The Judgement Seat of Christ.
Following on from my facebook post, the other day, in asking; “As Christians, we are forgiven our sins, the ones committed yesterday, today and those of all our tomorrows. Praise God, thank you Jesus! However, the question arises, bearing in mind God has forgiven and forgotten our trespasses…why are they brought into account on Judgement Day? If they are not, what are we held accountable for? Why are we to be judged, on what precisely”?
I received a number of great responses, which really helped, thank you to those who are willing to contribute and debate. However, as usual, my beloved husband had a treasure up his sleeve, and last night revealed a chapter in an ancient book on his bookshelf….which I have, laboriously (puts hand to brow and looks a tad self pitying) typed out this morning, to share with you. I have also highlighted the areas that are most relevant, in my present ability of understanding, to my question and my need for clarification.
I do confess that the entire article it is a little over and beyond my fullest comprehension, but would like to say it all sits happily in my mind. The fear of the Lord, the need to be accountable, “disciplined” (a word many despise) in my walk, for fear of lack in Heaven, (as in some will have more than other’s) . “For the Grace of has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self- controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age”. (Why should we be expected to change and why is it such a serious command)?
I do believe that God wants us to be “us”, the individuals He created us to be, to love, to enjoy, to work, to labour, to be joyful, but I also believe we need to be very serious about our sinfulness and terrible lack. We will be held accountable. It is a terrifying thought that we may live here on earth, thinking all is okay, cos Jesus died for our sins, we are forgiven and nothing matters but that we love each other.
No! Our faith requires so much more of us if we are to receive the rewards we hope for in heaven, and no, I don’t mean “by works”, but I do mean “storing treasures in heaven” as opposed to carte blanche on earth.
Our love for our heavenly Father, our Creator, our Saviour, should motivate us to be obedient in order to please Him. How could it not, when we so readily accept the gift of forgiveness? Are we a people of just words but no action? I speak not from a place of holier than thou, but that of a person desperate to progress, to be what God created me to be. Holy, sinless, and if I were to start all over again, and have been saved at a very much younger age, would I get there? No! but isn’t it in the giving of ourselves?
I also wrote a post, recently on facebook, about present giving…do wives buy/choose their own presents from their husbands? I feel that if one is going to give, then give with your heart, wholeheartedly, not just tick a box off thoughtlessly. So that should be with our love of Jesus. Going to church on Sunday is not “it”. Being able to quote scripture is not “it”, nor are any of the hyper spiritual acts many of us do….let us examine ourselves before it is too late! I don’t want to be found wanting, but know I am far off the mark.
Excerpts taken from The Triumph of the Crucified by Erich Sauer. Chapter 11 The Judgement Seat of Christ.
The return of Christ is the “blessed hope” of the church (Titus 2:13). Nevertheless it is connected not only with heavenly privileges but also with holy responsibility. Even as the rapture is a refreshment for the heart, so is the judgment seat of Christ a spur to the conscience.
There are seven facts as to this which especially the Holy Scripture permits us to know:
- The time – the “day of Christ” 1 Cor. 1:8
- The judge – Christ Himself 2 Tim 4:8
- The persons – “We all” 5:10:
- The severity – its fire. 1 Cor. 3:13
- The standard – our faithfulness 1Cor. 4:1-5
- The result – reward or loss. 1 Cor. 3:14,15
- The time is the “day of Christ, or of the Lord”. (six times in the NT, 1Cor.1:18
The time is the “day of Christ, or of the Lord” (six times in the NT, 1Cor.1:8; 5:5; 2Cor.1:14; Phil.1:6,10; 2:16) “that day” (2Tim. 4:8;1:12), “at His coming” (Parousia 2Tim.4:8), which means, according to the testimony of the whole NT, the time before the setting up of the visible kingdom of glory, and therefore before the Millennial Kingdom. In consequence the “judgement seat of Christ” is to be distinguished from the “great white throne”. This latter will be set up only after the visible kingdom of glory, indeed after the destruction as the old universe. (Rev. 20:11)
But it is also to be distinguished from the judgment at the beginning of the millennial kingdom (Matt.25:31-46; Rev.20:4). For after the return of Christ the then living nations will there be judged. The “last day” will thus include three judgments to be distinguished as to time:
- The judgment upon the Church, i.e. the raptured; at the “judgment seat of Christ” before the millennial kingdom.
