Deductions Concerning the Judgement Seat

Dr. John Boyd, Holywood, N. Ireland

Part 2 of 2 of the series The Judgement Seat of Christ

(1) There will be Judgment for All Believers. " God shall bring every work into judgment . . . whether good or evil " (Eccl. 12. 14). The works of believers are not excluded. They too must stand before the Judge. Their eternal destiny is not in question ; that was settled here on earth. But every ' born again ' one must stand at the Judgment-Seat of Christ for his investigation. None will miss it (Rom. 14. 10; 2 Cor. 5. 10).

(2) There will be a Strictly Individual Investiga­tion. " Each man . . . concerning himself ... to God " (Rom. 14. 12). No intermediary, no priest, none to blame, none upon whom to rely for help. Alone before God each will speak for himself, and not for another. The ultimate responsibility for any action rests upon the individual, and for it he must give account personally.

In all the four accounts of the Judgment-Seat of Christ the Revised Version stresses the strictly individual aspect of the judgment;

each shall give account (Rom. 14. 12) ;

each man's work shall be made manifest (1 Cor. 3. 13) ;

each man shall have his praise from God (1 Cor. 4. 5) ;

each one will receive the things done in the body (2 Cor. 5. 10).

(3) There will be a Rendering of Accounts, an Explanation of Reasons. Each shall give his own account, for out of his own mouth will God judge His servants (Luke 19. 22). He must give an account of his words, especially of his idle words (Matt. 12. 36) ; of his overseership (Heb. 13. 17) ; of his reasons for doing things (Rom. 14. 12). In that day God will show him his motives, and will ask, " Why?" (1 Cor. 4. 5).

(4) There will be Direct Dealing with God. The believer will give his account to none but God, the omniscient, impartial and righteous Judge (2 Tim. 4. 8). And from God direct shall he receive his praise (] Cor. 4.5).

(5) There will be an Evaluation of the Believer's Works. To His servants has God given the work of building up the saints (Eph. 4. 11, 12; Heb. 13. 17). How they have done this work will be investigated at the Judgment-Seat of Christ.

Every one who labours to build up the people of God should seek to produce in them likeness to Christ. This will abide the fire. He should not preach with his eye on the appreciation of his hearers. This causes believers to make distinctions between teachers, and produces strife and jealousy. Such will be burnt up.

(6) There will be a Very Searching Judgment. So searching will be the judgment of our works that the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor. 3. 13 uses four different words to express the thoroughness of the testing. Each man’s work will be:—

(a) Made manifest, lit., become manifest, shine forth. It means that the work will be shown openly. Seven times this expression is used in the New Testament, and each time it means to show openly to all around. See especially Mark 6. 14, where it is rendered " spread abroad."

(b) Declared, lit., made evident. For the meaning of this word compare Matt. 26. 73, " Thy speech bewrayeth thee." No matter what Peter said about himself his speech told what he was. So at the Judgment-Seat of Christ the believer's works will be seen as they really are, not what he says about them.

(c) Revealed, lit., uncovered, the veil removed by the lire. The believer's work will be seen with all its veneer removed.

These three words express a public manifestation of works, not merely a private insight into things.

(d) Tried (R.V. prove), lit., to test if fit to be received, as gold is tested and proved by (ire before it is put into service (1 Pet. 1. 7). So the believer's work is tested to see if it is worthy of a reward.

(7) There will be a Recompense Following the Testing. After the testing of the believer's works there will be a righteous retribution. Each will receive a suit­able return for work done. There will be a two-fold result, (a) Rewards for those whose work abides the fire, (b) Loss for those whose work is burnt up.

REWARDS

(a) A five-fold joy :—

(i) Knowing that the Lord is satisfied with one's work.

(ii) Seeing those whom one had led to Christ (1 Thess.2. 19).

(iii) Seeing believers whose sanctification one's min­istry had helped to accomplish (2 Cor. 1. 14).

(iv) Sharing the joy of the Lord (Matt. 25. 21).

(v) Knowing that one's work was not in vain (Phil. 2. 16). (b) Praise from God (1 Cor. 4. 5).

(c) A glorious position in the new order established by the Lord at His Parousia (Matt. 25. 21, 23).

(d) Incorruptible crowns (1 Cor. 9. 25) :—

(i) The shepherd's crown of unfading glory (1 Pet.5.4).

(ii) The crown of righteousness for faithful service (2 Tim. 4. 8).

(iii) The crown of life for enduring trials (Jas. 1. 12).

(e) The bridal array of white linen, the righteous acts of saints (Rev. 19. 8, R.V.).

LOSSES

(a) Missing a full reward (2 John 8).

(b) Another taking his crown (Rev. 3. 11).

(c) Forfeiting an honourable position in the kingdom (Luke 19. 17-26).

(d) Less joy, less praise from God.

(e) Shame (1 John 2. 28).

(f) Reproof (1 Cor. 1. 8).

(g) Regret, as he sees his work burned up. No punish­ment, but loss,

(8) There will be Judgment based on Two Things, viz. :—

{a) The Bringing to Light of all Secret Deeds. This is necessary for the proper evaluation of work. Some things done in secret are worthy of praise, some of blame. None but the eye of God sees these ; He alone can assess these ; He alone is fit to judge the steward's services. None but God knows the little things done quietly that have helped believers in their trials. None but God can estimate the harm done to another's conscience by a word wrongly spoken. It will take the Judgment-Seat of Christ to bring to light the things done in secret.

(b) The Manifestation of the Believer's Motives. What causes a man to form resolutions is unknown to his fellow. He may know of the other's will, but what prompts that will, what his motives are, more man cannot determine. To God alone these are apparent. He, who judges the work by the motives whence the actions sprang, is alone fitted to estimate fully the value of work done. Motives that miscarried, or that were thwarted, must be taken into consideration before a true estimate of the Christian's service can be made.

