me eternity won’t suck for you. Your heart is FOR him, obviously by the things that you’ve written, and his heart is FOR you too. I pray you could set your heart to believe beyond what you can see right now and let him do his best in you… I’m praying for you…

  21. When I was about 23 yrs old I had a dream. I dreamt that I was before the Lord on judgment day. The Lord was asking me numerous questions to which I was continually answering “yes, Lord I know that”. This went on for some time until at last he said “but what did you do about it” at which point I woke up.

    Now I am a person who in my younger days loved knowledge and after pondering this dream I realised that the Lord was not interested in our accumulating knowledge but was wanting whatever was revealed to us to become part of our very being.

    Quite some podcasts ago Wayne mentioned a series of messages by Gayle Erwin on “The Nature of Jesus”. If we are to be conformed to His image and His life is to be expressed through us, surely the that expression must conform to what we know to be the nature of Jesus. I found it very helpful and was impressed by the fact that everything pertaining to the old nature is “self-centered” while the life of Jesus and the expression of the new creation was always “others centered”.

    I also started pondering on what it means to be crucified with Christ. Paul says “I am crucified with Christ, never the less I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” How does that practically work out in my daily living.

    My conclusion to date is this. The Lord want me, out of love for Him, to give up my “self centeredness” and allow His “other centered life” to be lived out through me.

    1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

    I remind myself that Jesus was God incarnate. To know the son is to know the father. When we see Jesus’s life on earth, we see the father’s life was being lived out through him. His meat was to do the will of him that sent him. Out of love, the son gave up his life to enable the father’s will to be done. We in turn, now have the priviledge, out of love, to give up our self-centered desires and allow the son to live out his life through us.

    When I stand before the Lord in reality, as opposed to my dream, I now want the very essence of my being to be Him. I want the fruits of the spirit to be ingrained in my living to such an extent that when people touch me they touch something of the very essence of the Lord’s life – his love, his joy, his peace, his patience, his kindness, his goodness, his faithfulness, his gentleness, and a self that is constrained by his life.”

    I love – Philipians 1:6  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

    Who can fear judgment day with a promise like that.

  22. The love of God, the Grace of Christ, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.
    I have just finished reading the comments and all this brings me back to one point that we are saved by Grace through Faith not of works less any should boast, these works mentioned here are our own efforts from our old man.
    I hope I have understood Brad correctly. Gal: 2;20B. the life that I now live In the body I now live by the faith of the Son of God who gave His life for me. Gal 2:21A. I do not set aside the grace of God, For I am what I am by the Grace of God. I Cor:15 10. By the grace of God I am what I am , and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 2 Timothy 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. The Lord Jesus has a desire that we would sit with Him. I Philippians 3:14 pressing on toward the goal the prize of the high calling.
    I myself do not think much of rewards, although I can see scriptures that refer to them, we are members of His body, branches in the True Vine and destined to bring forth fruit accordingly and this is not something we can do of ourselves. Can a bad tree bring forth good fruit or a good tree bring forth bad fruit.
    I am sure the answer is found in not what we can do in ourselves but entering into His rest and ceasing from our own works, enjoying the Spirit within us and just cooperating with Him in His wonderful supply of grace for the work He has called us for as members of His body.
    The Lord richly bless all you folk. Brad you have certainly given food for thought.
    Ray

    • I tend to lean towards that approach/view of this whole area the same way myself Ray. Paul goes on after stating “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works” to say “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”: therefore, in my mind, these “good works” are clearly the fruit of him doing the work in us of “restoring” and “releasing”, reinforcing your point that the only good works that count are those done in and through your trust love and friendship with him in this life.

  23. Gloria
    Hi girlfriends in Christ!!!!!
    Orrh! Mitzi, I feel like reaching out and giving you a big bear hug, with the chance that it would help your feel a bit better. Feeling for you sister, hope your experience changes real soon for the better.
    Liz from NZ… Love your post.
    I am not a theologian, just a daughter, and my natural dad showed me what a soft heart God has towards his daughters and his sons, and that is what I saw in my dad’s heart towards Jesus.
    I listened to a song recently the words go ” God loves people more than anything’, and repeats, if you Google the words you’ll get the song.
    I think the words of the song ring true…
    I know he love us girls/all.
    warmest regards

  24. I think that we miss as Christians the real presence and reality of the Holy Spirit. Some Christians tend to not attribute to Him as a real “person” in our beings. We tend to see Him as outside of us instead of inside of us. Throughout my Christian upbringing there was little mention of the Holy Spirit which was puzzling because scripture clearly states that Jesus said He would leave us a Counselor, Teacher, and Friend. For me I have come to realize that surrendering myself to God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit was what He wanted this whole time and He is the Potter that molds us into what He wants. It is not what WE DO but what HE DOES. Listening and allowing Christ to take over our heart, mind, soul and body softens us in doing His will. The more we desire from our hearts like David (and his actions were not so great several times in his life but his heart was towards God) the more we will become like Christ especially since we have a continual flow of His Spirit. The other day I read from 2 Peter 2:6-9:

    6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

    7 And delivered JUST Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

    8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his
    RIGHTEOUS soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

    9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

    How amazing that he calls here in scripture Lot to be a just and righteous man! We would not likely think of Lot being too righteous because he lived life in such a wicked place, but Lot believed and had in his heart the belief of God because clearly we can see he was vexed in HIS SPIRIT. I know and believe that Jesus will continue to work His will in me because I want it and desire it. I am not perfect by no means but I am growing and maturing. I feel secure in that and now do not worry because worry and fear (the wrong kind of fear) are not from Him. I believe our Abba Fathers hope is that our heart leans to Him then the rudiments of this world. He desires us to be close to His bosom.

  25. Joan, I really like what you said, “Getting to a place where you simply can’t swallow the status quo any longer is painful. I’ve heard it called, “becoming an atheist to the god of your imagination.”” Maybe that is where I am at – becoming an atheist to the god of (my) imagination.” I don’t think I am an atheist…yet, but I am no longer chanting ‘god is good all the time, and all the time god is good.” Not even sure what I believe. My most common phrase in life right now is, “I don’t know.” Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts, Joan!

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