Chapter 14 "Judge Nothing Before The Time."

1 Cor. 4:5

The sleeping saints having been raised from the dead, and the living changed, and both together, in one glorious congregation, having been taken from earth to heaven, it can be a matter of no small interest to one who is destined to be among that company, to know what shall take place ere they again appear with Christ to judgment.

First, from many Scriptures already glanced at, there will be the seeing of the Lord Jesus as He is. Even now, by those who walk in the light, there is a seeing of Him by faith, and an enjoyment of His presence, that others know little or nothing of; to such He manifests Himself in a way that He does not unto the world (John 14:22, 23); but then there will be a vision of His glorious person, and an enjoyment of His presence to which faith cannot attain, to which even the indwelling of the Spirit of God does not usher the saint, but for which that Spirit causes him to long and pant.

Then there will be the Father’s house where the many mansions are, and the place that He has gone to prepare for us, as we sing—

“He is fitting up my mansion, which eternally shall stand,
And my stay shall not be transient in that holy, happy land,”

But of this we have little detail. “He suffered the just for the unjust, that He might bring its to God;” and He will complete this purpose in all its fulness, and “present us faultless in the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”

There was a law in Israel, that “when a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year.” We know that Moses in the law spake of Christ; these ancient enactments were shadows in many, if not in all cases, of good things to come. Comparing this one with Eph. 5, where we find the relationship of husband and wife applied to the great mystery of Christ and the Church, where He is spoken of as “presenting it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,” is it not evident that there is a parallel, and that He to whom we are now espoused, when He comes to receive us to Himself, and to His Father’s house, shall not go forth to battle, or marshal the saints for the execution of judgment, until He have remained with them a certain period “at home”?

And this merciful statute was for the cheer of the wife whom he had taken. It is the husband that is to “cheer” the wife, even as he doth “nourish and cherish.” And who can tell what cheer the Lord hath prepared for those that love Him? what wiping away of tears? what girding of Himself and coming forth to serve—the eating of the hidden manna—the stone with the new name written in it, that no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it? what compassing about with songs of deliverance? what remembrances of the way the Lord hath led us, and fresh and ever new outbursts of praise as every step and turn are seen in fuller light? “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now we know in part; but then we shall know even as also we are known.” (1 Cor. 13:12.)

In Rev. 19 the saints are seen as the armies of heaven, accompanying the Lord Jesus on His march to judgment as “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” The very idea of an army presupposes appointment to positions of trust and responsibility, in proportion to ascertained faithfulness. Accordingly, many Scriptures speak of a tribunal at which the saints shall stand, at which their works shall be reviewed and tested according to perfect holiness, and by the result of which their position in the age to come shall be finally determined. The period at which this judgment shall take place is distinctly pronounced in 1 Cor. 4:5. The apostle has been speaking of his stewardship and responsibility to the Lord; he asserts his indifference to all human judgment, and his want of confidence even in the judgment which he habitually passed upon himself. He that judgeth him is the Lord; “therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”

The same judgment is spoken of in 1 Cor. 3:13-15: “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.” To this same judgment the apostle confidently looks forward in 2 Tim. 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day;” and in prospect of it he laboured that, whether present or absent, he might be acceptable to the Lord. “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.” (2 Cor, 5:9, 10.) From these Scriptures it appears that the period of thi3 tribunal is when “the Lord come?,” consequently when the saints appear before His “judgment-seat,” having already been changed and glorified, and made like Himself, the question of their personal salvation is not raised at all. As sinners, they have already been judged, condemned, and executed at the cross in the person of their substitute. Who is he that condemneth? The judge is Christ that “died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom. 8:34.) But although there is no personal condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, there may be condemnation of much, very much, that has been done by the saints.

Their works may be burned, while themselves are saved; and thus they may “suffer loss,” though by grace they are for ever with the Lord. From the parable of “the pounds,” in Luke 19:12, it is further evident that the present period of the absence of the Lord from earth, is that in which the Lord tests the fitness of His servants for the large responsibilities of the age to come, when His kingdom shall be manifested.

He who with one pound had gained ten pounds, has ten cities placed under his authority, because he had proved himself faithful in a very little; and God’s principle of judging is this, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10.)

Many other Scriptures might be cited on this subject, which indeed is so important, and forms so prominent an element in the apostolic teaching, that it might be well to devote a larger space to its consideration.

Meantime, happy are they who are seeking to please God; who, walking habitually in the light of that judgment-seat of Christ, where “every one of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:10-12), are, by their faithfulness in the least things entrusted to them here, approving themselves for those positions of honour which the Lord has in reserve as His high rewards for those who shall be found worthy.

The “mighty men,” when David came to the throne, were those who had companied with him in his rejection, sharing his sufferings and risking their lives for his sake. Such will be the mighty men when the Lord Jesus shall reign—the deeper in the sufferings of Christ now, the higher in the glory of Christ hereafter.