Click here for the Seven Biblical Judgments

Click here for The Doctrine of Rewards: The Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ

Click here for Matthew 25 Heretical Teaching

Click here for Is the Bible the Inspired Word of God

Click here for Bible Prophecy and the Future of Libya

Click here for Is it the Rapture or the 2nd Coming?

Click here for Understanding The Holiness of God, part one.

Click here for Understanding The Holiness of God, part two

Click here for Understanding The Holiness of God, part three

Click here for Understanding The Holiness of God, part four

Click here for The Excitement of Holiness


These are Bible Studies that God has put on my heart to work on and to bring to fruition mainly for the edification of my spirit and to answer questions that have arisen in my heart. From time to time I will include articles or bible studies authored by others that have appealed to me. If you have a short bible study that God has used in your life that you would like to share, contact me via our contact page and let me look at it.



By Tom Hanson

Judgment Number One – The Judgment of Christ

I have read that many theologians in the past maintained that there was but one general Biblical judgment to take place in the entire history of mankind. Merle F. Unger stated in his New Unger’s Bible Dictionary that this is a tenet – that is, a principle, doctrine, or belief held as a truth – that was strongly entrenched in Christian theology until the not too distant past.

The scriptures reveal that there is a total of at least seven major judgments that take place from the cross until the end of Millennial Kingdom. In this treatise, I will begin with the most important judgment of all time. I begin with the Judgment of Jesus Christ that took place on the cross as seen in John 12:31:

“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out”.

It was while Christ Jesus, the unblemished Lamb of God, was dying on that cross that God judged the whole world. God passed judgment in that moment in time in several different ways. God judged Satan, God judge mankind, God judged His Son.

At some earlier point in history of the universe, long before putting His Son on that cross, God looked down the corridors of time, past and future, and saw that future mankind would become so sinful they would deserve being put to death. However, being the sum total of agape love, God determined that His Son would take mankind’s judgment upon Himself, and would suffer and die in our stead. Therefore, through the sacrifice of His sinless, perfectly righteous Son, God provided the means of salvation for all mankind from Adam to the last person born in future time. This is what is meant when you hear bible teachers, pastors, etc. speak of Old Testament saints looking forward to the cross and saints from about 33 AD until the Great White Throne Judgment looking back to the cross.

As the Lord Jesus approached the last day before the cross, in the presence of His disciples, in John 12: 27- 31, He said:

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

Therefore the people who stood by and heard the voice said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”

“Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out!”

Let me extrapolate on the last statement in verse 31 above for a moment. “Now the ruler of this world will be cast out!” Did Jesus mean that Satan, the ruler of this world, would be immediately cast out of the world and out of the affairs of mankind? No! He meant that Satan had been judged as guilty of being the deceiver, the killer, the stealer and the destroyer of the natural and spiritual things of mankind and his future demise was set in stone according to Rev.20:1-3:

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.”

Let us consider what Merle F. Unger says in his Bible Handbook:

“In verse 31 the judgment of Jesus Christ as bearing the believer's sins is alluded to, resulting in the casting out of Satan, 'the ruler of this world' (Satanic world system). The sins of believers would be judged in the person of Christ lifted up on Calvary, 32. The result would be the justification of the believer, here embracing the extension of the gospel to the Gentile world. The New Unger's Bible Handbook.

I believe that same voice mentioned in verse 28 of John 12 continually echoes around the world today. However, today it resonates as a still small voice inside of the hearts of lost men and women, seldom perceivable to the human ear.

I believe that still, small voice resonated within me over 41 years ago, as I sat in a pew in a Presbyterian Church, listening to an old Presbyterian Evangelist read the entire first chapter of the book of Romans.

As he read verses 20 – 22, there was a very strong impression on my heart that the words in the passage were revealing that it was I, Tom, that he was reading about! Here is that passage:

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:20-22.

In those few moments in time I had this horrible sense of judgment being upon me. And, it was as if the preacher was inserting my name in those verses and it became very personal. After the service, I went home, went out on the pier in front of my home, and gave my heart, my soul, my all to the Lord.

Every man and woman since the beginning of time and continuing until the culmination of time was eternally blessed through the Lord Jesus Christ on that cross. How so? He took the sin debt owed by all mankind: past, present and future, and He wiped it out with His blood, becoming sin for us. The apostle Paul assures us of this truth in 2 Cor. 5: 21:

“For He (God) made Him (Christ Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Also, the writer of Hebrews in chapter nine, verses 24 – 28 informs us:

“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another--“He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

Our Lord, as both our priest and the all sufficient sacrifice for our sins, entered into heaven itself, and presented Himself God our Father, thus securing eternal redemption for all mankind who would believe.

Some of the things Jesus accomplished on our behalf through the cross: 1.) we have everlasting life; 2.) we are never to face any kind of judgment because Jesus was judged in our place; 3.) we will pass from death into life. These things can be seen in John 5:24:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.”

We have this supernaturally provided security for all eternity. Therefore, believers are to be eternally grateful to the Lord Jesus for His worthiness; for He was judged on that cross and found to be worthy of dying for the sins of all mankind. Worthy is the Lamb of God who was slain on that cross.

One of the comforting truths of what took place while Christ was dying on the cross is that believers were judged in Christ. This does not mean that we came before a judge, but that Jesus bore our punishment in Himself. That is why the Lord Jesus can say, while looking ahead to the accomplishments that will take place on that cross:

“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe in Him has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18 

The meaning of being judged in Christ is this: Since Christ died in our place, paid all the penalties of our sins, we are eternally justified in God's eyes. “God pardons sin, and delivers us from deserved punishment, because we believe on Jesus Christ. Jesus died in our stead; He suffered for us, and by His sufferings our sins are expiated, and it is consistent for God to forgive (and forget).” Barnes' Notes on the New Testament 


Judgment Number Two

The Self Judgment of the Believer


Biblical judgment number two is the judgment of the believer, of and by himself, through the lens of holy scripture. Paul the apostle in 1 Cor. 11:31-33 says:

“For if we would judge ourselves, we will not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

The judging of oneself through self-examination is a necessary ongoing process that should be the daily routine of every believer. We need this continual examination of self to avoid the consequences of sin in our lives. This was God’s will for mankind even in the Old Testament as we see in 2 Sam. 7:14-15:

“I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.
But My mercy shall not depart from him.....

Have you ever taken the time to think about the consequences of sin in your life? Do you understand what the very first consequence of sin is in a believer’s life? Our fellowship with God stops! Unconfessed sin also impacts our prayer life negatively. Unconfessed sin destroys our joy in the Lord. Unconfessed sin denies God’s will the opportunity to flourish in our lives. Unconfessed sin prevents the Holy Spirit from doing the work in our hearts, minds, wills and being that God desires to be done.

There is something that Nathan said to David after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed on the battle field. David had thought he had done all these things in secret, but God knew. And even worse, others new of David’s sins. So God sent Nathan with a message for David that is recorded in2 Samuel 12:14. It is a message that believers today must apply to our own sinful situations in life:

“However, because of these deeds you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme!” TNT

Can it get worse than this? Yes! It can get worse! When a disobedient believer refuses to acknowledge and take responsibility for his or her sin, the Lord may allow physical weakness, sickness, and turmoil, to impact their lives. If necessary, God will even use death to accomplish His will. We should practice spontaneous confession of sin as we walk by faith.

The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 12, verses 5-7, in speaking to what our attitude should be when being chastened by the Lord, quotes from the books of Job and the Proverbs when he says:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him. For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons. For what son is there whom an earthly father does not chasten?”

Because of God’s perfect love for us, He will chasten us if we do not deal with sin as we should. In 1John 1:9 the apostle reveals how God wants us to deal with our sin:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Please understand that just because the word in this verse is plural, doesn’t mean that we are to wait until we have committed multiple sins before we confess. Let the rule of our Christian walk be this: If we sin, confess it immediately. This will protect us from the consequences of sin.

