Prophecy

The Judgment Seat of Christ

PR08-01

The Christian has a day of judgment ahead of him. At some time in the near future, a great migration of Christians all over the world is going to take place as they are moved from earth into the third heaven. These Christians will include those who are now in the graves as well as those who, at the time, will be living. We have every reason to anticipate that it is indeed in the very near future--a matter of years ahead. Consequently, we ought to live and think and act accordingly. The Bible tells us that the last days immediately preceding the return of the Lord to take the Christians out of the world is going to be a time of great spiritual degeneration. The church will find itself in a climate of growing evil; growing violence; growing degradation; and, growing rejection of the Word of God.

We found that there were three facts that stand out concerning the rapture. This word refers to the catching up of believers to meet the Lord in the air. This event takes place immediately preceding the seven years of judgments that are yet to be fulfilled in God's completion of His program with Israel. This is the period that we call the tribulation period when the wrath of God is poured out on all humanity, and evil has its day. Things are not as bad today, and they cannot be as bad as they will be in the tribulation period because God the Holy Spirit acts as a restrainer. He places a dampening influence through the believers; through the Word of God; and, through the forces that are for morality that exist within our society. However, once the church is removed, and God the Holy Spirit is removed with them off the scene, then all hell is going to break loose upon this earth. Evil will have its day as it has never had it before.

If you want to get an idea of what it's going to be like, you just think of the worst expressions in every realm of life that you can think of that are now restrained; and, imagine those things turned loose and publicly approved, and you'll have some idea of what life is going to be like here on this earth.

Well, we Christians are going to escape all that. We found that three facts stand out concerning the rapture. One is that Jesus is coming back for Christians. John 14:1-3 tells us about that. He is now preparing dwelling places in heaven for us to reside in during the tribulation period. Secondly, we found that some Christians will never experience death. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 tell us that some Christians will be caught up to meet the Lord alive without going through the experience of death. I firmly and fondly anticipate that many of you who are reading this document right now will experience the rapture alive. Thirdly, all Christians go to heaven together (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Somebody told me that there was one thing that wasn't clear to them in our last session. We sometimes assume that you know certain things and that you have certain background information. We don't always touch in detail about certain elements. One question did come up, and perhaps we ought to clarify it. What happens to the people who are believers, the Christians, who are now dead? Where are they? Well, their bodies are in the grave, perhaps completely decomposed and returned to dust, but their souls and spirits are in the Lord's presence. "Absent from the body," Paul says, "Presence with the Lord." Immediately upon death, a believer goes into the Lord's presence. Apparently he has some kind of intermediate body and covering during the time that he is in the Lord's presence.

Now when the rapture takes place, what happens to those believers who are in heaven now? These believers, who are already in heaven with the Lord, come down at the rapture--their souls and spirits--with the Lord. They come to the earth. They receive their (now glorified) bodies from the graves, and the Lord remains in the air. They have their resurrection. They receive their bodies. Then the Christians who are living, together with these, move to meet the Lord in the air, and then return to the third heaven. So the spirits and souls who are now in the third heaven in the Lord's presence do come back to earth; receive their bodies; join the live living believers; and, then go on up together to meet the Lord in the air.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

Now what happens up here in heaven after this event? Meanwhile, down here on earth begins the seven years of the tribulation period that we have studied already in some detail. What is going to be taking place here in heaven? That's what we want to look at now. In heaven, the first thing that will happen to you after the rapture is the Judgment Seat of Christ. Christians will face a judgment after death. We want to look at the nature of that judgment.

2 Corinthians 5:10

2 Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad." Is this being spoken to Christians or to unsaved people? When it says, "For we must all appear," who are the "we?" If you run your eye back over 2 Corinthians 5, you will have indicated to you that the context speaks concerning Christians.

In 2 Corinthians 5:1, Paul indicates that he's speaking to Christians when he uses the expression, "For we know that if our earthly house (that is, our body) of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Now the unsaved people have nothing in heaven. They have no house. They have no place in heaven whatsoever. So obviously, this is talking about Christians who, if through death they should be separated from their bodies, they will have a dwelling place in the heavens.

In 2 Corinthians 5:4 "For we that are in this tabernacle (these human bodies) do groan, being burdened; not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." Only for believers who are resurrected will mortality (that is, the possibility of dying) be swallowed up in life. They will receive, in other words, bodies which are glorified--resurrected bodies, like the Lord's. The unsaved people will not receive bodies such as Jesus Christ has.

2 Corinthians 5:5 says, Click to continue reading the full article.

Dr. John E. Danish, 1971

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