The Future Work of Christ Part II: The Church in Heaven -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 123:490 (Apr 1966)
Article: The Future Work of Christ Part II: The Church in Heaven
Author: John F. Walvoord

The Future Work of Christ
Part II:
The Church in Heaven

John F. Walvoord

The Judgment of the Church in Heaven

After meeting Christ in the air at the time of the rapture, the church will proceed to heaven. There, according to many New Testament passages, the church will be judged for reward. If the rapture concerns only Christians, it is evident that only Christians will be involved in this judgment as only such will be eligible for the rapture itself. If Israel and other Old Testament saints are raised at the time of the rapture, they also may be judged or their judgment may be reserved to a later time, namely, the time of Christ’s second coming to the earth when their rewards will be distributed in the form of privileged places of service in the millennial kingdom. As the judgment of the church does not concern the matter of salvation, it is primarily a question of rewards for service.

The central passage on the judgment of the church is 2 Corinthians 5:8–10: “We are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord. Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto him. For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Paul declares that it is his fundamental purpose in life to live in such a way that his life will be well spent in the Master’s service. When he is judged at this judgment seat, it will be determined what is good and what is bad.

Although some have attempted to make this a Protestant purgatory, i.e., a time of punishment for unconfessed sin, it seems clear from the general doctrine of justification by faith that no condemnation is possible for one who is in Christ. Discipline such as is administered in this life will be of no value to those already made perfect in heaven. The bad works are discarded as unworthy of reward but good works are rewarded. The penality is limited to the loss of reward. It is

obvious that with imperfections which beset every Christian, no one will be able to claim perfection in that day. All will have a measure of failure, and it may be that all will have some reward. The judgment will be a general evaluation of a summary kind, but it is gracious rather than retributive.

The judgment seat of Christ, however, is a real issue with Paul. He speaks of “knowing therefore the fear of the Lord” (2 Cor 5:11). This fear is of the possibility that his life will be revealed as ...

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