Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Things that make you go hummm.... this may take you a while, sit back and enjoy!

For some of you reading this, you may not be interested in what is written, but for some may it open your heart and eyes to see what God has in store.
 
Years ago, I sat under a Pastor who talked about the Crowns we would receive at the end of our life.  Last night, watching Joyce Meyer, she talked about when we meet Jesus and God face to face and what will happen. 
 
So, I have been digging because as a follower of Jesus the Christ, I want to know.  I want to know what happens to the unbelievers too, but I want to know about the crowns, the blessings that I missed along the way, the things that have been good and those that I can't change but would like to.  It's kind of like finding out your strengths but not really knowing your weaknesses.  I like knowing where I am so I can work on the weaknesses if possible.  I know we should not concentrate on those but that's just me.
 
Do you ever wonder what will happen to you when you die?  Have you been called a Heathen or other words that aren't true but they have stuck with you?  Growing up can be tough for a lot of people.  I was bullied a lot, sometimes because of my mouth but often times because of who I am.  I have been called a lot of names, but letting go and forgiving those that said it has given my mind room to grow in other areas.  Holding on to what was causes no growth in what will be.  But letting it go allows me to grow and reap the rewards that are there in front of me. 

When I really fell in love with Jesus, I was on fire, that was 29 years ago.  That fire only intensifies as the years go by.  When I get to Jesus, in this amazing race, I want to hear "well done good and faithful servant, you have lived for me, your fruits are abundant and your riches are in heaven, here are your crowns."  Though Jesus is wearing the crowns and seated at the right hand of the father and the martyrs are seated as well.  "Good and faithful servant you have done exceedingly and abundantly well, I am proud."
 
CROWNS: How many for you?   Crown of Righteousness - 2 Timothy 4:8...  Crown of Life - James 1:12, Revelation 2:10 ... Crown of Glory - 1 Peter 5:4 ... Incorruptible Crown- 1 Corinthians 9:25 ... Crown of Rejoicing - 1 Thessalonians 2:19 ...
CROWNS: How many for you? Crown of Righteousness - 2 Timothy 4:8... Crown of Life - James 1:12, Revelation 2:10 ... Crown of Glory - 1 Peter 5:4 ... Incorruptible Crown- 1 Corinthians 9:25 ... Crown of Rejoicing - 1 Thessalonians 2:19 ...
 
 
So, in today's posting, I will post others teachings and comments of my own.  Others teachings will be in a different color other than black.

 

When I Stand at the Judgment Seat

When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ
And He shows me His plan for me;
The plan of my life as it might have been
Had He had His way, and I see
How I blocked Him here and I checked Him there
And I would not yield my will,
Shall I see grief in my Savior’s eyes;
Grief though He loves me still'
Oh, He’d have me rich, and I stand there poor,
Stripped of all but His grace,
While my memory runs like a hunted thing
Down the paths I can’t retrace.
Then my desolate heart will well-nigh break
With tears that I cannot shed.
I’ll cover my face with my empty hands
And bow my uncrowned head.
No. Lord of the years that are left to me
I yield them to Thy hand.
Take me, make me, mold me
To the pattern Thou hast planned.
The Judgment seat “is meant for us professing Christians, real and imperfect Christians; and it tells us that there are degrees in that future blessedness proportioned to present faithfulness.”
- Alexander Maclaren, 1826-1910.
Source unknown
 

May we all stand on the Day of Judgment knowing that we lived according to Christ's will.

 
 
Now get your cup of courage and follow me as we learn some incredible things that make you go hummm....
 

The Doctrine of Rewards: The Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ

  Taken from www.bible.org
 

One of the prominent doctrines of the New Testament is the Doctrine of Rewards and the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is a doctrine often ignored or, when taught, it is misrepresented because of the term “judgment” that is used in translating the Greek text. Commenting on this Samuel Hoyt writes:
Within the church today there exists considerable confusion and debate regarding the exact nature of the examination at the judgment seat of Christ. The expression “the judgment seat of Christ” in the English Bible has tended to cause some to draw the wrong conclusion about the nature and purpose of this evaluation. A common misconception which arises from this English translation is that God will mete out a just retribution for sins in the believer’s life, and some measure of retributive punishment for sins will result.1
As it will be shown below, though it is tremendously serious with eternal ramifications, the judgment seat of Christ is not a place and time when the Lord will mete out punishment for sins committed by the child of God. Rather, it is a place where rewards will be given or lost depending on how one has used his or her life for the Lord.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, the Apostle Paul drew courage and was motivated by the fact of rewards at the return of the Lord for the church which he mentions in every chapter in this epistle and becomes the primary subject of 2 Thessalonians. The Lord’s return and what this means not only to the world but to us individually is a very prominent subject of the New Testament.
It is significant that among the final words of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, we find these words of the Lord:
Rev. 22:12 Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
While salvation is a gift, there are rewards given for faithfulness in the Christian life and loss of rewards for unfaithfulness. Rewards become one of the great motives of the Christian’s life or should. But we need to understand the nature of these rewards to understand the nature of the motivation. Some people are troubled by the doctrine of rewards because this seems to suggest “merit” instead of “grace,” and because, it is pointed out, we should only serve the Lord out of love and for God’s glory.
Of course we should serve the Lord out of love and for God’s glory, and understanding the nature of rewards will help us do that. But the fact still remains that the Bible promises us rewards. God gives us salvation. It is a gift through faith, but He rewards us for good works. God graciously supplies the means by which we may serve Him. Indeed, He works in us both to will and to do as we volitionally appropriate His grace (Phil. 2:12-13), but the decision to serve, and the diligence employed in doing so, are our responsibility and our contribution and God sees this as rewardable. Compare the following passages:
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
Colossians 1:29 And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

