The Judgment Seat of Christ & Chastening of Believers
This is a message I heard six years ago in church. I think it is important for every believer to heed the warnings given. We are living in the last days (Covid), and the Lord’s Coming is near.
The message was based on these two texts: 2 Cor 5:9-10, and Heb 12:5-11. The first text speaks of the Judgment Seat of Christ; the second about the Father chastening or disciplining His sons(believers).
We are to be not hears of the Word, but doers of the Word, Jas 1.22. The Judgment Seat of Christ is judgment for believers. It is what will happen when the believers are raptured; the ‘judgment’ will be held in mid-air; it is for commendation, not condemnation; it is for rewards, not punishment.
We need to understand the contrasts between Salvation and Reward. Salvation is for the whole world; Reward is for believers. Salvation is a free gift of God; Reward is for the work done by believers for God. Salvation is a present possession; Reward is what takes place in the future. Salvation is equal for all; but Rewards will not be equal. Salvation is assured; we will not lose it. But we can lose our reward, Rev 3.11. (We are warned to take care of our ‘crowns’/rewards).
The five areas where God will examine us are i. Time – how much time have we spent with God? Is our time spent profitably, or is it wasted on the frivolous and foolish things of this world. ii. Talents – are we using our talents for God’s glory, or are we hiding them, not using them at all? Or are we using our talents for self-glory? iii. Treasure (our money) – are we using our riches for the extension of God’s kingdom, and for helping the poor (esp among God’s people)? iv. Tongue – are we misusing it for gossip and criticism and backbiting? Or are we using it for worship & praise, for praying for souls, for witnessing for Christ? v. Temperance (self-control) – are we controlling our passions & desires? Are we mortifying the deeds of the flesh? Are we controlling our temper?
False views about sin. Some believe that since they are saved, they can do whatever they like; they believe in ‘licence to sin’. They forget that God is holy, 1 Pet 1.15, 16, and we must live a holy life. Some believe that the sin nature is eradicated; but they forget that the sinful nature remains in us; the flesh remains. Further, 1 John 1.8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we are liars.” Some tend to think lightly of sin; they call it a mistake or a weakness. They indulge in smoking, drinking, watching movies, etc. Fleshly indulgence is sin. If one is truly saved, and he continues in sin, he will lose the joy of salvation, Psalm 51.12.
There are three judgments for a believer. i. In the past he deserved punishment as a sinner; but the Lord Jesus Christ took his punishment, 2 Cor 5.21, and clothed him with His righteousness. There is no more condemnation for one who is saved, Rom 8.1. ii. In the future, believers will come before the Judgment Seat of Christ, where they are treated as servants or stewards, 2 Cor 5.10. We have a responsibility to serve the Lord, and not live for self. iii. In the present, God chastens believers, because He desires that they grow into maturity and become sons (responsible adults), Heb 12:5-11. This aspect of sonship of the believer is forgotten by many.
How does the Heavenly Father deal with His sons. He has a means of restoration of a believer when he sins.
i. The 1st method is Confession, 1 Jn 1.7, 9. When we sin, we must confess our sins and claim the cleansing power of the Blood. In a true believer, the conscience will prick him when he sins. Further, the Holy Spirit will convict him of sin, Jn 16.8. He will realize that he has grieved the Holy Spirit, Eph 4.30. In further sinning, he will quench the Holy Spirit, 1 Thess 5.19. Further, the Word of God convicts a believer of sin, Acts 2.37. Regular reading of God’s Word helps cleanse us of sin, Jn 15.3; Eph 5.25. Apart from the Word, God uses His authorities in the church, i.e. God-servants and elders to rebuke sin, Heb 13.17. Finally, at the Lord’s Table, we examine ourselves. It is dangerous to continue in known sin, without confessing and forsaking it, 1 Cor 11.30. (Read that verse!)
ii. The 2nd method is the rod for Chastening. When children are disobedient, parents use the rod to discipline them. God will permit nature to take its course; and soon your sin will find you out! As you sow, you shall reap, Gal 6.7. Abraham listened to Sarah and took Hagar; the result: Ishmael and family problems. The same happened with David; when he sinned with Bathsheba, severe troubles came into his family. Sometimes God will lay us aside. In a football game, when a foul is committed the player is shown a red card and is taken out of the game. Many who once served the Lord were ‘castaway’ because of unconfessed sin in their lives. Israel herself was castaway; it was supposed to be a light to the nations; but it failed in this purpose. Today Israel is still blind, still set aside. What a terrible punishment! When Abraham sinned, God did not speak to him for 13 years. Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86 years old; but we see that God did not speak to Abraham till he was 99. We all know the story of Jacob; how he was kept for 20 years in Laban’s house, disciplined on the lines of Gal 6.7. However, God chastens us for our own good. In the case of Samson, he was taken captive by the Philistines, and was blinded. But in captivity, his faith increased; he killed more in his death than in his lifetime.
iii. The 3rd method. God sometimes permits believers to be taken captive by Satan, 1 Cor 5.5. When one indulges in fornication, God hands him over to Satan ‘for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved’. 2 Tim 2.26 speaks of recovering from the snare of the devil. In 1 Tim 1.20, Paul delivers Hymaneus and Alexander to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme.
iv. Exception: In the case of Job, it was neither a case of confession or chastening, or being taken captive by the devil. Here God takes Job through a terrible experience to save him from self-righteousness and teach him a deeper knowledge of the Lord. Sometimes we learn deeper truths about ourselves only by going through deep experiences of the Cross.
Conclusion: Finally the message concluded with these thoughts. Do you have a testimony in the world? In your office? In your church? Among your relatives? In sufferings, God speaks to us very clearly. He whispers to us in our pleasures, but He shouts to us in our pains. God sometimes allows sickness in our lives, so that we may spend more time with the Lord. We are too busy in our own work, and we often neglect our spiritual duties and God.
Chastening is proof that we are God’s sons, Heb 12.10. Chastening or discipline yields the fruit of righteousness. It is written in Heb 5.8, that Christ Himself through sufferings, learnt obedience. In 2 Cor 1.4, we are told that through our sufferings, we become able to comfort others in their distresses.
Let us remember the Judgment Seat of Christ. Let us remember that God chastens us for our good. Let us be rich in good works. Let us labour for the reward. Let us not be cast aside. Let us not hide our faces in shame when the Lord comes. Let us examine ourselves in the light of this word. Amen.