"Your Day in Court!"
Have you ever witnessed the drama of a murderer being tried before a judge and jury? When a person is on trial for his life, every shred of evidence is weighed by the defendant and his attorney. His fate may hinge on the testimony of one witness.
Imagine the terrifying and conflicting emotions of hope and despair that surge through the accused as he hears the witnesses for and against his life! When at last all is said in his favor and against him, the jury steps out of the courtroom to make its decision. When the jury returns, the judge asks for the verdict. What a tense moment! If the verdict is "Not Guilty," the accused is overjoyed. If the verdict is "Guilty," what remorse and anguish fill his heart!
What a solemn thought! Yes, friend, but did you know there is a court session that vitally concerns you and me? Every man, every woman, every child, that is living upon the face of the earth, or ever has lived, is scheduled to appear before the judgment seat of Christ! We must all appear! There is no way to escape our day in court! The question we must answer is: Are we ready to stand before that bar of justice and hear the verdict?
More than 2,500 years ago, the Babylonian king Belshazzar, with a thousand of his nobles, feasted in a luxurious banquet hall. They reveled in the fact that the city of Babylon was impregnable. To show their defiance of the deities of other nations, and to laud their own strength, they ordered that wine be served in golden vessels which had been taken from the temple at Jerusalem. They drank until they were thoroughly intoxicated.
God took note of this defiance on the part of Belshazzar, and He wrote a message of judgment on one wall of that great banquet hall. Even in their drunken debauchery, these nobles were sobered by the bloodless hand as it wrote their sentence of doom.
The Bible states that when Belshazzar saw the hand writing on the wall, "his knees smote one against another" (Daniel 5:6). This was no magician's trick. Daniel was summoned, and he read the message to the king: "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians" (Daniel 5:25-28).
Divine judgment found the king guilty. He was weighed and found wanting! That night King Belshazzar of the Chaldeans was slain, and an alien monarch sat upon his throne. He not only forfeited his life on this earth, but he lost eternal life as well because he turned his back on God and extolled his own power and greatness.
In view of the solemn nature of God's call to judgment, let's lay aside every earthly care now and study what the Bible has to say about this momentous event.
1. How do we know that there will be a judgment? Acts 17:30, 31
2. How many of us will have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ? 2 Corinthians 5:10
All are involved. None can escape! None are excused! All who have lived upon earth will be subpoenaed by God Himself to appear in His court. There is no higher court of appeal; the verdict which is rendered will be complete and final! Each must meet the Great Judge face - to - face! Each person has a soul to save or lose.
3. What message is to be proclaimed to all the world just prior to Christ's coming? Revelation 14:6-7, 14-15
4. Who presides at the judgment? Daniel 7:9, 10
"The ancient of days" is God the Father, whom the Son of God approaches as our Advocate (verse 13). We must recognize, however, that the Scriptures also portray the Son as involved in the judging of man (John 5:22, 27). Apparently the two work in unity in this activity. "Cast down," in verse 9, means to set in place.
5. What others are in attendance and help with the judgment? Verse 10
In Revelation 5:11 we are told who this great multitude is surrounding the throne in heaven: "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." The angels have been witnesses to our acts. See Ecclesiastes 5:6 and Matthew 18:10.
6. Who else stands near God in this judgment scene? Daniel 7:13
No man needs to stand alone in the judgment! Christ is willing to stand before the throne as advocate, or lawyer, for all who have repented of their sins and by faith have claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice. He stands there, your Savior and mine, to plead for the sinner. He promises that He will confess our names before the Father if we confess Him before men (Matthew 10:32, 33). Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer, is the Defense Attorney at the judgment bar of God. He longs to intercede for us!
8. By what standard will all be judged? James 2:10-12
In earthly courts men are judged by the laws of the state or government. In God's court men will be judged by God's law. Only when a standard has been set up by which to compare one's actions can a person's conduct be studied to determine guilt or innocence. "Where no law is, there is no transgression" (Romans 4:15). John adds, "Sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). The standard by which man's conduct is to be compared is the law of God, the Ten Commandments, the law of liberty.
