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

See the source image

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)

 

 

“Do Not Judge”: What’s That Supposed to mean?

Gavel & Stryker“Do Not Judge”: What’s That Supposed to mean?

 James R. Aist

Introduction

Born-again Christians who are proclaiming the truths of God’s Word are increasingly being accused, especially by unbelievers, of judging them, against the admonition of Jesus, “Do not judge”, as if Christians are not allowed, much less instructed, to judge anyone or anything, ever. But, is that really what Jesus meant? Is that a valid accusation, or is it merely a ploy to mislead us and keep us from speaking out on current moral issues, so that they can freely contend for their version of moral truth without opposition? Let’s have a look at what Jesus really meant when he said “Do not judge.”

The Relevant Verses in Context

The Bible records this monologue in two different gospels:

Matthew 7:1-6 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces”.

Luke 6: 37-42 says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Obviously, these are two similar versions of the same teachings. Jesus is not saying here that Christians are never to judge the actions of others, in the sense of pointing out that those actions are against the will of God. What He is saying is that we must first remove sin from our own lives so that we can clearly perceive God’s will regarding the sinfulness of certain actions or behaviors that we see in others. Moreover, He is warning us against sharing such insights with those who will not be receptive (e.g., people who have not been born-again and, therefore, do not have “ears to hear”), lest they turn on you and rip into you verbally (e.g., by accusing you of violating Jesus’ instruction to not judge others!). So, in reality, Jesus is not telling us to refrain from judging the actions and behaviors of ourselves and others; rather, He is telling us to get our own spiritual act together before we do that, so that our words can faithfully represent God’s view and achieve the intended purpose when we do it.

What Does the Word “Judge” Really Mean As Used in the Bible?

When you find the word “judge”, or its derivatives, used in the Bible in reference to people, it usually refers to condemnation of them per se, as persons. We can see this in the passage above where Jesus clarifies what He means by “Do not judge” by following that with “Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned” (Luke 6:37). And the Bible strictly forbids us from judging, or condemning, people, at least for the time being. That kind of judgment is strictly reserved for God Himself (Romans 14:10-12; James 4:12). We are also not to draw conclusions about (i.e., judge) the motives of others, as that is something that only God can do (Proverbs 16:2; 1 Corinthians 4:5). However, we are to form Godly opinions about the morality of human actions and behaviors, whether they are seen in ourselves or in others. This is how we form a Godly conscience that enables us to hate what is evil and love what is good, as the Bible commands us to do (Psalm 34:14; Amos 5:15; Romans 12:9). In doing this, however, we are simply agreeing with God’s view of these things, nothing else and nothing more. But, unfortunately, when verbalized, this can be mistakenly perceived as “judging” others, in violation of Jesus’ command.

As Christians, we are called to do some things with boldness and gentleness, and that includes “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We are instructed in the Bible to speak of evil as “evil” (Isaiah 5:20) and to actively expose evil (Ephesians 5:11). The purpose and motive for doing this should be different regarding unbelievers versus believers. We are to preach and teach against what God calls evil for the repentance and salvation of unbelievers (Matthew 5:19; Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15; Acts 10:42; Romans 10:14-14; Romans 15:15-16) and for the repentance and cleansing of believers (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Colossians 1:28; Romans 15:14; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:2). But this should never be done as a means of condemning others or making ourselves feel better about our own residual unrighteousness. Thus, it is imperative that we first examine our motives before we undertake to “speak the truth in love” to someone else!

What Role Will Christians Have, If Any, in the Final Judgments?

The answer to this question will be a big surprise to many, Christians and unbelievers alike. According to the Bible, born-again Christians will be called upon to assist Jesus Himself (John 5:22, 27) in judging the angels and “the world” (i.e., unbelievers) (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)! In view of the teachings of Jesus in Matthew Chapter 7 and Luke Chapter 6, discussed above, it behooves us born-again Christians all the more to cleanse ourselves from all unrighteousness. Now that’s a sobering reality for those of us who are striving to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)!

Conclusions

According to the Bible, born-again Christians are not to judge other people in the sense of condemning them per se. This task is reserved for God, for the time being. Under some circumstances, it is admissible to “speak the truth in love” regarding sinful actions and behaviors in order to help someone see the error of their ways, but this should be done only with the proper motives and with gentleness and respect. We are called, as God’s elect, to proclaim the truths of the Word of God in order to enlighten believers and unbelievers alike, according to their ability to receive the truth. In doing this, we must not let unbelievers intimidate or silence us with false accusations against “judging” others; they are misrepresenting the words of Jesus, and we should not listen to them. And finally, according to the Bible, born-again Christians will participate with Jesus in the final judgment of  the angels and unbelievers. Therefore, we should work diligently while there is still time left, to prepare ourselves for that daunting task.

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)

What Does “Born Again” Mean?

born againWhat Does “Born Again” Mean?

by James R. Aist

Introduction

Many in the Christian church today have, at best, a rudimentary understanding of what Jesus was talking about when he said “You must be born again (from above).” False teachers are often quick to invent their own concept of “born again” apart from sound biblical information, so be careful to compare what they teach to the Word of God. A good grasp of the biblical teaching on this subject is important to the understanding of how God saves people and transforms their lives – the very essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ — so let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about “born again.”