The Meaning of the
Judgment (Bema) Seat

Both Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:9 speak of the “judgment seat.” This is a translation of one Greek word, the word bema. While bema is used in the gospels and Acts of the raised platform where a Roman magistrate or ruler sat to make decisions and pass sentence (Matt. 27:19; John 19:13), its use in the epistles by Paul, because of his many allusions to the Greek athletic contests, is more in keeping with its original use among the Greeks.
This word was taken from Isthmian games where the contestants would compete for the prize under the careful scrutiny of judges who would make sure that every rule of the contest was obeyed (cf. 2 Tim. 2:5). The victor of a given event who participated according to the rules was led by the judge to the platform called the Bema. There the laurel wreath was placed on his head as a symbol of victory (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24-25).
In all of these passages, “Paul was picturing the believer as a competitor in a spiritual contest. As the victorious Grecian athlete appeared before the Bema to receive his perishable award, so the Christian will appear before Christ’s Bema to receive his imperishable award. The judge at the Bema bestowed rewards to the victors. He did not whip the losers.2 We might add, neither did he sentence them to hard labor.
In other words, it is a reward seat and portrays a time of rewards or loss of rewards following examination, but it is not a time of punishment where believers are judged for their sins. Such would be inconsistent with the finished work of Christ on the Cross because He totally paid the penalty for our sins. Chafer and Walvoord have an excellent word on this view:
With reference to sin, Scripture teaches that the child of God under grace shall not come into judgment (John 3:18; 5:24; 6:37; Rom. 5:1; 8:1; 1 Cor. 11:32); in his standing before God, and on the ground that the penalty for all sin—past, present, and future (Col. 2:13)—has been borne by Christ as the perfect Substitute, the believer is not only placed beyond condemnation, but being in Christ is accepted in the perfection of Christ (1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:6; Col. 2:10; Heb. 10:14) and loved of God as Christ is loved (John 17:23).3
Again, Chafer writes concerning the Bema, “It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the judgment is unrelated to the problem of sin, that it is more for the bestowing of rewards than the rejection of failure.”4

The Time of the Bema

This event will occur immediately following the rapture or resurrection of the church after it is caught up to be with the Lord in the air as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Arguments in support of this view:
(1) In Luke 14:12-14, reward is associated with the resurrection and the rapture is when the church is resurrected.
(2) In Revelation 19:8, when the Lord returns with His bride at the end of the tribulation, she is seen already rewarded. Her reward is described as fine linen, the righteous acts of the saints—undoubtedly the result of rewards.
(3) In 2 Timothy 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 4:5, rewards are associated with “that day” and with the Lord’s coming. Again, for the church this means the event of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
So the order of events will be (a) the rapture which includes our glorification or resurrection bodies, (b) exaltation into the heavens with the Lord, (c) examination before the Bema, and (d) compensation or rewards.

The Place of the Bema

It will occur somewhere in the heavenlies in the presence of the Lord. This is evident from 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and Revelation 4:2 and 19:8.

The Participants at the Bema

(1) All the passages dealing with the Bema or rewards are addressed to believers or pertain to believers of the church (Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:12f; 2 Cor. 5:9f; 1 John 2:28; 1 Thess. 2:19-20; 1 Tim. 6:18-19; Tit. 2:12-14 [note the emphasis on good works]).
The resurrection program and the thus the reward of Old Testament saints occurs after the tribulation, after church age saints are already seen in heaven and rewarded and returning with the Lord to judge the earth (cf. Rev. 19:8 with Dan. 12:1-2; Matt. 24).
(2) All believers, regardless of their spiritual state, will be raptured and will stand before the Bema to give an account of their lives and will either receive rewards or lose rewards. Some believe in a partial rapture theory which says that only those in fellowship with the Lord will be raptured as a form of punishment for their sin. As mentioned above, this is not only contrary to the finished work of Christ who once and for all paid the penalty for our sins, but it is contrary to the teaching of 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11.
9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.
The context suggests that Paul has in mind the return of Christ for the church—the rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The rapture is the means of our deliverance from the wrath he discusses in chapter 5:1-3. Further, the words “awake or asleep” of verse 10 refer to a spiritual or moral condition, not whether one is alive or dead when Christ returns as in 4:13-14. This is clear from both the context of 5:4-8 and by the fact he changed the words he used for sleep. He used the Greek katheudo in 5:10 rather than koimao, the word he used metaphorically in 4:13-14 of physical death. Though katheudo was used of physical sleep and even death, it was also commonly used of spiritual apathy or carnal indifference to spiritual matters, and this is clearly the context of chapter 5. The point, then, is this: Because of the perfect and finished nature of Christ’s death (note the words “who died for us” of verse 10), whether we are spiritually alert or not, we will live together with Him through the rapture to face the examination of the Bema.

The Examiner or Judge at the Bema

This is none other than the Lord Jesus who is even now examining our lives and will bring to light the true nature of our walk and works when we stand before Him at the Bema (Rev. 1-2; 1 Cor. 4:5f; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 John 2:28). In Romans 14:10 the Apostle called this examining time the Bema of God while in 2 Corinthians 5:10 he called it the Bema of Christ. The Point: Jesus who is God is our examiner and rewarder.

The Purpose and Basis of the Bema

The purpose and the basis is the most critical issue of all and brings us face to face with the practical aspects of the Bema. Some crucial questions are: Why are we brought before the Bema? Is it only for rewards or their loss? Will any punishment be meted out? Will there be great sorrow? What’s the basis on which the Bema is conducted? Is it sin, good works, or just what?

The Problem

Within the church, there exists a good deal of confusion and disagreement concerning the exact nature of the Bema. The use of the term “judgment seat” in most translations, ignorance of the historical and cultural background concerning the Bema, and foggy theology regarding the finished work of Christ have all contributed to several common misconceptions which, in one way or another, see God as giving out just retribution to believers for sin, or at least for our unconfessed sin.

