THE JUDGMENT OF THE CHRISTIANíS WORKS

 

ByG. P. Raud

 

God recompenses every man, whether believer or unbeliever.  He recompenses every deed that man has done or will do.  He pays back either good or bad.  "For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matt. 16: 27). "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be" (Rev. 22: 12).  No one escapes His judgment, Jew or Gentile, saved or unsaved.

 

Now we come to the believer.  In Romans 6: 23 we read that the gift of God is eternal life to the one who believes.  We donít work for a gift; we donít work to gain eternal life.  We believe and we have it.  And this eternal life abides forever.  When a person is converted, he receives the Holy Spirit who comes to abide in him for ever.*  Salvation is a free and eternal gift. "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 John 5: 1).

 

[* It is questionable if the Holy Spirit abides in every believer, regardless of their behaviour.  I personally do not believe He does. There are many Scriptures which teach us, that His indwelling is conditional and only with those believers who are obedient to Christ, and follow Him fully: "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given TO THEM THAT OBEY HIM" (Acts 5: 32).  Compare also with: John 15: 2, 4, 5, 6; Rom. 8: 13.  See also "Power Lost and Recovered" and ďThe Persomal Indwelling of the Holy SpiritĒ.].

 

Rewards, however, are determined by the believerís works; whatever his vocation or station in life, the works he performs after conversion settle his rewardChristians sometimes say carelessly, "Oh, I am all right. I am saved."  And then they act worse than the world,* although their lives as children of God ought to be holy, worthy of the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit to His glory.

 

[We see examples of this evil behaviour throughout the Scriptures: and, the behaviour of a certain dentist (a member of Coleraine Baptist Church, who confessed his sins to elders within that church) is probably a case in point.Hence the urgent need for us all to abandon all wilful sin in our lives: and this can only be done by the Holy Spiritís power working within us.]

 

"What shall We Have?"

 

"Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?  And Jesus said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19: 27, 28).

 

Our Lord here directs Peterís eyes away from the present and turns them to the future glory when the Son of man will be reigning upon the earth.  The twelve were now apostles, chosen leaders; and they sought to know what would be their reward because they had forsaken all for Christ.  Their reward was not in the present, but in the future, and it consisted in their reigning in His kingdom.  Will they be sitting just anywhere, as some believers say, "Iíll be satisfied if I only get to heaven"?  That prospect would never have contented Peter.  The apostles will sit on thrones, which are assigned only to persons who reign, who wield authority over others.  To reign is to hold authority, issue commands, put down rebellions, and maintain order.

 

We see that the apostles will have their reward, but what are we going to have?  "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Rom. 8: 17).  One of the hardest words in the Bible is Ďsufferí.  We donít like it.  The old man rebels against it; and the new man, also, very often.  A special glory awaits, however, all who suffer with Christ and for Him.  This promise of Romans 8: 17 is not simply the glory of being made like Christ when He comes; it goes beyond that.  "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (v. 18).

 

Most of us do not know what suffering for Christís sake really is. Easy-going Christian service robs us of reward.  If we do not press forward and suffer for Him, we shall lose our reward.  Few Christians understand that true service is always accompanied by suffering.  We shall suffer too if we choose Godís best for us.  His best is always difficult, although possible; and our nearest and dearest may oppose our choice.  The enemy will arouse everything against us in order to turn us away from His best.

 

Striving for a Crown

 

"Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, lest after I have preached to others, I myself, should be a castaway" (1 Cor. 9: 25, 27), or should "be rejected" (R.V.) from being awarded the crown.  These familiar words ought to challenge us to examine ourselves to learn whether we run uncertainly or whether we will assuredly receive this incorruptible crown.

 

"Every manís work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every manís work of what sort it is. If any manís work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet as by fire" (1 Cor. 3: 13-15).  The fire into which the work of the believer will be put is not for pruging or cleansing; it is for testing, to prove what sort of work it is.  It will manifest the quality of his work.  Some Christians hold that at that day all their unworthy past will be cleansed away, with not a trace of it remaining.  Not so.  Their work will be tested by fire and will determine their eternal reward.

 

The child of God may ask, "Why worry about rewards?  We donít need to know about them.  We shall get to heaven and then everything will be all right."  But the Lord wants us to receive His full reward, all that He has in store for us.  If at His judgment seat we get anything less, we have come that much short of glorifying Him. The more reward, the more praise and glory to His matchless name.  It has been said that to-dayís toil is the measure of to-morrowís gloryIf we do not toil our loss will be great.

 

Rulers in the Kingdom of Christ

 

The kingdom of Christ when He returns to reign on earth will cover the whole world, fulfilling such prophecies as this: "The seventh angel sounded; and there was great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 11: 15). For His great kingdom, Christ must have a considerable staff of administrators.  Most Christians, seeing little of the future which God has planned for them, do not understand that He has called us to rule with Christ in His kingdom as His administrators.  With a vague exception they look forward to an eternity where all their time is occupied with singing hallelujahs and casting their crown before the throne of God.  Eternity has in store for us far more than that.

 

"Behold, A king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment" (Isa. 32: 1).  The Lord Jesus Christ will reign as King of all the earth, and with Him will be many reigning princes.  Now God seeks and prepares the future rulers for His kingdom.  When we pray "Thy kingdom come," let us remember that we shall reign with Him "if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Rom. 8: 17); "if we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (2 Tim. 2: 12).

 

The Servant Who Lost Everything

 

The last servant mentioned in the parable of Luke 19: 22 didnít do anything.  A lazy, indifferent follower of the Lord, he earned nothing with his pound.  What happened to him in the judgment?  He lost even his one pound: "And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was as austere man, taking up that I laid down, and reaping that I did not sow; Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds" (vv. 22-25).  We profit much by studying this parable and learning the lesson that we shall suffer great loss in the judgment if we do not perform faithfully what he commits to our hands.

 

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing"; (2 Tim. 4: 7, 8).  "Blessed is the man that endureth temptations, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (James 1: 12).

 

The Word of God teaches that great, eternal rewards are available for believers, but that only those who work hard for them receive them. God offers us crowns and conditions stated in the Word, and He will grant them to us only if we meet the conditions. May God give every one of us grace to receive His full reward at the judgment seat of Christ.

 

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