ScriptureWhen he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:  in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; (John 16:8-9)

Observation:  Sometimes people read a verse like “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done” from Revelation 20:13, and they focus in on these words: “each person was judged according to what he had done.”  And it can appear as though verses like Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast,” or Romans 6:23 “the gift of God is eternal life”,  or even John 3:16 which speak of God’s unmerited grace are in contradiction with the judgment by works that Revelation 20 seems to indicate (and perhaps even James’ discourse on faith and deeds in James 2).  But then along comes a verse like John 16:8-9 that gives us a lens through which we can hold together all of these seemingly contradictory verses.  In John 16, Jesus makes plain that if there is any judgment according to sin, there is only one sin that we are judged against – and that is the sin of not believing in Christ.

Application: It is so natural within our human mind and ego to want to be at the center of things.  If God is happy, we think we must have done something to deserve it, and if God judges we believe we must have done something to deserve that.  The problem is that this goes against Scripture’s repeated promise that God’s gift of eternal life comes to us simply by grace for Jesus’ sake, and that God’s punishment, while deserved (our works DO earn us something – God’s wrath) is exacted not on us, but on His Son.  It is with joy and peace that I know that someday I will be held accountable, that is true, but the only thing my eternity depends upon is my relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, secured by the waters of baptism in and through which I am inextricably bound to Christ! No one or no thing can take me from the Lord’s grasp! (Rom. 8:39, John 10:28-29)

PrayerLord, help me TRUST in you for all things! And may I not shun good deeds simply because my salvation does not depend on them – for through them you reach the lost and bless your people.  Amen.