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Collect On Your Judgment

by Tim O'Hearn

Spam is a wonderful thing. I'm not talking about the canned meat, but those numerous pieces of junk mail in my e-mailbox every day. Did you know that I can refinance my house, even though I don't own it? I can fix my septic tank, even though I don't know that I even have one. They tell me it is legal to own a cable descrambler; they just fail to mention that it is illegal to use it if you don't pay for the scrambled channels. Several people in Nigeria want to give this congregation thousands, or even millions, of dollars if we send them our bank account number. Beyond that, I can get a degree on line or buy all kinds of diet drugs.

I even saw the subject line for an e-mail that said they would tell me "how to collect on your judgement." I didn't open it to read it, but I am sure it was talking about getting money through some lawsuit. I was tempted to write them back and tell them how to collect on another judgment. For we all face a judgment; the question is will we collect on it, or owe.

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." (Heb 9:27-28)

In spite of what some would like to believe, one of the most well established doctrines of the Bible is the judgment. Jesus frequently spoke about a final judgment, and how it would be better for some than others in that judgment. (Matt 11:20-24)

One entire chapter of the book of Matthew (chapter 25) is part of a discourse by Jesus about the judgment. In it he tells just what that e-mail purported to tell—how to collect on your judgment.

The simplest way to do so is simply to do nothing. When Jesus confronts those who would end up going into "everlasting punishment" (Matt 25:46), he says, "Inasmuch as ye did not [feed, clothe, visit, or give drink] to the least of these, ye did not to me." To collect eternal punishment at the judgment, all they had to do was not do.

On the other hand, to collect eternal life on your judgment requires some effort. Granted, most of the real effort was accomplished by Jesus. God's grace through the death of His son counts for more than anything.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10)

Even Paul says here that we have to do something. We are not saved because of the works of men, but because of the work of Jesus. But we were created for some works, good works. In the judgment scene in Matthew 25 those who collect eternal life are those who did feed, clothe, visit, or give drink to those who needed it. Paul also said that good deeds were necessary to collect favorably on your judgment. He speaks of a "revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life." (Rom 2:6-7)

Other passages, of course, say that there is no remission of sins without faith, repentance, or immersion. Each of these is a work of God that is done by man for salvation. So, also are the good works of love and benevolence.

Everyone will collect on the judgment. Some will be happy with what they collect. Others will be disappointed. All will collect based on what they do, or don't do. It will be easy to collect unfavorably. But in truth it will be just as easy to collect favorably, because that is how God created us.