Why Must Christians Appear at the “Bema Seat” of Christ?

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Why Must Christians Appear at the “Bema Seat” of Christ?

James R. Aist

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me to give to each one according to his work. (Revelation 22:12)

The Bible refers to two different judgments, both presided over by Christ, whereby all mankind will be judged. At the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), non-Christians will be judged, found guilty of their sins and condemned to hell (the Lake of Fire). But, it is at the Bema Seat of Christ that Christians will be judged (2 Corinthians 5:10). Have you ever wondered why born-again Christians will be judged? After all, Jesus died to pay the price for our sins, and God has forgiven them, right? So, what is left to be judged? Answers to these questions can be found in the unique nature and purpose of the Bema Seat of Christ, the judgment reserved for all true believers.

The Apostle Paul described the process of this judgment in this way: “For no one can lay another foundation than that which was laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble, each one’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If anyone’s work which he has built on the foundation endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss. But he himself will be saved, still going through the fire” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Thus, the purpose of the judgment that Christians will undergo is to reward them for their good works done to build on the foundation that Jesus laid. So, it is not Christians themselves that will be judged, but their works as Christians. And, God has prepared, in advance, good works for each Christian to do (Ephesians 2:10). How well we perform these works will determine the rewards we will receive at the Bema Seat.

So, while we will probably not enjoy having our bad works exposed in this manner, we should, nonetheless, look forward to this judgment, because we just might receive a reward or two from Jesus for our good works!

A much more in-depth treatment of this topic can be found by clicking HERE. You will find it very informative and heavily documented.

(To read more of my articles on biblical topics, click HERE)

 

 

The Righteousness that God Requires

The Righteousness that God Requires

James R. Aist

“…not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ…” – Philippians 3:9

Atheists and other non-Christians often accuse Christians of being “self righteousness” hypocrites, meaning that they claim to be without sin, yet are not, or that God sees them as righteous because of their many “good works.” Unfortunately, there is often some truth to this accusation, as many Christians do not know and understand the true source of their righteousness, and do appear to be self-righteous hypocrites, guilty as charged. Let’s take a moment to see if we can sort this all out by consulting the Word of God on this matter.

In Romans 3:23, Paul writes that “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God…” Another way of saying this is that we all lack the pure righteousness (glory) that God requires of us in order for us to quality for heaven, because we have all sinned. Isaiah put it this way, “But we all are as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), where “our righteousness” refers to our so-called “good” works. So, since we have all have sinned, and our good works aren’t really righteousness in God’s eyes, how in the world, then, can anyone meet God’s requirement for pure righteousness and, thus, qualify for heaven? Is it even possible?

The answer to these questions is both simple and profound. Jesus said, “I am the way…” (John 14:6). Paul, referring to Jesus, declared that “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And, in Philippians 3:9, Paul summed it all up nicely for us, “…not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God on the basis of faith.” Now we can see clearly that, if we are a born-again believer, then God has imparted to us the pure righteousness that is Christ’s. That is where our righteousness comes from, not from our “good” works; it is a gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It’s that simple. And it is profound, because it is this (pure) righteousness that qualifies us to spend our eternity with God in heaven! This is the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How awesome is that?!

So, the next time someone accuses you of being “self righteous”, you can explain to them that your righteousness is not of yourself, but it is the righteousness of God imparted to you by God, because of your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. And don’t forget to mention that they, too, can have this genuine, pure righteousness in the same way you received it. Jesus truly is “the Way!”

(To read more of my biblical teachings, click HERE) 

What Is “Freedom in Christ”?

What Is “Freedom in Christ”?

James R. Aist

“If you remain in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Freedom has been defined as the right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship, the right or the power to engage in certain actions without control or interference. The Bible says we (Christians) have freedom in Christ, and that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1). We have this freedom if we remain in (believe, adhere to and obey) His word. But what, exactly, is this freedom that we have in Christ? Even apart from Christ, mankind has a natural freedom to make decisions and choices and to think and say most anything he wants. Our freedom in Christ must be a different kind or expression of freedom.

So then, in Christ, what exactly are we free from? Here is a short list I have put together for you to ponder:

1. We are free from the “law of sin and death.” This law is stated succinctly in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…” So, if you die in your sins, your payment will be (spiritual) death. But, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). Therefore, we no longer have to fear death (1 Corinthians 15:55)!

2. We are free from bondage to sin. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Who among us has not experienced the grip that sin can have on a person? If not “nipped in the bud”, sin can become more powerful than our will to resist it. Thankfully, Paul has pointed us to the solution to the power of sin, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7). How glorious it is to walk in the freedom from sin!

