A friend asked me this question the other day, so I want to dig into this.
I remember back in college age days where I would give an answer quickly, so that I seemed competent. But, as Jesus grows in me a desire to care for people, I take more time with these answers. Wayne Grudem impacted me in how he was so careful to be thoughtful in his answers when I had him as a professor at Trinity Seminary. He would often say, “Let me get back to you.” And then he actually would. So, I have learned to give it thought and prayer, unless the answer is obvious. And even if it is obvious, people are too important not to give them some thought and not to take them to the Lord before answering. So, now you know the background, let’s dig into the study.
Questions I want to answer in this blog:
1. Are our sins (past, present, and future) forgiven in Christ?
2. What is the judgment seat of Christ and what happens there?
3. How now shall we live?
1. Are our sins (past, present, and future) forgiven in Christ? Yes.
All of us have sin and fallen short of God’s glorious standard (Rom. 3:9-20, 23), and therefore, because we are not perfect and are guilty of sin (James 2:10), we stand condemned before a holy God (John 3:18, Luke 8:12).
So what do we do about this? Do we all spend eternity in conscious separation and suffering apart from God, like the Bible teaches (Rev. 21:8, Matt. 25:46, Psalm 9:17, 2 Thess. 1:9, Matt. 13:42, 50, Mk. 9:43, Jude 1:7)? Or is there another option?
God has taken the initiative in this. There is something we can do. God has provided a remedy.
Let me lay this out in a story of a guy named Joe. Joe, like all of us, is guilty before a perfect, holy, and righteous God. In fact, internally he knows that God cannot look on evil favorably (Habbakuk 1:13), and that he is still in his sin. However, he also knows that around 33AD God took initiative and sent His Son, Jesus/Yahweh the Savior into the world to pay the price for our sins by dying on a cross (Romans 5:8) and that through this death Christ satisfied God’s wrath through paying the price for the worlds sin (1 Peter 3:18). And that through faith in Christ, trusting in Christ, believing in Christ, looking to Christ for salvation, that gift is ratified to Joe (John 3:16-18) and that if he doesn’t trust Christ, he remains in a condemned state because of disbelief, and blowing off this wonderful sacrifice. So what does Joe do? He is faced with a choice, to look to Jesus and be saved or to blow off Jesus and remained guilty, with no sacrifice for sin being credited to His account. Joe wisely chooses Jesus. And because Joe has chosen Jesus, and embraced him, the promise of Psalm 103:12 and John 1:12 applies to him. Praise God! Furthermore, what Joe doesn’t realize yet is that he is also sealed in that state (Ephesians 1:11-14).
2. What is the Judgment Seat of Christ and what happens there?
So, seeing that our sins are forgiven: past, present, and future (by the way, “sin” is an archery term that means to miss the mark/target/bullseye. It is to fly at 30,000 feet when Jesus flies at 40,000 feet for example.), why do we have to stand before this JSC?
A. Verses that talk about JSC:
Luke 19:11-27, Romans 14:10-12, 1 Cor. 3:10-4:5, 2 Cor. 5:1-10, Jn. 2:28, 1 Cor. 3:8, Php. 1:21,23, Heb. 9:27, Mt. 16:27, Rev. 22:12, Rev. 12:3, 1 Thess. 1:3, 2 Thess. 1:11)
B. The JSC is NOT the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20.
C. It is known as the Behma Seat.
D. So let’s dig into these verses:
Luke 19:11-27- This passage talks about a general response from the business man. He rewarded the faithfulness of some and for one, he condemned. So, those in Christ seem to receive a situation of reward, not nit-pick.
Romans 14:10-12- The Judgment seat of God is a place where all of us will give an account to God. So, here Paul encourages us not to pass judgment on people. This verse doesn’t mean that we aren’t to challenge and confront one another. Rather, we are not to condemn one another.
1 Cor. 3:10-4:5- It is a time to see the quality of the persons works, and a time for commendation IF there is anything to commend.
2 Cor. 5:1-10- There is a day where we must all appear before the JOC to receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. There is a “paycheck” for our labor. Then, the context of verse 11 says, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to....God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.”
Let me extrapolate- We are God’s children, forgiven in Christ. Well....God knows if we are and Paul hopes we know if we are. BUT, if we are, we receive the “Crown of Life” and it is a joyful day. But what if we are people who have Christ and are therefore positionally holy (clean) but practically not perfected? First, none of us have reached practical perfection. I believe it will be a time of great joy as we see Jesus! But why then will Paul mention “evil”? I think there is not payout for deeds done in sin (ie pride, self-promotion, etc). Also, to be in heaven, to dwell with Jesus, we have to be perfect. And therefore, if we are allowed into Heaven, then even our evil deeds are not held against us, otherwise we couldn’t enter.
1 Cor. 3:8- There seems to be a reception of wages for the work in evangelism and discipleship.
Heb. 9:27-28- We all will face judgment, however, when Christ comes he will save those who eagerly wait for him. What if someone professes Christ, is even baptized, but does not eagerly wait for Him?
Here are my thoughts: 1) this person is distracted by the weeds of life, and has lost the light of hope, being weighed down, 2) this person does not have a depth of understanding and needs discipleship, or 3) this person is really unconverted, and does not hope in Christ.
I know that for me, personally, I know I am imperfect, and that most likely half of what I do has selfish motives BUT I am so excited about Jesus to return or for me to be with Him, that this excitement overwhelms any fear. And, if I notice a sin, I confess, repent, and adjust my life to live right.
Mt. 16:27- I take that generally as a judgment depending on what they did with Jesus.
Rev. 22:12- Echos Matthew 16:27
3. How now shall we live?
So, for the believer, is the JSC a time for fear? Nope. I think it is a time of joy.
We already know that we are not at the Great White Throne, and that our sins have been removed from us, otherwise, we would stand condemned. We do not stand condemned, and that is great news. In fact, we will receive various rewards depending on if our works in the Lord were pure.
I was a manager. Annually I would do an employee review. However, I loved my employees and unless there was a dramatic problem (which I would have talked to them about many times), they were secure in their employment. In fact, I felt that an annual review was actually a review, in part, of my leadership of my employees. When an employee sat in front of me, I would praise them for the good work they had done, and I would also challenge them to develop in any area they were deficient.
In part, the JSC is similar. We are His children, our sin has been paid for, Christ’s precious blood applied to our account. We will receive praise and reward for work, we will not receive reward for sin. And my example falls short, because I am not as good of a person and as loving a person and not nearly as healthy as the Lord. He is good, and holy, and loving, and healthy. So how much more can we trust him and look forward to seeing Him and becoming more like Him for all eternity!