The Judgment Seat of Christ
A Just Recompense of Reward
2 Cor 5:10 (KJV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
One of the greatest incentives for Christians to live godly lives is a knowledge and understanding of the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Judgment Seat of Christ is probably one of the least understood topics in Scripture. Numerous Christians have the vague idea that they will appear at this judgment in order to determine if they have been saved spiritually. This is incorrect since the only people who will appear at this judgment are saved people. Every Christian’s salvation will have already been determined or he would not be at this judgment.
The Judgment Seat of Christ will be a judgment of the works of Christians for the purpose of determining rewards and chastisements that will be apportioned to the Church by Jesus Christ. There will be chastisements for unfaithful believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is a difficult truth for Christians to accept, but numerous Scriptures confirm it to be true.
2 Corinthians 5:10 is talking about Christians. Again, only Christians will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Greek word for bad in this verse is kakos, and it is translated evil 43 times in the New Testament. This is the only place where it is translated bad. The word is the antonym of agathos, which means good. The Scripture means exactly what it says. Christians will be recompensed for the good things that they have done, and they shall also be recompensed for the evil things that they have done, if they have not been forgiven according to 1 John 1:9. The faithful Christian confesses his sins daily.
Another Scripture that is directed specifically to Christians is Colossians 3:25, “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done; and there is no respect of persons.” Paul is writing “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse...” It would be foolish for Paul to be warning them of something that could not possibly apply to them. Paul is telling them that they will be rewarded for their good works, but that they will also be recompensed for the evil that they do.
NOTE: The Lord Jesus Christ in his current function as our High Priest has forgiven all sin that has been confessed by the believer:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 KJV)
Only unconfessed sin will be recompensed at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Grace & Works
The primary reason that so many Christians do not understand the Judgment Seat of Christ and the just recompense of reward is their failure to understand the relationship between grace and works. God has made a covenant of grace with man.
Eph. 2:8-9 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved (i.e., you have been saved) through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
These verses describe the covenant of faith that deals with a salvation apart from any of man’s works. This includes works before faith and works after faith. Works do not procure salvation by grace, add to salvation by faith, or make salvation by grace any more sure. This salvation pertains to the spirit of man and it is called spiritual rebirth.
This is a salvation that was accomplished in the past, and it is the present possession of every believer. It is an active, continuing, ever-abiding salvation, and it is eternally secure for every believer. There is nothing man can do to annul this salvation. This includes adultery, homosexuality, drunkenness, lying, covetousness, gossip, gluttony, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, and envy. Christians will never stand before God to be judged in regard to this salvation since this judgment took place at Calvary. It is a work of God. Man did nothing to earn it, and he can do nothing to lose it. It is the gift of God.
The next verse in Ephesians describes a second covenant that is a Covenant of Works:
Eph 2:10 (KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Good works should occur after spiritual rebirth, since this is how Christians grow and mature. Many Christians do not grow and mature in the faith. This growing and maturing in obedience and good works is frequently referred to as “salvation” in the Bible. The Christian should be careful not to confuse his daily walking, or progressive salvation with his past salvation of spiritual rebirth. They are very different, but Christians often confuse them.
Salvation: Past, Present and Future
The soul is what we are as a person. It is our mind, emotions, intellect, personality, will, heart (i.e., in a metaphorical sense), and character. Thus, our soul is our life. The Greek word for soul is psuche, and it is alternately translated as soul or life throughout the New Testament. The word refers to the natural life of an individual, since the soul is the seat of a person’s emotions, feelings and desires pertaining to his man-conscious existence.
The spirit is different from the soul. The spirit determines our God-conscious existence, and the body determines our world-conscious existence. In simpler terminology, our spirit puts us in contact with God; our soul puts us in contact with ourselves; and our body puts us in contact with the physical realm.
In addition to the salvation that Christians currently possess (i.e., spirit salvation), the Scriptures are replete with two other phases of salvation that are both present and future. The present salvation pertains to our growing and maturing as a Christian. The Bible calls this the salvation of the soul (i.e., life). Our future salvation pertains to the salvation of the body when we are given resurrection bodies.
