A Welcome Judgment
Judgment Seat Of Christ
From Truth & Testimony No.2, Vol.2, P.38, 1993
Judgment is inescapable. God's Word declares with absolute decision "We must all be manifested before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each may receive the things done in the body, according to those he has done, whether it be good or evil" (2 Cor.5: 10). Some may not believe this, but their unbelief will not exempt them. In the case of unbelievers the judgment seat of Christ will be the great white throne (Rev.20:11‑15). The Christ they refuse will be their judge. They may think death is the end, but "all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth" (John 5:28‑29). Their bodies raised, they will receive their judgment in their bodies. The very fact of standing before the Son of God will fill people with terror and the results will fill them with horror. Since they will be judged according to their works they will be consigned to the lake of fire to suffer torment day and night for ever and ever. How dreadfully unwelcome, yet inescapable a judgment for those who have refused the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!
For the believer, how infinitely different! Through trusting Christ as His Saviour he has been saved by the pure grace of God and personally is promised that he will not come into judgment, but is passed from death to life (John 5:24). Yet he too will be manifested at the judgment seat of Christ. For the believer the judgment seat will be in heaven, however. Though he may die, which means that his spirit and soul will leave his body, the body possibly completely decaying, yet at the coming of the Lord Jesus (the Rapture) his body will be reunited with his spirit and soul, and he will be raised and caught up to be with the Lord. Philippians 3:21 tells us that at that time He will "transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory". All the effects of sin will be totally done away and we will be manifested at the judgment seat of Christ in bodies like His.
Will that judgment be welcome? Absolutely so! for it will not be the judgment of our persons. It will rather be a manifestation of everything concerning us, a review of our entire lives. Certainly it will be most serious, for the Lord cannot carelessly pass over anything. Though we will not be judged, our works will be. In this the Lord will certainly be absolutely fair and impartial. Would we want Him to be otherwise? Our acceptance in Him has already been perfectly settled before this takes place and there is no reason for the believer to have the least fear of this solemn event. In fact, when it takes place we shall be thankful for it to the depths of our souls.
What will it involve? I Cor.3:11‑15 tells us, "For other foundation can no man lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, the work of each shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire shall try the work of each what it is. If the work of anyone which he has built upon the foundation shall abide, he shall receive a reward. If the work of anyone shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss, but he shall be saved, but so as through the fire".
Believers build on the true foundation, but their work in building is to be tried. Gold, silver, precious stones, will endure the fire, in fact will be enabled by the fire to shine in clearer lustre. The gold speaks of the glory of God. What has been done for His glory will receive a reward. Silver speaks of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. What has been done out of appreciation for His sacrifice will receive a reward. Precious stones speak of the fruit of the Spirit reflected in the believer and this too will receive a reward. It is therefore actually the work of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that accomplishes in the believer the works that are precious to God; yet the believer receives the reward for them! For God delights to see a ready response in His people to the reality of His divine workmanship.
The work itself will be rewarded, the Lord discerning in perfection the motives that have been active in every detail of these things. This is a matter that should deeply exercise us now, that we should keep our hearts with all diligence, being careful to have our motives honourable and honest as before the eyes of a holy God. If we live daily as manifested to God, we shall not fear to have our motives challenged or exposed. We know that too often our motives are mixed, but if we desire to be self‑judged, then we shall be most thankful at the judgment seat of Christ to have everything exposed as it really is and those things that were not actually of value burned up. In regard to wood, grass and straw, it is not a matter of their being wicked, but of their inability to endure the fire. In other words, they represent things that were not positively for the Lord, however lawful in themselves they might have been.
Many have questioned as to whether this will be public for all believers, or whether the judgment will be of a private character between the Lord and themselves. The Lord's dealings with Peter furnish us with clear instruction as to this matter. What was personally between Himself and Peter He dealt with personally on the day of His resurrection, when we are told, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon" (Luke 24:34). No one else heard a word of this interview. Yet before the disciples too the Lord spoke to Peter, for they were involved in measure in this matter and the Lord's words were intended to re-establishe confidence among them (John 21:15‑22).
Therefore, what has been private will certainly be dealt with privately: what has been public will require public dealing; and as we know well, all will be done in a perfectly gracious and wise way, such a way as will encourage the deepest respect for His own great love and grace, as well as confirming the bonds of pure love and fellowship among the saints of God. We will heartily join with Him in judging that in ourselves that was not truly for Him; and none will have the least judgmental attitude toward another.
Though it will be solemn to think of our unprofitable works being burned up, we shall be thankful to see the end of them. Then the Lord will have the deepest joy in rewarding every work that has been truly for Himself. Whatever form the rewards will take, we shall be more than satisfied with this, but will it not mean most to us to simply hear the word from His own lips, "Well done, good and faithful servant?". His own approval is surely the sweetest reward we could desire. Envy will be totally absent at that time. We shall all rejoice in seeing other believers rewarded just as fully as we shall rejoice in whatever reward the Lord may be able to give to us. Certainly we shall feel the fact of our own shortcomings and failures, just as John "wept much" when no man was found worthy to open the book of judgment; but as John's tears were stopped by the sight of the lamb in the midst of the throne, so our regrets will be far overshadowed by the contemplation of Him (Rev.5:4).
To myself it appears that the superlative thing about the judgment seat of Christ for the believer is that it will serve to bring out in the fullest, most precious way the marvellous wonder of the grace of God. Then we shall see as never before how that pure grace has ordered all our pathway on earth, how it has borne with our many weaknesses, failures and sins, how it has led us eventually to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, how it has kept and preserved us from innumerable evils, how it has moulded us in a way that we had never expected, how it has provided for our every need and finally how it has dealt so gently and faithfully in summing up our history at that coming day.
Is not this wonderfully welcome? Let every believer anticipate the judgment seat of Christ with glad expectation and in the meantime live with this in view, as manifested to God and in lowly self judgment learning of and responding to the grace of His beloved Son.