With a new year comes many new things. In the corporate world, we again introduced to our yearly performance review. This might be exciting for some, but for me, it is always filled with anxiety. Sweaty palms, cottonmouth, an increased heart rate and loose bowels might all be present leading up to the review.
After this life, there is a final review. I am confident that it will not go down like a performance review as mentioned above but imagine with me if it did. How would a performance review of your life look like when the Boss on the other side of the table is God Almighty himself? There are several types of personalities and scenarios that could be played out in this notional final review, but for brevity's sake, I will present two.
The first type of person who enters this final review with God is someone who brings an account of their performance as they see it. For this scenario they are simply hoping that they have done enough to please the Boss/God. They have listed out years of service to the church, the PTA and the local government. How many lives they saved, how many animals they have rescued, how many green leafy vegetables they ate are all accounted for. They had the largest congregation in their church and performed many mighty works and prophesied in the name of the Lord every week faithfully for 70+ years. They are proud of their performance and are confident that this review is going to go well.
God turns out not to be as expected and then states the following. "I see that you brought your review with you and that you have chosen to present this to me with pride in your work. However, I am here to tell you that your pride and your performance is…how was Paul inspired to put it? Ah, that's the word…“skubalon” (Philippians 3:8). God takes the review from this self-righteous soul and lights it on fire and drops it in the trash can by his desk. “HR will not be in touch. Depart from me.” Needless to say, this person has been fired (Matthew 25:41).
Sorry, these are the jokes.
WHAT PERFORMANCE IS EXPECTED/REQUIRED?
Matthew tells us in his Gospel that Jesus said
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
After reading this you may ask “if all of that didn't get them into heaven what does?” Be perfect. You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). That’s a problem.
It’s a problem because I am not perfect and neither are you. Our righteousness, the most loving works that we do, the righteousness that we are able to earn, the righteousness that is “our part,” any good application of ours to how we live our life is like a polluted garment (Isaiah 64:6). “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
What did we just read?! Tell us Isaiah, what is God talking about?! Let’s read the surrounding verses of this passage in Isaiah.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
…Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
…by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
…because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:5-12)
The second scenario presents someone who’s final review goes very differently. Rather than presenting their own performance review to God they give him the performance review of another as if it were their own. What a scandal! Who would even allow this?
Well, the boss actually. It was even his idea. The boss/God already gave this review to them many years earlier (Ephesians 1:3-14). He gifted them with the performance review of Jesus a long time ago to count in place of theirs. He took their filthy, ratchet, performance review and nailed it to his Son who died with it on the cross. Jesus was buried with it and rose without it.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19)
The real record of the awful performance of this hysterically happy individual is gone, outta here, ejected, washed away, forgiven, forgotten.
The hand of God takes this review from his child and smiles saying, “Well done my good and faithful servant! The faith that I gave you has clung to this performance of Jesus for you. I am using the performance of my Son to count as if it was yours. It is my gift to you. Based on this fact and based on my promise to you not only do I count your performance as perfect, I am well pleased with it. You are my adopted, chosen child. Welcome home!”
To the person who has faith in Christ’s performance for them, they will be welcomed as a resident of heaven and child of God. Why? Because God said so (Ephesians 1:4-6). His promises are a sure thing, for Christ’s sake nothing will change the faithfulness of Christ’s gift of salvation to those who hope in him rather than themselves (2 Timothy 2:13).
Jesus Christ, Son of God, has taken your place on the cross. He is your hero, your Savior, your substitute, and your Victor. All by himself, he has earned the right to claim you as his. Not only has our sin been removed from us but God has forgotten our sin (Isaiah 43:25).
There is no fear in this final review for there is no fear in Jesus Christ.
A rare Native Atlantien that still lives in the Atlanta area, Zachary James Cole grew up in the Bible Belt of the American South. He became a United States Marine in January of 2004 and served on Active Duty until January of 2009. He was deployed to Iraq twice during Operation: Iraqi Freedom. While in the desert conducting convoy security and nighttime security patrols, Zack was overwhelmed with the nearness and love of Christ. He has a love of history, the outdoors as well as an unwavering love of his favorite local sports teams. He earned his M.Div in Theological Studies from Liberty Theological Seminary. Zack is a co-host of the podcast: The Liberty Tree. After coming home from the Marine Corps he found a Church home at Suwannee Station Family Life Church in Suwannee, GA where he now serves as an Associate Pastor. Zack lives in Sugar Hill, GA with his wife Bonnie and their two sons, Cade and Knox.