THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

by D. M. Panton



Chapter Fifteen

THE PRIZE OF OUR CALLING

We are now in a position to summarize our conclusions concerning entry into the Millennial Kingdom. Is the Kingdom - as well as rank in it - the Prize for which the Christian is to run, and which may be forfeited, unless a standard of holiness be attained known only to God? It is so -

  1. Because our Lord states it in the Gospels, - the Holy Spirit repeats it in nearly every Epistle, - it is the basis of the promises and threats to the Seven Churches, - and it is foretold as an actual experience in the prophecies of the Apocalypse.
    1. Matt. 7:21; Luke 20:35, etc.
    2. Eph. 5:5, 6; Gal. 5:19 - 21.
    3. Rev. 2. and 3.
    4. Rev. 11:18, 20:6.

  2. Because the Types of the Old Testament, largely an unquarried mine, strikingly corroborate it, thus confirming our understanding of the literal passages of the New Testament, and weaving all into an exquisite mosaic of revelation.
    1 Cor. 9:24 - 10:12; Ex. 12:15; Luke 17:32; Heb. 4:11.

  3. Because the Age to Come - as distinct from the Eternal State, which is based on grace alone (Rev. 20:15) - is revealed as "one last day of a thousand years, a full and perfect judicial aeon," in which all seed sown in this Age reaps its exactly corresponding harvest, and to which all adverse consequences of works done after faith are confined.
    Rom. 2:5-11; 1 Pet. 4:17; 1 John 4:17; Gal. 6:7 - 9.

  4. Because it safeguards the infinite merits of our Lord’s imputed righteousness and divine sacrifice by establishing the spotless and eternal standing of every believer in Him while it also safeguards human responsibility and divine justice by making every believer accountable for his walk, under pain of a possible forfeiture of coming glory.[27]
    1. Heb. 10:14; Rom. 8:33.
    2. Phil. 2:12; Rev. 3:11.

  5. Because - since God’s dealings with His people must always rest on the character of God, and God’s character is not mercy only, but justice also - it is inconceivable that a disciple’s life, if unholy[28], should have no profounder effect on his destiny than mere gradation in glory.
    Heb. 10:30-31; Rev. 22:12; I Cor. 3:15; Luke 20:35.

  6. Because, if we acknowledge any judgment of a believer’s works at all, and that before a tribunal which is a judgment seat and not a mercy seat, we are thereby compelled to acknowledge, further, that the investigation must be strictly judicial, and that it will therefore be as exactly graded in censure as it is in praise.[29]
    2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10-12; Col. 3:24-25; 2 Tim. 2:5.

  7. Because it vindicates the holiness and justice of God from the charge of compounding with His people’s sins, and makes the highest glory given by God to rest only on the active righteousness of the disciple co-operating, consistently and ceaselessly, with the imputed righteousness of his Lord, - obedience being the only proof of love.
    I Cor. 3:17; 1 Thess. 4:6; Matt. 5:20; Rev. 20:6.

  8. Because it is the supreme reconciliation between Paul and James, - that is, between justification through faith unto Eternal Life and justification through works unto Millennial Reward; for into an Everlasting Kingdom, which is granted as a gift, an abundant entrance can only be a prior one, and it is built upon a sevenfold foundation of works (2 Pet. 1:5-11).
    Before works - Rom. 4:10; Gen. 15:6.
    After works - Jas. 2:21; Gen. 22:16.

  9. Because it is perhaps as near an approximation as has yet been reached to a solution of the perennial controversy between the Calvinist and the Arminian: for it establishes all the passages of glorious certainty, while it leaves ample scope for the most solemn warnings: it takes both sets of Scripture as it finds them.
    John 10:27, 28; Rom. 6:23; Rom. 11:29; John 15:6; Heb. 10:26; Matt. 5:22.

  10. Because it gives the natural and unforced interpretation to the facts of Church life, as it does also to the simple statements of Holy Writ, and reveals how exactly the one squares with the other, both in present character and in just recompense; and whether as selective rapture, or exclusive resurrection, or forfeiture of crowns, or failure of the prize, or conflagration of works, or limited coheirship, or even penal consequences, - the argument is cumulative, and overwhelming in its accumulation.
    2 Cor. 12:20, 21; Jas. 2:5; Matt. 18:18; Rom. 8:12, 13.

  11. Because large sections of the Church of God are purged, and can only be purged, by seeing the drastic consequences of a carnal life; and because, for want of a frank and fearless statement of these consequences, multitudes of disciples are now wrapped in a profound slumber.[31]
    1 Cor. 5:5, 11; 6:9; Matt. 24:48-51; Luke 12:47, 48; Rev. 3:16, 21.

