THE SUPREME COURT OF HEAVEN

 

TV often captures the drama of the courtroom. Destinies are weighed in the balance. The verdict can send people into a lifetime of imprisonment or to freedom. Picture the drama in the high court of heaven, when every person who has ever lived appears before the Most High God for the ultimate verdict. You will be there, your family, your doctor, your neighbor. Scripture talks more about this day than any other, including the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. Hebrews calls it a foundational doctrine (6:2). Must be important. Open to Revelation 20:11-15 for one of the most awesome pictures in all of Scripture.

WHO IS THE JUDGE ON THE GREAT WHITE THRONE?

“Earth and sky fled from his presence,”  vanishing before the incredible majesty. The person is a Man: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son…” (John 5:22,23). Luke writes that “he is the one ordained by God to be the judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42).

WHO ARE THE JUDGED?

John continues: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne…” (20:12). “It is appointed for men to die once, and after comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). All will be there: Caesar and Solomon, St. Paul and Socrates. Greatness is relative, and brilliance is dwarfed before eternal majesty.  Two groups are represented: all humanity and fallen angels, including Satan. Demons encountered by Jesus knew His authority and pleaded not to destroy them “before the time.” Now the time has come–and they shudder with fear.

WILL CHRISTIANS BE INCLUDED?

We know “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The child of God “does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). But scripture also says that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The lives of Christians will come under review, not for eternal judgment, but to test works and issue rewards. How were gifts used (Matthew 25:1-30) and words chosen (Matthew 12:36)?  Paul says that “every man will receive his commendation from God” (I Cor. 4:5). Salvation is not an issue–faithfulness is.

WHAT IS THE BASIS OF JUDGMENT?

Sheep and goats are separated by good works. Paul says that the judge “will render to every man according to his works” (Romans 2:6). Works give evidence to faith.”Each person was judged according to what he had done” (20”13).

IS THERE A COURT OF APPEALS?

Court proceedings often drag on for years. Deliberations in heaven’s court last one day. The judged are not standing trial; they are hearing the verdict. No cross-examination, no postponing the court date. Trials are sometimes declared invalid due to a technicality. He who judges “the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:11) speaks flawlessly.

WILL SOME REALLY BE LOST FOR ETERNITY?

Judgment day means destruction for the ungodly (2 Peter 3:7). Jesus will make a clear separation between the destiny of the righteous and the condemned.

WHAT SHOULD A CHRISTIAN’S RESPONSE BE?

Some will be thankful they barely made it (I Cor. 3:15). Paul expected a crown and couldn’t wait. Time for the awards banquet. If we have been abiding in Christ, we will have confidence and not shrink back in shame (I John 2:28). Even so, come Lord Jesus!

2 thoughts on “THE SUPREME COURT OF HEAVEN

  1. Paul, I think the Basis of Judgement needs to be clarified. If we take Matthew 25:31-46 and the two passages you quote (Ro 2:6 and Rev 20:13) out of context, we can easily come to the conclusion that we are saved on the basis of works, not grace. That is completely wrong. Ro 2:6 needs to be understood in the context of 3:20, “For by works of the Law, no man will be justified…” (that is, made righteous or worthy to enter God’s presence.) Salvation is a free gift apart from works. However, there are rewards above and beyond just making it into heaven by the skin of our teeth. I believe that that is the crown to which Paul referred.

    It is also very important to remember how our good works come to be. God prepares good works for us in advance (Eph 2:10) as well as giving us the desire to do them and even working in us to complete them (Php 2:13). That is why, in Mt 25, the sheep respond, “Huh? I don’t remember doing any of that.”

    • Yes, indeed. With you all the way. Luther said something like, “Good works do not save a man. But a saved man does good works.” Interesting to me that when the scripture speaks of how judgment is carried out, the basis is works. We know, however from the big picture that the works reflect where that person stands before God–justified or condemned. Who is this??

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