“Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide”
Think along with me as we consider the greatest event the Church of the Lord Jesus will face as we are allotted our place and status, by His side, in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Recently I asked a number of my Christian friends the following question relevant only to those who know they are the Sons of God through faith in the One Who is God the Son. That question was:
What do you consider to be the one personal condition that will burn up and be reduced to ashes before the Judgment Seat of Christ as referred to by the Apostle Paul? (See Romans 14: 12; 1 Cor. 3: 10-15 and 2 Cor. 5: 10).
While several were asked that question very few responded, but to those who did I offer my appreciation for this is an issue of great consequence – even determining our eternal status in service for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and with Him in His thousand year reign. We must be sure we have the correct understanding of the question and its implications. To begin well is so essential. Remember the imperative, we must all appear before this Judgment Seat, before our heavenly Umpire.
Jesus said to Nicodemus (and to us also), “you must be born again” (John 3). To be “born again” the Son of Man must be lifted up just as Moses must lift up the brazen serpent in the wilderness before the plague was stayed (See John 8: 28,29 c/- Numbers 21: 4-8). This third must involves Christians only.
• Some considered that it would be PRIDE that would be reduced to ashes before our Master Who humbled Himself and made Himself of no reputation.
Pride is considered the chiefest of the seven sins (or cardinal sins).
Pride was the cause of Lucifer being expelled from the very presence of Jehovah Himself, along with a third of the angelic host – now referred to as demons with Satan as king of the hosts of darkness (Rev. 12: 4). How fatally fearsome for such a creature to seek to exhalt himself (a created being) above His Creator (Isaiah 14: 12-17; Ezekiel 28) where the Prince of Tyre reflects the same pride and ambition as Satan himself.
In this context reflect on the words of Jesus at the return of the seventy disciples from their evangelistic mission (Luke 10: 17-21). Even the Apostles just before the arrest of Jesus were arguing among themselves who would be the greatest in the Kingdom (Mark 10: 35-45). Pride is ever present to rear its ugly head. Beware!
As pride was cast out of Heaven it could hardly be present in the Lord’s people even though it had retarded the growth of their spiritual manhood during their earthly pilgrimage. The Redeemed have been wonderfully transformed at the pre-tribulation rapture of God’s precious people.
• Another suggested the answer to the question before us was DOUBT OR UNBELIEF.
James 1:5 was considered the reason for this conclusion. Could we not question if doubt and unbelief would exist in Heaven? I think so. We must probe deeper for we all have doubts and unbelief (in varying degrees) here in time just as the Apostles did as they doubted the faithful reports of their women folk. But not when Jesus showed Himself alive after many infallible proofs (Acts 1: 3). They, too, became alive! John records “…then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). Truly such joy was their strength (Neh. 8:10). Doubt and Pride have no place in the Glory. “Now we know in part but then we shall see Him (Jesus) as He is. Now we know in part but then shall we know even as we are known” (1 Cor. 13: 12,13). That’s part of the glory that awaits the Bride!
• More than one respondent agreed that the one abiding virtue that remains, and is rewarded, will be our CHRISTLIKENESS.
The fiery trials of life and the assaults of the powers of darkness cannot destroy the new life the Lord has imparted to the Sons of God. Moreover, He has provided provision and protection for His sheep. Such is referred to as:
1. The Armour of Might (Eph. 6: 10-15)
2. The Armour of Right (2 Cor. 6: 7), and
3. The Armour of Light (Rom. 13: 12).
This protection given makes us more than conquerors and produces Christlikeness in His people. “THAT DAY” will reveal our true likeness. It will reveal to what extent we used the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, or whether we kept it in its scabbard through our lack of its use. “That Day” will reveal how profitable we were in His service.
• One pointed out that 1 Cor.3 deals with the quality not the quantity of our service, and whether it was done in His Name – not in the name of a denomination, or organization or a society. All combustible material such as wood, hay and stubble will become as substantial as smoke, adds Paul.
How the faithful labourers will rejoice and be made glad when they view their earthly, sacrificial service as gold, silver and precious gems!
It will always be the question to what degree His likeness is being reflected in us now.
• It was observed by another contributor that 1 Cor. 3: 12-15 applies to Christian workers and teachers of the Word and they will be the ones judged for their faithfulness in word and deed. And, no doubt, this will be true of all Christ’s servants. But Paul reminds us that we all are co-workers together and as Ambassadors for Christ we are to share His Word (and His life) for we are “to preach the Gospel to every creature” (2 Cor. 5: 20-21; Matt. 28: 19, 20).
We must all give an account of what we have done with the gifts given to us.
THE EYES OF THE LORD
It was Hanani the Seer who warned and reminded King Asa that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him…” (2 Chron. 16: 9 N.I.V.)
