How to Answer Protestants Forum: Judgement

Judgement QUESTION from James July 25, 2001 Judgement seems to be a very sensitive word to my Protestant friends. When we have debates and discussions about salvation, they claim that any idea that Christ will judge us at all is completely unbiblical. They state that our salvation is given to us at the time of our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our savior, and that once you have accepted Jesus there is nothing more to judge you on, salvation is given to us.
My question to you is, when we say Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead... do we mean that he is just going to separate who accepted him as savior and who did not?

ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on July 31, 2001 Dear James:
Thank you for your question, though I often find that it is the Protestants who emphasize judgement and we Catholics who sometimes gloss-over the individual judgement.
What your friends are confusing is the Last Judgement and the particular judgement of each individual. You are also facing the Once saved, always saved teaching found in many protestant denominations. Both the confusion and the heresy are due to lack of Apostolic Authority necessary to properly interpret Scripture.
The Last Judgement, as described by Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus is very clear that at the Second Coming, Jesus will sit in judgement of all and separate the sheep from the goats. To make the claim that Christ will NOT judge us shows a clear disregard for Scripture. Note that this judgement is not based solely on whether we have accepted the gift of salvation, but also on what we have done with this gift:
Matthew 25:41-43 Then he will say to those on his left: 'Out of my sight, you condemned, into that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was away from home and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing. I was ill and in prison and you did not come to comfort me.'

When you read the context of this and other judgement descriptions given by Christ, it is clear that we are not judged by faith alone. A better analogy for the role of gift of salvation is the Parable of the Silver Pieces, recorded right before the above quote in Matthew 25:14-30. Salvation is the gift given to us by the Master that we are to invest to earn him a return. When Jesus returns, he will judge us based on what we have done with the gift he has given us. Those who refuse to use the gift of salvation to enrich the Kingdom are in danger of losing their salvation: Throw this worthless servant into the darkness outside, where he can wail and grind his teeth. Matthew 25:30.
This is the prime flaw with the Once saved, always saved heresy. It denies the need to act on our faith and invest the graces given to us. It also removes the need to be vigilant and defend ourselves from deceipt as St. Paul warned the Corinthians:

My fear is that, just as the serpent seduced Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted and you may fall away from your sincere and complete devotion to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3
This should help you see that we will be judged by Christ, and that this judgement will depend on more then just a one-time acceptance of his gift of salvation. I encourage you to read the sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that deal directly with this portion of the Creed (Paragraphs 1020-1041). The footnotes provide complete Scriptural references to help you explain this to your non-Catholic friend.
Pax Christi,
Troy Martz
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