9. On what basis will God evaluate our cases in the judgment?
a. Revelation 20:12 "According to their _______________________
b. Matthew 12:36, 37 "For by thy __________________
c. 1 Corinthians 4:5 "Who both will bring to light the and will make manifest the
d. Ecclesiastes 12:14 "For God shall bring every __________________ into judgment,
with every _____________, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."
No covering up! No evading! No erasures! No missing tapes! no false witnesses! In this world men are often judged wrongly, but in God's court all the facts are on record. All will be revealed and reviewed in the judgment.
10. What records are used as evidence? Revelation 20:12
It is not necessary for God to keep records for His own information, for God knows everything about us (Hebrews 4:13). The heavenly record books are His evidence that He has dealt faithfully and mercifully with every person. We are not left to speculate or wonder about God's love and goodness. The evidence is there for our benefit.
11. What book contains the records of those who follow the Lord? Malachi 3:16
12. In what other book are the names of those recorded who have accepted Christ? Philippians 4:3
13. What happens to the name of one who accepts Christ but later returns to a life of sin? Exodus 32:31, 33 & Ezekiel 18:24
14. What promise is given to the overcomer? Revelation 3:5
15. What else is recorded in God's records besides the sins of men? Nehemiah 13:14
Evidently our good deeds are recorded, for Nehemiah asked God not to blot out his good deeds. Says the psalmist, "Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?" (Psalm 56:8). Sounds like God even records the tears we shed. What a God of love!
16. With whom will this investigative judgment begin? 1 Peter 4:17
The "house of God" is the church. Paul said, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).
God expects much of those who profess the name of Christ. The judgment begins with those who make the highest profession.
17. What wonderful assurance has God given to those who have accepted His forgiveness? Hebrews 8:12
In Paul's day the judgment was still future (Acts 24:25). When Christ comes, He brings His reward with Him -- that is, the judgment is over.
We are now living in the judgment hour according to Daniel 8:14 and Revelation 14:7. The cases of those who have accepted Christ are being examined. Those who have become overcomers through His power will be cleansed from all their sins. Those who have made a profession, but their lives have denied their Lord, will have their names removed from the book of life.
Perhaps you inquire, "If we are saved by grace, will our good works play any part in our salvation?" Our works indicate how complete our surrender has been and how much we love God and our fellowmen, but they will not atone for our sins. There are many who have a form of godliness, but by their acts they deny the power of God in their lives. These will not enter the Eternal City. Their works testify that they were Christians only in name. Why?
Because they never put their love into action; therefore it was never there at all! Christ describes this group of people in Matthew 7:21-23; "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
The righteous, on the other hand, show by the fruitage of their lives that the Lord rules them. The life they now live, they live by the power that God imparts to them through the indwelling of Christ. If we are Christ's and He is our Advocate in the judgment day, the record of His perfect life of obedience will be applied to our record in heaven.
The guilt of our sins and mistakes was borne by Him upon the cross of Calvary. We shall stand before God in that day as though we had never sinned. Gone will be the record of our mistakes. They will be forgiven and blotted out. Why should we worry about the past or the future when we may have forgiveness today?
18. The Saviour stands ready to plead your case. He wants to be your Advocate in the judgment. Will you place your case in His hands?
The judgment has set,The books have been opened;
How shall we stand; In that great day
When every thought, And word, and action,
God, the righteous Judge; Shall weigh?
The work is begun; With those who are sleeping,
Soon will the living; Here be tried,
Out of the books; Of God's remembrance,
His decision to abide.
O, how shall we stand; that moment of searching,
When all our sins; Those books reveal?
When from that court, Each case decided,
Shall be granted; No appeal?
How shall we stand; In that great day?
How shall we stand; In that great day?
Shall we be found; Before Him wanting?
Or with our sins; All washed away?
-- F.E. Belden --