Most Christians have no difficulty understanding that their bodies have not yet been redeemed, but few Christians understand that the salvation of the soul (i.e., life) is a salvation that is being effected now, and this salvation is directly related to the Covenant of Works. Most Christians confuse soul salvation with spiritual rebirth because tradition has used the terms soul and spirit interchangeably. Careful exegesis (i.e., interpretation) of Scripture reveals that soul and spirit are not synonymous in Scripture, and numerous Scriptural passages have been grossly misunderstood because of this traditional error. It is because of this misunderstanding that Galatianism (i.e., Lordship Salvation) and Balaamism (i.e., the Doctrine of Worldly Compromise) are rampant in the Church today.
It is at the Judgment Seat of Christ that the salvation of the soul (i.e., life) will be determined. Numerous Scriptures exhort believers not to neglect this salvation and to seek it with all of their strength. Jesus exhorted believers to save their souls (i.e., psuche, life) and even described how in the following passage of Scripture:
Mat 16:24-27 (KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man (i.e., if any of you) will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life (i.e., psuche) shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life (i.e., psuche) for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (i.e., psuche)? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (i.e., psuche)? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
The above Scripture is clear that the present salvation of the soul is a salvation that believers seek, and the last sentence confirms that the salvation of the soul (i.e., psuche) is directly related to the Covenant of Works and future rewards.
Paul was exhorting the “saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi” to save their souls in the following Scripture:
Phil 2:12 (KJV) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Innumerable preachers and teachers have pulled this Scripture from its context and attempted to explain that it really does not mean that believers work out their salvation. Their error is failure to rightly divide the Word of Truth and understand that Paul is not talking about spiritual rebirth. Paul is talking about the salvation of the soul (i.e., life), and this is a salvation that is directly related to rewards and to our works.
Jesus bids his disciples to “lose their soul,” not to “save it”! The Christian loses his soul (i.e., life) when he surrenders the control of his life to the Holy Spirit. A life lived under the control and power of the Holy Spirit will be saved and will result in rewards and a position of honor and trust in the millennial kingdom. A selfish life that is lived for the pleasures and wants of the flesh is carnal and will earn no rewards or honors.
The loss of the soul is not eternal condemnation but the loss of rewards, position and honor in the millennial kingdom. It is a life wasted in the pursuit of earthly things under the power and control of the soulical nature (i.e., flesh nature).
The failure to understand the salvation of the soul as different from spiritual rebirth is the reason for the misunderstandings between Calvinists and Arminians. The Calvinists emphasize the Scriptures that deal with spiritual rebirth and teach the eternal security of the believer. They neglect, twist or ignore the Scriptures dealing with a salvation that can be lost. The Arminians emphasize the Scriptures dealing with the salvation of the soul, which can be lost, and erroneously equate them with spiritual rebirth. Scriptural truth falls between the two extremes.
Spiritual rebirth is eternally secure, since it is based upon grace and the work performed by Jesus on Calvary. The righteousness of God is imputed—a legal term—to all believers and nothing can alter the believer’s standing in Christ. The salvation of the soul is conditional upon obedience to God, and it is a salvation that can be lost by the unfaithfulness of the believer. Numerous Scriptures pertain to the salvation of the soul, while only a few deal with spiritual rebirth. A further understanding of soul salvation requires one to have knowledge of the tripartite (i.e., three-part) nature of man.
Tripartite Nature of Man
Man is a tripartite (i.e., three-part) being created in the image of the triune God. He is composed of body, soul and spirit, and there is a salvation connected to each part.
1 Th 5:23 (KJV) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The animal kingdom is dichotomous (i.e., two-part) and possesses only soul and body. Animals have soul life, but they do not have spirit life. Since man is trichotomous (i.e., three-part), his complete redemption must encompass spirit, soul and body. The great majority of Christians have traditionally confused the spirit and soul of man by making them synonymous.
