Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment

Jim Cassidy reviews Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment. The book contains contributions from Robert Wilken, James Dunn, Thomas Schreiner, and Michael Barber.

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Geoff Willour

6 years ago

“There are two qualified senses, in which we are said to be justified at the judgment-day. See Acts iii: 19-21; Matt. xii: 36, 37. Indeed, a forensic act is implied somehow in the very notion of a judgment-day. First: Then, at length, the benefits of the believer’s justification in Christ will be fully conferred, and he will, by the resurrection, be put into possession of the last of them, the redemption of his body. Second: There will be a declaration of the sentence of justification passed when each believer believed, which God will publish to His assembled creatures, for His declarative glory, and for their instruction. See Malachi iii. 17, 18. This last declarative justification will be grounded in the believers’ works, (Matt. xxv), and not on their faith, necessarily; because it will be addressed to the fellow-creatures of the saints, who cannot read the heart, and can only know the existence of faith by the fruits.”

R.L. Dabney (p. 645 in his Systematic Theology, Banner of Truth Trust edition)

I.E., the purpose of the final judgment will not be to determine eternal destiny. (For the true believer that has already been irrecovably, irreversibly, forensically determined from the moment true, Spirit-wrought faith lays hold on Christ – Jn. 5:24; Rom. 8:1; etc.) Rather, it will be an “open acknowledgement and acquittal” of the believer in the presence of gathered humanity. God will openly vindicate the true believer in the presence of gathered humanity, and the believer’s good works will be brought forth as evidences of saving faith, not as in any way contributing to the believer’s entrance into consummated eternal life. Our “present justification” is not an incomplete thing that necessitates a “future justification” in order to be complete. Rather, as Dabney puts it elsewhere, our justification in Christ is already, in this present age, “complete, final and absolute, equal in all justified persons, admitting no increment…” (p. 619, ibid.). Having been clothed in the perfect, everlasting righteousness of Christ, we believers are once-and-for-all-completely-and-forever justified before the judgment bar of God. On the final judgment day God will simply publish before gathered humanity that which He has already irrevocably declared in the courtroom of heaven, to His glory and to our public vindication.

wayne bell

6 years ago

I agree with the writers view on God not requiring works for salvation. From Genesis thru Revelations no Christian was judged on his or her works for salvation,only for rewards in heaven. Thanks so much for clarifying Jesus’s finished work as all we will need to get into Heaven.


6 years ago

As mentioned Alan Stanley does a great job with the introduction – read the entire excerpt here: http://www.amazon.com/Views-Works-Final-Judgment-Counterpoints/dp/0310490332

Tyler C

6 years ago

I think Schreiner, from his other writings I’ve read, nails Romans 2:1-16 on the head. Which is why I think it’s a little misguided when people argue against New Perspective advocates by trying to say Romans 2 is only a hypothetical picture of the final judgment. I recognize it’s an exegetically difficult passage, but I’ve heard too many Reformed types acting as if it were the hill on which they needed to die in the debate.



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