Here’s an excerpt from Justification and Judgment, Cornelis P. Venema’s contribution to the October issue of Tabletalk
In debates about the doctrine of justification, one of the oft-disputed issues pertains to the relationship between justification and a final judgment according to works. If justification is a definitive verdict in which God declares that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1, emphasis added), what must we make of Scripture’s teaching that believers are subject to a final judgment at the last day? The Westminster Larger Catechism teaches that the righteous will be “openly acknowledged and acquitted” in the day of judgment (Q&A 90). Does this final acquittal of believers require a distinction between two stages in justification: an initial justification that is based on the righteousness of Christ alone and a future justification that is based at least in part on good works? And if such a distinction between two stages in the justification of believers is required, how can we avoid the conclusion that the present justification of believers is suspended on a future event in which God’s justifying verdict depends on works?