[Jesus said] “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”
Good Works on the Last Day
When the Lord Jesus returns on the Last Day, he will judge every single human being who has ever lived. Even the people who died before that day will come out of their graves and stand before him for judgment.
The Bible teaches that Jesus will judge people based on whether or not they have faith in him. The apostle Paul, for example, wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
This teaching is so clear that you have to wonder what Jesus meant in today’s Bible passage. Jesus made it sound like people’s good works will be the basis for judgment, with those who have done good receiving eternal life and those who have done evil being condemned to hell.
But before you assume that the Bible teaches two contradictory ways to heaven, remember what Jesus was talking about here: judgment. When someone is being judged in a courtroom, the best evidence is visible evidence.
Faith in Christ is a matter of the heart and therefore invisible. But faith in Christ produces good works that can be seen. Good works do not save people, but Jesus will point them out at the last judgment because they are visible proofs of invisible faith.
That is why “those who have done evil” have a lot to fear on the Last Day. There is no greater evil than rejecting the Savior in unbelief. But “those who have done good” have nothing to fear. Only believers in Jesus can do works that God considers good. And on the Last Day, Jesus will use their good works to show the whole world that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Lord Jesus, empower me to live a life filled with good works while I wait for the Last Day. Amen.