The Bible assures us that there is ‘now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 8:1) and also warns us that ‘we must all appear before the judgement 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. 5:10). Is this a blatant contradiction or is God telling us something significant?
What did I do with my life? Did I please the Lord or myself? Did I submit to him or go my own way?
God assures us that all our sins have been forgiven if we have trusted the Lord Jesus to be our Saviour. ‘He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:2). That means that payment in full satisfaction has been made to God and that we are forgiven and accepted. We have eternal life. We will never perish. We are considered to be so closely linked to the Lord Jesus that God sees us as being in Christ! The Bible says,
‘For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God’ (Col. 3:3).
Our baptism reminds of that – in dramatic picture language we die (our old life is considered dead when we receive salvation), we are buried and we are raised up to live a new life – just as the Lord Jesus was! (Rom. 6:1-7)
The judgement seat of Christ is an assessment for each of us of our Christian lives. What did I do with my life? Did I please the Lord or myself? Did I submit to him or go my own way? What were my motives? How did I treat my brothers and sisters? Did I care about the things God cares about? Did I compete according to the rules as Paul urged in 2 Tim. 2:5? Or could I find I was disqualified? Did I run in such a way as to get the prize? (1 Cor. 9:24)
Maybe some of us will face difficulties and trials. How did we endure them? The Bible says,
‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him’ (James 1:12)
– so there is the possibility of rewards or crowns at the judgement seat of Christ.
To make it easier for us to understand, the Bible describes the outcome of our lives as like building using different types of material on a foundation:
‘For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor. 3:11).
We then use gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, to build with. The first three are durable, aren’t they? The last three are easily destroyed. The Bible warns us that our lives will be revealed, each of our building work will be shown for what it is,
‘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)
In view of that tribunal enquiry into our lives let’s make our Christian lives really count for God. Baptised, serving in a Church of God, putting God’s things before my own, making sure I attend church, showing love to those I meet and keeping myself from becoming polluted by the ungodly world I live in are some of the ways to ensure we will not lose out at the judgement seat of Christ.
David Webster, The Church of God in Liverpool