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Posts Tagged ‘judgment’

The Comfort of Being with the Lord

August 9th, 2017

Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Cor. 5:8-10 ESV)

We are confident or of good courage in the love of God for us and of our acceptance in Jesus Christ. When we teach on the matter of us appearing before the judgment seat of Christ, we ordinarily leave Christians in a state of fear and worry – worrying about embarrassed or ashamed we will be for our lethargic Christian lives, our lack of spiritual fruit, and the down-right hypocritical things we have done and said. But let us take into account the fact that when Paul gave this doctrine he saw it as a source of encouragement to Christians, not as a source of discomfort or worry or fear.

The judgment seat of Christ is not a judgment to determine salvation. That judgment is the Great White Throne Judgment, described in Revelation 20:11-15. This is a judgment to determine rewards and though there will be the complete revealing of our lives, the overall color of the event is positive. We are encouraged by this thought of standing before the judgment seat of Christ.

First, we stand before the Lord who died for our sins and there is no possibility that any sin we had committed after salvation would separate us from His love nor remove our salvation. Our salvation in Christ is secure and the Lord Himself testifies to that fact. Also we stand before someone who loves us with an eternal love, who knows who we truly were made to be and knows every detail of our life. He is a sympathetic judge, a loving judge, and a judge who has already paid the price for our sin.

Second, we stand before the Lord who has been at work in our lives since salvation changing us into His own spiritual image. We cannot forget that He, as our Redeemer, is looking not for where we will have failed but where His Spirit will have succeeded. He already knows we are sinners and has saved us by His grace – not because of our works – and He looks to evaluate His work, which is the miraculous work of conversion and transformation. We are unable to make ourselves fit for heaven – only He can- and this is the great interest of His judgment.

Third, we will stand before the Lord who has promised that He will not forget any good thing we have done for Him. Christ said:

The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (Matthew 10:41-42 ESV)

The emphasis here is not upon the punishment for our misdeeds and failures but the reward for our faithfulness. In fact, there is no word toward the believer from Christ’s lips that He will never forget our failures, that they will receive their just punishment. Rather they have already been paid for. Christ’s emphasis was on rewards for good deeds and good motivations.

Will there be confrontations for our failures? I suppose there will be, for 1 Corinthians 3 speaks about some works being burned up:

…each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Cor.3:13-15 ESV)

Yet even in failure, the emphasis is on salvation- not that we enter into a miserable eternity but that we are still saved and included in the family of grace – bought by the grace of God and not by our own efforts.

If you have ever coached a young person in sports you know this principle, that you cannot teach a young athlete to do better by focusing on all that he has done wrong. Rather you take what he has done right and build on it. Confrontations for doing something wrong are few and far between and more than that you take what is good in his game and effort and draw his attention to it that he might build upon it. God does this in our lives as well, focusing on what is good and reflects His work in us.

The Lord will show us on this occasion that He has forgiven us entirely, that our sins are covered, that His work in us will be completed, that we are new creatures and the old has passed away.

Confess now what failures you have – trust that He cleanses and forgives (see 1 John 1:9-10) – but be assured that He moves beyond our failures, that He looks for our obedience to reward it. Rejoice that He will reward you one day for your faith and faithfulness, that that will reveal His work in you and not something you achieved on your own. He is the foundation and we build on this foundation with faith and in grace.

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Our Deeds Find Us Out

March 31st, 2017

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever. (1 Timothy 5:24-25 NIV)

Two principles in the realm of actions and morality are: (1) our thoughts will determine our actions and (2) our actions will eventually be revealed.

The influence of our thoughts: We are drawn away by our lusts and enticed to sin (James 1:14). We who have trusted in Christ for our salvation, and possess both the new nature and the presence of the Spirit in our lives, have the potential to be drawn toward the things of God and toward sacrificial service for Christ (2 Tim. 1:7). Our lives consist to a large degree of what our thoughts will make them. The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace:

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:5-6 NIV)

If we will set our hearts on Christ, our affections on Him, and if we will live in faith and commune with His Spirit daily, we will find an increasing appetite for the things of God exists and even grows in our hearts. This anonymous little poem says it well:

Two natures beat within my breast
The one is foul, the one is blessed
The one I love, the one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.

So it begins on the inside of us. An impatient man is first impatient in his inner thoughts, and a patient man is first patient in his inner thoughts. Whether or not our thoughts are placed upon the grace and mercy of God, whether or not we dwell in our minds daily in the assurance of His acceptance of us through Christ, of His love for us, of His call upon our lives, and of His promises to us will determine what we do with our lives.

The revealing of our actions: Eventually, either here on earth or before the Judgment Seat of Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:10), our actions will be revealed for what they are – the thoughts and intents of our hearts. All of us live with some degree of pretense, hiding from others the lusts and pride of our hearts. We may take care of these things that are hidden from others by confessing them to God and receiving His cleansing (1 John 1:9).

But eventually, who we really are on the inside is revealed through our actions – our weaknesses, our lack of faith, our anger and fear, the impure things of our life – or the good and righteous work of the Spirit assuring us of God’s love, which will be acted out in graciousness and righteousness.

Our fears can take a verse like this above and produce a sense of dread to stand before Christ and have our lives examined. But God does not give us “a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). And when we stand to be judged by Him, we are before our Savior and our Redeemer who loves us with an eternal love – love of eternity past that stretches out into eternity future. Though there should be a healthy respect for these matters and reverence toward God – the fear of the Lord – God did not give us this teaching to create in us an insecurity about Him. We can trust Him entirely.

Notice that the good is rewarded, and that is the major focus of this passage. Even a cup of cold water given in the name of Christ is not forgotten but is rewarded (Matt. 10:42). The old adage – “Be sure that your sin will find you out” – is only half of the truth. The reality is that our good works done in humility for the sake of Christ also find us out. This is reason for you to rejoice and relax in Christ, and enjoy your Christian life. God calls us to joy.

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