The spirit of man is the immaterial part of man that links him directly with God. Man’s sin in the Garden of Eden resulted in death, and it was man’s spirit that died in the Garden of Eden. With an unredeemed, inanimate spirit, man is alienated from God (Eph. 2:12). Once a person has been saved spiritually, he has been quickened or made spiritually alive, and nothing can ever change that condition (Eph. 2:1). This aspect of man’s salvation is a spiritual rebirth and it is accomplished when man’s spirit is regenerated (i.e., made alive) by the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual rebirth is a supernatural work of God, and it is not something that man attains to in any way. The result of spiritual rebirth is faith—a gift from God—and man’s response of believing that the death of Jesus Christ atoned for his sin. There are not as many Scriptures directed at this aspect of salvation as most Christians think. Acts 16:31 describes this salvation succinctly, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” This salvation is both free and apart from the works of man. This includes works before faith and works after faith. The Scriptures always speak of this salvation in regard to Christians in the past tense. It was accomplished in the past, and it is the current possession of every believer.
The salvation of the soul is entirely different from spirit salvation, and it must not be associated with the passive aspect of salvation. Careful exegesis of Scripture reveals that soul and spirit are never used interchangeably (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Hebrews 4:12). Scripture carefully differentiates between the past, completed work of spirit salvation, and the present work of soul salvation, which is to be completed in the future. The book of James was written to believers exhorting them to save their souls:
James 1:21 (KJV) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
James 1:21 (ASV 1901) Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Christians are to put off sin and study their Bibles. This is work. It is through a knowledge of, and obedience to the Word of God that Christians mature and save their souls. The Epistles of 1 and 2 Peter were also written to believers regarding the salvation of the soul, and Peter carefully depicts soul salvation as occurring in the future:
1 Pet 1:7 (KJV) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
1 Pet 1:9 (KJV) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
The Epistle to the Hebrews was also written to believers in regard to soul salvation, and the writer warns them about the consequences of neglecting this salvation. The writer even includes himself as someone who could neglect this salvation, and no one doubts that the writer—probably Paul—was born again spiritually:
Heb 2:2-3 (KJV) For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
The above Scripture also confirms that “a just recompense of reward” can be negative as well as positive, and this ties in with 2 Corinthians 5:10 where evil deeds will also be recompensed for those who have not received cleansing according to 1 John 1:9.
The third part of man is his body, which brings him into contact with the physical world. Man is not complete without all three parts. The salvation of the believer’s body is guaranteed and it is entirely future. This salvation will occur at the resurrection. Few Christians err by believing that our bodies have already been redeemed (Rom. 8:23).
The reader should now be able to comprehend that the Christian’s salvation involves spirit, soul and body, and all three are important. Thus, the faithful Christian can state in all truth, “I have been saved; I am being saved; and, I shall be saved.” Unfortunately, there will be many Christians who will lose their souls, and this prospect is difficult for most Christians to comprehend and accept. The Christian who understands this truth will see numerous Scriptures open up that were previously closed to the understanding. It will also mean a greater maturity in the faith and great reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
According to Scripture man can be categorized as soulical, spiritual or carnal. The soulical man is a non-Christian, and Christians can be classified as either spiritual or carnal. The soulical man is dominated by his soul, which does not and can not relate to God. The soulical man is alienated from God, and he is unable to grasp spiritual truth. His spirit must be regenerated (i.e., born from above) in order for him to discern spiritual truth.
The spirit of man is the seat of the higher divine life. The indwelling Holy Spirit controls the Christian who lives his life controlled by the spirit nature, and this makes him a spiritual Christian. The spiritual Christian is able to control his emotions, feelings, and desires pertaining to his still-present man-conscious existence. This results in the subjection of his unredeemed body and his soulical man (i.e., flesh nature) to the Holy Spirit. This is commonly called walking in the spirit, being filled with the spirit, living the exchanged life, or crucifying the flesh. The Christian who lives this way will live a life that is pleasing to God. He will be rewarded with crowns and a responsible position in the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. The position of authority will be directly related to the faithfulness exhibited in this present life that Christians live.
