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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Christian Merits

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[c] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
Revelation 20:12

Assuming that you take Jesus at His word ( 'I am coming quickly' - first-century ), do you believe that our Heavenly Father operates the same way today, that He judges according to our works? If so, why? If not, why not?

If we are judged according to our works, wouldn't that mean that if our works are righteous that we are judged righteously ( that is, assuming you believe the judgment has yet to occur )? If we are yet to be judged according to our works, then that would mean that no one has been judged yet, we are still awaiting our redemption, and the dead are still awaiting their judgment in 'hell'!

Now, don't get me wrong here, I don't believe in any sort of traditional 'hell', a literal place of torment, where the wicked will burn 'for the ages of the ages'! I do believe in a 'hell on earth'; I believe that 'war is hell', that any sort of torment that we bow under is a sort of 'hell', but I don't believe the traditional doctrine of 'hell' holds water! 

One should find most interesting the fact that when Scripture speaks of people being judged according to their work, it usually, if not always, in the context of the 'near' judgment ( Acts 24:15- 'about to be' ) that was to come ( and came ) in the first century. Interesting too, that the majority of those judged 'according to their works' were those whose works were evil, those who rejected their Messiah.

Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy [ against ] the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
Matthew 12:31

We do not, or did not merit our salvation; that is & was a Free Gift from our Heavenly Father! He sent His Only Begotten Son to die on the Cross that whoever believed in Him would never die! Many troubles have come about because this seems to be meriting those who believe in Him with eternal life, but on the other hand, there are numerous passages that seem to say almost the opposite; in fact, Jesus Himself said, 'No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him' ( John 6:44a )!

The institutional church has argued for centuries over the meritorious work of Christ; do men work out their own salvation, or is it a totally free gift? Some even argue about whether the work of Christ Himself was actually meritorious ( so I hear )! 

Much of of the confusion can be laid at the feet of that nasty old individualism! If the individual will be ( or was ) judged on his ( or her ) own merits, then we would really have something to worry about! Thanks be to our Heavenly Father, though, for He provided the True Man, the Only One who would ever, by His own merits, be able even to save Himself, much less the rest of His People!

The Merits of Jesus the Christ were & are no doubt worthy of the salvation of His People, no question there! The question is, 'do those merits continue with the Body of Christ today?'  If so, why? If not, why not?

The Judgment was passed on that generation ( first century )! It was rendered in favor of His People & against those who rejected Him, those who instead murdered Him! We are, individually, judged by our actions; if we do right, in time we will reap the fruits of the righteousness we have sown, and if we do wrong ( by failing to do right ) we will, on the other hand, be rewarded in kind!

It is well accepted that Jesus the Son of God ( God Himself ) came to die for our sins! If His Merits provided atonement for our sins, why do we still have to die?! Is it because we do not yet merit that Life Eternal, or is it because the Death that Jesus atoned for was not biological? Did He suffer separation from His Father ( for a time ) so that we, His People, would be able to live with Him eternally, AFTER we died, or did He go through all of that in order to restore His People to Communion with their Heavenly Father ( Himself )?

We might well ponder these questions, but we must realize that it is in Him alone that we have Peace! We may, according to our works in this biology, have peace, or endure a sort of 'hell, but if our mind is resting in Him, and we are trusting in the Merits which He worked almost two thousand years ago; then we have that Peace which is beyond our understanding & the Eternal Life He promised!

As individuals, we can never merit any thing that's truly lasting ( or can we? ), but as part of the Body of Christ, that same Son of God for whose merit we inherited Eternal Life, we have been found worthy to attain Life & Peace in His Presence! Oh, glorious Reality! With this Peace, we can endure anything this biology throws at us, including death & 'hell'!

Hallelujah,

Charles Haddon Shank

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