In my Paul class on Monday we got into a bit 0f a serious discussion about how to hold together, for Paul, justification by faith and judgment according to deeds. I try to explain it in covenantal terms and allow both elements to be there (faith alone, and works as serious basis for judgment), but it is a notoriously complex matter.
Thus, I was ecstatic to see a notice in my email inbox regarding a new “Counterpoints” book from Zondervan – Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment (July 2013). The four views are, I think, chosen well.
Robert N. Wilkin: Works will determine rewards but not salvation: At the Judgment Seat of Christ each believer will be judged by Christ to determine his eternal rewards, but he remains eternally secure even if the judgment reveals he failed to persevere in good works (or in faith).
Thomas R. Schreiner: Works will provide evidence that one actually has been saved: At the final judgment works provide the necessary condition, though not the ground for final salvation, in that they provide evidence as to whether one has actually trusted in Jesus Christ.
James D. G. Dunn: Works will provide the criterion by which Christ will determine eternal destiny of his people: Since Paul, Jesus, and the New Testament writers hold together ‘justification by faith and not by works’ with ‘judgment according to works’, we should not fall into the trap of playing one off against the other or blend them in a way that diminishes the force of each.
Michael P. Barber: Works will merit eternal life: At the final judgment, good works will be rewarded with eternal salvation. However, these good works will be meritorious not apart from Christ but precisely because of the union of the believer with him.