  12. Because it purges every motive with the awful vision of the Judgment Seat of Christ, and supplies an incentive second only to love in its motive power for alienating the disciple from the world and filling him with a passion for the Kingdom of God; and because it is the golden possibility for every child for God to share Messiah’s Throne.
    1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 2:21-23; Phil. 3:11-14; Rev. 2:26, 27.

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

[27] The unique plateau of grace and ultimate glory to which our Lord has forever exalted His Church, so far from making her immune from responsibility, deepens it. “And that servant, which knew His lord’s will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required, and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more” (Luke 12:47). “Those who believe that from the evangelical position one cannot possibly speak of any punishment in the judicial sense, but only affectionate chastisements for the moral amendment of the misled, can hardly measure aright the fearful earnestness of declarations such as these” (Lange).

[28] It is not only gross sin, or deeply defective service, that excludes: it is of the utmost importance to learn that what I am, equally with what I do, must decide the issue. Harsh tempers (Matt. 5:3), haughty spirits (Matt. 5:5), unforgiving dispositions (Matt. 6:14), purse-proud hearts (Mark 10:24), unmellowed characters (Matt. 20:22) are not only unfit for co-royalty with the Lord, but would quickly reduce the Kingdom to the chaos to which they have reduced the Church. “Except ye” – apostles – “turn, AND BECOME AS LITTLE CHILDREN” – trustful, pure, lowly, loving – “ye shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3): “for of SUCH is the Kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). Moreover, truth rejected becomes very stern. “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter therein” (Mark 10:15).

[29] Present chastisement – even bodily, as Miriam struck with leprosy by God’s own hand (Num. 12:10), or Church members afflicted and cut off for sin (1 Cor. 11:30) – all acknowledge; but most assume that all chastisement is sharply confined to this life. The Judgment Seat is thereby shorn of all judicial function, and made totally unreal. Scripture, on the contrary, asserts that judgment which falls now (1 Tim. 5:24) is exceptional; and, apart from the present chastisement of all sons (Heb. 12:8), it is the Age to Come which is supremely judicial. Death works no magic upon character. How grave is the ultimate logic of a denial of the Judgment Seat it is needless to emphasize. “The reasons why chastisement must end with this life will be very hard to find, very hard to establish. Those then who will be quit of this doctrine at all hazards will scarcely feel any position a safe one, but that which asserts (1) that there is no precept given to the elect of God; and by consequence, (2) that they never sin, nor ever receive chastisement. This awful position of unbelief I shall not here assail” (Govett). If the backslider, even the worst, is instantly and miraculously cleansed and perfected at death, and by the act of death, there would neither be need for the prolonged process of sanctification through a lifetime of suffering, nor justice to those countless sufferers who have achieved holiness through agony.

[30] The Arminian groups – the High Church, the Wesleyan, and the Salvation Army – affirm that a believer may suffer eternal destruction; the Calvinistic groups – the Low Church, the puritan Nonconformist and the Brethren – deny all adverse judgment on a believer beyond negative loss: the understanding of Scripture here maintained affirms that a believer may suffer anything short of eternal destruction, but only within the Millennial epoch. It is a least a balanced mean between two sharp extremes. Too long the leaders of the Churches have burked the menacing words God directs against the wicked and slothful servant, and theirs therefore must be the ultimate responsibility for the slow and painful reluctance with which souls loyal to the whole Word of God are now being compelled to readjust their perspective. But all teaching which deepens holiness and lowliness, and transforms us into a closer image of the Lord, can hardly be from the Pit; again and again I have seen it transfigure lives; and a large measure of any grace or blessing that has entered my own life these thirty years I owe to these stern truths which are so fiercely contested.

[31] It is astounding that disciples should deny penal effects at the Judgment Seat (Matt. 25:30) which the Holy Ghost is working before our eyes. Missionaries wrote of the Chinese Revival (1910): - “Confessions were made by Christians of all ranks – pastors, elders, deacons, evangelists, Biblewomen, church members – of sins which included all forms mentioned in the Pauline Epistles, - idolatry, adultery, gambling, theft, fraud, hatred, divisions; sins covering every one of the Ten Commandments, one of the most frequent being the breach of the Seventh. One reason they gave for confession was lest, if they did not confess now upon earth, they might be forced to confess hereafter in heaven. I have seen them beat their heads with their hands. I have seen them beast their heads on the ground. I have seen them beat their heads on the forms before them IN A GREAT PHYSICAL AGONY. It seemed at times that we were witnessing a part of the great judgment scene.” The Holy Ghost can so act even in the Day of Grace. “I shudder at the thought of positive affliction: nevertheless what saith the Scripture?” (R. Govett). “SO SHALL ALSO MY HEAVENLY FATHER DO UNTO YOU, IF YE FORGIVE NOT EVERY ONE HIS BROTHER FROM YOUR HEARTS” (Matt. 18:35).

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)