Centuries later at the close of the first century A.D. the aged Apostle John describes the awesome majesty of the ever-living Christ as “having eyes like (not of fire), but like flames of fire”. To John His disciple and to us His Redeemed, those eyes are firstly the loving eyes of the Bridegroom towards His Bride (see Revelation 1: 12-20). Those loving eyes are also all-seeing eyes and see the true spiritual state of each one of us.
Here are a few selected lines from an author unknown. Feel how searching they are and weigh the implications.
WHEN JESUS LOOKS AT ME
When Jesus looks at my life, what picture does He see,
Does He see His own reflection, or does He just see me?
Does He see His likeness, the product of His hand,
Or just another Christian, who never took a stand.
Does He see a child of God, a child that He set free,
Living life to honour Him, or does He just see me?
What about the other folks, I meet along the way
Do I show them Jesus, to brighten up their day?
When someone looks into my eyes, can they truly see
That calm and gentle peace of God that dwells inside me?
When I reach out and shake a hand, is He right there in my grip,
Can they feel that strength from God, that steadies when I slip?
Then I get to tell them, this wondrous gift is free,
It takes a humble heart, a prayer on bended knee,
Someday when I’m face to face with the Lord who set me free,
Will He see His own reflection, or will He just see me?
Recall the discovery Hagar made in her desperation and distress when alone with Ishmael in the wilderness. Read Genesis 16 and recall the divine revelation given her: “Thou God seest me” (v13). All Christians need to be reminded of that fact each day. The Lord watches over His own to provide, protect and correct in all stages of His church.
THE ACID TEST
In the depression years of the late twenties and early thirties of the last century when work and money were extremely difficult to come by, gold buyers would call from house to house seeking to buy gold in any form.
As a child I was captivated to see the buyer assess any gold items my Mother showed him. The dealer would take a phial filled with a clear substance and place a drop of this “mysterious” liquid on the item under scrutiny. He explained this liquid was sulphuric acid and its corrosive action would reveal any alloys mingled with the gold. A black patch would result. The gold would stand the test, unmarked. He was then ready to buy gold and would pay accordingly.
We now conclude that pure gold (of character) will be rewarded abundantly in “that Day”. The “wood, hay and stubble” will be burned up. No room in the Glory for such alloy.
THE WORKER’S DREAM
What is involved in the spiritual realities of the Judgment Seat of Christ is aptly and vividly illustrated in the story of the “Worker’s Dream” which I read in my early years. Its revelation lingers still.
The setting is in Canada. It read:
“I sat down in an arm-chair, wearied in my work – but not of it. My toil had been long and involved. Many were seeking the Lord. As for myself I was joyous in my spirit. The brethren were united. My sermons and exhortations were evidently being well received and the Church was crowded. Tired I dozed off in a half conscious state and I dreamed a dream, or perhaps it was a trance.
Suddenly, a stranger entered my room without any announcement. He carried about his person weighing scales, chemical agents, implements etc. The stranger came toward me, extending his hand and asked me about my zeal for God. I was well pleased with my zeal but was thinking in physical not in spiritual terms. Putting my hand to my bosom I brought out a record of my zeal for inspection by this stranger.
He took the record of my zeal and placing it in his scales, weighed it and carefully recorded the result. Then he said it weighed 100 pounds. I expressed an audible note of satisfaction, but he had a grave countenance as he applied certain chemicals to my 100 per cent zeal. The results he recorded. This continued as the report of my zeal was completely examined and audited. All details were noted carefully.
That 100 pound mass of zeal had been reduced to atoms and placed in his crucible each of which he tested with fiery chemicals. Set to cool the stranger hit the mass of my zeal with his hammer. It broke into many fragments. Each fragment was then weighed and the result recorded in accurate detail.
When he had finished his recording he gave the result to me with a look of extreme sorrow, yet with compassion. Then as he was parting, he said solemnly, “May God help you”. He then faded from view. Overcome I turned to the report card. I was shocked. I fell to the floor on bended knees still clutching the findings of my zeal given by that visitor. I read it again. I burst into tears, praying and sobbing, “Oh God be merciful to me and forgive me and restore me to do your will – not mine. It’s your favour and help I need, Oh Lord”.
We should all seriously consider that “Worker’s Dream” just as if it were given us individually for we, all, must appear before our Lord to give an account of our character and our service.
All that has gone before in this article leads up to my considered answer to such a vital and personal question before us.
Pause and consider again our question. Are you now led to review your answer?
We conclude by emphatically declaring that our answer is found in one word – a four-lettered word which is spelt:
S E L F: Y E S, S E L F!
That is the answer: “Self” (my self, your self: ourselves. the “Me, My, Mine” syndrome).