It is only when we confess our sins that God can forgive those sins, cleanse us from all our unrighteousness and restore us to fellowship with Him. It is only then that He can continue blessing us according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus as revealed by Paul in Phil. 4:19:

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

When we deal with our sin according to God’s will as revealed in 1 Jn. 1:9, we are restored to fellowship with Him and we continue to enjoy the blessings of His grace which issue into our lives daily as we walk by faith. In our obedience to this, His will, we please Him more than we can ever comprehend.

We believers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how blessed we are to be instantly forgiven our sins and restored to sweet fellowship with God when we confess our sins to Him. However, that is one of the great blessings that we receive from our Heavenly Father, moment by moment, day by day. That is why, when it comes to our sins, we need to keep short accounts with the Lord.

We need also to remember: though we may suffer the consequences of unconfessed sin we are never condemned by our Heavenly Father. We know this from the wonderful words of Jesus in John 3:18 and those which Paul the apostle gave us in Romans 8:1:

“He who believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Jn. 3:18

May I be so bold as to say emphatically: no matter how much a believer might sin, or what may be the nature of a believer’s sin, God never condemns His child. He may correct us, He may allow us to suffer horribly, and He may have to take our life to stop our sinning, but He never condemns us. Look at Rom. 8:1:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Biblical Judgments

Judgment Number Three

Judgment of the Believers Works


Biblical judgment number three is most commonly known in Evangelical Circles as the Judgment Seat of Christ. It gets its name from what Paul the apostle says in 2 Cor. 5:10:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”

As a youngster I grew up in a country Baptist church, where the pastors very seldom had even a high school diploma, much less, a bible college or seminary degree. Consequently, any sermon on any of the biblical judgments usually instilled copious amounts of fear in kids. I remember hearing many hell fire and brimstone sermons on judgment, but I don’t recall ever hearing one on the judgment seat of Christ. If I did, it wasn’t delivered in the loving manner in which God would have been greatly pleased.

Any message or teaching on the judgment seat of Christ should be delivered with the same amount of hope, promise, and joyous expectancy as God wants to be embedded in the heart of every believer, when they have the correct understanding of what truly transpires at this coming event.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is most often referred to by Evangelical Biblical scholars as “The Bema Seat”. The reason for this is that the phrase “judgment seat” is taken from one Greek word, “bema” which translated from the Greek means "judgment seat".

At the Bema Seat of Christ no judgment actually takes place. This is one of the reasons teachers and preachers should make it very clear that believers are to have no fearfulness, dread, or uneasiness in their hearts when considering this event. This is the occasion where Christ will reward every believer for their good deeds while here on earth.

However, in light of Paul’s many references to athletic competition in the New Testament, he was most likely using the term as it applied to the Greek field and track events. If the winner of a particular contest had followed the rules of competition and won, he was honored at a raised wooden platform called the bema. There the athlete would be crowned with some type of laurel wreath.

One of the questions to which many Christians want an answer in regards to the Bema Seat is: What exactly will be considered at the Bema seat worthy of rewards for Christians?

Dr. H.L. Wilmington, who is an author, educator, and Bible lecturer; who attended Dallas Theological Seminary and Texas and Ashland Theological Seminary; who is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Culver-Stockton College, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, currently serves as vice president and board member of Liberty University. Dr. Wilmington has done a good job of gleaning the truth about the things upon which Christians will be examined at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They are as follows:

  1. How we treat other believers (Heb. 6:10, Matt. 10:41-42).
  2. How we exercise our authority over others (Heb. 13:17, Jas. 3:1).
  3. How we employ our God-given abilities (1 Cor. 12: 4, 12, 2 Tim. 1:6, 1 Pet. 4:10). Add to these Scriptures Jesus' teaching of the parables of the ten pounds (Lk. 19: 11-26) and the talents (Matt. 25:14-29). Each believer has at least one talent (1 Cor. 7:12, Eph. 4:7, 1 Pet. 4:10). There are 18 of these gifts (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4). It's up to each believer to find/discern his or her gifts.
  4. How we use our possessions (1 Cor. 60:2, 2 Cor. 9:6-7, 1 Tim. 6:17-19).
  5. How we spend our time (Psa. 90:12, Eph. 5:16, Col. 4:5, 1 Pet. 1:17).
  6. How much we suffer for Jesus (Matt. 5:11-12, Mk. 10:29-30, Rom. 8:18, 2 Cor. 4:17, 1 Pet. 4:12-13).
  7. How we run that particular race God has chosen for us (1 Cor. 9:24, Phil. 2:16, 3:13-14, Heb. 12:1).
  8. How effectively we control the old nature (1 Cor. 9:25-27, 2 Tim. 2:15, 1 Cor. 16:3, Phil. 1:10, 1 Thess. 2:4).
  9. How many souls we witness to and win to Christ (Prov. 11:30, Dan. 12:3, 1 Thess. 2:19-20).
  10. How we react to temptation (Jas. 1:2-3, Rev. 3:10).
  11. How much the doctrine of the rapture means to us (2 Tim. 4:88).
  12. How faithful we are to the Word of God and the flock of God (Acts 20:26-28, 2 Tim. 4:1-2, 1 Peter 5:2-4). [1]

Another question that many Christians have is: What will the awards given at the Bema Seat consist of? The short answer is crowns. The longer answer is found in the following list of those crowns found in the New Testament and the scripture references where they are found. This list also comes from the website: www.

The Bible mentions at least five rewards:

  1. The Incorruptible Crown - given to those who master the old nature (1 Cor. 9:25).
  2. The Crown of Rejoicing - given to soul winners (1 Thess. 2:19).
  3. The Crown of Life - given to those who successfully endure temptation (Jas. 1:2-3, Rev. 2:10).
  4. The Crown of Righteousness - is reserved for those who particularly love Christ's appearing. (2 Tim. 4:8).
  5. The Crown of Glory - given to faithful preachers and teachers (Acts 20:26-28, 1 Pet. 5:2-4).

Now, let’s look at the scriptural reference to each crown to see if we can get a better understanding of what is meant by the name attached to the crown.

The Incorruptible or Imperishable Crown – 1 Cor. 9:25:

“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”

I believe Paul is comparing the first group of those who compete in this verse with unbelievers for he says, ‘they do it (compete) to obtain a perishable crown’. Then he says, ‘but we (compete) for an imperishable crown’. Here, the pronoun we is synonymous with believers.

The Crown of Rejoicing - 1Thess. 2:19:

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”

The Crown of Life – Rev. 2:10:

          “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

The Crown of Righteousness – 2 Tim. 4:8:         

“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

I rejoice over what Merle F. Unger says about this crown: “Here faith becomes vocal in radiant hope. 'The crown of righteousness' is a reward for faithfulness and is reserved for those who particularly love Christ's appearing. The 'crown' is the stephanos or victor's crown, the garland of wild olive or pine, given to the winner in the Greek games.” The New Unger's Bible Handbook.

The Crown of Glory – 1 Pet. 5:2-4:

“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”

When the Bema Seat takes place is a matter of some debate among bible scholars. However, because of what the apostle Paul reveals in 2 Tim. 4:8 I believe it will take place at the rapture as soon as believers gather around the throne of grace upon our arrival in heaven. Here is what Paul says:

“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

There are two key phrases, for me, in this passage. The first is the phrase, ‘on that day’. I believe this is the day of Christ’s appearing in the air above the earth for His soon to be bride, the church. The second phrase that is important to consider very closely is ‘His appearing’. The day of ‘His appearing’ I believe, is the day of the rapture of the church.

There are three spectacular events awaiting the church of Jesus Christ, for which I long with all my being. I am going to place them in the order in which, I believe, they will occur. The first is the rapture of the church, the second is the bema seat of Christ, and the third is the wedding supper of the Lamb.

The rapture of the church can happen any day now and it will take place in the air above the earth. The bema seat of Christ, I believe, will take place soon after the church is assembled in heaven after being raptured. Now, I do not know which comes first, The marriage of the Lamb or the wedding supper. However, I believe, they will be one following the other as a two part event and they will take place shortly after the bema seat. I believe this because I believe God wants believers, the bride of Christ, to appear at the wedding and marriage supper arrayed in our beautiful garments of white, which are the righteous acts of the saints. I believe we will be wearing our crowns which were received at the bema seat.

I am reminded of what John wrote to us from the Island of Patmos in Revelation 19:7-9:

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!' “And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.””