These will be made manifest at the Judgment-Seat of Christ. Not till then will any be able to understand fully the work of those who labour for the Lord.

(9) There will be Praise For All. When all these secret deeds have been brought to light, and the motives of men's hearts have been made manifest, God will find something in each of us that He can praise.

Each believer will have his individual recognition by God. Each will get his own praise, and not another's. God is omniscient; He will make no mistakes ; He will praise impartially where it is deserved.

Those who have been misunderstood here will be praised aright at the Judgment-Seat of Christ; those who have worked unostentatiously will be praised openly ; those who worked for praise here will find none in that day (Matt. 6. 2). Let us seek praise then, and not now. We can afford to wait, for then it will be sweeter, as it comes from the Master Himself.

(10) There will be a Full Manifestation of All. We must all be made manifest before, lit., in front of, the Judgment-Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5. 10, R.V.). For an illustration of this compare Acts 18. 17. As we stand there we shall all be fully manifest, our inmost soul dis­played. There will be a manifestation of the believer's mind (Rom 14), of his materials (1 Cor. 3), of his motives (1 Cor. 4), of his manners (2 Cor. 5).

(11) There will be a Judgment to be Regarded With Fear. With Paul we should make it our ambition to be well-pleasing to God. We should fear the Lord, not with the slavish fear of punishment, but with the reverence and regard due to One who knows us so thoroughly, and who will one day manifest us fully. We should regard the Day of Christ with awe. The Judgment-Seat of Christ will be no mere prize-giving. It will be a time of solemn manifestation, a time of true estimation, and a time to be kept ever before our minds. Let us be so conscious of this fear that it will mould our thoughts, and model our actions as we seek to do the little bit of service that God has for us down here.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS IN CONNECTION WITH THE JUDGMENT-SEAT

(1) The Time of its Occurrence. The time of rewards will be during the Parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 2. 19). It will be during that period called in Scripture " The Day of Christ " (Phil. 2. 16), " The Day of Jesus Christ " (Phil. 1. 6), " The Day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5. 5), "The Day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 1.8).

The time of rewards will be after the Rapture, but before the coming of the Lord in glory. Then shall the saints be manifested with Him (Col. 3. 4), and shall be arrayed in their righteous acts (Rev. 19. 8, R.V.), received at the Judgment-Seat of Christ.

(2) The Conditions under Which the Believer will Appear. At the Rapture the Lord will give to His people bodies of glory like unto His own. In glorified bodies they will appear before the Judgment-Seat. In this condition they will fully appreciate and approve the decisions of the Judge on that day. Being in the likeness of Christ there will be no jealousy, nor envy, nor questionings concerning the fairness of the awards. God will be vindicated in all His dealings.

(3) The Mention of Sins at the Judgment-Seat of Christ. The believer's sins are covered (Ps. 32. 1) ; they have been cast behind God's back (Isa. 38. 17) ; they are in the depths of the sea (Mic. 7. 19) ; they have been blotted out as a cloud (Isa. 44. 22) ; God has promised to remember them no more (Heb. 8. 12). Whilst this is all true, the believer's works will be manifested at the Judg­ment-Seat of Christ, whether they be good or bad. Thus there will be mention of his evil deeds. This will not constitute a punishment. It will not call forth recrim­inations from fellow-believers. All with one consent will fall down to praise the God who so dealt in mercy, despite the believer's delinquencies. The more he knows of his sins the more he will love the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 7. 47).

When a sinner trusts Christ the penalty of his sins is remitted. But the results of his sins are not all manifest here. They will be at the Judgment-Scat of Christ. Then those who were wronged here will be vindicated. God is a righteous Judge, and He will deal in righteousness with each one.

Whilst God will not remember the believer's sins He will not forget them. They will not be remembered in the sense that God will not again demand satisfaction for them. This was done once for all at the Cross, and God is satisfied with that sacrifice. But the believer's wrong deeds will not be forgotten ; they will be mentioned at the Judgment-Seat. Just as David's sin against Uriah, as Peter's sin of denying his Lord, and as the sins of other believers recorded in Holy Writ, though forgiven, will last as long as God's Word lasts, so will remain the evil deeds of believers today. The results of a careless life will be under review, a life lived to self, and not to God.

(4) The Comparison and Contrast with the Great White Throne. There is a similarity between the Judg­ment-Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne. In each the verdict has nothing to do with the eternal destiny of those appearing. This was fixed beforehand (John 3. 16, 18). In each the subjects of the judgment must give their accounts (Rom. 14. 12; 1 Pet. 4. 5). In each there will be degrees of award (1 Cor. 3. 8; Matt. 11. 22).

But there is a difference between the judgments in that one is for believers only, and the other for the unsaved only. One is before the Day of the Lord ; the other is after it. In one there are awards of praise ; in the other of punishment.

CONCLUSIONS

The Judgment-Seat of Christ will take place during the presence of the Church with the Lord in heaven, prior to its manifestation with Him on the earth. Believers, and believers only, will be judged there. The questions under consideration will be the believer's works, not his destiny. The judgment will be a thorough, individual investigation into the believer's actions, his motives and his beliefs. Then the omniscient One will show him the true value of his service. The result of the judgment will be, not where he will spend eternity, but how—in what position of honour. Each will receive praise from his Lord for services rendered.

It will be a time not to be regarded lightly, but seriously ; a time to be feared, lest, after all the service he thought to have done for the Lord, he will be disapproved in that day.

May this consideration of the Judgment-Seat of Christ cause us all to mould our lives, and examine our works, in view of the solemn issues of that day.

Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to render to each man according as his work is (Rev. 22. 12).