Three Views of the Bema

For a summary of three major views, let me quote Samuel L. Hoyt from Bibliotheca Sacra.
Some Bible teachers view the judgment seat as a place of intense sorrow, a place of terror, and a place where Christ display all the believer’s sins (or at least those unconfessed) before the entire resurrected and raptured church. Some go even further by stating that Christians must experience some sort of suffering for their sins at the time of this examination.
At the other end of the spectrum another group, which holds to the same eschatological chronology, views this event as an awards ceremony. Awards are handed out to every Christian. The result of this judgment will be that each Christian will be grateful for the reward which he receives, and he will have little or no shame.
Other Bible teachers espouse a mediating position. They maintain the seriousness of the examination and yet emphasize the commendation aspect of the judgment seat. They emphasize the importance and necessity of faithful living today but reject any thought of forensic punishment at the Bema. Emphasis is placed on the fact that each Christian must give an account of his life before the omniscient and holy Christ. All that was done through the energy of the flesh will be regarded as worthless for reward, while all that was done in the power of the Holy Spirit will be graciously rewarded. Those who hold this view believe that the Christian will stand glorified before Christ without his old sin nature. He will, likewise, be without guilt because he has been declared righteous. There will be no need for forensic punishment, for Christ has forever borne all of God’s wrath toward the believer’s sins.5
This last view I believe to be the one that is in accord with Scripture. Reasons for this will be set forth and developed as we study the nature, purpose, and basis for the Bema. But for now, lest we draw some wrong conclusions, we need to be ever mindful that God’s Word clearly teaches there are specific and very serious consequences, both temporal and eternal, for sin or disobedience. Though we will not be judged in the sense of punished for sin at the Bema since the Lord has born that for us, we must never take sin lightly because there are many consequences.

The Present Consequences of Sin or Disobedience

While the following is not exhaustive, it demonstrates that sin in the life of a believer is not a small issue.
(1) Loss of Fellowship With the Lord. Known sin in one’s life causes a loss of intimate fellowship with the Lord with the consequent loss of His joy and peace (Ps. 32:3-4).
(2) Divine Discipline From the Lord Here in Time. We should not think of discipline as punishment. Discipline from God is the gracious work of a Father to train and develop His children. Sometimes this comes in the form of various kinds of testing, trials, failure, and predicaments which He uses to correct us, to train us, and, if we have been going our own stubborn way, to increase our misery. The goal, however, is always to bring us back to Him (Heb. 12:5-11). If the believer remains unrepentant, this can lead to the sin unto death as with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), and some of the believers at Corinth who were failing to confess their sin and get right with the Lord (1 Cor. 11:28f; cf. also 1 John 5:16-17).
(3) Loss of Power and Production. When we fail to deal with our sinful ways through honest confession, we grieve the Spirit’s person and quench His power in our lives. This means that rather than operating by faith in God’s provision, we end up operating in the energy of the flesh. We turn to our personal bag of tricks by which we seek to handle life (Gal. 3:1-5; 5:5-15; Jer. 2:12-13). This results in the works of the flesh and their awful and fruitless consequences (Gal. 5:19-21, 26). Without the abiding life, the life of faith and obedience to the Savior, we can do nothing (John 15:1-7).
(4) Loss of Opportunities. When we are in charge of our lives rather than the Lord, we become insensitive to people and opportunities of ministry—we lack vision. Carnal believers have no vision other than their own personal agendas and selfish goals (cf. Jn. 4:34f).
(5) Loss of Desire and Motivation for Service. Carnal believers are occupied and controlled by their own self-centered desires (Gal. 5:16f). Perhaps this is a good place to discuss the concept of selfishness and rewards for some see an appeal to rewards as selfish and therefore carnal.
Zane Hodges has some good thoughts on this concept:
Scripture does not teach us to be uninterested in our own happiness or well-being. The very desire to escape eternal damnation is a legitimate and urgent self-interest. The instinct to preserve our lives is the same. Nor are pleasure and enjoyment illegitimate experiences.
When God put Adam and Eve in the garden, He furnished them with “every tree … that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Gen. 2:9). They could enjoy themselves freely provided they abstained from eating from the one forbidden tree. Similarly, Paul tells rich people that “God … gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 6:17, italics added).
Selfishness ought not to be defined simply as the pursuit of our own self-interest. Instead, it should be defined as the pursuit of our self-interest in our own way, rather than in God’s way. Since “love” is a preeminent virtue in Christianity, true selfishness often involves a pursuit of self-interest that violates the law of love.6
Self-interest in God’s way is legitimate. Self-centeredness or selfishness is preoccupation with self at the expense of others and God’s will in one’s life. When Adam and Eve chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they acted in self-centered independence which was idolatry and sin. When they enjoyed each other and the fruit trees and blessings of the garden, they acted in their self-interest but they did so in dependence on and in obedience to the Lord.
(6) Broken Relationships and Disharmony. Carnality causes broken relationships and pain to those around us—our families, friends, associates, and co-workers in the body of Christ (Gal. 5:15; Heb. 12:15b).
(7) Loss of Physical Health and Vitality. Of course all sickness, weakness, or suffering is not a product of sin, but it can be and often is (1 Cor. 11:29-30; 1 John 5:16-17; Prov. 17:22; 14:30).
(8) Loss of Rewards at the Bema. 1 Cor 13:13-15: “each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire .”

