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The Judgement Seat of Christ

J. T. Mawson

Will He really come again?

Question: You think that the Scriptures teach that the manifestation of the servants of the Lord as to their faithfulness will take place at the Appearing of Christ and not at the Rapture?

The rewards for faithful service will be enjoyed then; and each one will have his place in kingdom glory according to his faithfulness, but the actual manifestation will be at the judgment seat of Christ. Then and there the Lord will scrutinize the works that we have done. The text that speaks definitely of this is 2 Corinthians 5:10, and I give it as it appears in the New Translation (JND): "For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to those he has done, whether it be good or evil." And a passage that naturally links up with this is 1 Corinthians 3:12-15: "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 up, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

Question: How do you reconcile these statements with the Lord's own words in John 5:24, that those that believe "shall not come into judgment," as I think the word should be?

There is really no difficulty in John 5. It is the person that is in question; at the judgment seat of Christ it is the deeds or works. The person of the believer can never come into judgment, for his Saviour who will sit on the judgment seat, suffered in his stead upon the Cross; the judgment is past and the condemnation endured, and the penalty paid, and the believer having passed out of death into life has passed beyond the reach of judgment, being in Christ where there is no condemnation for him (Romans 8:1). Yet his works will be scrutinized, and he will learn what the Lord thinks about his life and ways. Many questions and problems that have arisen in this life, for which we have found no answer, will be answered then, and the full value of all our deeds, according to the Lord's own estimate, will then be shown to us, and we shall be rewarded or suffer loss accordingly. But we shall be then, as I think 2 Corinthians 5 indicates, in our glorified bodies. Nothing can rob us of this and our place in the glory, which is all according to sovereign grace.


What it Means to Suffer Loss

Question: If we are sure of being in Heaven through the atoning Blood of Christ, how can we be said to suffer loss?

Suppose two workmen employed by the same master. They both receive full instructions from the master on Monday morning as to their work for the week, instructions so clear that nobody could possibly mistake them. One works consistently and conscientiously to the master's plan, and finishes the work to the master's satisfaction. The other spends one half of the week in pleasing himself, and when he does settle down to work, he pays very scant heed to his master's wishes and does the work as he thinks it ought to be done. It is not difficult to see how different the lot of these two men will be at the end of the week, one will receive a full reward for his labour, the other will suffer loss, for half his week was wasted, and the work of the other half badly done. He would have very little to show for it, and would gain his master's disapproval. So with the Christian, according to his faithfulness or otherwise he will be rewarded, he will receive the things done in the body whether they be good or bad.

Question: Do you think that there will be Christians in Heaven who will have no works to show at all, whose works will all be burnt up, though they themselves will be saved; yet so as by fire?

It does not seem possible that any true Christian's life will be entirely barren of fruit, or that all his works will be destroyed. I remember being at a Bible Study, and our subject was 1 Corinthians 3. One brother remarked, "You see it is possible that when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, all our works may be burnt up, and we ourselves saved, but with nothing to show as a result of our salvation." A brother who had been saved from a life of infamy, and who was a bright example of the saving grace of God, quietly remarked, "And what sort of a salvation would you call that?" He was right if there is no fruit in the life, no good works by which God is glorified, we may well conclude that the grace is not there, for "by their fruits shall ye know them."

Question: Yet some lives seem sadly wasted, what about them?

Yes. I knew a young man who as a lad had professed the name of the Lord Jesus, but as he grew up he threw his whole energies into pleasure and sport, and at 29 lay dying. He seemed impervious to anything that was said to him, but one night he had a dream. He was in a room in which were exhibited some beautiful specimens of the wood carvers art, many of his own being among them. Suddenly, as he examined these works of art, the building burst into flames, and he with great difficulty, just managed to escape from the building, as it collapsed in ruins. He was saved by the skin of his teeth. He knew the Scriptures, and two of them flashed into his agitated mind when he awoke. "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire," and "the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter  3:12 ). It was God's voice to his soul; he saw that he had lived for himself and the world, and his life was a lost life, but, thank God, he made good use of the little while that was left him, and in witnessing to the saving power, and pardoning grace of the Lord he built gold, silver, and precious stones.

Question: What Scriptures would you quote to prove that the Christian's faithfulness here will be rewarded by a place in the kingdom of the Lord at His Appearing?

The parables of Matthew 25:14-30, and Luke 19:11-27, and the Lord's words in Luke 12:35-48, and such passages as 2 Timothy 2, "If we suffer we shall also reign with Him," and Romans 8:17 , "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."


The Unfaithful Servant

Question: Before leaving this subject how would you prove that the unfaithful servant in the parables of Matthew 25 and Luke 19 is an unbeliever and not a true Christian who is shut out of the kingdom for his unfaithfulness?

Is it conceivable that the Lord would condemn anyone whom He had redeemed by His blood to outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth? But out of the man's own mouth shall he be judged. "I feared thee," he said, "because thou art an austere man." Most surely he did not know his Lord at all; would anyone who knows Him speak thus of Him? Those who know Him, while they deplore their unfaithfulness, bear witness to His patience and tenderness of heart, and readiness to forgive, and it is this knowledge of Him that constrains them to faithful service. The man was a servant in name and by profession only; he had no vital knowledge of the Lord. Alas, there are many such.

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