Questions God Asks, Pt. 6 (b)
Study Guide, November 13, 2022
Pastor Clay Olsen
One of the most overlooked realities in life has to do with the Biblical fact that justice continues after this life, both for unbelievers and for believers. Now, this is more recognized when it comes to justice for unbelievers. Most Christians understand that there is a coming day of judgment for all who rejected or neglected the great salvation offered to them by Jesus Christ. Without repenting unto salvation, as Jesus said, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5 NASU So, oh yes, justice continues beyond this life. Jesus also declared a powerful truth that persecutors of God’s people ought to especially heed. Note this: Luke 12:4-5- “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” NASU That’s the Person persecutors should fear!
A lot of people world-wide don’t believe in Hell anymore. But they are foolishly gambling against reality, because Jesus did believe in Hell. In fact, Jesus talked about Hell more than He did about Heaven, because Jesus doesn’t want anyone to perish in Hell, but for all to come to repentance. Hell was intended for the Devil and Demons, but if those dead in their sins will not repent and receive Jesus’ forgiveness and His eternal life, there is no other place for them to spend eternity. But most will not repent unto salvation. As Jesus said: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matt 7:13-14 NASU That narrow way is Jesus Himself, as Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
So again, a judgment is coming for all who will not repent and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In fact, their sin of unrepentance has already condemned them. They are already dead in their spirit because of their trespasses and sin. What awaits them is the Great White Throne judgment where they will receive their ‘just sentencing’ in this place of Gehenna Hell, based upon their deeds. Then they will be separated from the presence of God and assigned their place in Hell, which is called ‘the second death’.
Most people have an aversion to death…even a fear of death. But for the unsaved, the ‘death’ that they really need to fear is this ‘second death’. For anyone who has not been spiritually ‘Born Again’, well…they will not only die once…they will die twice. But it’s this ‘second death’ that is the one they ought to fear…for that is where they will be eternally confined in a real place called “Hell”. As the true saying states: “Born once, die twice…born twice, die once.”
We are certainly disturbed by the unrighteous ways and deeds of so many of the unsaved, but we still need to be praying for them and helping them come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ…because what awaits them otherwise is this ‘just judgment’ for their sins, and an eternal existence in this land of regret and remorse called “Hell”.
So, again, most Bible believing Christians understand the reality of this judgment that awaits unbelievers and the justice that requires it. What many believers don’t understand is the judgment that awaits believers, the Judgment Seat of Christ, for the evaluation of their lives to determine their service assignments and privileges in the Millennial and the Eternal Kingdoms, or essentially – “Heaven”. And we have covered many teachings on the rewards or the loss of rewards for believers, based upon the motives and deeds of their lives as children of God who are accountable to God for how they lived their lives after becoming Born Again into the family of God. But what we need to expand upon and expound upon is what we stated that is often overlooked by God’s children about their accountability before God. And that is, that God’s promise for His justice to be done on their behalf does not stop at physical death…no, God’s justice is an eternal virtue and exists beyond physical death, both for the unbeliever, as we pointed out, and for believers…for His children’s sake. Just like with Jesus’ question that we began exploring last time: “…will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night…? Luke 18:7 NASU The resounding answer to this rhetorical question is: “Of course God will bring about justice for His children!”
Again, physical death does not remove our accountability before God for how we lived our life, no, it actually reveals it! For as Paul said to the believers in Rome: Rom 14:12- “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” NASU So we will each give an account of our lives concerning our faithfulness or unfaithfulness as children of God. And we know that this account is not concerning our salvation, for our salvation is God’s gift to us based upon Christ’s deeds of fulfilling the Law for us and also for sacrificing His life for our sins, to remove the spiritual death penalty from us. This judgment for believers is not about our salvation, it’s about our sanctification, or our progress or neglect of it, our works of faithfulness or unfaithfulness, our obedience or disobedience in living as God commanded us to live in relation to our God…and…and…in relation to God’s other children, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Mark it down: we are accountable for not only how we have treated our Heavenly Father, but we are also accountable for how we have treated our Heavenly Father’s other children. And this accountability for how we have treated other brothers and sisters in God’s family is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the Judgment Seat of Christ. For many, it’s as though, regardless of how they have mistreated, offended, slandered, or harmed their brother or sister in Christ, they somehow think that physical death somehow stops God’s justice from being done, and somehow erases all their offenses and removes their accountability to both God and to those they wronged.
