A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Judgment Seat of Christ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Judgment Seat of Christ. Show all posts

February 15, 2024

What Does the Bible Have To Say About God's Great White Throne Judgment?

As I explained in the last post, I am walking in a new season of study in God's Word... not reading something new, but rather, understanding what I've read before in a new light and revelation. What the Lord is asking of me is to understand the Judgments of God and to share what the Bible reveals about His judgments and who they affect. And, so today my focus is on one of the most misunderstood judgments of the End Times...

The Great White Throne Judgment.  Here is what Scripture says about this judgment, found in Revelation 20:11-15 -- And I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and Hades (the grave) gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. 

The first thing we need to understand about this passage is that this judgment was prophesied in the Old Testament by Daniel 12:2: And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And it is evident, by the language, that this is referring to awakening from death [sleep], i.e., resurrection; and that there are two different resurrections being mentioned -- one to everlasting life, and one to everlasting contempt [death]. So, it looks like all the dead will be resurrected at some time or other, but not everyone will receive the same fate. Jesus confirms this in John 5:29, when He says, "and come out, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment".    

So, what does the Bible say about these two resurrections and what are the fates of those resurrected? Let's take a look at the first resurrection ... Revelation 20:4-6 describes it: Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with Him for a thousand years.  The first resurrection will see the martyrs, the Old Testament saints, and those who rise to meet Christ at His return. These are all believers and they will rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years, or in other words, during the Millennium. 

It is also important to realize that this first resurrection "age", if you will, takes place in different stages. Jesus begins the age with His own resurrection, as the "first fruits" of God's redemptive plan for all mankind (1 Corinthians 15:20). There will then be the resurrection of  "the dead in Christ" at His return (1 Thessalonians 4:16). These stages are then followed, at the end of the tribulation, with the resurrection of the martyrs and the Old Testament saints (Revelation 20:4). They are all part of the first resurrection.

NOTE: I want to interject that sometime during this age between the first and second resurrections, the Bema Seat Judgment takes place. (See my post on this judgment of believers and their inheritance/rewards here). There is no definitive time given in the Bible [that I can find] that narrows the timeline. The options are:  immediately after a believer dies; after the Rapture [depending on when you believe that takes place]; after Jesus's Second Coming; sometime during the Millennium Kingdom; or before the Great White Throne Judgment, which some believe happens at the end of the Millennium Kingdom, [or thousand year reign of Christ on earth] and preceding the coming of the new heavens and the new earth. That's why it is important for us all to spend time knowing what we believe and why.   

Now, let's look at the second resurrection. From the Revelation 20 passage, it can be surmised that those who comprise the second resurrection are the wicked who are judged by God at the Great White Throne Judgment. Their judgment will take place prior to being thrown into the Lake of Fire. So, this is the raising of all unbelievers, who will be judged for their evil and/or unbelief. Various versions of John 5:29 describe it as "the resurrection of judgment" (ESV); judgment that is to be sentenced (AMP); the "resurrection of condemnation" (1599 Geneva Bible); and the "resurrection of damnation" (KJV).  

We have now expanded on the events that happen before the Great White Throne Judgment, i.e., the Bema Seat Judgment and the first and second resurrections of all the dead on earth. But what actually happens at this critical judgment of the unbelieving world? First of all, we should be in awe of the picture that the Apostle John paints ... Satan is released from the Abyss and God's presence on this throne of judgment is presented. It is so powerful and profound that both the earth and the sky [first heaven] "fled away". I believe this is referencing other descriptions in the Bible that describe earthquakes, mountains and islands being displaced, and the darkening of the sun and moon and stars -- in other words, man's sin cursed the earth, and God is now going to make way for a new creation; the new heavens and earth. That will begin to be revealed at the Great White Throne judgment.

Also, it is clear that this judgment is coming against all the unbelieving from every age of human history. The Lamb's Book of Life will be opened and if your name is not written in that book, you will not escape the Lake of Fire. I think we can consider this as a "spiritual death"; the eternal and everlasting separation from the presence of God. Thankfully, those of us who are believers and found in the Book of Life, need have no fear of suffering this second death. It has no power over those of us who have experienced the first resurrection and stood before the Bema Seat of Judgment.

The final thing I would like us to consider about the Great White Throne Judgment is its underlying message to us, the Believer. At times, when we see the lawlessness, cruelty, and wickedness of the world, we may wonder where God's justice is. Will the evil-doers ever be punished? The Great White Throne Judgment assures us that God is just, and He will repay the wicked for their crimes. "Vengeance is mine", says the Lord. Also, the picture of a future Great White Throne judgment reminds us that we are in a period of God's patience, as 2 Peter 3:9 tells us: The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise [to repay the wicked], as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance". We are to make hay while the sun shines, so to speak, and reach as many as we can for Christ during this time in which God is exercising His patience, before releasing the Son to hold judgment. This is doing the will of God.  

In summary, the Great White Throne judgment is where unbelievers will be resurrected from the dead to stand before Christ and be judged for their works. Every thought, word and act has been documented in the Books in Heaven, and each will receive what they deserve, depending on the severity of their disobedience, and based on the amount of revelation they received about God and what they did with it. And here's an unexpected turn of events --- because Believers are co-heirs with Christ, they will participate in the judgment! "Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world"? (1 Corinthians 6:2).

So, while we know that our great God is a God of love, mercy and grace, we must know Him in the fullness of His character, and understand that He is also a righteous God of justice, and judgment belongs to Him. Thank you, Lord, for revealing Your complete nature! I want to know all about You!

Acts 10:42.  And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

February 12, 2024

What Does the Bible Have to Say About God's Bema Seat Judgment?