- The judgment upon the nations, i.e. of the dead (Rev.20:12) at the “throne of His glory,” at the beginning of the Millennial kingdom.
- The general judgment, i.e. of the dead (Rev.20:12) at the “great white throne” after the Millennial kingdom.
The judge is Christ, “the Lord, the righteous Judge” (2 Tim. 4:8) For the Father has committed all judgment unto the Son (John5:22). Therefore, also before the Millennial kingdom it is both the judgment seat of Christ (2Cor.5:10) and also the judgment seat of God (Rom.14:10).
The persons are “we all” (2Cor.5:10; Rom.14:10) the “at home” and the “away from home”, all redeemed, the then living and the already asleep when the Lord comes (2Cor.5:6-10). True it is that he who believes on the son is free from the final judgment of condemnation (John.5:24; Heb.10;14,17), for “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom.8:1) but the question of faithfulness (1Cor4:2-5) and the determining of the reward (1Cor.3:14; Co.3:24) or of the loss (1Cor.3:15;2John8), demand a special day of judgment (1John4:17) even for believers. Here it is not a question of salvation but definitely as to the measure of the reward of grace.
The severity. “The Lord will judge his people” (Heb10:30). Even for His own the day will be “revealed in fire” (1Cor.3:13). Therefore, in strict connexion with the judgment seat of Christ, Paul speaks of a “terror of the Lord” (2Cor.5:10, 11). “Damage” and “loss” (1Cor.3:15; 2John8), a shrinking with shame from Him at His presence (1John2:28), “burning up” of one’s whole life work (1Cor.3:13-15), oneself saved, but only as a brand out of the fire, as one who escapes from a burning building with his bare life (1Cor.3:15; Amos4:11 and Gen.19:16, 29 Lot) – these are possibilities which we must look in the face.
Indeed, in 2Cor.5:10, the Scripture says that we shall receive not only according to our good works, but also according to our bad works. “We” (that is, all members of the church, whether “at home” or “away” when the Lord comes, “must all be made manifest before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done by means of the body, according to what he hath done, whether good or bad”; and in the Colossian epistle (Col.3:24,25) in connection with the receiving of the coming recompense, and in reference to the everyday life of the members of the church, it is declared that “he that doeth wrong shall receive again the wrong that he hath done; and there is no respect of persons,” With this compare 1Cor.3:15; Luke19:24; 12:45-48. Let us therefore, not blunt the point of the sword of the Spirit (Heb.4:12). To be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ is a more serious matter than perhaps we often think. Mere reference to “gain” or “loss” seems scarcely to do full justice to such extremely serious statement of the NT.
With our present powers of understanding it does not seem possible to comprehend the matter more in detail, and above all, to see how glory and solemnity can here combine, because it belongs to the eternal realm. In many respects our perceptions and sentiments there will be quite other than those here, which suit the present conditions of life.
But the Scripture gives us these so very serious words to impress upon us the necessity of practical holiness and faithful self-sacrificing service. With all the certainty of salvation and all the efficiency of the Divine work in us, this word still applies; “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil.2:12)
The standard is our faithfulness (1Cor.4:1-5; Matt.25:21,23), the sum total of our life, the product of our development: not only our deeds but also our possibilities, not only what we were but what we might have become, not only our actions but also our o missions (Jas.4:17); not the work but the worker, not the number but the weight of our deeds (1Sam2:3); not only what we attained, but also what we strove after. Of our works, sacrifice counts for most; of our disposition, only selfless love; of our possessions, only what we employed in service. As to our sins that word applies: what we have judged He will not judge again (1Cor.11:31); what we uncovered He will cover (1John1:9; Heb.8:12); what we have covered He will uncover (Luke12:2). And in everything He will take note of the most inward elements, of the impulses and motives, of the counsels of the heart, of the secrets of the soul hidden in darkness (1Cor.4:5; 1Sam.16:7: Heb4:13; Psa.139).
