Advent and the Judgment Seat of Christ
December 2, 2016
The Advent season is upon us: Jesus is coming!
But what Jesus?
Yes, Jesus the tiny baby, born to Mary while she was still a virgin, really unable to care for Himself, really human.
Yet also Jesus the promised King, the future Judge, the One before whose Judgment Seat we all must stand, “so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
This Jesus was born on Christmas Day. The Final Judge.
And one day you will stand before Him.
Think about that: You! You, alone. Not with your father or mother. Not with your brother or your sister. Not with your pastor or your friend. You must stand before this King. And there, as Paul says, you must bear your own load alone (Galatians 6:5).
So imagine yourself there before Him. Your Judge knows all you ever did, all you ever said, all you ever thought. You can’t hide. You can’t make excuses. You can’t compare yourself to others. You can’t plead ignorance. You can’t claim there were extenuating circumstances. You can’t lean on your spouse or your parent or your child or your pastor or your friend.
Your Judge will expose every selfish motive and every hidden sin.
Ponder that encounter – that encounter that is sure to come.
Does that image strike you with fear? Are you terrified to have all you’ve hidden brought to light?
With that coming judgment in mind, the Apostle Paul exhorts us, “Each one must examine his own work” (Galatians 6:4 NAS). We must test ourselves – and see if we pass the test.
But what is the test? Is it: “Did I do enough good works to satisfy God? Am I good enough to meet His standards?”
No! Rather, the test is a test of faith. Is my “faith” just lip-service? Or is there evidence that my faith in Christ is real?
So, Jesus the Judge asks: “Did you live a life of active dependence on Me, turning away from yourself and your own resources and your own wisdom and turning to Me? Did you acknowledge My power and My sacrifice on the cross? Did you show that I was worth more than all the world has to offer?”
If you are indeed saved by grace through faith, there should be no terror at the prospect of this judgment. No worry. No embarrassment.
For there is no purgatory, no remaining punishment for sins, no painful recompense for those in Christ. He already has paid the price! Instead, if you are in Him, the Father will wipe every tear from your eyes, and there will be no more sorrow or crying or pain.
Indeed, to the extent that you are worried about your sins coming to light at Christ’s Judgment Seat, to that extent, you are depending on works; to that extent, you are guilty of the sin of pride.
For if your faith is genuine, what will be outcome of Christ’s judgment?
Your Judge will proclaim, “I paid the penalty for all these revealed sins! My blood covers them all.”
And that leads to all the more amazement, all the more joy, all the more delight for you in the Savior. As you see the depth of your own sinfulness as never before, you will see the depth of His mercy as never before. In this way, even your sins will work to the praise of His glorious grace.
So the result is not embarrassment. Not suffering. But joy at His amazing grace.
Thus, at Christ’s judgment seat, there are two possible final statements from the Judge:
First: “Created to glorify Me, you instead showed that you despised Me. I cast you into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30).
Fear that final judgment!
But if you pass the test, if you are in Christ, no matter what your sins might be, the final statement from the Judge will be: “Well-done, good and faithful servant – by My sacrifice, by My grace, enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:21, 23).
Jesus was born to Mary in order to make that final, merciful judgment possible. So throw yourself on His mercy! Lose all desire for the praise of men! Rejoice that Jesus was born to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10)!