James: In 2 Corinthians 5:10 it says, “For we must all be manifested before the judgment-seat of the Christ, that each may receive the things done in the body, whether it be good or bad”. I thought that because of my repentance and faith in the person and redemptive work of Christ, that I would not be judged for my sins.
Ben: Correct. Notice that it does not say that we will be judged but “manifested”. The word also means to “show (self)”, or “manifestly declare” or “appear”. When we appear before Him, we will be in our new, spiritual bodies – we will be like Him. There is no need to be uncertain as to our acceptance. Paul was writing to believers the “we” are Christians. Christ has borne the judgment due to us. “Receive” means that we will receive His assessment of all of our actions and words.
James: Can you give an example so that I can get a grip on this concept?
Ben: Everyday examples fall short of the real thing, but the following may be a help. In large companies, each employee has an annual Performance Appraisal. The employee sits down with his immediate supervisor or manager, and gets to know his boss’s evaluation of his work in the past year. A typical employee approaches the review knowing that he is not going to be dismissed and that he is in line for a pay increase (reward). He will not know the size of that until the review is finished. If he does not already know his boss’s mind as to his work, he will get that in the meeting. Sometimes the employee will disagree with parts of the assessment, but when it is the Lord taking us through our life’s history, we will be in total agreement with Him. It will magnify the grace of God that bore with us ll the way. It will be a cause of worship and praise.
James: You mean that this is not the same as the great white throne in Revelation 20:11-15.
Ben: Certainly not. That is occasion of the judgment of the dead – the wicked - those that have died in unbelief. The judgment of Matthew 25:31 is the judgment of the living – those nations living on earth at the time of Christ taking up His reign at the beginning of the thousand years. There is no mention of resurrection there. The concept of “nations” has no meaning in resurrection. The subject of the resurrection is worth a separate discussion.
James: I see. I know there are moves that I have made, and I am not sure whether they were good ones or bad ones. It will be a joy to know the Lord’s assessment as to everything. I suppose if I was nearer to the Lord, I would know His mind now. If we lived each day knowing that our conduct is to be accounted for, there would be fewer surprises when we appear before Him then.
Ben: Exactly. We are responsible persons. We are stewards, servants. We all have to give an account of ourselves – how we have used our time, intelligence, health, money and goods that the Lord has given to us in this world. Our title to heaven is the work of Christ alone. Our place in the kingdom depends on our faithfulness now. Recall the Lord’s parables of various servants, and the assessment upon the masters’ return. One was to be over ten cities, another over five.
In Romans 14:10-12, “for we shall all be placed before the judgment-seat of God”, and “So then each of us shall give an account concerning himself to God”. We know from John 5:22 - “neither does the Father judge any one, but has given all judgment to the Son; that all may honour the Son…” This means that judgment is delegated to Christ. What we have said about the judgment-seat of Christ is not inconsistent with the verse in Romans 14.
James: I would like to get the response: “Well done, good and faithful bondman”. I notice that the Lord never asks persons to be successful. Rather, He looks for us to be faithful, and good.
One more question. At what point do we appear before the judgment seat of Christ?
Ben: After we are raised as set out in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. Between that point and us coming with Him as it says in Colossians 3:4, “When the Christ is manifested who is our life, then shall ye also be manifested with Him in glory”? That display or manifestation is shown in Matthew 24:27-31 and 25:31-46. Just after the tribulation period that He takes up His rights over the earth. We are to reign with Christ, so it is logical that we have His mind as to ourselves before coming with Him.
MM August 2008