August 23, 2022 – Click here to listen
So, only a couple of things are certain in this life, and it is maddening to some. Just when you think you are all set, boom, everything changes. There was a Greek philosopher living in Ephesus, Heraclitus, who summed up change nicely. “There is nothing permanent except change.”
So, God in all His wisdom designed our lives to be filled with uncertainty. I think He did this so we would understand not to rely on this temporal world and all that is in it. He wants us to rely upon Him and His word neither of which will ever change.
As I thought about this today, I realized that there are but two things that are certain in this brief life and they are not death and taxes. No, they are death and judgment. Hebrew 9:27 – Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment… We are all quite familiar with death but not so many people are clear on the judgment. There are varying opinions on judgments, but my study leads me to believe that there are two judgments that take place, one for believers, The Judgment Seat of Christ, and one for unbelievers, the Great White Throne.
The Judgment Seat of Christ also called the bema is a judgment exclusively for Believers. The following verse taken in context speaks of Believers: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” The purpose of the bema is an exhaustive evaluation of our lives. First 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 the Judge (Jesus).”
The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. All our sins are forgiven, and we will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1). We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. Yes, as the Bible says, we will have to give an account of ourselves. Part of this is surely answering for the sins we committed. Gulp… However, that is not going to be the primary focus of the judgment seat of Christ. We know that He won’t condemn us for our sins at that point, because among many other verses with a similar theme, Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus already took the punishment for our sins.
The Great White Throne of Judgment is another matter. It is described in Revelation 20:11-15 and is the final judgment prior to the lost or unbelievers being cast into the lake of fire. The Bible states that this judgment will take place after the millennium and after Satan is thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and the false prophet are.
It paints a terrifying scene: 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. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
I was thinking about judgment the other day and realized that I was saved and became a believer at the age of 24 in 1970. I was talking to my youngest son about it and he said, “that’s over 3/4 of your life”. I have been remorseful of those early days for over a half a century.
Less than 1/3 of my life was spent living as evil a life as I’ve seen. Then God changed me, and I have served Him for over 50 years. Change is good! Personally, I like change… duhhhh… This is not to say that I was totally free from sin all those 50 some odd years, that would have been impossible, but I loved the Lord all of that time and tried to live a life of which He would be proud and I know He has forgiven me for my shortcomings and unrighteousness. I don’t care about rewards and know I’m not deserving of anything including even being allowed into heaven. It will be humiliating standing before God and reviewing all the sins I committed. I suspect tears will be streaming down my face if tears are allowed there. But I know with certainty that the blood of Christ covers my sins and Jesus has forgiven them. And that is what keeps me going in this wicked, wicked, world.
For I will forgive their iniquities and will remember their sins no more.”