The Purpose of the Bema

It is not punitive. It is not to judge believers for sin of any kind, confessed or unconfessed. “Scripture teaches that for the believer God’s justice has already been fully and forever satisfied at the Cross in relation to the believer’s sins. If God were to punish the believer judicially for his sins for which Christ has already rendered payment, He would be requiring two payments for sin and would therefore be unjust. Such a concept (punishment for sin) erroneously disparages the all-sufficiency of Christ’s death on the cross.”7 Christ paid the penalty for the believer’s pre- and post-conversion sins. The believer will forfeit rewards which he could have received, but he will not be punished in the judicial sense of “paying” for his sins.
Scripture teaches that all sins, both confessed and unconfessed, have been forgiven and taken care of by the work of Christ on the Cross so the Christian will never face those sins again at the judgment.
The following verses demonstrate the basic principle of the complete and finished nature of Christ’s work:
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Romans 5:19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
Colossians 2:10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
These verses state the complete results or conclusion:
Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more.
Hebrews 10:17-18 And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. 18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Isaiah 44:22 I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.
Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Micah 7:19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, Thou wilt cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea.
Isaiah 38:17 Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; It is Thou who hast kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back.
These verses show we cannot come into judgment. Why? Because Christ has born our judgment by being made a curse in our place:
Romans 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
John 3:18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Then why do we have to confess sin in this life? And why does God judge believers for unconfessed sin as with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 and some of the believers in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11:28f? Because this is a completely different matter.
(1) Unconfessed sin relates to fellowship in this life, not one’s relationship or standing with God. Unconfessed sin stands as a barrier to fellowship with the Lord and His control over one’s life. As Amos 3:3 says, “can two walk together unless they be agreed?” Obviously the answer is no. Confession means we agree with God concerning our sin and want to get back under God’s control. “Daily forgiveness of those who are within the family of God is distinguished from judicial and positional forgiveness which was applied forensically to all of a person’s sins the moment he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.”8 We need to distinguish between fellowship forgiveness and legal or forensic forgiveness that justifies us and gives us a standing before God through Christ.
Key Scriptures: Heb. 12:5f and 1 Cor. 11:28-32. These passages:
  • Explain the nature of God’s judgment of believers in this life. It is discipline designed to train and bring believers back to a walk with God.
  • They teach us the basic cause of discipline is failure to examine and confess known sins because that hinders our fellowship with God.
  • “Condemned along with the world” in 1 Corinthians 11:32 most likely refers to the judgment of Rom. 1:24f, moral degeneration and the gradual breakdown in the moral fiber of men when they turn away from God. The same thing happens in the life of believers, but God brings discipline to stop the process.
(2) God does not judge us for our sin in the sense of making us pay the penalty for that sin.
Scripture teaches that Christ’s death was all-sufficient, completely satisfying God’s wrath toward sin in the believer. The question of sin in regard to God’s justice has been forever satisfied in the mind of God by the all-sufficient sacrifice of His Son. The penalty for the believer’s sins has been fully paid for by Christ, the believer’s substitute. The Christian has been in court, condemned, sentenced, and executed in his substitute, Jesus Christ. God cannot exact payment for sins twice since payment has been fully and forever paid. The believer is seen by the Father as clothed in the righteousness of Christ. God can therefore find no cause for accusing the Christian judicially any more than He can find cause for accusing Jesus Christ. Therefore, at the judgment seat of Christ forensic punishment will not be meted out for the believer’s sins.9
Rather, God disciplines us as a father disciplines his sons to bring us back into fellowship that we might be conformed to His Son. It is a family matter.

The Positive Aspects of the Bema

(1) To evaluate the quality of every believer’s work whether it is good or bad, i.e., acceptable and thus worthy of rewards, or unacceptable, to be rejected and unworthy of rewards. Actually an evaluation is going on every day by the Lord (cf. Rev. 2-3).
(2) To destroy and remove unacceptable production portrayed in the symbols of wood, hay, and stubble. All sinful deeds, thoughts, and motives, as well as all good deeds done in the energy of the flesh will be consumed like wood, hay, and stubble before a fire because they are unworthy of reward. Why? This will be answered as we consider the basis on which rewards are given or lost.
(3) To reward the believer for all the good he or she has done as portrayed by the symbols of gold, silver, and precious stones, that which is valuable and can stand the test of fire without being consumed.
Scriptures:
1 Cor. 3:13-15 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.
“Evident” is phaneros which means “known, plain, visible, revealed as to it nature.” “The day” refers to a day well known and refers to the day of the Bema after the rapture of the church. “Declare it” is deloo which means “to make evident, clear.” “Be revealed” is apokalupto and means “to unveil.” “Test” is dokimazo and means “to test for the sake of approval.” “The quality” is hopoios, a correlative and qualitative pronoun meaning “of what sort or kind.”
1 Cor. 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
“Bring to light” is photizo, “to bring to light, make visible.” “Disclose” is phaneroo, “to manifest, reveal.” The issue should be extremely clear from these two verses: The Lord will evaluate the quality and nature of every person’s work. Compare also:
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