The Christian who lives his life according to the spirit will not only receive rewards and a position in the kingdom of heaven, but the person he is at the resurrection will pass through the testing fire and transfer over into the kingdom (1 Peter 1:7). In simple terminology, this is the salvation of the soul (i.e., life). The Christian who lives according to his flesh nature will have his soul (i.e., life) destroyed in the testing fire. The following Scripture states this very clearly:
Rom 8:12-13 (KJV) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye (i.e., Christians) live after the flesh, ye (i.e., Christians) shall die: but if ye (i.e., Christians) through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye (i.e., Christians) shall live.
This Scripture is not talking about spiritual death or bodily death but the loss of the soul. The destruction of the souls of Christians is not a popular subject in Sunday Schools across the nation, but it is a Scriptural truth. There are several Scriptures that talk about the perdition (i.e., destruction) of Christians, but the great majority of believers relegate these passages of Scripture to the unsaved, even though the passages are addressed to “the elect,” “believers,” “brethren,” etc.
Heb 10:39 (KJV) But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe (i.e., are faithful) to the saving of the soul.
This Scripture is talking about Christians (Heb. 10:19) going on into perfection (i.e., maturity) or drawing back unto perdition (i.e., destruction of the soul). This brings us to the very hard truth about the method God will use to destroy the souls of those believers who have lived a life of sin and unfaithfulness. It is clear from Scripture that the believer’s works will be tried by fire according to the following Scripture:
1 Cor 3:12-13 (KJV) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
John the Baptist also preached that the Messiah would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit and with fire according to the following Scripture:
Mat 3:11 (KJV) I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Clearly the works (i.e., lives) of Christians will be tried by fire, but few Christians seek to understand more of this trial by fire that will take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The following Scripture reveals that the baptism of fire will take place in the lake of fire (i.e., Gehenna), which is called the second death. This is the same place where the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and unbelievers will be cast for all eternity:
Rev 2:11 (KJV) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
The Scriptures are clear that not all Christians are overcomers, and this Scripture confirms that those who are not overcomers will be hurt by the second death, which is the lake of fire. Therefore, it becomes clear that the baptism of fire that John the Baptist was warning believers about and the trial by fire that Paul was talking about will take place in the lake of fire.
Jesus himself also confirms in the following Scripture that believers should not fear those who are able to kill the body, but they should fear him (i.e., God) who is able to kill the soul in the lake of fire. One thing that Jesus never did was to give idle warnings. It would be foolish for Jesus to warn disciples to fear the loss of their souls in the lake of fire if it were not a real possibility. Jesus in talking to his disciples (Matt 10:5) warns them that they will be hated of all men (Matt 10:22) and then He gives a warning for all believers:
Mat 10:28 (KJV) And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him (i.e., God) which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (i.e., Gehenna or the lake of fire).
There is one other primary Scripture that warns believers about the negative side of God’s Righteous Judgment. Few Christians are able to understand that this Scripture is referring to unfaithful believers.
Judgments: For the Lost & Saved
Revelation 20:11-15 concerns itself with the great white throne judgment. This judgment is only for the lost, and it gives the final destiny of the unsaved as follows:
Rev 20:14-15 (KJV) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Chapter 21 of Revelation is about believers and verses 7 and 8 distinguish the difference between faithful and unfaithful believers. Again, unfaithful believers will have their part in the lake of fire. This is a judgment by fire of the believer’s works (1 Cor. 3:15). This is analogous to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being cast into the fiery furnace (Dan 3). They were not hurt since they had remained faithful. All they lost were the bonds on their hands and feet. Their end result is in contrast to the carnal Christian whose life will be lost since his life’s works consisted of wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor 3:12). It is easier to confess our sins now than to wait for God to purge us by fire. Carnal Christians will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The references clearly differentiate between being “cast into the lake of fire” and having a “part in the lake of fire.” It is difficult for most Christians to understand how one reference can be talking about the unsaved while the other reference is talking about the saved when both are referring to the lake of fire. The primary difference is the context in which each Scripture is found, but an in-depth study of the Greek words involved also reveals much about the Scriptures involved. One clear distinction is the fact that the unsaved will not have just a part or portion in the lake of fire, but they will be cast there for all eternity. This is a very important distinction. The two verses in question are as follows:
Rev 21:7-8 (KJV) He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving (i.e., unfaithful), and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Verses 1-5 of chapter 21 are referring to the end of the millennium. Verse 6 depicts salvation as a free gift (i.e., salvation by grace) while verse 7 pertains to overcoming believers who will have an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven (rewards according to works). Verse 8 pertains to believers who have lost their inheritance in the kingdom because of unconfessed sin and disobedience. These carnal Christians who have not submitted to progressive sanctification will be forcefully sanctified by fire. They will suffer loss (1 Cor 3:15).
