I was listening to a couple of the songs at service this morning and the thought suddenly and powerfully occurred to me that all the people under the hearing of the words of these songs they would one day stand before God in judgment, myself included. Each of us individually, will one day face God in Christ, in judgment. However, we may not all be at the same judgment.
In my walk with Jesus there is a constant warfare, the flesh warring against the Spirit. It pains me to admit that more often than should be the flesh holds the moment. This causes me to tremble when I consider the fact that Jesus is one day returning: not as an infant, not as a babe in a manger. No, not as a sacrifice to be offered, laying down His life upon a cross- the propitiation for our sins. No, this time He is returning as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. This time He is returning to ultimately judge the whole world in Righteousness.
There are two distinct judgments that will be held where Christ will be the judge. To be particularly honest they both feel me apprehension. Though one far more so than the other.
The first judgment that comes to my mind is the one that most will be familiar with, the “great white throne” judgment of Revelation 20.
Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Utterly awesome and utterly terrifying vision indeed. For those who will stand before this throne there is no place to hide, there is no ability to refuse to attend. The warrant is issued and all that are to be judged will be in attendance. Notice; the sea gave up the dead which were in it. As did the grave (death) and hell itself, that holding cell for all those destined for the eternal lake of fire will even vomit out the dead held there. No place will there be to flee.
The Psalmist declared:
Psalm 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
This judgment is quite terrifying, but I am assured that if I continue following Jesus that I will not be in attendance, except perhaps as an observer.
Romans 6:21-23 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Those who will attend this judgment are “the dead, small and great”. These are they who never surrendered to Jesus, who never actually entered into life through the promises of the Gospel. Those who rejected Christ and determined to do it their own way.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The other judgment is one less familiar to many…
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ”
“that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
This judgment seat of Christ in context is for those who are laboring for Christ- whether good or bad. Whether fruitful or not. The Greek here also indicates that this judgment is one of rewards, a measurement of our time and effort spent living and working for Christ. Not only the things (works) we did, but WHY we did them. This determines the value of the work. Many of us, most of the time, if we are not very careful, will be doing “works for God” out of our own desires that may not align perfectly with His desire. These works then become in effect, wood, hay and stubble. Compared to works perfectly in His will become gold, silver, precious stones.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Notice, the man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, be HE HIMSELF shall be saved. The dead, small and great are found to have their names blotted out of the Lamb’s book of life are cast into the lake of fire.
While I am certainly terrified by the great white throne judgment, mostly for all those around me who reject God’s merciful Grace in His wonderful plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus.
It is through a multitude of Scripture, which I will not get into here, I am confident that as long as I put my trust, faith, confidence in the imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to my account that I have no fear of a judgment of damnation.
Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Having said that, this is why it is the Bema (Judgment seat) of Christ that makes me tremble even now.
“Why? You said even if your works are lost, you will be saved.” Certainly.
But, imagine the pain and sorrow when you look into the eyes of Jesus, God the Son: Who left all of the splendor of heaven, suffered unimaginable grief at being rejected by humanity: His creation. And enduring a sheer agony that my brain cannot comprehend by becoming MY sin, YOUR sin and subsequently in that moment, separating from the Father who cannot look upon sin in His Holiness. All so I could work works of wood, hay and stubble. All that so I, you, we could live lives as nominal Christians at best.
Ask yourself, am I living the life I should in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Paul declared that all that he did was in response to his “not being ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” it IS the power of God.
I so want to see Jesus, I so want to worship Him person for His amazing grace and incredible love. I want to thank Him for dying for my sin and offering my life when I deserved death. But, I certainly hope the tears He wipes from my eyes are not tears of my shame for doing so little for the Kingdom of God.