Biblical Judgments

Judgment Number Four

Judgment of Gentile Survivors of the Tribulation


In the book of Matthew chap. 25, verses 31through 46 we read of the judgment that awaits gentiles who survive the tribulation period.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels (and His bride, the church) with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” TNT

Many great bible scholars teach that at the rapture the Holy Spirit is taken off the earth with the Church because of what the apostle Paul said in 2 Thess. 2:6-7:

“And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”

Please note: this passage is saying that the antichrist is being restrained at this present time by Holy Spirit power and when that Holy Spirit power is taken out of the way at the rapture the antichrist will be unleashed on the world. But it doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit is taken off the face of the earth, does it? If the Holy Spirit is taken off the face of the earth, then how do lost people come to faith in Jesus Christ during the tribulation period?

What Jesus said in John 16:8 is undeniable truth. He said that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts lost people of sin and righteousness and judgment.

“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” John 16:8.

He will reprove. The word translated reprove means commonly to demonstrate by argument, to prove, to persuade anyone to do a thing by presenting reasons, It hence means also to convince of anything, and particularly to convince of crime. This is its meaning here. He will convince or convict the world of sin. That is, he will so apply the truths of God to men's own minds as to convince them by fair and sufficient arguments that they are sinners, and cause them to feel this. This is the nature of conviction always. The world. Sinners. The men of the world. All men are by nature sinners, and the term the world may be applied to them all.” Barnes' Notes on the New Testament.

Jesus also says in John 6:44 that no one can come to Him unless the One who sent Him to earth draws the person. So, if a person can only come to faith in Christ as a result of God drawing them. How does God accomplish the drawing of a person to His Son? Isn’t it through the process of the Holy Spirit convicting lost people of their sin of unbelief, of righteousness and judgment, that the lost are drawn to the Savior?

Without a doubt, during the tribulation period, people are going to come to faith in Christ! We know that because of what John said that he saw in a vision of the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their faith in Christ during the tribulation period. He said:

“And I saw thrones, and they who sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” Rev. 20:4.

This is revealing that lost people come to faith in Jesus during the tribulation period and are martyred for their faith. Also, there will be 144,000 Jews who are saved during the tribulation period and are sealed for a special assignment by God.

“And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed” Rev.7:4.

Without the Holy Spirit to draw, convict and seal these 144,000, how did it happen?

In this age of grace God uses the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer to motivate and empower believers to share the gospel with, pray for, and encourage lost people to come to faith in Christ. I believe it is not only the Holy Spirit individually that restrains the antichrist, but the combination of the Holy Spirit and the collective holy spirit power represented by all the millions of believers in the world that restrains him. Therefore, you take the Holy Spirit power represented by millions of empowered believers out of the world and that could explain the loss of restraint that has kept the antichrist from coming to power. I am ecstatic that 2 Thess. 2:6-7 does not say the Holy Spirit is taken from the earth!

Never the less, during the tribulation period people will still be convicted of their unbelief and come to faith in Jesus as their Savior. However, there will also be people who still refuse to believe in Him as God’s Son and the Savior of mankind during the tribulation period.

It is at the end of the tribulation period, that Jesus will come back to earth to destroy the enemies of Israel and God, and set up His millennial kingdom on earth. At that time, as seen in Matt. 25:31-46, there is going to be a gathering of the nations:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels (and His bride, the church) with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”

One has to use their imagination as they read this prophecy as set forth by the Lord Jesus as recorded by Matthew. We know from this passage that Jesus says that he will be seated on His throne and all the nations will be gathered before Him. I cannot tell you, with a certainty, how this is accomplished. Perhaps Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye were correct in their depiction of this event as described in their book, The Glorious Appearing, from their Left Behind series. In the book, as the time drew near for the Lord Jesus to judge the gentile survivors of Tribulation Period, people from all over the world found themselves suddenly deposited in Jerusalem by some unknown means and/or force. Upon realizing they were in Israel, at Jerusalem, they heard a voice instructing them to follow the crowds who were flowing into a great basin. Here is a short passage from the book depicting the people gathering before the throne of Jesus:

“Leah had been to professional sporting events where the crowds were so huge going in and out of a stadium that one could not see the end of the people. This was a million times bigger! As she began to walk again, snatches of conversations grabbed her interest.

“I was in my house, minding my own business.”



“When was this?”

“Not ten minutes ago!”

“I was asleep in Michigan!”

Leah followed the gently rolling terrain until it opened on an area just enough below Jerusalem that she could look up and see the eternal city. She also had a view of Golgotha, the site of Calvary, which took away her breath. Again, Leah had to stop and stare.

“Leah,” Jesus said.

“Yes, Lord”

“When you see My throne, join those on My right, your left.”

“Yes, Lord.”

She turned and continued to follow the crowd, realizing that everyone must have been given personal directions. The masses were breaking to the right and to the left and heading to separate destinations.”[2]

These two groups before the throne of Christ will be comprised of: 1) the gentile believers who are referred to as the sheep; and 2) gentile unbelievers who are referred to as the goats. Each group will be judge based upon how they treated the brothers and sisters of Jesus, the Jews, during the tribulation period.

Those who believe in Jesus as their personal Savior will have treated the Jews with love and compassion and they will be summoned to stand at the right hand of the Lord.

Those who have not believed in the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior will be those who have mistreated the Jews and they will be summoned to stand at His left hand.

Might I suggest: were Jesus to come to earth right this minute and separate the peoples of the earth into the same two groups, 1) those who love the Jews and 2) those who hate the Jews, today’s groups would be made up of essentially the same two classifications of people – believers and unbelievers. As I have looked at the different kinds or types of people who love Israel and the Jews and who hate Israel and the Jews they basically break down into those who love and belong to Christ and those do not love and belong to Christ. Which group would you find yourself in?

We know from the passage from Matthew 25 what the ultimate destination is of the surviving believing gentiles of the tribulation at the second coming of Christ. Jesus will say to the believers: “Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” We also know what He will say to those unbelievers who have mistreated His people, the Jews. He will say: “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Praise God, even though scripture doesn’t reveal exactly where the Bride of Christ is during this Judgment of the Gentiles survivors of the tribulation, we are either still hovering in the air above Israel, having just come from heaven with the Lord Jesus and the armies of heaven, or we are standing behind Him seated there on His throne at this Judgment.

Biblical Judgments

Judgment Number Five

Judgment of Jewish Survivors of the Tribulation


The Lord Jesus, when speaking to the righteous gentile survivors of the tribulation, refers to those to whom these righteous gentiles had shown specific acts of kindness during the tribulation, as these My brethren. It is to be understood: those to whom the righteous gentiles showed their love and kindness were Jews. Christ referred to them as His brethren, meaning Jewish brothers and sisters.

We know from Scripture that many Jews will come to faith in Jesus Christ during the Tribulation period, beginning with the 144,000 that will be sealed for a special purpose as revealed in Rev. 7:4:     

“And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed”.

Here are Merle F. Unger’s comments on this passage of scriptures:

“These are earthly Israelites living in the time of 'Jacob's trouble' (Jer 30:5-7). Though the tribal genealogies have ceased, God knows who the tribes are and where they are (Isa 11:11-16), and will preserve an elect remnant, returning them to the restored kingdom (Acts 1:6). The event will occur when 'the times of the Gentiles' have run their course (Lk 21:24) with the full number of Gentiles gathered in (Acts 15:14; Rom 11:25).. The New Unger's Bible Handbook.

I believe these 144,000 Jews are specially trained evangelist who will be given everything they need to witness to Jews through the most productive evangelization program ever designed especially for Jews. We have no indication how many Jews will come to faith in Jesus Christ through the work of these 144,000 Jewish Billy Grahams, but I pray there will be millions. Perhaps a lot of the work of these evangelist will be to prepare the most hardened hearts so that when they see the Lord coming in the air, they immediately know it is their Messiah and they surrender in faith immediately to His Lordship.

