Revelation 20:11 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.”
Judgement….the final role call of the human race, the moment in our existence that many have tried to deny and none can avoid. This topic is what has led many into atheism and the hope that there will be no consequence to their actions. Talk with enough people about sin and you are bound to hear the phrase, “judge not unless you be judged”. Even in their disbelief unbelievers are happy to echo a quote from Jesus Himself and yet mention that reality and the backpedalling begins.
People don’t like to be judged, the idea itself has a finality to it that ends in either justification or in condemnation. The attempt to deny Christ is in itself an attempt to deny Truth. Hence, we see the world’s provocation of God by corrupting truth in our universities and schools, claiming truth is relevant and leaving it’s philosophical adherents holding onto nothing…and nothing doesn’t condemn.
The Two Judgements
John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
If your hope is to avoid judgement, I’m afraid your a little too late. The moment you first committed an offense toward God’s Moral law, you immediately stood judged by God. I’ve mentioned this before but it bears mentioning again…1 John 3:4 “He who commits sin commits lawlessness because sin is lawlessness.” The Moral law is the Ten Commandments, it is the still relevant standard by which we are held accountable. Examine your life by holding God’s standard of righteousness up to it and you will find you have fallen well short. As a criminal in a court of law is left speechless before unequivocal evidence, God’s view of our lives is uninhibited and His Holy standard has been violated. God’s standard is Himself, the moral law is a direct revelation of His character. Not only does our Judge witness every thought, He measures the intent of our heart. We will be without excuse.
— The entire human race stands guilty before a Just and Holy God.—
Romans 3:10 “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;”
We have a dilemma, we already stand condemned and to stand before the judge of the Universe without excuse is to receive the reward of sin….Death.
Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,”
The moment our bodies perish, God’s judgement is enacted. The spirit of those who have lived godless lives, devoid of belief in Christ, rejection of all that is Holy, will descend into the depths of Sheol to reap the consequence of their offense. The very next scripture in Hebrews is the solution:
Hebrews 9:28 “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
The spirit of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb find a different path. It is these saints of God who have accepted their guilt and recognized the necessity for grace, who have died to their past and have been made new in the Spirit, who have forgave as they have been forgiven, who have been sealed with the Spirit of promise, and loved the Lord their God with all of their being…they will ascend into the presence of God.
It is these people, whether in a suit or in rags, whether black, white, brown, or any other beautiful shade of skin, it is these who will receive the joy of the Lord. But, this is not yet the end....
Revelation 20:11-13 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.”
At the end of all the days and all that have ever lived apart from the love of God in Christ will stand before the Bema seat of God. They will each be held to the standard of righteousness they so rejected and they will know in full the reason for their judgement. It will be a time where excuses will be without merit, their “good deeds” deemed only ornamental, every opportunity they’ve had to receive God’s grace and yet rejected it will be made obvious, it will be their final verdict.
The Bema seat is one that had a history. The bema, or bima, is an elevated platform used as an orator’s podium in ancient Athens. … In an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, a bema is the raised area around the aron kodesh, or the sanctuary. In antiquity it was made of stone, but in modern times it is usually a rectangular wooden platform approached by steps. In Exodus 18:13 we see an example of Moses upon a Bema seat of judgement, “And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.“
The position of judgement is ultimately rendered to the Son of God. It is Jesus whom unbelievers have rejected as Lord and King. We see the example Jesus prophecied about in Matthew 25:31-46:
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will place the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’
Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’
And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’
Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
And they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’
Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’
And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
What is it that separated the Sheep from the Goats?
In the words of the late christian artist Keith Green: It was what they did and didn’t do!
There is a common thread in the world that God just threw out a blanket of grace upon the whole world and everyone receives it. This is similar to the relativists cry of distorted truth where “truth is what you make it!”. There is a very defined Truth and that Truth is Jesus.
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Jesus is the door to salvation and we must go through it. If you want to be a sheep, it is reflected in a love for God and a love for others, the two are inseparable. This condition is the summary of God’s moral law as expressed in Exodus and Leviticus and so eloquently taught by Jesus in Mark 12.
The sheep, as opposed to the goats have a different standard by which they will be judged….not with condemnation but by righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
This judgement, reserved for His people is the foundation of reward, not condemnation.
Romans 14:10 “Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
John MacArthur gives a summary that expresses it well:
“The purpose of the bema is an exhaustive evaluation of our lives. 1 Corinthians 4:5 says the Lord will come and “bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”
That passage reveals Paul’s emphasis on the judgment seat of Christ. Notice that Paul says each man’s praise will come to him from God. God gives rewards to the victors; He does not whip the losers. We know that He won’t condemn us for our sins at that point, because Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Thus, the purpose of the judgment seat of Christ is to examine a Christian’s total life. We will be recompensed for the deeds we have done, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10). The term used there refers to a summing up and estimation of the total pattern of a believer’s life. This overall focus should keep us from worrying over every stupid thing we’ve ever done, or thoughtless sin we have committed. It’s a time of reward, not punishment.
At the same time, while we won’t be condemned for our sins, our present lives do affect what will happen at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Here’s how:
- Sin and indifference in this life rob us of our present desire for serving the Lord. That in turn means a loss of rewards, because we will not have used our time to His glory. That is why Paul exhorts us to “be careful how [we] walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of [our] time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16, NASB).
- Sin and indifference result in a loss of power in our lives because sin grieves the Holy Spirit.
- Sin and indifference cause us to pass up opportunities for service, which we would otherwise perform and be rewarded for.
The greatest consequence of unfaithfulness here on earth is that it disappoints Christ. 1 John 2:28 says, “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” That is a sobering thought–we could be ashamed as we stand before the Lord. At the same time, it should encourage us with the prospect of receiving His lavish rewards if we serve Him faithfully during our time here on earth.”
For those who have been redeemed, to those who have received the reward of faithfulness, a crown will be rewarded. For those who have known the power of God and the fullness of His love, they know that any good that exists in them was born out of God working in them.
David Jeremiah describes 5 crowns:
- The Victor’s Crown (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)—the life of discipline
- The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19)—leading others to Christ
- The Crown of Life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)—persevering in trial
- The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4)—Jesus our glory
- The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)—faithful in obedience
There are so many great aspects of knowing Jesus and walking with Him—-no fear in judgment is just one of them. Do you want to embrace the day you stand before the King of Glory—let your justification come from Christ in you, the Hope of Glory!