The result will be very varied. Even with His own people the Lord is “the Righteous Judge” (2Tim.4:8). One has built of wood, hay and stubble – his work will be burned up; the other has built of gold, silver and costly stones-his work will stand the fire (1Cor.3:12-15).
These have served faithfully-they will be great in the kingdom of heaven (Matt.5:19:25; 21; Luke19;17); others have sown to the flesh-they will reap the corruption of their life-work. (Gal.6:6-8).
These are pure, faultless, and irreproachable (Phil.1:10; 1Cor.1:8) – they will win the prize (Phil3:14); others are (spiritually) poor (Rev.3:17) and disapproved (1Cor.9:27)-they will suffer loss (1Cor.3:15); 2Tim2:5).
These have boldness in the Day of Judgment (1John4:17); shame will be the portion of others (1John2:28).
Thus each receives his due (Heb.6:10; 1Cor.4:5; 2Tim.4:8) without respect of persons (1Pet.1:17; 2Cor 5;; Col3:24,25).
Thus each receives his due (Heb.6:10; 1Cor.4:5; 2Tim.4:8) without respect of persons (1pet.1:17; 2Cor.5:10; Col3:24,25). Salvation depends upon faith, reward upon faithfulness. As sons we receive His life, as servants His recompense. “Behold, I come quickly, and my wages with me” (Rev.22:12)
But finally all will be saved and all will shine, if in different degrees of glory and splendour (1Cor.15:40-42). There will be great and small vessels in the future, but all will be filled. There will be degrees and stages of glory (Matt.25:14-30). But no difference in happiness (Matt.20:1-16). For THE servants and the service are many, but there is only one Lord.
But the faithful will be specially crowned:
The victorious warrior- with the crown of righteousness (2Tim.4:8);
The steadfast racer – with the unfading crown (1Cor.9:25-27)
The one faithful unto death – with the crown of life (Rev.2:10; Jas.1:12)
The unselfish worker – with the crown of honour (1Thess.2:19, comp.3-6; Phil.4:1);
The example to the flock, with the crown of glory (1Pet.5:3,4)
The glory. Though all this will come the consummation for the church. “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, as the voice of many waters, as the voice of mighty thunders, saying, Hallelujah; for the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigneth. Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory until Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready’…Blessed are they who are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Re.19:6-9).
But simultaneously has broken the great day on which the Lord will punish the host of the high ones that is in the height and the kings of the earth upon the earth (Isa.24:21), and on which it will seem good to Him to give the great kingdom of power and glory to His “little flock” (Luke.12:32). “I saw thrones and they sat thereon, and it was granted to them to exercise judgment” (Rev.20:4). “The saints o the Most High will receive the kingdom” (Dan.7:18,22). Those who at the judgment seat of Christ had been adjudged worthy of the prize will be made judges of the world. They will be the ruling aristocracy in the eternal kingdom of heaven.
And because they are “one body”, the individual will not be glorified before the community. It is all one “inheritance of the saints in the light” and the individual has only a portion therein (Col1:12). It is together that they are a royal realm, a kingdom (Rev.1:6; 5:10), and the individuals are priests and kings therein. The whole is superior to the individual. The individual is set in his place in the entire course of the whole. Therefore the individual cannot be perfected as an individual but only in personal living connection with the perfected community.
Therefore, the waiting of those who sleep for the perfecting of the future generations (Heb.11:40: Rev.6:10,11)
Therefore the clothing of the “soul” with the coming body of glory (2Cor.15:23) does not take place directly at death (Rev.6:9 Heb12:23)
Therefore there takes place at the same time the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the “clothing upon” (2Cor.5:2-4) of the then living by the rapture (1Thess.4:15). For the goal of the whole is an organism; not only the salvation of the individual but the glorifying of the community; not only individual blessedness, but the “kingdom of God” (Matt.6:10).
And even as now God’s cosmic universal State is under the government of regional angel princes, so then will the company of the glorified saints reign as kings, with Christ their Head, over suns and worlds (Rev.22:5; Heb2:5) “Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1Cor.6:2,3). Therefore “he that overcometh to him will I give to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne” (Rev.3:21). “Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he comes shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and shall come and serve them” (Luke12:37. This is the greatest promise of the bible.