I believe scripture reveals that all the unconverted Jews who are alive at Christ’s 2nd coming will believe in Christ as Messiah and their individual Savior upon seeing the Lord Jesus coming from heaven. He is not only coming to defeat Satan and all the enemies of Israel and to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, but also to save every unconverted Jew. At the very moment they see Him in the air is when I believe each and every unconverted Jew on earth will call on His name in sudden belief and will be saved.

For our evidence of this truth let’s begin with something the Apostle Paul said in Rom. 10:12:

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.””

The one truth we want to get from this passage to help us better comprehend this and other Old and New Testament truths pertinent to all Israel being saved is this: Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Notice the verse does not say whoever speaks the name of the Lord. It doesn’t say: Who ever utters the name of the Lord. The verse says emphatically: whoever calls on the name of the Lord.

To call on a person means: 1) you are specifically addressing them and no one else; 2) you are seeking their attention; 3) you are seeking them for a specific purpose.

For a moment, consider all of Paul’s many warnings to his fellow Jews throughout his ministry. He reminded the Jews time and again of their need to embrace the Lord Jesus as Savior. Did those warnings influence all Jews to repent and believe in Jesus at the time? The answer is no! Paul even said that he had enough sorrow and grief in his heart, to wish himself accursed from Christ for the eternal sake of his brethren, his countrymen according to the flesh, the Israelites.

“For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen” Rom. 9:3.

However, Paul knew that in the future Jesus would come again to earth, and at a specific, God ordained, moment in time, all of Israel would look upon the one that Jews have been rejecting for over two thousand years. They would see Him in the air above the earth and they would see Him as Messiah and Lord, and at that time they as a nation would all be saved. Just as Paul had said they would in Rom. 11:26 – 27:

“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins’” (Romans 11:26-27).

I’ve tried to imagine at times what it might be like to be a Jew living at the 2nd coming of Christ. As I have thought about this I have come to realize that the response of a tribulation surviving Jew to the good news of Christ at the end of the tribulation period is going to be dramatically different from a typical Jewish response to the presentation of the gospel from the cross until today.

The mind set of most Israelites at the very end of the tribulation period, whether a son or daughter of Abraham, probably will not matter. Whether they have grown up in a devout, or semi-religious, or carnal Jewish culture, probably won’t matter much. Whether they remember much of the teachings from the rabbis and Jewish scholars who spoke and taught at their synagogues probably won’t matter too much either. Even, though Jewish holy men have been proclaiming for almost two thousand years that Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies; Even though they said that Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah; Even though they have proclaimed that the verses from the Christian Bible "referring to Jesus as Messiah” are mistranslations; Even though these Jewish rabbis and scholars have vociferously screamed and shouted that the Christian’s Jesus did not accomplish the things which Jehovah had said Messiah would accomplish when He came; none of this will matter when every Jew on earth sees Jesus in the air.

Every Jew who is still living at the end of the tribulation period, no matter where they may have been living during the tribulation period, they are going to be transported, one way or the other, but most likely supernaturally, to Jerusalem to await the return of Jesus to planet earth. How can we say that Jews are going to be supernaturally transported from one country to another for the purpose of the soon coming of Jesus Christ from heaven to earth? First, let’s look again at what is taking place at the very end of the Tribulation period, after Jesus has defeated all the enemies of Israel, has thrown the Antichrist and the beast into the fires of hell and has bound with chains and flung Satan into the bottomless pit. According to Matt. 25 this is going to happen:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels (and His bride, the church) with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory and all the nations will be gathered before Him” Matt. 25: 31 – 32a.

At the time referenced in Matt. 25, Jews not only will live in Israel, but many will still be scattered all over the earth. God wants all the Jews back in Israel at the Lord’s appearing for three specific purposes. 1.) He wants all Israel gathered as one body to behold their Messiah’s literal coming to earth; 2.) He wants all Israel to be present at the ceremony when He restores all the promised land to the nation of Israel; And, 3.) He wants all Israelites who are alive to be there for the judgment of the Jews.

Let’s look at some of the promises which God has given Israel related to His returning every Jew, estranged from their homeland, back to Israel.

“He will raise a flag among the nations for Israel to rally around. He will gather the scattered people of Judah from the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 11:12

“I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:14

“I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you were scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again” Ezekiel 11:17.

“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them," Says the LORD your God” Amos 9:14-15.

The most important of these three events will be that in which every Jew on the face of the earth will witness the return of the Lord to the earth. To help us understand the mind set of almost every Jew at their seeing the Lord coming in the air we must remember some of the mind altering, impossible to understand events that have taken place in the previous seven years.

Here are some of the things that Jewish people will have faced during the seven years immediately prior to Christ’s return to earth are: 1). The disappearance of the billion or so Christians from the face of the earth seven years earlier; 2) Thousands and perhaps millions of new Christians constantly and continually proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and His soon coming back to earth; 3) The continuous loss of Jewish and gentile friends to the horrendous calamities of the Great Tribulation; 4) The constant fear of the antichrist and his hoards of murderous thugs forcing everyone to take his mark.

In addition, the confusion of heart and mind during these last seven years as Jews have heard about Jesus through the testimony of believers, day in and day out. Surely they must wonder: why are Christians suffering as much or more than others if Jesus is really who they say he is. On the other hand, they have marveled as suffering Christians have ministered to suffering Jews as no other people on the earth during these seven years. All these things are going to impact the hearts and minds of individual Jews in dramatic ways.

Yet, when these Jews, having just been supernaturally brought to Israel from all over the world, see Jesus in the air above the earth on His white horse with all the armies of heaven and the bride of Christ on their horses behind Him, I believe they will know this is their Messiah. I believe that with one voice they shall all cry out to Him that name by which the angel told Mary He was to be called. “Jesus! Jesus!” They will shout. Yes, they will scream that name! That name that is above all names! At that moment in time all Israel will be judged to be worthy of God’s grace and mercy and all Israel will believe in God’s Son and will be saved. Their judgment is their salvation as a nation.

Biblical Judgments

Judgment Number Six

Judgment of the Fallen Angels


“And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” Jude 1:6.

Evidently, the sin of these angels (one commentary calls them specially designated angels) was that they did not keep their proper domain, but left that domain without God’s approval (another commentator uses the term ‘positions of authority’ instead of domain). Merle F. Unger says they had their own initial distinctive order as purely spirit beings, which they abandoned and began cohabiting with mortal women. In Gen. 6:1-8 we read:

“Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God (angels) saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD”.

Therefore, the angels in Jude verse 6 and Gen. 6 were punished for their disobedience by imprisonment ‘in darkness and being, bound with everlasting chains’ as seen in Jude 6. This is apparently the same punishment we see in 2 Peter 2:4. However, it is stated in the passage from 2 Peter, that they were cast down to hell and delivered into chains of darkness to be reserved for judgment.

“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” 2 Peter 2:4.

Mr. Unger suggests in his commentary that the angels judgment will be at ‘the great Day’ probably in association with Satan’s judgment revealed in Rev. 20: 10.

“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever”.

Another scripture reference to believers judging angels is found in 1Cor. 6:3:

“Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?”

The context of the passage out of which this verse comes is of Christians going to law against fellow Christians in pagan courts before pagan judges. If I understand scripture, this is a violation of Christian truth. The Bible says that God's people are to judge the world, that is unsaved humanity, and even the fallen angels, according to the scriptures at which we have looked.

Merle Unger also observes in his comments of 1 Cor. 6: “Since this judicial dignity is a result of the believer's union with Christ, the Judge, are there not wise saints to act as judges in cases involving Christian with Christian, 4-5? The worldly Corinthians clearly manifested their worldliness in going to law against each other and wronging each other, 7-8.” The New Unger's Bible Handbook.

In the scripture quote: “Do you not know that we shall judge angels?”   Albert Barnes in his notes states:

“Probably the reference is to fallen angels, as there is no account that holy angels will then undergo a trial, The sense is, "Christians will be qualified to see the justice of even the sentence which is pronounced on fallen angels. They will be able so to embrace and comprehend the nature of law, and the interests of justice, as to see the propriety of their condemnation. And if they can so far enter into these important and eternal relations, assuredly they ought to be regarded as qualified to discern the nature of justice among men, and to settle the unimportant differences which may arise in the church." Or, perhaps, this may mean that the saints shall in the future world be raised to a rank in some respects more elevated than even the angels in heaven. (Prof. Stuart.) In what respects they will be thus elevated, if this is the true interpretation, can be only a matter of conjecture. It may be supposed that it will be because they have been favored by being interested in the plan of salvation-a plan that has done so much to honor God; and that to have been thus saved by the immediate and painful intervention of the Son of God, will be a higher honor than all the privileges which beings can enjoy who are innocent themselves. Barnes' Notes on the New Testament.