I am walking in a new season of revelation from God's Word. In my flesh, I have to fight the temptation to become lax in my time in the Bible. I never want to think that I've "arrived"; that I understand the fullness of God and who His Word says He is. And, it's not that I think I know it all, but when Mark and I get overwhelmed with our businesses, aging parents, and yes, even our ministry, it seems as if there's not enough hours in the day to devote as much time as we know we need to in order to dive deep into the Good Book. Sadly, I think we both feel if we can just spend a day getting caught up, we'll get back into our daily study time. But one day turns into two and can turn into a week, as the distractions of the world seem to take control. And my spirit can definitely feel weary and without strength.

So, it has been with great intention that we have decided to get back into our first love --  a dedicated time each morning of deep study and relationship with our Father and Jesus. We have renewed our spirits to the fire that burned in us when He first called us to His service. Holy Spirit is quickened and the power and authority in our walk begins to flow again. And over the next few posts I'd like to share some Godly feedback that we've received, with the hope that it will exhort and encourage you to grow in your own relationship with the Godhead through the Word.

The first confirmation my spirit has received is centered around God's Judgment -- even of the Body of Christ, and what that looks like. I have long been aware that the modern Church is focused on God's Grace and has relegated God's Judgment to the Old Testament. "After all", say the seminaries who have taught recent generations of pastors, "the rebellious Israelites didn't have the New Covenant and weren't covered by the Blood of Jesus, so, in their sin, they experienced God's righteous judgment".  

Never mind the reality that our rebellion and unrighteousness matches anything they did, and that our God is the same today as He was yesterday, which means we deserve and will receive His judgment as well. But we are unwilling to discern that God's Character has not changed, instead choosing to receive only what tickles our ears and feels more comfortable in our minds and hearts. Have we forgotten Hebrews 4:12? Do we not remember that the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, separating soul [mind, emotions, and will] from spirit; joints and marrow; and discerning the intentions of the heart? Both God's Grace and His Judgment are just as relevant today as it was to the early Israelites. To ignore His Judgment is to act foolishly. Let us consider the first of God's pronounced Biblical Judgments that we can expect as we near Christ's return...

Bema Seat Judgment. First, let's establish that this is what is considered the Judgment seat of Christ. The word Bema in Greek means "raised up" and refers to the official seat of a judge that has been raised up. We can see it referred to in Matthew 27:19, when Jesus is taken to Pilate to be judged. Scripture says, "while he [Pilate] was seated on the judgment bench, his wife sent him a message, saying, Have nothing to do with that just and upright man, for I have had a painful experience today because of a dream I had of Him". The Bema seat is in view in Acts when Herod, Gallio, and Festus occupy it, as well.     

So, in 2 Corinthians 5:10, we see the official judgment seat of Christ and how it will play an important part in our life:  "For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]".

So, I want to establish right now that the Bema seat of Christ is for Believers only! It is not a question of Salvation! If you are standing at the Bema seat of Christ, your salvation is not in question. As Believers, we will all have received the promise that our sins are forgiven and He will remember them no more. The Bema seat is a judgment seat, where a Believer's life and works [since becoming a Christian] will be weighed and tested by fire. Our lives will be brought before the Lord in the light of that refiner's fire, and we will receive the rewards that have been stored up for us in Heaven, IF we are found worthy to receive them. I want you to reflect on this sober pronouncement and meditate on what the Scripture reveals on this matter ...

In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul puts forth the argument that like a skillful architect and master builder, he has carried out his assignment from the Lord to lay a foundation upon which a man can build his life, i.e., his faith and obedience to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Paul teaches, " But let each man be careful how he builds upon it, for no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds upon the Foundation, whether it be with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw ... the work of each one will become openly known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done. 

If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives the test, he will get his reward. But if any person's work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss of it all, [losing his reward that was stored up for him], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire".    

In other words, all Believers have an inheritance awaiting them at the coming of Christ. We will receive those rewards and crowns based on what we did with our Christian life; what fruit did we produce for the Kingdom of God after we received our free gift of Salvation? Jesus will test what we have built on the foundation of our faith. Will it be burned up as hay or straw, leaving no trace of our works for the Kingdom? Or will they be found still intact as gold and silver survive a refiner's fire? HEAR ME! Your salvation is not threatened! And I am not talking about works for your salvation! There are no works you can do for that free gift!  These are the works we long to do to expand the Kingdom Christ left in our care when He ascended to Heaven. Even if one loses his inheritance [for lack of works that glorify Christ], he cannot lose his salvation!

Paul is speaking of the rewards and crowns for our faithfulness to Christ; what will be entrusted to us in Heaven as we are chosen to rule and reign with Him. I believe some of the areas of judgment will include how we treated others; how we employed our God-given abilities and assignments; how we used our money and spent our time; how we ran the particular race that God has chosen for us, and how many souls did we witness to and win for Christ? You see, Christ's gift of Salvation [and what it cost Him] is deserving of our efforts to continue His work on the earth to show His Glory and Majesty. We aren't to accept our salvation and then do nothing. We are made in His image with the assignment to represent Him and His Nature in this dark world. That means we "Go" and we "Do" as He did! 

And that is why Mark and I consistently say we want to hear Jesus say, "Well done, good and faithful servant", when we stand before Him. And I do not believe it is prideful to say that we want to receive all the inheritance stored up for us -- and we want you to receive your rewards and crowns, too! And as we stand before our Holy and Righteous Lord, we will be so grateful for what He has done in our lives, that we will be eager to lay everything we've received at His feet, to honor and glorify Him! So, while it is a sobering thought to consider the Bema Seat Judgment, set your heart and spirit on bearing fruit for Him and His Kingdom, and look forward to seeing what is left in the midst of that fire of judgment!

Next post: the Great White Throne Judgment

Romans 14:10-12.   Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God, for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God". So then each of will give an account of himself to God. 

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