The Greek word for fearful is deilos and means believers who are timid or afraid to exercise their faith. The Greek word for unbelieving is apistos and it refers to believers who are unfaithful, not worthy of confidence or untrustworthy. The Greek word for abominable is bdelusso and means believers who have defiled themselves without the cleansing provided by Jesus according to 1 John 1:9. The Greek word for murderer is phoneus and it means believers who have committed murder physically or in their hearts by hating fellow Christians. The Greek word for whoremongers is pornos and it means believers who are fornicators or who are unclean and impure. The Greek word for sorcerer is pharmakeus and means believers who are drug users or drug dealers. The Greek word for idolaters is eidololatres and it means believers who are covetous. The Greek word for liars is pseudes and it refers to believers who are deceitful by lying.
All of the above Greek words define sins committed by Christians in day to day life, and these Christians are not receiving the cleansing that Jesus provides in his current function as our High Priest. If these Christians do not repent and confess their sins (1 John 1:9) before the main harvest rapture in the middle of the tribulation, they will be cleansed by fire. They will have a part in the lake of fire. Their souls (i.e., lives) will be lost (i.e., destroyed) and they will lose their inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. This is not the traditional interpretation of the above Scripture, but the interpretation is correct. Christians need to wake up to some of the hard truths of Scripture.
Gal 6:7-9 (KJV) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (i.e., life for the age). 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
This Scripture pertains to works, and it is directed to Christians. Paul is warning the Galatians about the lives they are living. The Judgment Seat of Christ is not called the Awards Banquet of Christ. Judgment is just that. It will be good or bad depending on obedience to the Word of God.
Only a believer has the choice of sowing to the flesh or sowing to the Spirit, and “life everlasting” means the blessed life that faithful overcomers will inherit in the kingdom. It does not mean spiritual rebirth in the context in which it is located. Sowing is working and working does not attain spiritual rebirth. “Corruption” is the Greek word phthora and it means perish or destroy. Christians who sow to their flesh nature will have their souls destroyed in the lake of fire. Christians who sow to the spirit nature that was received when they were saved will save their souls from being destroyed in the lake of fire. This test of fire is only for the believer’s life. The spirits of believers are saved forever and can not be lost (1 Cor. 5:5)!
All believers will have a soul in Heaven. The only question is how much change will occur at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Unfaithful Christians will experience a great change in their person and will have little or no rewards. These are the Christians who will lose their souls in the lake of fire.
The Christian who loses his soul for Jesus’ sake will end up saving his soul (Mat. 16:24-27). This is related to works and it is accomplished by crucifying the soulical nature and allowing the spirit nature controlled by the Holy Spirit to control the life. The spirit is saved when one believes in the atonement of Jesus on the cross. The soul is saved when one takes up his cross and follows Jesus. Spirit salvation is by grace and occurs at some point in time. Soul salvation is by works and is only accomplished after the believer has endured or persevered until the end. The end is either death or rapture.
There are numerous Scriptures that pertain to the salvation of the soul, and they are traditionally interpreted as pertaining to evangelical or spiritual salvation. They are usually associated with sanctification and righteous living. This is the reason that the teachings of Lordship Salvation have permeated the Church. Numerous Christians are pointing their fingers at other Christians and consigning them to the ranks of the lost because their lives do not measure up to preconceived notions of how a Christian should live.
