“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? I Peter 4:17-18.
What are these verses of scripture talking about? They are talking about judgment upon life’s works of faith. Why must that judgment begin at the house of God which is the church of the living God? Because those are the only ones on earth that can be judged on God’s standards and meet any degree of approval.
Then what will the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? Their works will be as wood, hay and stubble and will be burned up in the judgment seat of Christ. I Cor. 3:9-15. They will be spiritually saved if they were saved while here on earth, but they will be saved yet so as by fire with nothing to show for a life lived on earth.
What does it mean that the righteous scarcely be saved? The term “Scarcely” comes from the Greek “Molis” which means with great difficulty, hard work. Doesn’t this teach salvation by works then? Not at all. It is a reference to one’s life and its eternal reward, not to who will be in heaven or hell. God expects His saved people to grow in grace and produce fruit appropriate to the indwelling Spirit. That requires effort. Those not doing so will suffer great loss.
Then where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Notice that there are two classes of people mentioned here: the ungodly and the sinner. All men are sinners. Some are saved sinners and some are lost sinners. Saved sinners who do not live for the Lord then live ungodly lives. They shall appear before the Lord empty handed and suffer consequential loss of reward FOREVER. The sinner (implying the lost sinner) has nothing to be judged that is good. He is not even qualified to appear at the judgment seat of Christ, but must appear at the Great White Throne Judgment mentioned in Revelation 20.
Folks, these verses of scripture are a sober warning to all. Lost sinners desperately need to be saved. Saved sinners desperately need to live their lives to the honor of God: growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord. Are you saved? Have you followed the Lord in baptism? Are you actively honoring the Lord in a New Testament Church? Are you studying the Bible, praying and growing as a Christian? Underlying these things is the desire to do it. The believer does well to pray for that desire.
The children’s song summarizes it well, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!” IS YOUR LIGHT SHINING FOR JESUS?