The Negative Aspects of the Bema

There are a number of passages that refer to the negative aspects of the Bema which need to be mentioned and explained. In these passages we read such things as “give account of himself,” “suffer loss,” “shrink away from Him in shame,” and “recompense for his deeds … whether good or bad.”
Will believers experience shame, grief, remorse at the Bema? If so, how do we reconcile this with passages like Revelation 7:17, “God shall wipe away every tear from their eye,” and Revelation 21:4, “and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away,” or with Isaiah 65:17, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind”?
The negative effects involve the following:
(1) The loss suffered in 1 Corinthians 3:15 refers to the loss of rewards, not salvation as the verse goes on to make clear. Please note that the clause “he shall suffer loss” would be better rendered “it (the reward) shall be forfeited.”
(2) The disqualification mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:27 means disqualified from rewards, not loss of salvation. This is clear from the context and the analogy to the Greek athletic games.
(3) The “recompense” (NASB) or the “receive back” (KJV) of 2 Corinthians 5:10 refers to the dispensing of rewards or their loss. The verb used is komizo and means “to carry off safe,” “to carry off as booty.” In the middle voice as here, it meant “to bear for oneself,”10 or “to receive back what is one’s own.”11 Compare Matthew 25:27 and Ephesians 6:8.
(4) That dispensing of rewards is in view is also evident from the Greek words in 2 Corinthians 5:10 translated “good” (agathos—valuable like good fruit) and “bad” (phaulos—unacceptable like rotten or spoiled fruit). The idea is not good in the sense of righteousness versus bad in the sense of evil or sinfulness. For those ideas Paul would have most likely used kalos, “good,” and kakos, “evil.” For good works, those valuable like good fruit, we will receive back rewards, but for bad works, those rotten and worthless, we will receive no rewards or the loss of rewards.
This is no more a punishment than when a student turns in a worthless assignment and receives an F or a D. His poor work results in a just grade or recompense. This is what his work deserves. There used to be a sign in the registrar’s office at Dallas Seminary which read, “Salvation is by grace … Graduation is by works.”
(5) 1 John 2:28. This verse undoubtedly refers to the Bema and shows there will be both boldness as a result of abiding, and shame before the Lord as a result of failing to abide.
“And now little children.” John is writing to believers. This is his term of endearment for his readers as born again people.
“Abide in Him.” “Abide” is a synonym for fellowship which is the subject of the book (1:3-7). It means to remain in Him from the standpoint of drawing on His life as the source of ours and then to obey Him out of that relationship of dependence. This is the basis of rewards or the cause of their loss, the abiding, Christ-dependent life.
“So that” points us to the purpose, the return of the Savior and what it will mean.
“When He appears.” The “when” points to the imminency of the return of the Lord. It is literally “if He appears.” The conditional clause does not question the reality of Christ’s coming, only the time of it and thereby points to its imminency. “Appears” refers to the rapture which leads quickly into the Bema.
“We may have confidence.” “Confidence” is parrhesia and means “courage, boldness to speak.” Point: Though none of us are perfect or ever will be, still, faithfulness to abide and obey the Lord will give confidence of rewards.
“And not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming (presence).” Please note several things here. (a) The verb is what we call in Greek an aorist subjunctive, and with the basic meaning of this verb, the grammar points to a future act, but not a continuous state. This in no way suggests a permanent condition. (b) The voice of the verb is passive. The subject receives the action, that is, he is made to feel shame. But how? (c) There are two views:
(1) The believer who fails to abide is made to feel shame by the Lord, i.e., the Lord puts him to shame. This would be somewhat punitive and does not fit the concept of the Bema nor the promises of the Lord that we will not come into judgment.
(2) The believer who fails to abide experiences shame by the revelatory nature of Christ’s presence at the Bema. This is caused by the realization of what his own failure and sin has cost him in terms of the loss of rewards and loss of glory to the Lord. But this will only be momentary or short-lived at best in view of passages like Revelation 7:17; 21:4 and Isaiah 56:1.
Hoyt has a good summary of what this passage is talking about and involves:
The Bible suggests that there will be shame at the judgment seat of Christ to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the measure of unfaithfulness of each individual believer. Therefore it should be each believer’s impelling desire to be well-pleasing to the Lord in all things. Although Christians apparently will reflect on this earthly life with some regret, they will also realize what is ahead for them in the heavenly life. This latter realization will be the source of boundless joy. English strikes a proper balance on this subject.
“Joy will indeed be the predominant emotion of life with the Lord; but I suspect that, when our works are made manifest at the tribunal, some grief will be mixed with the joy, and we shall know shame as we suffer loss. But we shall rejoice also as we realize that the rewards given will be another example of the grace of our Lord; for at best we are unprofitable servants” (E. Schuyler English, “The Church At the Tribunal,” in Prophetic Truth Unfolding Today, ed. Charles Lee Feinberg [Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1968], p. 29)
The elements of remorse, regret, and shame cannot be avoided in an examination of the judgment seat of Christ. But this sorrow must be somewhat relative because even for the finest of Christians there will be some things worthy of unceasing remorse in the light of God’s unapproachable holiness. This would mean that the finest of Christians could be sorrowful throughout eternity. However, this is not the picture that the New Testament gives of heaven. The overwhelming emotion is joyfulness and gratefulness. Although there is undeniably some measure of remorse or regret, this is not the overriding emotion to be experienced throughout the eternal state.
The emotional condition of the redeemed is that of complete and unending happiness. Emotion proceeds from the realization of facts in personal experience. Hope will at last become reality for all those who are delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:18-25). Elimination of the curse, pain and death will also remove sorrow, tears and crying (Rev. 21:4).
The judgment seat of Christ might be compared to a commencement ceremony. At graduation there is some measure of disappointment and remorse that one did not do better and work harder. However, at such an event the overwhelming emotion is joy, not remorse. The graduates do not leave the auditorium weeping because they did not earn better grades. Rather, they are thankful that they have been graduated, and they are grateful for what they did achieve. To overdo the sorrow aspect of the judgment seat of Christ is to make heaven hell. To underdo the sorrow aspect is to make faithfulness inconsequential.12

The Nature of the Rewards

What are they and how are they described in Scripture? They are described in terms of generalities. What we know about rewards is given in terms that are more general than specific. These are:
(1) The Promise of Crowns. This seems to be used as a symbol of victory, authority, and responsibility.
(2) The Promise of Heavenly Treasure (Matt. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:4). Stresses their eternal value and security.
(3) The Promise of Accolades or Commendations. This is seen in those passages where a reward is administered in the form of something like “well done thou good and faithful servant …” (cf. Matt. 25:21; Lk. 19:17; 1 Cor. 4:5b).
(4) The Promises to Overcomers. These could refer to special blessing of rewards to those believers who overcomer special trials and tests rather than a general promise to all believers. See Rev. 2:7; 2:11, 17, 26.
(5) The Promise of Special Responsibilities and Authority of the Lord’s Possessions (cf. Matt. 19:28; 24:45-47; 25:21, 23; Lk. 19:17-19; 22:29-30; Rev. 2:26).

Analogies to Consider

(1) A Thanksgiving Dinner. At a Thanksgiving dinner, each person eats a different amount, but each is satisfied. After our glorification, there will be no sinful nature to produce envy, or jealousy, or resentment, or feelings of dissatisfaction. We will each be enthralled with God and our glorified state.
(2) A Bat Boy at the World Series. Any young man who loves baseball would probably be thrilled to be a bat boy in the World Series, but he would not be jealous or resentful because he was not one of the stars of the game. He would just be delighted to be there and do what he was doing.
(3) A Graduate at Commencement. All the graduates are there and excited about graduating, yet at the time of rewards, some sorrow might be experienced, but it is quickly overcome by the joy of the event.
(4) Our Spiritual Gifts. Our rewards may be likened to our spiritual gifts. Our rewards seem to primarily be a matter of responsibility and maybe opportunities, but they will not be like badges or medals we wear as in the military. Remember that all of our crowns will be cast at the feet of Christ, for only He is worthy (Rev. 4:10-11). Also, Matthew 25:21, 23 and Luke 19:17-19 show us our rewards consist of authority over either many things or many cities. They may include galaxies of the universe. All believers will live in the millennium and in eternity with the Lord. Some will reign with Him, but, because of loss of rewards, evidently some will not.
(5) In Scripture, the church is viewed as the heavenly kingdom and a universal priesthood. This may indicate something of our authority. We may rule over galaxies, celestial bodies, the heavens, and definitely over angels, and the world (cf. 1 Cor. 6:2-3; 4:8).
(6) Israel is the earthly kingdom and will undoubtedly have authority over portions and sections of the millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom as emphasized in Matt. 25:21; Lk. 19:17-19; and Dan. 7:18, 22, 27.

