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October 3 Today’s Reading: Matthew 24-25
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
In the last day, every believer shall enter into heaven and obtain the inheritance of everlasting glory; and that will be righteousness rewarded. Immediately after the resurrection we must all be judged by God, according to the record of our works (Revelation 20:12-13). “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The Judge before whom we must stand is the God-man, whom we have crucified (John 5:22; Acts 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10). We will be judged out of the books, according to the record of God’s strict justice.
In the Scriptures, God is often represented as writing and keeping books. And, according to these books, we all shall be judged. This is figurative language. God does not need books to remember man’s sins. However, as John Gill wrote, “This judgment out of the books, and according to works, is designed to show with what accuracy and exactness, with what justice and equity, it will be executed, in allusion to statute-books in courts of judicature.”
What are the books? — The Book of Divine Omniscience (Malachi 3:5) — The Book of Divine Remembrance (Malachi 3:16) — The Book of Creation (Romans 1:18-20) — The Book of God’s Providence (Romans 2:4-5) — The Book of Conscience (Romans 2:15) — The Book of God’s Holy Law (Romans 2:12) — and the Book of the Gospel (Romans 2:16).
No Iniquity Found
But there are some against whom no crimes, no sins, no offenses can be found, not even by the omniscient eye of God Himself! — “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve” (Jeremiah 50:20). Their names are found in another book, a book which God Himself wrote and sealed before the worlds were made. It is called, “The Book of Life.” In this book there is a record of Divine election, the name of Christ our Divine Surety, a record of perfect righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6, Cf. 33:16), a record of complete satisfaction, and the promise of eternal life.
The question is often raised, “Will God judge His elect for their sins and failures committed after they were saved, and expose them in the Day of Judgment?” The only reason that question is ever raised is because many retain a remnant of the Roman doctrine of purgatory, by which they hope to hold over God’s saints the whip and terror of the law. There is absolutely no sense in which those who trust Christ shall ever be made to pay for their sins! Our sins were made Christ’s and punished in Him to the full satisfaction of God’s infinite justice. They can never be charged to us again (Romans 4:8; 8:33-34). Christ paid our debt to God’s law and justice; and God will never require us to pay. God, who has blotted out our transgressions, will never write them again. He who covered our sins will never uncover them!
The perfect righteousness of Christ is ours in free justification. On the Day of Judgment, God’s elect are never represented as having done any evil, but only good (Matthew 25:31-40). The Day of Judgment will be a day of glory and bliss for Christ and His people, not a day of mourning and sorrow. It will be a marriage supper. Christ will glory in His Church. God will display the glory of His grace in us. And we will glory in our God our Savior.
Only the Worthy
Those who are found perfectly righteous, righteous according to the records of God Himself, shall enter into eternal life and inherit everlasting glory with Christ. They that have done good, nothing but good, perfect good, without any spot of sin, wrinkle of iniquity, or trace of transgression shall enter into everlasting life (Revelation 22:11). Only those who are worthy to do so shall enter into heaven.
Who are these perfectly righteous ones? They are all who are saved by God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 8:1, 32-34). Though there shall be degrees of punishment for the wicked in hell, because there are degrees of wickedness, there shall be no degrees of reward and glory among the saints in heaven, because there are no degrees of redemption and righteousness. — No degrees of worthiness!
Heaven was earned and purchased for all God’s elect by Christ. We were predestined to obtain our inheritance from eternity (Ephesians 1:11). Christ has taken possession of heaven’s glory as our Forerunner (Hebrews 6:20). We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). Our Savior gave all the glory He earned as our Mediator to all His elect (John 17:5, 20). And in Christ every believer is worthy of heaven’s glory (Colossians 1:12).
Glorification shall be the consummation of salvation; and salvation is by grace alone! That means no part of heaven’s bliss and glory is the reward of our works, but all the reward of God’s free grace in Christ! All spiritual blessings are ours from eternity in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), and all shall be ours forever in Christ, by Christ, and with Christ.