It doesn’t matter if we honour self with a capital ‘S’ it is still spelt SELF! There is our problem. That foremost prophet, John the Baptist, had it right in the first place before there were any Christians. When asked, “Who are you”? His reply was: “I am not He that should come: I am but a voice crying in the wilderness”. “He must increase, but I must decrease”. Read John 1: 23 – 36 and Mark 1: 4-8. There is John the Baptist, as Jehovah’s voice, calling the ancient descendants of Abraham back from their spiritual wilderness in preparation for the coming of their long promised Messiah. Here was a selfless servant of God pointing away from “self” to the One destined to be the Saviour of the world by becoming the Servant to all men. How self-effacing – all for our sake.
What a contrast to many of the Christians in Corinth some fifty years later where “self” was causing grave divisions in the ranks of the followers of “the meek and lowly Jesus” Who left us an example for us to follow”. Read again Peter’s words in this regard in 1 Peter 1: 22-25. Many of those Christians were self-centred, self-promotional and divisive. Where was the Fruit of the Spirit?
When, for the first and the last time, the ascended Son of God, viewed, representatively the seven Churches of Revelation (chs. 2 and 3) we see the true spiritual state of those congregations. That was only some fifty years after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. How grievous!
Be careful to note how SELF caused these disruptions in the ranks with false teachers, false prophets, false Christs and aggressive women – all were insiders! All those Churches were to cease to function by 300 AD.
Pride, in its many deceptive guises, snare the self-complacent, the ignorant and the self-satisfied.
A study of the history of the Church caused authoress Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) to make this critical observation, “The three great embarrassments of God are, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion and the Church”!
If one is familiar with the general history of the Christian Church, of whatever persuasion, they must bow in sorrow and shame with confession on their lips.
O, the carnality exhibited among the members of those who claim to be followers of the Lamb! How Self parades itself in religious garb and ancient rituals following the traditions of men to their own self-satisfaction and self-promotion.
Two Scriptures come to mind, applying “the Acid Test” to many of our self-chosen ways: “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it are the ways of death”. This is stated in Proverbs 14: 12 and confirmed in Proverbs 16: 25. Let us all be reverentially afraid lest we go our own self-indulgent and self-appointed way.
Few, too few of us realize that our greatest conflict is within us, not external to us.
Our inmost thoughts are shaping our lives. It is always the “I” factor and that was so from the beginning. It began in the Garden and continues in the resultant desolation for the central letter of SIN is still “I”. But in another Garden the One who prayed, “Not My will but Thine be done” has provided a way of escape from defeat to victory – by His resurrection. Therefore, Paul calls us to reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive unto Him. Our death with Christ must inevitably lead to resurrection with Christ and then for Christ.
The Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal just how much alloy (in its numerous forms), has been permitted to be developed alongside our “new man”. The Lord may be resident, but is He President in our lives – and to what extent?
SELF-EXAMINATION IS THE BEST CURE!
A.W.Tozer writes: “The desire to please may be commendable enough under certain circumstances, but when pleasing men means displeasing God it is an unqualified evil and should have no place in the Christian’s heart. To be right with God had often meant to be in trouble with men”. “Better to be narrow and right than broad and wrong”!
“Let a man examine himself” (1 Cor. 11: 28). Other people are!; the Holy Spirit is; the Scriptures are and your enlightened conscience is. Daily our Saviour is lovingly saying “Come unto Me…, learn of Me and you will find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11: 35-37). And, daily let us readily conform to the divine image. Study Romans chapter 12.
Reflect Often: The one essential personal element that is reviewed by our Lord is our old self while our Christlikeness will grow from “glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3: 17, 18).
Pray Often: “Lord, save me from myself”.
Repeat Often: the words from Sankeys Hymn Book No. 587.
Search me, O God, my actions try,
And let my life appear
As seen by Thine all-searching eye:
To mine my ways make clear.
Search all my sense, and know my heart,
Who only canst make known
And let the deep, the hidden part
To me be fully shown.
Throw light into the darkened cells,
Where passion reigns within,
Quicken my conscience till it feels
The loathsomeness of sin.
Search all my thoughts, the secret springs,
The motives that control;
The chambers where polluted things,
Hold empire o’er the soul.
Search, till Thy fiery glance has cast
Its holy light through all,
And I by grace am brought at last
Before Thy Face to fall.
Our prayer must ever be: “PRY ME OFF DEADCENTRE, LORD”
With prayerful warm regards,
Ralph R. Read.
P.S. “Beware of becoming so familiar with our culture that we become part of it without realizing it”.
[The remedy is heeding Paul’s direction in 2 Corinthians 6: 17, 18 and Colossians 2:21].Thank Sri 🙂