The Crowns of the New Testament

The Words Used for Crowns

(1) Stephanos. This was the victor’s crown, the wreath given to the victorious athlete before the judge at the Bema. It is the word used of the crowns promised to believers for faithfulness in the Christian life.
(2) Diadem. This was the royal crown, the crown of a king. It is used of the seven diadems of the Beast in Revelation 12:3 and 13:1. But, to stress that Christ is King of kings, this word is also used of the many diadems the Lord will wear at His return (Rev. 19:12).
The Principle. The Lord Jesus is the victor, and our victory is really His victory which is appropriated by faith. Crowns are given as rewards for faithfulness to appropriate God’s grace and Christ’s victory in the Christian life. They remind us of our responsibility to abide in the vine.

The Crowns and Their Significance

(1) The Crown of Thorns (Matt. 27:29; Mk. 15:17; Jn. 19:2, 5). Speaks of Christ’s work on the cross and stands for His victory over sin, Satan, and death.
(2) The Incorruptible Crown (1 Cor. 9:25). Two things: (a) This describes all the crowns. It contrasts our crowns with the temporal and temporary treasure of this life. (b) It is also a special crown given for faithfulness in running the race and exercising self-control in order to serve the Lord and finish the race.
(3) The Crown of Exultation or Rejoicing (1 Thess. 2:19; Phil. 4:1). This crown is a reward given for witnessing, follow-up, and ministry to others. In one sense, the Thessalonians will be Paul’s crown, and the effect at the Bema and throughout eternity will be rejoicing or exultation over their presence in heaven.
But what did Paul mean by this? In view of his use of “crown” (stephanos, the victor’s wreath) in other places, and the fact believers will cast their crowns before the Lord (Rev. 4:10), Paul may also have in mind a personal crown or reward that he will receive because of their presence at the return of the Lord. Though, in this passage the Apostle does not say he would receive a crown, this is suggested, if not here certainly in other passages. Though some of them were not living as they should, looking ahead and seeing them in glory brought joy and would bring great rejoicing.
(4) The Crown of Life (Jam. 1:12; Rev. 2:10). This crown is given for enduring testings (trials) and temptation. The crown is not eternal life which is a gift through faith alone in Christ alone (Jn. 4:10; Rom. 3:24; 5:15-17; 6:23; Eph. 2:8), but a reward for enduring trials and overcoming temptation.
(5) The Crown of Righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8). This crown is a reward given for faithfulness to use our gifts and opportunities in the service of the Lord and for loving His appearing. Note that these two things go together. To love His appearing is to live in the light of it.
(6) The Crown of Glory (1 Pet. 5:4). This crown is a reward promised to Elders for faithfulness in the discharge of their responsibilities in shepherding the people.
(7) The Casting of Crowns (Rev. 4:10, 11). Because Christ alone is worthy and because we can only be fruitful when we abide in Him allowing His life to fills ours, we will all cast our crowns before Him in recognition that all we have done is by His grace.
(8) The Many Crowns or Diadems (Rev. 19:12). The crowns of royalty which stand for Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lord who alone has the right to rule and judge the world.



1 Hoyt, electronia media.
2 Hoyt, electronic media.
3 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes: 52 Vital Doctrines of the Scripture Simplified and Explained, rev. John F. Walvoord, editor, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1974, p. 282.
4 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. IV: Ecclesiology-Eschatology, Dallas Seminary Press, Dallas, TX, 1948, p. 406.
5 Hoyt, electronic media.
6 Zane Hodges, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn, 1991, p. 7.
7 Hoyt, electronic media.
8 Hoyt, p. 38.
9 Hoyt, p. 38.
10 G. Abott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1937, p. 252.
11 Fritz Rienecker, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Cleon L. Rogers, Jr., editor, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1980, p. 468.
12 Samuel Hoyt, “The Judgment Seat of Christ in Theological Perspective,” Part 2, Bibliotheca Sacra, electronic media.
 
Also taken from www.bible.org
 
Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
 
 

Lesson 6: How to Know that You Know Him (1 John 2:3-6)

       

Years ago, when I was candidating at my first church, we were staying in a house in a remote area of the Southern California mountains while the owners were away. We were having dinner at another home when we received a call informing us that an escaped convict had ditched his stolen car in the driveway of the house where we were staying and had set out on foot through the property. We decided to spend the night at the home where we had dinner.
The next morning, I called the sheriff to explain our situation and to ask if it was safe to take my pregnant wife back to the house. He assured me that it was perfectly safe. I said, “Fine, but I would like a sheriff to escort us into the house and to check some hiding places on the property, just to make sure.” When we arrived at the property, there were three or four cars of officers wearing their bulletproof vests, loading their shotguns!
We later learned that the convict had made his way to another road, hitchhiked, and killed the driver who picked him up. The sheriff was sure that it was safe for us to go back to that house unarmed, but
 he wasn’t really sure! When the safety of his men was on the line, he wanted to be really sure!
There are some things in life that you want to be really sure about, because so much rides on the outcome. Your salvation is such an issue. You don’t want to take risks about your eternal destiny. Since the Bible warns that many are deceived about this crucial matter, you especially need to know that you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
Last week our text focused on God’s abundant grace in forgiving all of our sins. If we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. But there is always the danger that people will mistakenly “turn the grace of our God into licentiousness, and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). The true grace of God teaches us “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). So after setting forth God’s grace, John goes on to show that those who have truly experienced it will show it by living in obedience to His Word. John gives this as the first test of how you can know that you know Jesus Christ:
You can know that you truly know Christ if you walk in obedience to His Word.
Our text teaches us, first, that…

