16th February, 2012
God’s judgement, the judgement seat of Christ, is a needling subject for some, a source of disquiet for others, and a triumph of God being God for many.
The phrase ‘judgement seat’ in the New Testament is derived from the Greek word bema. Bema can variously refer to a dais, rostrum, tribunal or the place where the foot is set on.
CHRIST IN JUDGEMENT: As shown above the doors of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. PICTURE: © Rafael Laguillo (www.istockphoto.com)
"Judgement is in the hands of Jesus. All believers will appear before the judgement seat of Christ to receive their due and their due stems from what they built with their lives."
The latter of these references tends to capture the imagination. It seems to involve the idea of a place of decision. Here the foot stands firmly and there is finality on how the matter will stand.
This reminds me of the Stone of Destiny, the stone Scottish kings stood on to be crowned. All authority was invested in the one who stood upon this stone. A far greater authority is invested in Jesus, the Christ.
At the judgement seat deliberations are made. There is a solemnity to the proceedings, a solemnity imbued with an integrity which ensures just judgements.
When Jesus ascended into heaven He took up a seat. On the one hand the seat speaks of rest for the finished work of salvation but on the other it speaks of on-going work for it is the judgement seat.
Judgement is in the hands of Jesus. All believers will appear before the judgement seat of Christ to receive their due and their due stems from what they built with their lives.
Did they build with lasting materials like gold, silver and precious stones or with consumables (inflammables) such as wood, hay and straw?
The believer ‘shuffles off this mortal coil’ and is ushered into the presence of Christ. Jesus receives His own but that reception exposes the person before His gaze. There are rewards for faithful acts but there is loss for building with improper materials.
It should be clarified that believer judgement before the judgement seat of Jesus is separate from Jesus reigning in the millennium from that same judgement seat.
Also, the judgements of the Great White Throne have a different function as they are post millennium and deal with the dead who have remained outside Christ and His parousia, His presence.
So how will Jesus judge? This is difficult to state categorically and to some degree we need to step beyond definition and explanation into a surmising based on the Biblical revelation of Jesus.
To exemplify Jesus’ judgements we could reflect on the adulteress who was about to be stoned. Jesus freed her from the crowd, told her He did not condemn her to death and added, 'Don’t repeat the sin'.
Other situations to ponder are the Samaritan woman at the well, Peter denying Christ, the criminal’s death and Jesus’ dealings with the Pharisees.
With the Samaritan woman Jesus chose to speak to a woman, to a Samaritan, to a person who had had five husbands and was now living with someone else. The content of his conversation was 'I don’t despise you but rather I want to give you living water'.
When Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times, Jesus went on to say he was not giving up on him but rather he had prayed that his faith will not fail him and that he would turn back to him and be a strength to others.
The criminal on the cross beside Jesus who recognised his own just end and asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom was told he would join Jesus in paradise that very day.
The Pharisees who criticised Jesus’ disciples for picking and eating heads of grain on the Sabbath were simply told the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. This is just one incident where Jesus told the religious leaders their traditions were nullifying the Word of God and they need to get their heart right.
"One misnomer about the judgement seat of Christ is the tick-sheet. Some people picture a Deuteronomy blessings and curses type of tick-sheet when they think of judgement. Thankfully there is no Pharisaic legalism.."
These five examples say something about the tenor of Jesus’ judgements. He does not follow a set of precedents, guidelines or principles. He is just. He is our personal saviour who judges divinely in wisdom, mercy, truth and loving-kindness.
Every occasion, in these samples, reveals the same Jesus at work, not Jesus on a good day and a bad day or a Jesus tainted by humanity in any other way. The same Jesus is now sitting on the judgement seat and the same goodness will be evident in those decisions as it was in these.
One misnomer about the judgement seat of Christ is the tick-sheet. Some people picture a Deuteronomy blessings and curses type of tick-sheet when they think of judgement. Thankfully there is no Pharisaic legalism teased out into a million requirements to cover every aspect of life, having a cross or a tick according to whether you successfully completed that bullet point.
Our lives will be open books and Jesus’ audit will brook no befuddled sentimentality such as; you were middle class nice and you tried not to hurt anyone. There will be no favouritism or distortions of any kind.
He knows us, what we do and don’t know and what, in all honesty, we can and cannot do.
He knows us and He will judge whether we were a wise or foolish virgin, a one talent hoarder or a multi-talent investor, a son who squandered or used wisely our inheritance, a field with weeds among the grain, a builder who used quality or sub-standard materials, or any other analogy spoken in his parables.
He knows the difference between gold and wood, and if we did not recognise the difference before our judgement seat time we certainly will know it then. Some things will endure, having had eternal value, and others will remain behind on a funereal pyre scrapheap.
This is both a definition of the judgement seat of Christ and an extrapolation and surmising of the judgements delivered to believers on stepping beyond this veil into His parousia.
Jesus will be Jesus and the believer will be more like Him for having stood before Him.
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