Mat 24:45-51 (KJV) Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The above Scripture is routinely interpreted as depicting a saved and an unsaved individual. A careful reading of this Scripture reveals two saved individuals who differ only in their faithfulness to their Lord and Master Jesus Christ. The first servant is faithful in performing the duties that were assigned to him by the Master. When his Master returns the faithful servant will be richly blessed and assigned a position in the kingdom.
The second servant failed to watch for the return of his Master and he allowed himself to be controlled by his soulical or flesh nature. He will be “cut asunder” (i.e., separated from the faithful servant), and he will receive a portion with the hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Weeping” is deep regret and “gnashing of teeth” is deep anguish because of unfaithfulness. The Greek word for portion means a measured amount of suffering with other unfaithful servants during the first half of the tribulation for the purpose of purification and cleansing. A hypocrite can be an unsaved person who pretends to be saved, or it can be a saved person who pretends to be more spiritual than he is. The great majority of the Church today fall into this category.
1 Cor 3:15 (KJV) If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The “citizens” in Luke 19:14 refer to the Jews who rejected Jesus as their King. They lost their inheritance in the kingdom of the heavens. The nation of Israel will receive their earthly inheritance and dwell in the land of Israel as the premier nation in the world during the millennium. The Church received the inheritance of the kingdom of the heavens according to the following Scripture:
Mat 21:43 (KJV) Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you (i.e., the nation of Israel) and given to a nation (i.e., the Church) bringing forth the fruits thereof.
Even though the Church as an entity received the kingdom of the heavens, there will be many Christians who will lose this inheritance just like Israel did because of unfaithfulness and disobedience. Scripture distinguishes between Christians who are able to “see the kingdom of heaven” and Christians who will “enter the kingdom of heaven.” “Enter the kingdom” literally means to enter into the King’s dominion and refers to being assigned a responsible position in our Lord’s kingdom.
Progressive sanctification does not occur instantaneously as does the new birth experience (positional sanctification), but it takes a lifetime of faithful obedience to the Word of God. This is the “renewing of the mind” in Romans 12:2 and the “perfecting holiness” in 2 Corinthians 7:1. All Christians experience the new birth (i.e., they are justified), but all Christians are not being sanctified in the current pilgrim walk through the wilderness. It is a fact that all Christians will be finally cleansed and sanctified by the Lord Jesus Christ, but it will be an enforced sanctification for numerous Christians. Believers who voluntarily submit to sanctification in this life will be rewarded with responsible positions in the kingdom.
Christians who allow the old nature to control their lives will lose rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and they will lose their lives (i.e., souls). In simpler terms, their lives will have been a total waste. When they arrive in the kingdom in their new bodies, their lives will be totally different in regard to their character, behavior, attitudes and interest. It is then that they will realize the wasted life that they lived in the current pilgrim walk, and there will be much weeping and anguish expressed for their failure to appropriate the promises of God. These “children of the kingdom” will have lost their inheritance, and there will be much sorrow and grief for their unfaithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mat 8:12 (KJV) But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Scriptural term son or sons has a much deeper meaning than most Bible students understand. The Greek word is huios and the primary meaning is male offspring of a parent. It is often used metaphorically in Scripture to describe those who manifest a certain character, whether evil or good. Matthew 5:9,45 use the word huios and it refers to those who reflect the character of God. The Greek word for child or children is teknon. In contrast to huios, it means the fact of birth whereas huios stresses the dignity and character of the relationship. All Christians are children (i.e., teknon) of God, but not all Christians will be sons (i.e., huios) of God. Unfortunately, the King James Version of the Bible does not discriminate between the mature huios and the immature teknon.
The following Scripture reveals the difference between children of God (i.e., heirs of God), and sons of God (i.e., joint-heirs with Christ):
Rom 8:14-17 (KJV) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (i.e., huios) of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children (i.e., teknon) of God: 17 And if children (i.e., teknon), then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
The sons (i.e., huios) of God are those Christians who are led by the Spirit and not their soulical or flesh nature. All Christians have received the Spirit of adoption, which means we are children of God and, therefore, heirs of God. We also shall be “joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him...” This Scripture plainly states that Christians who are led by the Spirit of God and who suffer with Christ will not lose their inheritance as a child of God. Maturity is the requirement.
