Judgment, Personal Rather Than Congregational
There are some things that we already know of which we occasionally need to be reminded. The apostle Peter wrote to "stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance" (2 Pet. 3: 1). Thus we remind you that the final judgment will be personal rather than congregational.
There are many passages which declare this plain truth. Paul said, "So then EACH ONE OF US shall give account of HIMSELF to God" (Rom. 14:12). Paul also said, "For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that EACH ONE may receive the things done in the body, according to what HE HA TH DONE, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5: 10). According to the judgment scenes in Matthew 25 and Revelation 20, the - accounting to be done in that day will be done personally. Each one shall reap what he hath sown (Gal. 6:9).
When one is a member of a fairly active congregation there is a tendency for that person to feel some security because of the activity of the congregation. One's sense of personal responsibility often in such a circumstance can be lost, or at least only lightly felt. The larger and more active the congregation happens to be, the greater temptation there is on the part of the members to feel that the actions of the congregation will redown to the credit of every member.
One may look at the attendance at the various services and special Bible classes and feel that the church is doing quite well. But how many of these services and classes did YOU attend? One may consider the number of personal teaching contacts made, the number of religious tracts distributed, the number of gospel meetings conducted, the number of persons converted, and think, "My, but haven't WE done well?" But a more pertinent question would be, "How many of these things did YOU do?" One may look at the amount of the contribution of the congregation, but when he does so he should ask, "How much of that did I contribute?
In the judgment God is not going to be mislead into attributing to you all the merits of the congregation of which you were but a part. The satisfaction, composure, complacency and pride that many of us feel as a result of the congregation's work will be shattered when God strips away those parts done by all the rest and judges each one of us on the basis of what we personally have done.
Our society is such that we have tended to lose sight of personal responsibility, and to permit the group to do nearly everything for us. Thus we expect the state or federal government to educate our children, or the church to provide for our parents. But we have personal responsibility. In sports the outcome may be dependent upon a "team effort." But in the judgment you shall stand alone before the all-seeing eye of God.
Are you satisfied with the part you have in the work of the congregation? Are you pleased with the amount of the contribution that you gave? Are you satisfied with the number of services that you attend? Are you pleased with the number of persons you have converted? More importantly, is God pleased with what you are doing. If not my brother you had better get busy and quit playing around at this thing called religion.
It might do you good to ponder this question. "If every member of this church were just like me, what kind of church would this church be?"
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 14, pp. 3-4