I see no evidence in the Old or New Testament where believers would ever be assigned the duty of judging good angels, so therefore the only conclusion that a believer under grace can reach is that any reference to Christians judging angels is always meant to be understood that the angels are bad angels.

If God does ever deem it part of His eternal plan for Christians to judge fallen angels, He will supply the conviction, the courage, and the where with all that the responsibility will demand.

Whatever the punishment God deems appropriate for fallen angels it will be no more or no less that a perfect judgment and punishment.

Biblical Judgments

Judgment Number Seven

The Judgment of the Unsaved


I can still remember as a young boy sitting in one of the old pews at a little country bible church out of Mineola, where I grew up. Many a time I sat listening, with a quickened pulse and a heart filled with trepidation, as our pastor delivered his regular hell fire and brimstone sermon every Saturday evening, Sunday morning and Sunday evening.

I can see him now in my mind, holding his shaky right hand above his head, clasping a rumpled handkerchief, with which he would with regularity wipe his spittle covered lips. Tears from his eyes would be streaming down his cheeks and dripping off his chin and landing either on the bible he was holding in his left hand, or onto the scuffed, unpolished, hardwood floor.

“Hell” he would say, “Is what awaits those who stand before God at this judgment. There is not second chance for anyone standing before the great white throne of God. If you are listening to my voice and you haven’t surrendered your heart to God and something happens to you after you leave this building, you are going to be one of those who will stand before God at this judgment where you will be condemned to hell!”

I seldom read Rev. 20: 11-15, without thinking of those times at that little Baptist church. Of course the messages that Brother Frank Shirley preached, God used for good in the lives of many of the people in that congregation, myself included, although I did not come to faith in Christ for another twenty five or so years. Here is the passage on which brother Shirley preached that sermon about sixty five years ago.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” Rev. 20:11-15.

John, the Revelator, in this passage is describing the last judgment for all eternity which he is seeing in a vision. This is where the unbelievers of all time will stand before God the Son at the last judgment of humankind. Note the description of this judgment: 1.) it is said to be the ‘great judgment’, meaning high, exalted, elevated above all else; Compare it with Isaiah 6:1: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.”; 2.) it is said to be white, meaning splendid, shining, divine purity, and righteousness. Merle F. Unger says this characterizes God’s decisions.[3]

Here is the description of the throne which Mathew gives in his gospel chapter 25, verse 31: "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.”

Just as Jesus was the judge at the end of the Tribulation period, He will also sit upon this judgment seat as the one worthy to Judge all the lost people from all time. The ‘He or Him’, depending on the translation, who sat upon the throne in verse eleven of Rev. 20 is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus based on John 5:22:

“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son…”

In verse 12 of Rev. 20 the Revelator says, that in the vision, he saw the small and the great standing before this throne. He isn’t talking about the physical size of the people he saw, he is referring to their status in life while they were alive on earth. He also said that certain books were opened:

“….and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

Out of all the books that were opened, it was the Book of Life that is the most important. Why? Because recorded in the Book of Life are the names of every person who has every lived who were saved.

In case there is anyone reading who wonders how people could have been saved before the cross let’s look at how Abraham was saved:

“And he (Abraham) believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” Genesis 15:6.

Just as we today believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are saved for all eternity, those who lived before the cross had only to believe in God to be saved. If you haven’t believed in Christ as your Savior and Lord, pray to Him now, ask forgiveness and escape the certain judgment that is to come to those who die without Him.



[2] “Glorious Appearing” by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

[3] The New Unger’s Bible Handbook




September 14, 2011


MATTHEW 25:14-30

The following is an article in defense of the faith that I wrote in 2005 in response to teaching I received from B__ B-----, pastor of C------ V----- Bible Church and T--- E---- through his radio program.

Matthew 25:14 – 30 The parable of the man traveling to a far country, his three servants, the talents he entrusted to them, their handling of the talents and their rewards at his return.

I do not possess any special revelation concerning this passage of scripture, but my reason for this discourse is because I have been confronted twice in the past with two different segments of Evangelical Christianity that claim to have the correct understanding and meaning of this passage. Not having grown up in a home where biblical doctrine was standard fare or bible studies the norm, I came to Christ at the age of 34, having professed atheism the immediate 17 years prior to my conversion. So, I was literally illiterate when it came to what most of the scriptures had to say. I knew the Christmas story, I knew about the passion of my Lord and some of the Old Testament tales, but otherwise the whole bible was new to me.

My first bible after being born again, I took out of a motel room in Jackson, Mississippi, sending the organization who placed the bible there five dollars to assuage my guilt. I carried that bible with me day and night, reading it on my lunch breaks, driving down the road, instead of watching tv at night. I could not get enough of what that book had to say to me.

Shortly after coming to know the Lord, God brought a young Dallas Theological Seminary graduate to the church my wife and I had joined to be the associate pastor. He appreciated the hunger I had for the Lord and he took me under his wing and got me involved in scripture memory, different approaches to studying God’s word and meeting regularly for prayer, bible study and fellowship. I will be eternally grateful for Dave Matthews.

In verse 14 Jesus is speaking and he says, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own (three) servants and delivered his goods to them.”

From chapter 24 we see that Jesus is speaking to His disciples. Whether the reference is to the 12 disciples or a larger group we do not know, but verse 3 of Chapter 24 seems to refer to the 12. If I understand the rules of serious bible study we must first understand the context of any passage we study. After reading through the passage several times I conclude that Jesus is speaking to his most intimate disciples, or the twelve original disciples who are known as the apostles.

The Kingdom of Heaven

According to some commentaries on this passage, the phase, ‘The kingdom of heaven’ that we find in V. 14, was not in the original manuscripts. I cannot find it in my Young’s Exhaustive Concordance nor could I find it in a Concordance that I sometimes use on the internet. My NASB reads, ‘For it is just like a man about to go on a journey,……” with the words it is being in italics. My NKJV reads, ‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a man ….’, with the words the kingdom of heaven being in italics. Generally, as is this case, italics are used in the text to indicate words that are not found in the original manuscript but which certain scholars believe are implied by it.

The meaning of the phrase, ‘the kingdom of heaven’ in the context of Jesus teaching his disciples, all Jews, is probably different from what it means to a typical evangelical today. This term is introduced in the Gospels and seems generally to refer to an imminent   reign of Christ over Israel as their King or the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth in the end times. The Jews, during Christ’s brief ministry here on earth, were looking for the Messiah to come and establish His Kingdom, thus delivering Israel from the hands of the Romans. However, I’m not sure the typical Jew gave much thought to the spiritual dimension of any Messianic Kingdom. However, release from the bondage of Rome would have made any kingdom on earth a heavenly one in the eyes of any Jew.

There seems to be four understandings in Christendom of the possible meanings of the kingdom of heaven worthy of consideration. 1. The Kingdom was the immediate reign of Christ on earth upon acceptance of Him as Messiah by Israel, a plan rejected by the Jews. This would have been the Messianic kingdom and would correspond to what we now know to be the future millennial kingdom. 2. The Kingdom of heaven is in existence right now and its location is in the heart of every believer. 3. The kingdom of heaven is in existence at this time, but is in mystery form. The kingdom in mystery form is the time between the cross and the second coming. 4. The kingdom is future and is the Millennial Kingdom prophesied in scripture and detailed in the Revelations. The emphasis in the gospels, for the most part, seems to be on the millennial kingdom. Thou I find truth in all four positions, I believe that had Israel accepted Christ as Messiah at his first coming then the kingdom of heaven would have come to pass at that time and the Eternal Kingdom would be in existence today.

