March 16, 2016

Two kinds of judgment

Walking by faith means trusting God in all situations, but it also means doing what He says, which is the expression of faith. That is, if God tells me to love my enemies, then because I trust Him, His wisdom and goodness, I will love my enemies. This is also what it means to “walk in the light”.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. 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 Corinthians 5:6–10)

This does not mean that a person’s eternal destiny is determined by good works. Instead, there are two kinds of judgment seats in the New Testament. One is the “great white throne” in the book of Revelation where the dead are judged and all not found in “the book of life” are sent to the lake of fire. 

The other judgment is in 1 Corinthians 3. It is described as a test of the deeds of believers, those whose foundation is Jesus Christ. Some of what Christian do will be rewarded, and some of our deeds will be burned up as useless.

This is called the “bema” or judgment seat of Christ. Chambers instructs his readers to live with the judgment seat of Christ always before us. That is, I need to be aware that whatever I think, say, and do will eventually be evaluated as either good or without value.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 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 Corinthians 3:11–15)

Sin will not throw me into hell; Jesus has already secured my forgiveness and eternal destiny. However, I do things that are not worth saving. Not everything I do as a Christian will be able to stand this test of file. For instance, if I do not love my enemy, that attitude of indifference or hatred will eat at me, make me a bitter and vindictive person who is not joyful or much fun to be around. Jesus died for my sin, paying its penalty, but not always lifting its consequences.

Chambers also says that walking in the light is not about living up to my standards or the standards of others. I can please myself by pleasing people, but that is not what Jesus wants. I’m to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7), not take my cues from my friends or from my own views of what is appropriate behavior. Chambers calls this being in an “unconscious unreality,” or in others words, being oblivious to the light of Christ.

While this oblivion seems easy to recognize in others, I’m thinking how easily I can deceive myself into thinking I am saintly when I am not paying attention to the Word of God, even though I read it every day. This could be spiritual pride. I could read and see myself but walk away thinking it applies to someone else. My self-deception could come from a stubborn hardness of heart, but whatever else it is, such an attitude is sin and disobedience. No matter what flows out from it, that fruit is useless to God, will burn up at the “bema” and be forever lost.

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