What Scripture Says About Grace vs. Judgment

The subject of grace vs. judgment is one of critical importance to Christians and one that has caused much confusion in the church. You can find churches on both extremes of the spectrum. Some preach the doctrine of God’s judgment to the extreme—focusing on fire from heaven, brimstone, and damnation. Others say that it doesn’t matter how you live if you are saved because the grace of God covers you no matter what you do: commit adultery, lie, steal, kill, and more. These are two radical positions, and it is important that you rightly divide the Word so that people understand the difference between grace and judgment.

In doing a study in the New Testament, I found at least fourteen applications for the word judge or judgment.  I found three Greek words for grace, with three different meanings and more than seventeen applications. Many people have not rightly defined the terms and looked at the context when discerning a specific application, one of the most important things a student of the Word can do.

The Greek word for judgment is krima, a word which means to decide mentally or judicially—to try, condemn, punish, avenge, conclude, damn, decree, determine, esteem, ordain, call into question, sentence, or think. Some of the negative meanings immediately come to mind when hearing the word, but notice that judgment can also have positive meanings: to esteem, determine, or think about something.

I want to give you some definitions and applications for the word grace, but first I want to clear up a great deal of confusion over the terms grace, mercy, and righteousness. These different Greek words have three different meanings, but people mix them up and use them interchangeably.

Hebrews 4:16 says: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. In this context, grace is assistance when you need it. The word mercy is eleos, meaning to be compassionate in word or deed. The word righteousness is dikaiosune, meaning justification, or right standing with God. When you talk about righteousness, you're talking about what happened to you positionally in Christ. That is not the definition of grace.

Let’s look at some ways grace is used in scripture and discover the application based on meaning and context:

  • Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also [the act of giving]. – 2 Corinthians 8:7.
  • Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace [the graciousness of God] that should come unto you. – 1 Peter 1:10
  • By whom we have received grace [the anointing or power of God] and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name. – Romans 1:5
  • My grace [strength] is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9a
  • Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God [the manifested measure of the Holy Spirit which brings about the gifts and the results of God] given unto me by the effectual working of his power. – Ephesians 3:7

Acts 4 and 5 record a time of great grace—multitudes of people were getting saved, healed, and delivered—but in the midst of this is a story of Ananias and Sapphira, new believers who lied to the Holy Ghost. As a result, both were struck dead. There was a flow of great grace and judgment at the same time!

Galatians 6:7 says, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. God decreed this principle of seedtime and harvest from the beginning of time. You will reap a harvest in kind with the words, actions, money, or life that you plant. In other words, judgment is neutral. It is only a fulfillment of this principle, and it can cut either way, negative or positive, resulting in cursings or blessings.

If a person or a nation plants to the flesh and sin, God's Word would be void if there weren’t a harvest of negative judgment. And if a person or a nation walks in line with the Word of God and plants that, the Word would be void if it did not produce the blessing.

Thus you can see that grace and judgment are not extreme positions in scripture that are mutually exclusive. They both operate in the same place. When you hear teaching that focuses on one to the exclusion of the other, you can know right away that the position is not scriptural.  You can’t build a doctrine on only a few scriptures; you must look at the totality of the Word.

This article is written by Bishop Keith A. Butler

In his signature line-by-line style, Bishop Keith A. Butler travels the world teaching the Word of God without compromise. Bishop Butler is dedicated to teaching believers how to live their faith. He is the founder of Word of Faith International Christian Center and the Senior Pastor of faith4life churches in Round Rock and Dallas, Texas.

As Bishop, he oversees 14 ministry operations in the United States. Bishop Butler has also established several international ministry works. The Word of Faith Ministerial Alliance is a fellowship of ministers and Christian leaders who have received Bishop Butler as their spiritual father and/or mentor. Through its companion website, faithleaders.com, ministers and Christian leaders can find valuable resources to aid them in their ministry callings.

Bishop Butler has a nationally televised program on the Golden Eagle Broadcasting Network called “Live your Faith”.He is the author of over 24 books with such titles as Living Life on Top, The Art of Prayer, God’s Not Mad at You and God’s Plan for Man. With the support of his lovely wife, Pastor Deborah L. Butler, and their children: Pastor Andre Butler and wife Tiffany Butler (granddaughters Alexis, Angela, & April), Pastor MiChelle, and Minister Kristina Butler Bishop Butler continues to plant churches worldwide.