Is like a man traveling to a far country

Most bible scholars, it seems, conclude from reading of the passage that this man represents Jesus who is going back to heaven to be with His Father after His resurrection until such time as He returns to set up His millennial kingdom on earth, thus the far country represents heaven where God resides.

Who called his own servants….

If the man in this passage represents Christ, then I believe those listening to this discourse would understand the servants mentioned in the passage would represent Israel because Jesus is speaking to fellow Jews. Most of His entire ministry here on earth was spent delivering the message of God’s love for the Jew and His desire for them to turn back to Him and accept their Messiah, Jesus His son, who was in their midst.

Specifically, it seems Jesus is speaking to His closest disciples, some of whom presumably could be classified as true believers at this time in their walk with the Lord. However, we know that at least one, Judas Iscariot, never accepted Christ as Messiah and a case could probably be made that there were others in the band of twelve who had not yet believed in Christ. Perhaps there were other Jews present, but surely no Gentiles. So the servants were most likely believing Jews and unbelieving Jews.

…and delivered his goods to them.

His goods, or possessions, as the NASB has it, are qualified in v.15 as money.

Verse 15, ‘And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.

And He gave….talents

Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary defines talent as: 1) any of several ancient units of weight and money value (as a unit of Palestine and Syria equal to 3000 shekels). 2) the abilities, power, and gifts a person is born with. (In verse 16 the talents will be identified as the master’s money.)

Then he who received the five…..and he who received two….traded …and made…and gained ….. more talents….

We would say that these two were good stewards. They acted wisely, invested the money which was entrusted to them and made a nice return on what their master had entrusted to them.

“But he who received one went…dug… and hid….”

Apparently this servant chose for whatever reason not to be bothered with making any kind of investment, but instead stuck it in the ground for safe keeping. This, I understand, was a common practice in that culture at that time, since they had no banking systems as we have today.

“After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them”.

This is supposedly a picture of the Lord Jesus returning to earth to set up his millennial reign at which time he would reward and/or punish those with whom he left his possessions.

So he who had received five talents….

Verse 20, ‘So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents and saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents beside them’. The servant who had received five talents returns the talents plus the return on his investment to the master.

Well done, good and faithful servant….

Verse 21, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord. The master seems to be very pleased with the result of the first servants efforts and rewards him greatly.

He also who had received two talents came….

Verse 22, He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents: look, I have gained two more talents besides them’. The servant who had received two talents returns those two plus two more as a result of his investments to the master.

His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant……”

Verse 23, His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord’.

The master of the slave responded with praise for his second servant and promise of great reward that was identical to the reward promised the first servant.

Then he who had received the one talent came…

Verse 24 - 25 Then he who had received the one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ This servant who had taken his one talent and buried it in the ground, returns the one talent to his master and explains why he had not invested the talent and made some kind of return on the investment. He was afraid of his master. He did not trust his master to do right by him, no matter what he did with the money because he did not truly know his master. He does not have an intimate, personal relationship with his master. He sees the master as a hard man, one who would reap where he did not sew and gather where he had planted no seed, perhaps meaning that he sometimes gleaned from others field which would be considered stealing to a Jew, thus seeing his master not as a good, honest, honorable person but one who was to be despised and shunned.

The response of the first two servants is more typical of a believer while the response of the third is more like that of an unbeliever.

But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant….’

Verse 26, ‘but his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest

His master seems to respond in anger at the third servant, calling him wicked and lazy. Some would have his response being in the form of a question rather than any kind of admittance that the third servant was correct in his observation of the master’s true character. Thus the master would be saying something similar to ‘You knew, did you that I was a hard man…..’

So take the talent from him…

… and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

This cannot be a picture of Christ dealing with a believer. Would Christ ever regard a child of God as an evil being? How could Christ ever cast a true believer into hell?

Who is the master instructing to take this servants talent? And what does he mean to everyone who has, more will be given? A very careful study of the phrase outer darkness shows us that this is a term used for hell. Also, a careful study of the phrase weeping and gnashing of teeth depicts great pain, agony, suffering which no child of God will ever suffer once he closes his eyes in death or is taken up to meet the Lord in the air.

However, some do teach that the master of the servants is Jesus Christ and the servants represent believers, that the journey the master goes on represents His departure from earth at His ascension and His return at the end of the great tribulation. Some teach that the event of the return of the master represents the Bema judgment where the works of all believers will be tested as by fire. According to those who hold this view, the good works, represented as gold and silver, withstand the test as of fire and result in great reward for these believers. These are the good servants in this story. The unfaithful servant is the Christian who produces bad works and his punishment is to be caste into the outer darkness for a period of time.

Let us look at this parable in light of the whole counsel of God’s word.

If the master represents Christ, then the three servants cannot all represent saved people. The first two could very well represent truly born again believers, but the lazy slave cannot be a true believer because then Jesus would be punishing him by casting him into hell as represented by the outer darkness or to some other abode where the Lord will not be present. The apostle Paul says, for every believer, that when we depart this earthly body we will abide in the presence of the Lord to exist there for evermore. “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). The reality is that from the moment we believe throughout all eternity we are never separated from the Lord. How then could a believer be cast out of His presence?

I believe Jesus is speaking to Jews exclusively, about future things, that pertain to Jews exclusively. Without abusing the parable, let us say that Jesus is representing Himself in the man who goes on a journey, then we can say that the slaves represents those to whom Christ was sent, His own people the Jews for there are no gentiles present and the church was yet future, therefore there are no Christians in existence.

The talents could very well represent all that Christ has availed to the Jews: His teaching, the knowledge of who He truly is and why He came as revealed by prophecy. He is leaving earth to return to the Father via His death on the cross, his burial, resurrection and ascension, all of which point the way for Jews and all mankind to understand who He was, is and is to come. They are without excuse.

When He returns, He will find that some have understood, accepted and used His treasures. They not only have become believers themselves, but they have reaped results of a few lost souls to many lost souls coming to know Jesus as Messiah, and in the case of any gentiles, Savior and Lord. He rewarded those who had accepted him as Savior and had spread the good news to the nation and the world. And for those who had not used His treasure to believe in Him for their own salvation, He cast into hell. Period.

Why I disagree with those who teach a different gospel

Here is why I think B-- B-----, T--- E---- and others are teaching heresy when they equate all three of these servants with children of God, who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb.

Jesus can never banish or cast a child of His into hell or anyplace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. He promises: 1. That every child of his would be with Him always and that their final abode will be with Him in heaven (Matt. 28:20). 2. That He is coming back to take them to heaven to a mansion that He has prepared and that they will be with Him always where ever He is (John 14:2&3), 1 Thess. 4:16 & 17). 3. He has assured His disciples that He gives them eternal life and that no one can snatch them out of His or the Fathers hands (John 10:28&29). 4. Very importantly He gives every believer eternal life and if he would cast a child of his into hell, even for one nano second, then He is a liar and eternal life is not eternal. 5. Most important. If the finished work of Christ on the cross is not sufficient to atone for ever sin a child of God has committed or will commit, then His work was not finished, was not sufficient and was a terrible sham foisted on mankind.

We have the promise that the blood of Jesus covers every sin past, present and future for those who put their faith and trust in Him. We are promised that as a believer, if we confess our sins then God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. God’s forgiveness extends even unto poor, shameful, weak, shallow, ineffectual, selfish works that we have done or works, which we should have done that we did not do. When a child of God stands before Jesus Christ at the Bema Seat and his wood, hay and stubble is exposed to the heat of God’s testing fire, the bad works will be consumed by the fire, but the child of God will be saved to enjoy what rewards he did receive for his good deeds and eternity will continue without further punitive incidents relevant to the bad deeds or sin. They are gone, forgotten and remembered no more by God or anyone.

How do I know this? Let me count the ways. Romans 8 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” For a child of God to receive a punitive sentence at the Bema Seat (after having received a glorified body and having spent time in the presence of the Lord Jesus in heaven either through death or via the rapture) is saying blatantly that the blood of Christ was not sufficient to cover all of our egregious actions or deeds. At the Bema Seat of Christ it is our works that will be tested by fire and it has nothing to do with sin. The only loss that will occur there is that of rewards that could have been ours had we done those works that result in awards.