1. God wants us to know Him.

Christianity is not just knowing about God or knowing certain doctrines or following certain moral precepts. It is essentially to know God. Jesus said (John 17:3), “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Christianity at its heart is, knowing God personally through Jesus Christ, who revealed God to us. If you do not know Him, you are not a Christian, no matter how correct your doctrine or how faithful your church attendance. You may have been raised in the church and you may always have adhered to Christian morality. But if you do not know God personally, you are not saved.
There is a vast difference between knowing about a person and knowing that person. I may know many things about President Bush, by reading the news or watching TV. But I do not know him personally. I’ve never met him or spent any time with him. In the same way, you may know a lot about God, but if you have not entered into a personal relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, you do not know God personally.
The apostle Paul was a rabbinical student steeped in Judaism. He knew the Hebrew Scriptures. He fastidiously kept the Jewish rituals and feasts. As to the righteousness of the Law, he said that he was blameless. But he wrote (Phil. 3:8), “… I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” Paul knew a lot about God, but he didn’t know God personally until he came to faith in Jesus Christ.
Do you know God personally through Christ? That is foundational. You begin there.

2. God wants us to know that we know Him.

John writes (2:3), “By this we know that we have come to know Him….” There is a difference between knowing and knowing that you know. It’s easy to claim that you know Him, but it’s also easy to be mistaken. John mentions (2:4) someone claiming, “I have come to know Him,” but John bluntly says that this person “is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Since we’re talking about eternal destiny, we don’t want to be deceived on this crucial matter!
Because this subject is so important, it’s not surprising that the enemy of our souls has created some major confusion about it in our day. There are many evangelicals (including the Greek professor under whom I first studied 1 John) who teach that if a person professes faith in Christ, he is saved eternally and should be assured of his salvation, even if his subsequent life demonstrates no fruit to back up his claim. They argue that if faith must be validated by any evidence, then it is not faith alone that saves.
The popular Four Spiritual Laws booklet also promotes the idea of giving immediate assurance of salvation to a person who prays to receive Christ. It uses 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” The logic goes, “You just prayed to receive Jesus, indicating that you believe in Him. Therefore, you should know that you have eternal life and that nothing can ever take it away from you.” But the booklet ignores that “these things” refers to all that John has written, which includes three tests of genuine faith: obedience, love, and sound doctrine.
That view of instant assurance based on a person’s profession of faith is foreign to what most of the godly men in church history have taught. I would argue that it is foreign to First John, Hebrews, James, and many other Scriptures. In the parable of the sower, those represented by the rocky soil that received the word with joy certainly would have claimed to believe. The same would be true of the thorny soil. But only the fourth type, the good soil, brought forth fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:5-15). That parable shows that if a person truly believes, he will endure trials and root out the weeds of the world. But it takes some time to determine this. How can we know if a recent profession of faith is genuine, saving faith? Look at the fruit that comes from it. But fruit takes time to grow.
In 2 Peter 1:10, the apostle exhorts us to “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; …” Why would anyone need to be diligent to make certain about this, if assurance is something that accompanies initial faith? Peter indicates that making certain about our calling and election is somewhat tied to our deeds subsequent to initial faith. He adds (2 Pet. 1:10-11), “for as long as you practice these things [the qualities that he has just listed], you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
So God wants us not only to know Him through faith in Jesus Christ, but also to know that we know Him. But as many Scriptures indicate, this assurance is linked to how we live subsequent to our profession of faith. John shows…

3. The way that we know that we truly have come to know God is by walking in obedience to His Word.

John uses three somewhat overlapping ideas here, but there seems to be a progression in them.

A. Keeping God’s commandments is evidence that we have come to know Him (2:3-4).

He writes (2:3), “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” John (2:4) then states the other side, exposing the false claims of the heretics, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” John doesn’t use diplomatic, nuanced language that leaves you thinking, “I wonder what he meant?” What part of liar don’t you understand?
We need to be careful, though, not to reverse the order of Scripture. We are not saved by keeping God’s commandments. We are saved by faith alone, but genuine saving faith necessarily results in a life of obedience to Jesus Christ. As John Calvin puts it (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], on 1 John 2:3, p. 174), “The knowledge of God is efficacious.” He means that knowing God necessarily changes your heart and life.
Behind our text in John’s mind were Jesus’ words in the Upper Room. Jesus said (John 14:15), “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” He added (14:21), “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” If we missed it, He repeats (14:23-24), “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” Just a few sentences later, Jesus emphasized (John 15:10), “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”
We could spend several messages on these important words of Jesus, but note a few things. First, the fact that John, as an old man, is still reciting these words of Jesus that he had heard about sixty years before should teach us something! He couldn’t shake from his life the words of Jesus. Jesus’ teaching is not something to read and forget as you go your way. His teaching should burn into our very existence, so that it shapes how we think and how we live for the rest of our lives.
As Jesus stated, His words were not merely His words, but the words of the Father who sent Him. If you are not thoroughly familiar with Jesus’ teaching, it will not affect your life. You will not obey His words if you do not know them. Since Jesus’ words are God’s words, we must study and know them so that they impact everything we do.
Second, note that Jesus doesn’t give out helpful hints for happy living. He isn’t a therapist in the sky, suggesting that you may want to try His techniques to see if they work for you. He issues commandments! This means that you are not free to pick and choose the commands of Jesus that grab you or fit your agenda. He is the Lord, who speaks the words of God. His commandments are authoritative.
Third, to keep His commandments implies diligence and effort. The word “keep” was used of a sentry walking his post. It implies that the enemy is attempting to invade and dominate your life with temptations that will destroy you. To resist him, you must be vigilant so as to obey the commandments that Jesus has given. A faithful sentry is not laid back. He is alert and diligent.
A fourth observation is that knowing God and keeping His commandments are inextricably linked. John states that keeping His commandments is one way that we know that we know Him. Jesus said that if anyone keeps His commandments, He and the Father will love him and Jesus will disclose Himself to that person. We often hear about God’s unconditional love, and there is a sense in which it is so. But Jesus points to a conditional aspect of His love, namely, that it hinges on having and keeping His commandments. To the extent that you obey Jesus (and to that extent only) will you experience His love and to that extent only will you truly know Him.