But that kind of thinking not only defies all reason, logic, and common sense, but it also denies the clear teachings and the strong warnings of God to His children that He will do justice and will repay any wrong ever done to them, either by unbelievers or by fellow believers. Note the rest of what Paul told the believers in Rome, told fellow Christians about their accountability toward their fellow believers: “So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God.” Rom 14:10-13 NASB
Paul clearly tells these Roman believers, and all believers, that the Judgment Seat of Christ will also be a time for the finishing of any unfinished business with their fellow believers. It will be part of their giving of their personal account to God to reconcile with their fellow brothers and sisters concerning any offense or any injustice that was done, which they had not made right with God and with the one they had wronged. Now remember, Paul is not talking about our redemption before God here. Our redemption before God is complete. What Paul is talking about here is our reconciliation with other believers due to offenses or injustices that had not been resolved before they left Earth.
Again, justice for God’s people does not stop at physical death. Certainly, what stops is the sinning of God’s people, since the sin nature cannot enter Heaven. Which means that the sin nature that caused the offending brother or sister to mistreat or offend another believer will be removed from them. Which also means that they will be more than willing and ready to confess and apologize and make right any wrong that they ever did to another brother or sister in Christ. They will be more than ready to reconcile any past wrongs. And thus, God’s promise to do justice on behalf of His children will be fulfilled just like God has promised. And God’s children’s sense of justice will be satisfied because their offender has made right the wrong that they had said or done against them.
This ‘reconciliation process’ between believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ is rarely taught and thus is little understood. But when better understood, it is one of the most liberating and satisfying teachings in the Scriptures for God’s children who have been mistreated, slandered, or have had any wrong done to them by other believers who have not repented, confessed, and sought forgiveness for their wrongdoing. Justice not only springs eternal, it also satisfies eternally!
So now it’s time to bring in some guest speakers, some prominent Bible Teachers to share with us what they have learned in the Scriptures through the years that will help us better understand this reconciliation between believers that is to come when we give an account of our lives before God at this ‘family judgment’ of Christ. I wish we could literally have them here with us, but since some of them already live in Heaven, we’ll just have to let them speak to us through what they left us. Let’s hear from Dr. Theodore Epp, former President of Back to the Bible radio program. He said: “At the Judgment Seat of Christ, difficulties and inequalities among the saints will be ironed out. We have so many of these in our present day. All the injustices and misunderstandings of God’s people among themselves will then be settled. Those of the saints who were humble, and who endured meekly and unresistingly accusation and malicious gossip for Christ’s sake, even from fellow believers, will be manifested in their true light. They will then be vindicated in the eyes of all and cleared of all false charges.”
