As Christians, we believe that truth is revealed to us explicitly from God through the Scriptures. This means that we recognize that our knowledge and intelligence is limited, and therefore our ability to determine truth is very limited, especially when it comes to the vital truths surrounding our existence and purpose in life. We can’t see the future and have no control over time; therefore we can’t know the truth about future events. Our examination of our surroundings is limited to our five senses, but we know that there is more to our universe than what we can sense; spiritual or metaphysical things are real but inaccessible to us. Our heavenly Father, who has all knowledge and all power and created us, reveals to us absolute truth that cannot be changed, or won’t be proven wrong in the future. We can count on these truths that have been revealed in the Scriptures to be immutable.
One of the important truths that has been revealed in the Scriptures is that all mankind, after they pass from this physical world, will have their lives assessed by God and based upon His determination, will be given some reward or recompense. I Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.” Think of how important it will be that this event of appearing before God for appraisal goes well for you!
Imagine yourself in line waiting for your turn to appear before the judgment seat of Christ and hearing what is happening to others that have gone before you (I don’t know how this will work but it could be something like this). Most likely you would be wishing that you could go back and change things or do things over differently. I am sure that every human being would have this same thought, even King David would wish he could go back and change what he did with Bathsheba, or Peter the Apostle would want to change how he acted before the cock crowed three times, or Moses would want to change how he struck the rock. None of us can change what we have already done, but as long as we are on this earth we can change what we do in the future.
Also, we have an amazing opportunity to take advantage of the mercy of God that He has shown through Jesus for forgiveness of our pass deeds. I believe this is what Jesus was trying to convey to us when He taught this lesson to His disciples: (Matthew 5:25,26) “Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.” Once we die, it will be too late to appeal for mercy, just like once a man reaches court and stands before the judge it is too late for mercy. The judge is bound to follow the rule of law and must execute justice as prescribed. Before reaching court there is an opportunity for mercy from the accuser. We also have an opportunity to receive mercy and forgiveness by accepting the free gift of God’s redemption (or His payment on our behalf for our faults) through the His Son, Jesus our Savior.
This mercy is not only intended to remove the guilt of past offenses, but it is also intended to bring about a change in us, by recognizing the great mercy that God has allotted to us through His forgiveness. In the second chapter of Romans Paul is reprimanding those who judge others for actions that they themselves are doing, who think that it is okay to have knowledge of true morality and to correct others who don’t obey, but don’t need to correct themselves. Romans 2: 3,4 says, “Do you suppose, O man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Repentance implies a change in the way we think and act.
Therefore, if we sincerely and totally recognize the value of God’s mercy towards us and have changed our focus to now please Him and wait for His return, we can be confident about the Day that is coming when we stand before the Lord. But if anyone has ignored God’s mercy by rejecting Jesus, or has taken lightly His kindness and continues to live a selfish life without regard for His regulations or will for them, they should be afraid. Romans chapter 2 goes on to say, “But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For He will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.”
I, personally, am confident that I can stand before the judgment seat of Christ with a clear conscience, having addressed all my past sins. None the less, I am still fearful of missing something. I want to stand before Him with no regrets; with nothing that I would wish that I could go back and do over. I already have some things that I would like to have done differently, but I have brought these before the Lord and received His merciful forgiveness.
As we live our lives as Christians there will be times that we stumble, that we miss the mark and fall short. We must take these times very seriously and deal with them immediately, asking God to forgive us and to take the appropriate steps to correct the problem. Dying to this world and setting our hopes on the promise of eternal life will give us the power to overcome these things in our life. As we grow spiritually our flesh will be overpowered by our spirit. As the Word says, we must patiently continue in doing good. Don’t grow weary and don’t give up!
For us who are enduring, who push on to do what pleases God, there is an amazing reward that awaits us. Glory, honor, immortality, eternal life, peace – there are no greater rewards than these, yet these can be ours if we persevere. It will be worth it. It will be worth it to stand in the waiting line with the assurance that you will be greeted with the words: “well done my good and faithful servant.” This is the day that I am waiting for. And really, it’s all because of Him.