3. We are free from the burden of the Law. The Old Testament Law served to convict mankind of sin, but did nothing to save him from the consequences of it, because “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The Law is a burden too heavy for anyone to stand up under, but Jesus has made a way out of this dilemma for us, as Paul explains, “When we were in the flesh, the passions of sin, through the law, worked in our members to bear fruit leading to death. But now we are delivered from the law, having died to things in which we were bound…” (Romans 7:5-6a). The burden has been lifted!

4. We are free from our past. Because we have all sinned (Romans 3:23), most of us have built up a backlog of unforgiven sins by the time God saves us. In the “conversion” process, we confess our sins to God and repent of them. And, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). At that moment, all of our past sins are forgiven and we are set free, forever, from the guilt and shame of our past life. This is what we refer to as “justification”, and our relationship with God is, at that point in time, “Just as if we had never sinned.” We are freed from our sinful past because Jesus paid the price for our sins by His substitutionary death on the cross. There is no other way for us to be freed from our past; Jesus made the way for us!

5. We are free from the veil of separation. Until Jesus was nailed to the cross, there was a veil in the Temple separating the people from the presence of God in the Holy of Holies (Exodus 26:31-33). But while Jesus was still on the cross, that veil was torn in two at the middle (Luke 23:45), giving us free access to God, so that now we are instructed to “…come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). No more layer of priests standing between us and God’s throne of mercy and grace!

6. We are free from self-serving motives. I was blessed beyond words when this revelation was given to me. All religions, except Christianity, teach that our good works earn us a place in heaven with God when we die. This false doctrine of “salvation by works” makes it virtually impossible to do a good work that is not, at least in part or at some level, motivated by the perceived need to earn your way to heaven. Thus, apart from the uniquely Christian doctrine of salvation by grace alone, good works are done with a self-serving motive, not with a pure love for either God or for the one being blessed. But, Jesus already did the work – all of it – that is required for a born-again Christian to qualify for heaven (click HERE), and there is no good work we can do that will improve on that. Jesus declared from the cross “It is finished” (John 19:30), and so, it is finished! Since we are already guaranteed a spot in heaven (1 John 5:13), we are now free to do good works for pure, unselfish motives, e.g., it will please God, it is the right thing to do, someone needs help, etc. And that, my friends, is what “love your neighbor” is really about! Paul put it this way, “But now we are delivered from the law, having died to things in which we were bound, so that we may serve in newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter of the law” (Romans 7:6). Jesus “paid it all”, that we may be free to truly “love one another” with pure motives!

My friends, I believe that these are six of the most important freedoms in Christ that we have as born-again believers. Perhaps you will want to add to the list. In any case, I trust that you have been blessed, as I have, by thinking on these things with me for a few moments.

(To read more of my BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)

Either Way, We Die for Christ

Either Way, We Die for Christ

 James R. Aist

“For to me, to continue living is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

There has been an apparent uptick recently in the persecution of Christians for their faith in Jesus Christ. This persecution has taken many forms, including loss of property and/or livelihood, jail time and fines. Many have even lost their lives for refusing to renounce Jesus. These martyred believers have clearly died for Christ. But, what about the rest of us? Are we, too, called to die for Christ, even though we live?

Indeed, we are all called to die for Christ. While we live, we are to be dead to sin, so that we might live for Christ (Romans 6:11, 1 Peter 2:24). We may also have to suffer loss of property and/or livelihood, serve jail time or pay fines for our Christian faith. Jesus put it this way: “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24).

For our further instruction, the Apostle Paul elaborated considerably on these points:

2 Corinthians 4:8-11. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; and always carrying around in the body the death of the Lord Jesus, that also the life of Jesus might be expressed in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that also the life of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh;”

Colossians 3:3-4; 8-9. “For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then you also shall appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death the parts of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. But now you must also put away all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie one to another, since you have put off the old nature with its deeds.”

So, you see, believers who are executed (martyred) because of their Christian faith die physically for Jesus and go immediately to be with Him (2 Corinthians 5:8). And, those who live on become dead to sin, make tangible sacrifices, live righteously and eventually go to be with Jesus as well. Either way, if you are a born-again Christian, you will die because of your faith in Christ and receive your reward in heaven when the time comes.

In the eyes of God, you and I are “to die for”, and Jesus did just that: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Our fitting response, then, is to die for Christ, one way or another.