For T E and others to teach that the lazy, wicked servant represents either the carnal Christian or the weak, insincere Christian who just didn’t produce many good works and that the Bema Seat of Christ as a vehicle which the Lord will use to punish these lazy, wicked Christians, they are doing great violent to the kingdom of God. They are saying that the blood of Christ may cover a multitude of sins, but not all. Or, they are saying that in some mysterious way bad works and sins are somehow related.

Carnal, according to Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary means, 1: of or relating to the body: corporal; 2: marked by sexuality: sensual; 3: characterized by physical rather than spiritual orientation. Therefore, all carnal acts are sinful and are in no way related to works. Christ’s death on the cross, where He became the totality of man’s sin, resulted in the sins of all mankind for all time being dealt with in a way that pleased and satisfied (propitiated) God the Father’s judgment of sin. That is where and when the total payment for every mans sin was paid in full.

Good works, produced in the life of a believer, or the things done on behalf of others that bring honor and glory to God. Good works are the beneficial, tangible effects of a regenerate, obedient heart in submission to the indwelling Holy Spirit. The results of good works for the believer are rewards given out at the Bema seat.

On the other hand the wood, hay and stubble produced in the life of a believer are the things done in the flesh for our on vainglory or selfish ambition that are not sinful per se but do not bring honor and glory to the Lord.

The Bema seat of Christ deals with both kinds of works performed by Christians while living on earth. Scriptures says they will be tested by fire. Those works that were done in the power of the Holy Spirit will survive the test by fire and will result in rewards. Those done in the power of the flesh will be consumed by the fire and the result will be loss of rewards. This judgment seat will have nothing to do with sins. What these men are presenting to the church is another gospel.



Posted July 30, 2011


Is the Bible the Inspired Word of God?

By Jason Carlson and Ron Carlson 5/25/11

During a question-and-answer session at a recent speaking engagement, a university student asked me, "Why do you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God?" Now this is a very interesting question – and probably one of the most important questions any Christian could ask themselves. What is so special, so unique about the Bible that Christians believe it is literally the inspired word of God?

In answering this student's question, I encouraged him to consider the following facts about the Bible:

First, the Bible is not just one single book. This is a more common misconception than many people realize, especially with people who do not come from a Judeo-Christian background. Rather than being a single book, the Bible is actually a collection of 66 books, which is called the canon of scriptures. These 66 books contain a variety of genres: history, poetry, prophecy, wisdom, literature, letters, and apocalyptic just to name a few.

Second, these 66 books were written by 40 different authors. These authors came from a variety of backgrounds: shepherds, fishermen, doctors, kings, prophets, and others. And most of these authors never knew one another personally.

Third, these 66 books were written over a period of 1500 years. Yet again, this is another reminder that many of these authors never knew or collaborated with one another in writing these books.

Fourth, the 66 books of the Bible were written in 3 different languages. In the Bible we have books that were written in the ancient languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; a reflection of the historical and cultural circumstances in which each of these books were written.

And finally, these 66 books were written on 3 different continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe . Once again, this is a testament to the varied historical and cultural circumstances of God's people.

Think about the above realities: 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents. What's more, this collection of books shares a common storyline- the creation, fall, and redemption of God's people; a common theme- God's universal love for all of humanity; and a common message- salvation is available to all who repent of their sins and commit to following God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. In addition to sharing these commonalities, these 66 books contain no historical errors or contradictions. God's word truly is an amazing collection of writings!

After I had shared the above facts with this student, I offered him the following challenge: I said to him, "If you do not believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, if you do not believe that the Bible is of a supernatural origin, then I challenge you to a test." I said to the student, "I challenge you to go to any library in the world, you can choose any library you like, and find 66 books which match the characteristics of the 66 books in the Bible. You must choose 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, written on 3 different continents. However, they must share a common storyline, a common theme, and a common message, with no historical errors or contradictions." I went on to say, "If you can produce such a collection of books, I will admit that the Bible is not the inspired word of God." The student's reply was almost
instantaneous, he emphatically stated, "But that's impossible!"

"But that's impossible!" It truly is impossible, for any collection of human writings. However, the Bible passes this test. The Bible contains 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents, with no historical errors or contradictions. The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, bears the mark of Divine inspiration.

The next time you encounter someone who asks you why you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, try sharing this challenge with them. Better yet, don't wait until you're asked, just go ahead and share this challenge with a friend today.. You don't even have to mention the Bible up front, just ask them if they think it would be realistic to assemble such a collection of books. After they say, "But that's impossible!" you've got a ready-made opportunity for sharing the truth.





Posted: February 28, 2011 by Joel Rosenberg in Uncategorized

Israel could still strike Iran, despite Mideast unrest - While chaos and change reigned supreme, Iran succeeded in repairing its uranium-enrichment plant after the cyber-attack by the Stuxnet computer worm.

It is so painful to watch the horror show underway in Libya right now. Estimates tell us that at least 1,000 Libyans are dead. Many more are wounded. Some 100,000 people have apparently fled Libya in recent days as the situation goes from bad to worse.

The first sentence of a new Time magazine article asks, "Is it the End of Days for Libya?" The article looks at the rising death toll as Gaddafi continues using his army to slaughter the Libyan people desperate for change. It also asks the question of whether Libya will experience peace even if (or when) Gaddafi is deposed. Dirk Vandewalle, a Libyan expert at Dartmouth University, told Time: "Both sides, both the population,and the security organizations, know exactly what's at stake. If government militias [are to] win, they will have to kill many more, and if the security organizations lose, then the people, the regular people in Libya are going to take their revenge....Either way we're going to see a terrible blood bath." David Mack, a former deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, told Time that the worst possible outcome would be a widespread lawlessness in which Libya degenerated into a kind of "Somalia on the Mediterranean."

What does the Bible tell us? Libya is referred to numerous times in the Scriptures, both directly and indirectly.

In Matthew 27, for example, we learn that it was a Libyan man - Simon of Cyrene (a part of ancient Libya) - who carried the cross for our Lord Jesus.

In Acts chapter 2, we learn that God-fearing men from Libya were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and heard the Apostle Peter preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Some 3,000 people that days repented of their sins and became fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. It is likely that Libyans were among them since they are mentioned in the text.

In Acts 11, we learn that Libyan (Cyrene) followers of Jesus Christ helped bring the gospel to Antioch, Syria, and made disciples for Jesus there.

In Acts 13 we learn that a Libyan man - Lucius of Cyrene - becomes one of the leaders of the church at Antioch, helping send out Barnabus and Paul to take the gospel to Asia and Europe.

Again and again in the Scriptures we see that the Lord loves the people of Libya. He wants them to know Him and receive His free gift of salvation.

That said, Bible prophecy also tells us the government and many of the people of Libya will be engaged in great evil in the End of Days.

In Ezekiel 38-39, we learn that Libya is one of the nations that joins the Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel in "the last days." In this prophecy, Ezekiel uses the name "Put." The first century historian Flavius Josephus wrote in his famous book, The Antiquities of the Jews, that "Put" or "Phut" is "ancient Libyos." Ancient Libyos, we know, certainly included the territory of the modern nation state we refer to today as Libya, but also included Algeria and possibly Tunisia. This tells us the no matter what the near term outcomes of the revolutions underway in North Africa are, in the not-too-distant future Libya for certain and possibly her neighbors will have virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel leadership who will eagerly join a coalition bent on destroying the Jews and occupy the land of Israel. Gaddafi, of course, is already such a leader. Perhaps he will ride out this storm and stay in power. Perhaps someone worse will rise up after him. Hopefully Gaddafi will be deposed and a more moderate leadership will rise up for a season before the prophecy of the "War of Gog and Magog" comes to fulfillment. Either way, the Church should be using this window of time to do everything possible to get the gospel into Libya and to strengthen the persecuted believers in Libya before the country faces God's judgment for attacking Israel.