B. Keeping God’s Word shows that the love of God has been perfected in us (2:5a).

The first part of verse 5 repeats what John has just said, but it also seems to go a bit farther. John moves from knowing God to the love of God, and from keeping His commandments to keeping His word, which seems to be broader. The Bible contains many specific commandments about how we should live, but it also includes many general principles that relate to how you think, to your motives, and to your goals. So we should obey all of God’s Word.
The phrase, “the love of God,” is ambiguous. It may mean “God’s love for us,” or, “our love for God.” Or, it may refer to God-like or divine love. Scholars are divided between the first two options, and it’s hard to decide. But perhaps it does not really matter, in that if God’s love for us is perfected in us, we will also love God. And, no one can really love God without first experiencing His love. So the two concepts are intertwined. “Perfected in us” means, “brought to maturity.” It means that the love of God has “fulfilled its mission,” or “has reached its goal” when it is consummated in our obedience (Robert Law, The Tests of Life [Baker], p. 213).
John Calvin understands the phrase to refer primarily to our love for God. He points out that Moses said the same thing (Deut. 10:12-13), “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” Calvin says (p. 176) that “the law, which is spiritual, does not command only external works, but enjoins this especially, to love God with the whole heart.” Thus our obedience shows that we truly love God and have been laid hold of by His love.

C. Walking as Jesus walked shows that we abide in Him (2:5b-6).

Although some take the last phrase of verse 5 to point back, I understand it to point forward to verse 6: “By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” John equates being “in Him” with “abiding in Him.” “Abiding” is John’s term for fellowship or a close, intimate relationship. As with the phrases, “keeping His commandments” and “the love of God,” so also the term “abiding” goes back to the Upper Room Discourse, to Jesus’ words about the vine and the branches. There Jesus said (John 15:4), “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
Dr. James Rosscup devotes an entire book to the theme of abiding in Christ as found in John 15. He sums up the concept of abiding in three ways (Abiding in Christ [Zondervan], p. 116, italics his): “Abiding involves a person’s relating himself to Christ the Vine, to His Person and His purpose; rejecting attitudes, words, actions, or interests which Christ’s Word reveals He cannot share; and receiving the quality-essence of Christ’s imparted life for authentic fulfillment.”
In our text, John says that if we are abiding in Christ, we will walk as He walked. This means that He is our supreme example for living. Jesus showed us how we should live in total dependence on the Father and in complete submission to His will, no matter how difficult. Jesus claimed (John 5:19), “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” He also said (John 8:29), “… for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”
While no one can make similar claims, everyone who claims to abide in Christ should have the same focus and direction, not to act in independence from God, but in total dependence on Him. We should not live to please ourselves apart from God, but to do the things that are pleasing to Him.
Also, John’s words show us that the Christian life is a walk. That is a helpful metaphor that the apostle Paul uses often (Eph. 2:10; 4:1, 17; 5:1, 8, 15; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:12). Walking is not as spectacular or swift as running, leaping, or flying, but it is a steady, sure movement in one direction. It implies progress toward a destination or goal. A walk is made up of many specific steps, but it points to the overall tenor or general quality of a life, not to any one step.
To walk as Jesus walked means that our lives should be characterized by daily dependence on God, submission to Him, and obedience to His will. Our overall aim in life will be to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. We will seek to please Him by our thoughts, words, and deeds. While we will never perfectly walk as Jesus walked, it should be our constant aim and effort to do so.

Conclusion

Thus John is saying that you can know that you truly know Christ if you walk in obedience to His Word. But someone may say, “As far as I know, I do believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I seek to obey Him. But, I often fall short. Since I can never walk perfectly in this life, how can I have complete assurance that I truly know Him?”
Calvin, who was not only a theologian, but also a pastor, answers this in a couple of ways. He points out that there is not anyone in human history, except for Jesus Christ, who has perfectly kept God’s commandments. If perfect obedience were the requirement, then no one could ever confidently say, “I know Him.” So Calvin says that keeping His commandments refers to “such as strive, according to the capacity of human infirmity, to form their life in conformity to the will of God. For whenever Scripture speaks of the righteousness of the faithful, it does not exclude the remission of sins, but on the contrary, begins with it” (p. 175).
Regarding the fact that no one loves God perfectly, Calvin replies, “that it is sufficient, provided every one aspired to this perfection according to the measure of grace given unto him. In the meantime, the definition is, that the perfect love of God is the complete keeping of his law. To make progress in this as in knowledge, is what we ought to do” (p. 176).
So the issue is, purpose, direction, and focus. If the purpose and direction of your life is to please God by obedience to His commands, you can know that you know Him. It does not mean that you never fail, but that when you do, you get up and keep walking in obedience, seeking to please God with all your life.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones sums up these verses (Walking With God [Crossway Books], p. 53): “If you have the life, it is bound to show itself, and if it does not, then you have not the life…. You cannot be receiving the life of Christ without becoming like Him. You cannot walk with God without keeping His commandments. You cannot know God without immediately, automatically loving Him. Love always manifests itself by doing what the object of its love desires.”
So ask yourself, first, “Do I know Christ?” Have you trusted in Him as the propitiation for your sins? If so, ask, “Do I know that I know Him?” How? “Do I obey His Word and seek to walk as Jesus walked?” If that is the direction and focus of your life, then you can know that you know Him.

Application Questions

  1. Why is assurance of salvation important? What practical benefits are there if you have it? What disadvantages if you don’t?
  2. Assurance of salvation is not something to share immediately with a new convert. Agree/Disagree? Give biblical support.
  3. Some say that if assurance depends on anything in us (other than faith), we fall into works-salvation. Agree/Disagree?
  4. Some say that if you emphasize obedience to God’s commandments you fall into legalism? Agree/Disagree?
Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2005, All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation
 
Psalm 51:10
 
 

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And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4...