The Judgement Seat of Christ
Part 2 of a series on Prophetic Subjects
Scripture Readings: 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. 2 Corinthians 5:9-15
Romans 14:9-15. Revelations 22:12
Judgement in Scripture is viewed in two ways, administrative and penal. Whichever view is taken it is always the same person who is the Administrator. John in his Gospel reminds us that “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22).
In the city of Glasgow, Scotland, where the writer has lived for almost a quarter of a century, there are two important buildings, one in the Salt-market in which judges examine cases of crime and pass sentence upon guilty persons. The other building is Kelvin Hall where, at certain times of the year, flower shows are held. The judges in this building do not pass sentences upon criminals; rather they examine exhibits which have been entered, and assign awards commensurate with the quality of the exhibits.
The believer, as far as judgment for sin is concerned, will not appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to have sentence passed upon him. Those who hear Christ’s words and who believe on Him that sent Christ have everlasting life, and they shall not come into condemnation (John 5:24). Paul, by the Spirit of God affirms, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). The writer to the Hebrews states. “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:16-17). The work of Christ upon the cross settled the question of sin as far as the believer is concerned. Not only what the believer has done, but what he is by nature has all been answered for in the death of Christ. The Judgment Seat of Christ is not to determine who is fit or not fit for Heaven, for as the scene takes place in Heaven all present will have already been accepted there. We are assured, “As He (Christ) is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). Yea, we are as changeless as the blessed Christ Himself before the Throne of God.
The Judgment Seat of Christ is the occasion on which the believer shall be manifested before the Lord. This is intensely individual, as may be confirmed by an examination of certain Scriptures. For examples, “Everyman shall receive his own reward” (1 Cor. 3:8). “Every man according as his works shall be” (Rev. 22:12). “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom 14:10).
The Judgment Seat of Christ is for a twofold purpose. First, that all things which have not been adjusted in this life may be examined and considered from Christ’s viewpoint, that His grace, which has been manifested toward us throughout our pilgrimage, may be magnified. Second, that we may be rewarded in accord with our fidelity to Christ during His absence. All rewards will be expressions of appreciation by the Lord in regard to everything that has been done unostentatiously for Him. His rewards to the overcomers will be His recompense during the coming kingdom.
These divine rewards will be given in various connections.
The Lord will reward those who shine for Him in this dark scene. Today we have the opportunity of fulfilling that statement made by Paul to the Philippians, “Among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). The Lord stated in that heptad of parables found in Matthew 13, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Ver. 43). Paul reminds us, in his masterly dissertation on the resurrection, “For one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:41-42). The stars shine above, and the inference is that we shall shine above in the heavenly aspect of the coming kingdom. Paul near the close of his last letter said, “The Lord will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:18). May we all shine here in order that we shine brightly in that day.
Paul affirms that if we suffer, we shall also reign with Christ. Reigning with Him is consequent to our suffering with Him down here. He assures us also that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). Paul encourages us by the statement, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (1 Cor. 4.17). Note the contrasts in this verse. “Light” in contrast to “weight,” “affliction” in contrast to “glory,” “a moment” in contrast to “Eternity.”
Only service dominated by love for Christ is worthy of Him. There are many professedly serving Him, but at the Judgment Seat of Christ it will be manifested that they were “wicked servants” as indicated in Luke 19:22. Paul, in his service, was dominated by one great principle, “The love of Christ.” This “constrained” him. The word used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:14 is translated elsewhere: “taken” as with a fever, “throng” as the surging of a great crowd, “held” as the binding of a prisoner, “straightened” as with the pressure of a great necessity, “keep thee” as in the seige of a city. When the love of Christ dominates, then what is accomplished in service will be divinely approved in the day of review (Heb. 6:10).
Solomon put on record this fact in Proverbs 11:30, “He that winneth souls is wise.” Paul spoke of both the Philippians and the Thessalonians as being his joy and crown. He also alluded to Timothy as “my own child in the faith,” and to Titus as being mine own son after the common faith. Have we sought to win souls for Christ? Some may feel that they do not possess the gift of an evangelist; even so, there is no reason why you should not seek to “speak a word in season to him that is weary.” Perhaps you might win the person to whom you speak for the Lord Jesus. The Apostle said to the saints at Corinth, “We are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus” (2 Cor. 1:14). It would be tragic if we had to quit this scene using the language of the hymn writer:
“Must I go and empty handed:
Must I meet my Saviour so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him;
Must I empty handed go?”
In the story of the Good Samaritan, when he had found the man half dead and had ministered to his need, he put him on his own beast and brought him to the inn. To the inn keeper he said, “Take care of him.” The verb “to take care” is found again only once in the New Testament. Paul in addressing himself to the bishops, the shepherds of the flock, states, “If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Tim. 3:5). The Apostle Peter according to John 21 received a threefold commission relative to shepherding the flock: “feed my lambs” (ver. 15), “shepherd my sheep” (ver. 16), “feed my sheep” (ver. 17). Two different Greek words are used in these verses. Years later, having played the role of a shepherd of the sheep, Peter exhorted younger elders, saying, “Feed the flock of God which is among you” (1 Pet. 5:2). He also indicated that, when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, they would receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away (ver. 4). It is necessary for the saints to obey them that have the rule over them, and to submit themselves, for they watch for their souls, as those who must give account. In the Day of Christ, at the investiture of Heaven, the Lord will decorate each believer according to his faithfulness. We not only have the responsibility to answer for our own behaviour, but for the conduct of the flock entrusted to our care.
Those who are called to be elders among the saints should realize that it is no sinecure; there are difficulties, and only His grace and guidance will enable them to surmount these. The Lord takes cognizance of our faithfulness to Him, and to His flock. At His “bema” we shall give an account of our stewardship. May we be able to do it with joy and not with grief.
This is not the only life, but how much depends upon it.