20 Studies in Bible Prophecy
Study 5 - The Review Of The Believer
The Lord in the closing chapter of the Bible stressed that the Rapture of the Church, the subject matter of Study 3, will be implicational, (Rev. 22:12).
It is clearly implied in the New Testament that following the Church's removal from the earth there will follow the examination of the believer.
Now it is admitted that this is a serious aspect of the great hope, yet, observed Dr. Denny, "The Christian hope is not clouded by the judgment seat of Christ; it is sustained at the holy height which befits it."
It will be recognised that no aspect of the doctrine of the Advent is of greater importance to the believer than this one. The Christian must be prepared to face up to the Scriptural challenge of this truth, since it is one that should actuate his life for the better.
The Distinctive Judgements Of Scripture
There is a lot of confusion among many on the subject of judgment, some arguing for a general judgment, including believers and unbelievers. The very important question is, do the Scriptures teach the doctrine of general judgment on the last day?
Let it be understood that a proper understanding of the New Testament does not favour the view of a promiscuous resurrection. Paul gives us the order in (1 Cor. 15:22, 23). There will be a gap of 1,000 years between the resurrection of the believer and the unbelieving dead at the close of the Millennium.
There are four judgments associated with men, and they are as follows:
(1) The judgment of the believer, which will be the subject of this study.
(2) The judgment of Apostate Israel.
God has not yet finalised with His earthly people, and the part they shall play during the Millennium will necessitate this final reckoning.
God pledged a kingdom to Israel, one over which the Messiah should reign. Before they inherit that kingdom judgement is essential to determine those who shall receive it. See Ezekiel 20:34-38.
(3) The judgement of the living nations who are on earth at the revelation of Jesus Christ (Matt. 25:31-46).
Referring to this Dr. Skevington Wood says, "This is the only United Nations Assembly of which the Bible speaks and it meets not to decide the future of the world but to receive the judgement of God." The basis of this judgment will be the nations' treatment of God's earthly people.
(4) The judgment of the Great White Throne, the final Assize referred to in (John 5:28, 29) as the "resurrection of damnation" will take place at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:5) when earth and heaven have fled away (Rev. 20:11).
Dr. Tatford makes a very trenchant point in GOD'S PROGRAMME OF THE AGES: "A century ago the description of a final assize conducted in space seemed unrealistic, but no one today would question the practicability."
Now we come to the study in question: The review of the Believer. Following the removal of the Church to the heavenlies, there will follow the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; Romans 14:10). Let us look at the subject in the following manner:
The Nature And The Manner Of It
The believer's judgment is threefold. The first is past and is that borne by Jesus Christ at Calvary (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1).
At the Cross, Christ and the sinner changed places, therefore.
Payment God will not twice demand:
Once at my bleeding Surety's hand
And then again at mine.
Secondly, the judgment of the believer as a son is related to the present. The Christian is brought under chastisement for unforsaken and unconfessed sins, and this is surely the meaning of (Hebrews 12:7; 1 Cor. 11:28-34).
Thirdly, there is this judgment which is still future, the judgment for service rendered. The passage which highlights this truth is (1 Cor. 3:10-15).
Says one writer, "This is a judgment of the building, not of the foundation." Salvation is based on what Christ has done, rewards will be determined by the nature of our Christian service.
Two Greek words translated "judgment seat" in the New Testament are worthy of consideration. The first is used in (1 Cor. 6:2 and James 2:6), and is the word Kriterion, and suggests according to the authorities "the place where judgment is given: the tribunal of a judge; a bench of judges."
The second word is "bema", and was not used in connection with a court of law, but borrowed from the Grecian games, and was a rostrum or raised platform where the ancient judge would observe the Grecian games and determine winners, and from which he would disperse rewards.
As to the manner of this judgment, the word "appear", used in (2 Cor. 5:10) could be translated "incur true light" (Weymouth), or "without disguise" (Moffatt). In other words. God will see us as we really are. How it behoves us to search our hearts and lives in the light of this final audit.
The Time And Place Of It
This review will follow the Rapture, which will be followed by the presentation of the Church to God the Father and the nuptial celebration, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
It must be accepted that an interval between the Rapture and the Revelation is necessary to allow for these events in the heavenlies. If it follows the translation of the Church, then the heavens must be the scene of it. (1 Thess. 4:17).