Monday, June 3, 2013

The Judgment Seat of Christ

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord- (7) for we walk by faith, not by sight- (8) we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. (9) Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. (10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Judgment is a difficult subject to broach with people, so it most often isn’t. Pastors & preachers the world over will instead defer again & again to tickle parishioners’ ears with the sweet sounding notions of love, mercy, & grace. They fail to dwell on the companion concepts of a completely holy & righteous God, man’s ongoing degeneracy, & the consequential need to deal with this disparity in a real way. Indeed, these three concepts are so necessary to the believer that they summarize the primary convictions of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8ff). So this is where those ministers tragically fall short- in failing to propound these three core doctrines, they dispense with the majesty of God’s love, mercy, & grace, for these are built upon the foundation of sin, righteousness, & judgment. The good news of Christ’s love carries no true weight apart from the bad news of mans’ requisite judgment before he can dwell in the presence of an utterly righteous God.

The good news is that Christ Himself endured the judgment that allows us to dwell eternally in the presence of such a holy God. That work was fully accomplished upon His speaking the words “It is finished” & His immediate death. Merrill Unger succinctly speaks to our manner of salvation thusly…

“The one who believes on Christ has been hailed to court, sentenced to condemnation, & executed in the Person of his Substitute.” Unger’s Bible Dictionary, pg 621

So we who repent to believe on Christ can trust that our salvation is secure because we were “buried with Him” (Rom. 6:3ff); consequently, we can trust that Paul is not warning Christians of such a dire judgment in 2 Corinthians 5:10. What he is giving us caution towards is the revelation that all that we do & say has implications for eternity, & so we must contrast all our “deeds in the body” with what the mind of Christ would have us do & say, lest we suffer loss. We have already dwelled on this judgment when we discussed it formerly, but to make clear what the apostle refers to, allow this synopsis…

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, (13) each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. (14) If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. (15) If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

But in keeping with our main theme of pondering Christ’s glory, we should consider the fact that Paul’s attributing to Christ the power of arbiter of this separate judgment of the elect reinforces the fact that the Father has indeed given Him all judgment…

John 5:22-23 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, (23) that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

So when the liberal wings of Christian denominations & sects like Jehovah Witness & Christian Science deny the supreme authority of Christ to pass judgment, they attack the very intent of the Father they falsely suggest to honor. By ascribing to His Son the highest honor of judging His beloved, it is shown that the Father-
1) Knows Christ to be autonomously capable of fulfilling that role with the same degree of sovereign character & wisdom as He.
2) Recognizes His Son’s works of righteousness & atonement that enable Christ alone to be an arbiter of mercy & grace to the Father’s elect.
3) Reveals the “oneness” of the Father & the Son, in that Christ elsewhere still declares that the Father judges too (John 8:16, 1Peter 1:17- the Father judges us through His uniquely intimate bond with His Son).
4) Commands us to honor His Son to the same degree that we honor Him.

Therefore, those who subsequently deny the Son’s equivalent stature with the Father completely deny the Father as well.

Hence, with the revelation of John 5:22-23, we should propose to false forms of Christianity the following simple question-

Does what you believe allow you to 'honor the Son, just as (you) honor the Father' "?

John 8:15-16 You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me.

Romans 14:10-12 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; (11) for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." (12) So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

1 Corinthians 4:3-5 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. (4) For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (5) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

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