The Roman noble in New Testament times would choose one of his boys thought to be the most suitable to be his son and heir. This child was adopted as distinct from the other children, and he was made head of the house under the father. His relationship to the father was the same as the other children, but his position in the family was superior to the others. Those who refuse to distinguish between simple heir-ship to God and joint heir-ship with Jesus make the former conditional upon suffering with Christ. This makes works (i.e., suffering with Christ) a condition for salvation. Believers should not fall into this trap. Salvation is by grace, but rewards are according to works.
Heirs are those who are born of the Spirit. Joint-heirs are those who are “born of water and [of] the Spirit.” Sanctification is just as critical for being a son of God as justification is for being a child of God. The receiving of the inheritance is just as dependent upon sanctification as it is upon justification. The atoning blood and the sanctifying Word and Spirit are required for Christians to receive the inheritance.
It is foolish for Christians to neglect the water of cleansing because of an alleged sufficiency in the blood. The brazen laver of cleansing (1 John 1:9, Ex. 38:8) is just as indispensable for its purpose as the altar is for its office. The great majority of Christians stop at the altar (i.e., the Cross) without proceeding to the laver and the tent of meeting, where fellowship, close communion, and the adoption as son awaits. It is by faith in Christ that Christians are sanctified as well as justified, but the sanctifying faith is the mature fruit bearing faith and not the dead faith spoken of in James 2:17.
The end of the Age of Grace is rapidly approaching and the Church will be completely removed from the earth before the wrath of God falls on the earth in the middle of the tribulation. The Antichrist will be given authority for 42 months during the first half of the tribulation. Those Christians who have matured in the faith will be taken out before Antichrist is revealed, but much of the Church who have been indifferent to spiritual things will be left to endure the tribulation of Antichrist for the purpose of refining and maturing.
All Christians will appear before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ where there will be execution of perfect justice and righteousness. Every Christian will be judged according to his works. Rewards will be given where merited, and punishment will be rendered where merited. Rewards will consist of positions of authority in the millennial kingdom according to the Christian’s faithfulness in the current wilderness trek. Punishment will be the loss of the inheritance or the failure to be a co-heir with Christ in His millennial kingdom.
There will also be some type of punishment described in the Scriptures as being analogous to being flogged or receiving many stripes for being unfaithful to the Lord. This description of the punishment is metaphorical rather than corporal, but the Scriptures are clear that it will be extremely unpleasant for those Christians receiving this punishment. 2 Corinthians 5:11 describes the Judgment Seat of Christ as a place where the “terror of the Lord” will be manifested. In regard to the Judgment Seat of Christ, Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:30 also refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ and states, “Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
The purpose of this chapter is not to frighten or intimidate Christians, but to awaken them to the truths of Scripture. The time for the return of the Lord and Master Jesus Christ is extremely close, and the great majority of Christians are not prepared. A large number of God’s people do not even bother to worship Him one day out of the week. Many are alcoholics, homosexuals, drug users, adulterers, and liars. They are saved by Grace, but they will suffer the vengeance of Almighty God, unless they repent of their sins and receive the cleansing that Jesus is now providing as our High Priest.
Jesus will be our Judge at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and it will be a time of terror for many Christians. Those who refuse to “walk in the light” now will “fall into the hands of the living God,” and they will find it to be a “fearful,” “terrible” experience, since the “terror of the Lord” will be manifested, and a just “recompense” will be meted out. Conversely, it will be a most joyful experience for Christians who have served the Lord faithfully in this life. Christians who have been virtually unknown in the Church while on the earth will be accorded the most important positions in the millennial kingdom. They will also be honored by their presentation as the Bride of Christ. Salvation is by grace, but rewards, both good and bad, are according to works.
1 Pet 1:14-17 (KJV) As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.