Before the Bema

“We must all appear (or be manifested) before the judgment seat of Christ” (2Cor. 5:10). How are we all to be manifested? All will give an account of themselves—the saints when they are caught up to be with the Lord, the lost at the end of the millennium. The believers give an account of themselves in glory. What will there be to judge in them? He is identified in the life and glory of the Judge—in Him he is the righteousness of God (2Cor. 5:21).

Conscience is not awakened by it at all for the believer, for that is purged (Heb. 10:2); but it does awaken something. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2Cor. 5:11). There is not only righteousness, but love. He sees the terror of judgment—the plight of the lost. The sight of the righteousness that judges is the occasion for his setting about to witness and preach to others.

It puts love in activity, and then is added another thing: “We are manifest unto God” (2Cor. 5:11), not we shall be. We stand in the presence of the glory now, and whatever does not suit that glory is judged now (John 3:18)—having been condemned at the Cross. It acts on the conscience in the way of self-judgment. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened (child-trained) of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1Cor 11:31, 32).

We want this light, but we must have absolute confidence in our Father, for there can be no happy play of affections if there is not this confidence. We cannot have fellowship with a person if we think he is going to condemn us; but “our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1John 1:3; 1 Cor 1:9).

Nor can we have confidence if we have not a perfectly purged conscience. “How much more shall the Blood of Christ . . . purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Heb. 9:14; 10:22). This we have by the Lord Jesus who is our righteousness, He having obtained eternal redemption for us. I have a perfect righteousness, and so infinite that I can never get out of it.

The Lord Jesus is the center of everything for the heart. “Set your affections on things above.” When I think of the exceeding and eternal weight of glory, it may seem too much for me; but when I see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2Cor. 4:6), it puts my affections into play. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1John 4:19).

There is grace needed every day for us passing through the wilderness, and it is the Lord Jesus who takes knowledge of our needs. Thus there are two parts of His present blessing for us: Himself the object of our affections, and His constant supply for our daily need. We have the righteousness, and we wait for the hope of it, the glorious hope which is suitable to the righteousness of God. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

-- W.B.