He then goes on to say, “We must not overlook the fact that those who in their pride have done and said wrong things, unless they have confessed these things to God and renounced them, will face the consequences of such conduct at the Judgment Seat of Christ by losing rewards.”1
And we have this from Dr. M.R. DeHann, former President of Radio Bible Class and founder of Our Daily Bread devotionals that we receive and enjoy here at the Chapel. Dr. DeHann said: “Before they can reign in righteousness with Jesus, a lot of things which are all wrong among believers now will have to be made right first. If we do not make them right now, they will be made right at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and it will not be a pleasant experience for many to see their works burned up and they themselves saved as by fire, and then consigned to a lower place in the Kingdom with loss of rewards and with many sad regrets.”2
And now from Dr. Donald Barnhouse, one of the most profound Bible Teachers and Commentators in recent history. He said: “All our dealings with fellow Christians must be brought out at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The innuendo, slander, backbiting, envy, jealousy, gossiping and lying among Christians is a first-class scandal…Can we remain careless when we realize that all our deeds will be reviewed there? Unsettled accounts will be fully opened and settled. What we have done as Christians will face us there.”3
We only have time for one more guest speaker today, and then we’ll continue our convocation next time. But now let’s hear from Dr. Erwin Lutzer, honored Pastor of Moody Church and Nationwide Bible Conference Speaker. Dr. Lutzer was teaching on the fact that God reveals that He will not only judge our deeds, but also our motives, and that we are to be assured that God will vindicate His children that were wronged by others. Notice the passage where Paul reveals this: 1 Cor 4:3-5- “As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord Himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.” NLT
It’s important to notice here that Paul is speaking about God evaluating and judging God’s people after His return for His people. So this is a judgment going on not only about our works and deeds, but even our motives, as well as how we treated one another. So now Dr. Lutzer says this: “…unresolved disputes among believers will be adjudicated at the Bema (the Judgment Seat of Christ). There the injustices among God’s children will be brought to light, truth will triumph, and the righteous will be vindicated.”
Then he goes on to say: “It might be tempting to think that Christians will walk through heaven’s gates hand in hand, with old animosities forgotten. Yes, of course, at that time all believers will have new natures and will not be subject to grudges and bitterness. But this does not mean that what happened on Earth will be hidden. Paul taught that the believers in Corinth should not think that they have to settle every issue but wait for Christ to do it. What is the purpose of exposing the secrets of the hearts if it is not to bring final reconciliation to unresolved disputes?…If you have ever had your reputation ruined by a vindictive believer, take comfort in the fact that the truth shall one day be revealed. Is not this why Paul said we should not take revenge but leave the matter with God?”
And then one more statement from Dr. Lutzer: “Christ will untangle the disputes that baffled us on earth. He will bring to light ‘the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts. Justice can only triumph if the participants see injustices addressed and resolved. The Judgment Seat of Christ will be the place where God will satisfy our craving to have masks torn away, lies exposed, and reality prevail. The wrongdoers will finally admit the truth, and the victims will be vindicated; forgiveness among believers will be both given and accepted. Only then will justice prevail.”4
Our Heaven Father is completely just and fair. And because He is completely just and fair, how like our Heavenly Father to assure us all that He will justly and fairly deal with each of His children, especially in this area of how they have treated one another. He will not allow any injustice against any of His children to go unresolved and unreconciled. That is why He will meet with each one, and every wrong done by one of His children to another one of His children that was not resolved when they were together on Earth will be resolved when they are together at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Again, this is one of the most important Bible teachings for believers to understand about their Heavenly Father and about their relationships with other believers. We don’t have to fix or fuss or fume about every wrong that another believer has ever said or done to us. God is recording everything, and He will fix it for us. If you have been wronged in some way by another believer who has not yet made it right with God and with you…just know this; one day they will! God is going to see to that for you.
We certainly pray that they will repent and confess and apologize for their wrongdoing while we are still together here on Earth, and then we can be reconciled and at peace about it while we serve God before we leave Earth. However, what we do know is that if this doesn’t happen before we meet God in person, when we do, our Heavenly Father will make sure that they make it right with us when we are each standing right in front of Him. And, again, the wrongdoer will want to make it right, because they will completely agree with God and you about their need to confess and apologize for their wrongdoing against you, just like they should have done on Earth…but in their disobedience they didn’t. They will want to make it right with the brother or sister with whom are about to spend eternity together, now completely reconciled, and now will forevermore love their brother or sister in Christ just as Christ loves them.
And that’s just one more thing that will make Heaven be ‘Heaven’.
- Carl C. Johnson, The Account Which We Must Give, Studies on the Judgment Seat of Christ p. 37
- Ibid., pp. 36,37
- Ibid., pp. 38,39
- Erwin Lutzer, Your Eternal Reward, Triumph and Tears at the Judgment Seat of Christ, pp. 66, 67