Because God does not record in the Old Testament His giving the indi¬vidual an eternal hope, by and large the Old Testament is silent on the subject of eternal accountability. Eternal hope for the individual arrives fully mature in the New Testament and with it the concept of eternal accountability. That God assures every individual that his eternity is appreciably influenced by temporal behavior is ubiquitous throughout the New Testament. The following are representative of passages dealing with reaping what we sow:
– Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
– Matthew 6:19-21: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
– Matthew 12:36: “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”
– Romans 6:2, 11: “Who will render to every man according to his deeds…For there is no respect of persons with God.”
– 1 Corinthians 3:10-15: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.“
– 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the bema seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
– Ephesians 6:8-9: “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. …and, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.”
– Colossians 3:23-25: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.“
– 1 Peter 1:17: “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.”
– Revelation 11:18: “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
– Revelation 22:10-12: “And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
These verses do not exhaust the New Testament teaching on eternal accountability for temporal behavior, but they are illustrative. This theme is ubiquitous throughout the New Testament. To argue otherwise requires text management rather than allowing the text to make its case.
In our next issue we will explore this important question further.