Our Original Condition

When God first created Adam, his human spirit was in harmony with God and they were in close, intimate fellowship. Sin had not yet entered the world, and Adam was living in obedience to God’s commands. But when Adam sinned, there was a profound effect on the nature of the spirit of man: the human spirit was changed from one of harmony and obedience to a spirit of rebellion and enmity toward God, and this “sin nature” of the human spirit was inherited by all generations following Adam (that’s us). As a result, everyone is born into this world with a heart of stone (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26) and deaf ears (Deuteronomy 29:3-4). The only ones who can listen to the word of God and believe it are those to whom God has given a “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26) and “ears to hear” (Isaiah 32:1-4). Only God can remedy this problem. (For a more complete treatment of “Ears to Hear”, Click HERE.)

God’s Remedy: A New Human Spirit

Those to whom God gives a “heart of flesh” and “ears to hear” will, at some point in their conversion process, become “born again.” To be “born again” is not an option for salvation; it is an absolute requirement (John 3:1-8). When one is “born again”, God the Father draws them to Jesus (John 6:44), reveals to them that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16-17), replaces their sinful heart of stone with an obedient heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26); that is, He removes the old, rebellious human spirit they were born with, which is at enmity with God, and replaces it with a new, obedient human spirit (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26), which is from God (John 3:1-8) and in harmony with God. Here is how the Apostle Paul described this harmony with God, in 1 Corinthians 6:17, “But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.”  Jesus, the Second Adam, has undone the spiritual damage caused by the “original sin” of the First Adam; our “sin nature” has been undone! Moreover, God puts the Holy Spirit into the born-again person (Exekiel 36:27) to sanctify him, help him to understand spiritual truths and to be an internal witness to the veracity of biblical truth. A “born again” person loves the word of God and eagerly receives and believes it (1 John 4:6). But to those who are not “born again”, it is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2:13). And we should not expect them to believe it, because in their fallen, dead, spiritual condition, they cannot (1 Corinthians 2:13 and 1 John 4:6).

Are There Other Bible References to “Born Again”?

Where else in the Bible can we find teachings about being “born again?” As it turns out, Peter used the same phrase that Jesus had coined in referring to Christian believers: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23). What does Peter mean by “perishable” and “imperishable” seed, and what is the significance, if any, for us? Well, we can understand this reference to the two kinds of seed if we consider what happens to unbelievers vs. believers in the judgment: “To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.But the…unbelieving—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14-15). The believers will not experience the second death because they are born again of imperishable seed (a new human spirit), whereas the unbelievers are still of their original, perishable seed (old human spirit) and will die a second death (i.e., “perish”).

One can also recognize a reference to being “born again” in Paul’s description of what happens when an unbeliever is converted into a believer: “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, the Amplified Bible). Now, we know, of course, that the salvation experience does not immediately change everything about the “old” person (e.g., his body is still the same age and his ability to resist temptation is not yet perfect), so how, then, can Paul say that this experience makes one “a new creature altogether?” It’s because Paul is referring here to just the “spirit man” (the man’s human spirit) which is changed from the original, fallen spiritual condition in which he was born into this world, to a new, regenerated and undefiled spiritual condition when he is born again. In other words, his original human spirit (“previous moral and spiritual condition”) has been replaced with a new human spirit (thus, “a new creature altogether”).

And, finally, the Apostle John also refers to this experience as being “born of God”: “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the Devil’s work.  No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the Devil are:  Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10). Note that here, John is giving us a litmus test that separates the true believers (those who are “born of God” or “born again”) from the unbelievers (the “children of the Devil”): the “born-again Christians” will not continue to sin.

Am I born again?

Since one must be born again in order to spend their eternity in heaven, it is natural to wonder, “Am I born again?!” Of course, I cannot answer that question for you, but I can show you some very important things that the Bible has to say about it, and that may help you answer it for yourself. First, the Bible says that we can know, here and now, that we possess eternal life (1 John 5:13). Therefore, it is possible for you to find the answer to this question as it pertains to your own spiritual condition. Second, a born-again person will testify that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:12). Third, the genuineness of their verbal testimony will be confirmed by a changed life: they will repent and turn away from their sins (Galatians 5:24; 2 Timothy 2:19) and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22) —  in ways and with a consistency that was not evident before. And fourth, a born-again person will begin to live their life more for Jesus and less for themselves (1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 2:19-20). This new outlook on life will create a whole new purpose and meaning for the life of the believer and will have a profound effect on their approach to life in general. Finally, here are some key Scripture verses that may help you answer this very important question for yourself (John 1:12; John 3:18-21; Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 1:13; 1 John 4:12-15; and 1 John 5:6-12). If, after pondering the points and verses presented here, you are still unsure that you are born again, you may want to take a moment to pray and ask God to give you saving faith in Jesus Christ and an unshakable assurance that He has saved you. Then go back through this section of the study again and meditate intently on each point and verse, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Finally, one can understand and follow these steps to become born again, if you are being genuine and sincere:

  • Repent (turn away from your sins): “The Lord … is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
  • Believe and Trust in Jesus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • Accept His Forgiveness: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
  • Receive the Peace of Christ: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)