Ecc. 12:13-14 — . . .God will bring every work into judgment. . .whether good or evil
2Cor 5:9-11a — . . .we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, that each one may receive the things done in the body. . .whether good or bad
The apostle Paul gave himself as an example of a sinner saved by the grace of God, that we would learn from his life as a believer in Messiah Jesus, and of God’s longsuffering ways in fulfilling His purposes in his life (1Tim 1:15-17). Paul had a sense of obligation to be faithful to God for the grace and mercy which he had received: to preach the gospel willingly, rather than as a mere duty (1Cor 9:16-17) . If willingly he had a reward of sharing freely what he freely received. If as a duty, he nonetheless had an obligation to obey God. He would not even judge himself as to how faithful he was to the stewardship of the mysteries of God, but God would be his Judge in due time (1Cor 4:1-5). Paul understood that the message of salvation was intended for all kinds of people and cultures (Rom 1:14).
Salvation (being born of the Spirit of God) is the beginning of eternal life with God. It is not only an end to a sinful separation from God, but more so the proper foundation for a righteous and holy life as a child of God created in God’s image and likeness, to serve and worship our Creator and Redeemer. Paul was full of wonder and thanksgiving to such a God as YHVH! Paul had an unquenching desire to repay the unrepayable debt, and to take his own faith in the power of the gospel which saved him personally to others that they might know it, too (Rom 1:14-16).
Paul’s great motivating force was to please God, which is also what motivated our Lord Jesus (Rom 15:16;
2Cor 5:9; Gal 1:10; 1Thes 2:4; John 8:29). This affected Paul’s message to the Gentiles that they would worship God in an acceptable way. It affected his behavior among the believers so that it would be honoring to the Lord. This is Paul’s prayer for every believer (Col 1:10; 1Thes 4:1; 2Tim 2:4). God wants us to be sanctified in our lives, growing up in maturity and fruitfulness worthy of our high calling as priests, holy unto Him.
All of this is for our learning from our brother Paul (Saul) as he learned from following the Lord Jesus with a single eye and his whole heart, mind, and soul. Paul remained conscious of his past conversion; he realized a sense of urgency of his present desire; he was motivated by future prospects:
–his work would one day be inspected (1Cor 3:11-15), and
–his life was subject to judgment (2Cor 5:10-11).
This promotes holiness and soberness, but not terror or paralysis for the one who has given his life for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. Whatever prizes or crowns will be won will not be a basis for boasting before the Judge – the Lord Jesus Christ – for all that we have achieved, but will give real joy when the work which GOD HAS DONE IN AND THROUGH US IS RECOGNIZED FOR HIS PRAISE AND GLORY! The incentives of judgment and of Messiah’s love (2Cor 5:14-15; Rev 3:19-22) work together to bring about holiness in the fear of God – working out our salvation with fear and trembling: we grow in love for others.
It is not for faith only that we will be judged: that will determine our future eternal destiny of being with or of being separated from God the Father and the Lord Jesus. But believers will also be judged for how we lived according to the faith, for the quality of the works we did and the life we lived after salvation. John the Baptizer said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire: the first is for our sanctification; the other will test the result.
The one who believes in God through Jesus Christ will be saved. Of that we have assurance. In love and thankfulness for such grace and love, we ought to live godly lives to the honor of the Name of our God and Father, that His joy and ours will be full, both now and forever.