In Daniel 11, we learn that Libya is one of the countries that will be under the control and direction of the Antichrist in "the last days." The Hebrew Prophet Daniel tells us that "a despicable person will arise" during "a time of tranquility" and will seize global power "by intrigue" and by "overflowing forces" in the End Times. This person, known in Christian theology as the Antichrist, "will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done." The Bible tells us the Antichrist "will enter the Beautiful Land" - that is, Israel - and "will stretch out his hand against other countries." Eventually, the Antichrist will gain control of the entire world and force all people who haven't received Christ as Savior and Lord to bow and worship him or be beheaded. But the Bible specifically notes that the Antichrist "will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Ethiopians [the people of "Cush," which includes modern Sudan, Ethiopia and possible Eritrea] will follow at his heels." It is not entirely clear why the Bible points specifically to "Libyans" and "Ethiopians" as among those who will follow and serve the Antichrist, but this is what the Lord tells us in advance will happen.

This is all the more reason the Church must seek to reach all of North Africa with the gospel of Jesus Christ before it is too late. Please be praying faithfully for Libya and all of North Africa at this critical hour.


Is It The Second Coming of Christ or Is It The Rapture

Comparing Verses that refer to the 2nd Coming of Christ with verses that refer to the Rapture which is the removal of the church from the earth during the last days.

Recently, I taught our Wednesday night bible study in which I compared those verses of Scripture that are addressing either the return of the Lord Jesus at His second coming or they are referring to the coming of Christ in the air to rapture the church. Following is the text from my presentation.

I personally believe that we are living in the end times, quickly approaching the time of Jacobs trouble or the day of the Lord. What I would like to do tonight is look at some verses of scripture that are either talking about the second coming of Jesus Christ or they are referencing a time when the Son of Man will come to a spot in the lower heavens just above the earth and will give a clarion call that will summons the living and dead, who make up the church, to himself and take us back to heaven with him. However, I don't want this to be so much a time of teaching as a time of sharing and a time of understanding and a time of rejoicing of what is soon to come.

In Rev 19:11-14 the apostle John says, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses."
These verses, coupled with those that follow for the remainder of chapter nineteen, without a doubt refer to the 2nd coming of Christ to the earth. Note that Jesus is on a white horse and He is not alone. He is followed by the armies of heaven. Now let me ask a question. Where is this setting? Do we agree that it is in heaven?
Next question. Who makes up the armies of heaven? Let's see if Jesus Himself has already given us the answer elsewhere in scripture .
Look at Matt 24:30-31, Jesus is speaking, "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Here is the same passage of scripture from the Parallel New Testament in Greek and English with interlinear translation by Alfred Marshall.
"And then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then will bewail all the tribes of the land and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and much glory; and he will send the angels of him with a great trumpet, and they will assemble the chosen (elect) of him out of the four winds from the extremities of heavens unto the extremities of them."
Can we say that these two different passages of scripture speak of the same event? Yes, I believe we can. Note the elect are assembled from one end of heaven to the other. It doesn't say one end of the earth to the other. Note also that the angels used a trumpet to assemble the elect. Now lets compare these two passages of scripture with other similar scripture and see if we can detect important differences.
Let's read 1 Cor 15:51-54. "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality."

Before we go any farther I want to share my understanding of this term Mystery that Paul uses in this verse. According to Merle F. Unger's New Unger Bible Dictionary.
MYSTERY (Gk. Musterion). The NT use of the term "mystery" has reference to some operation or plan of God hitherto unrevealed. It does not carry the idea of a secret to be withheld, but of one to be published (1 Cor. 4:1; "secret things," NIV). Paul uses the word twenty-one times. The term mystery, moreover, comprehends not only a previously hidden truth, presently divulged, but one that contains a supernatural element that still remains in spite of the revelation.
Thus, it seems that Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit is saying, "I am revealing something to you that previously God has chosen not to disclose." However, I believe that there are old and new testament scripture that allude to what Paul is revealing here.
Now back to the verse. Note no mention of angels. It doesn't say that angels blew the trumpet. It doesn't in fact say any one blew the trumpet. It says the trumpet will sound. I believe this trumpet is for the church only and only the departed saints of the church and those who are alive at the time of this event will hear and understand that it is the Groom calling forth His bride, the church, to join Him in the clouds above the earth.
Let's also read 1 Thess 4:13-17. "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout , with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."
Note who it is that descends from heaven. Question: Who is with Him? He is apparently alone. No mention of a horse. No mention of angels. Some commentators say that the construction of the passage indicates that it is the Lords voice that has the sound of an archangel, meaning urgency and authority. This is not the trumpet mentioned in Revelations 19, or Matt. 24. Again, some think it is the last trumpet of and for the church. The phrase, "With the trumpet of God" doesn't mean that an angel blew it or the Lord Himself for that matter. The phrase could mean that the sound was a clarion sound.
Webster says of clarion: obtrusively clear and high pitched, as a trumpets sound
If there is going to be a rapture of the church and if it is going to take place some time before the second coming, we don't have too many passages that describe an event such as the rapture and 1 Cor. 15 and Thess. 4 are our choices.
One final note. The Greek word in verse 17 translated "caught up" in English, is rendered raptured in Latin.
Paul's teaching on the Rapture was not his own speculation but direct revelation from God. The phrase, ‘this we say to you by the word of the Lord' has the authoritative tone of an inspired writer revealing what God has disclosed to him. Some argue that ‘the word of the Lord' refers to something Jesus said while He was here on earth. But there are no close parallels to the present passage in any of the Gospels, nor is there any specific teaching in the Gospels to which Paul could be alluding. Although the Lord talked in the Gospels about a trumpet and the gathering of the elect, the differences between those passages and the present one outweigh the similarities. As one commentator notes:
Similarities between this passage in 1 Thessalonians and the gospel accounts include a trumpet (Matt. 24:32), a resurrection (John 11:25, 26), and a gathering of the elect (Matt. 24:319)... Yet dissimilarities between it and the canonical sayings of Christ far outweigh the resemblances... Some of the differences between Matt. 24:30, 31 and 1 Thess. 4:13 - 17 are as follows: (1) In Matthew the Son of Man is coming on the clouds,... in 1 Thess. Ascending believers are in them. (2) In the former the angels gather, in the latter the Son does so personally. (3) In the former nothing is said about resurrection, while in the latter this is the main theme. (4) Matthew records nothing about the order of ascent, which is the principal lesson in Thessalonians. ("1, 2 Thessalonians," in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 11 [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979], 276-77)
It is not likely that Paul is referring to a saying of Jesus not recorded in the Gospels (cf. Acts 20:35);
Look at Acts 20:35. "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
He does not state or imply that he is directly quoting Christ's words. As I have already pointed out in 1 Cor. 15:51 Paul referred to the Rapture as a mystery; that is, a truth formerly hidden but now revealed. That indicates that Jesus did not disclose the details of the Rapture during His earthly ministry. (He referred to the Rapture in John 14:1-3 in a general, nonspecific sense.)

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:1-3

Paul's teaching on the Rapture was new revelation, given by God through the Holy Spirit breathing into Paul's heart, mind, soul and spirit the truths that God wanted Paul to share with the church.

The Thessalonians had apparently been informed about the Day of the Lord judgment (5:1-2), but not about the preceding event-the Rapture of the church-until the Holy Spirit through Paul revealed it to them. This was new revelation, unveiled mystery.

The Rapture, then, does not rest on the shaky foundation of whimsical theological speculation, but on the sure foundation of the death, resurrection, and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Quick question. What is the purpose of the tribulation period? Why do we need to know about Gods purpose for that period of time referred to in scripture as the day of the Lord, Jacobs trouble or the Tribulation?

The short answer: Since the tribulation is a future seven-year period of time when God will finish His discipline of Israel and finalize His judgment of the unbelieving world, we need to understand that the church will not be involved in this period of suffering and horror. However, an understanding of Daniel 9:24 - 27 is necessary in order to understand the purpose and time of the tribulation. Let me read that passage.

"Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing , and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."

This passage speaks of 70 weeks that have been declared against "your people." Daniel's people are the Jews, the nation of Israel, and Dan. 9:24 speaks of a period of time that God has given "to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy." God declares that "seventy sevens" will fulfill all these things. This is 70 sevens of years, or 490 years. (Some translations refer to 70 weeks of years.) This is confirmed by another part of this in Daniel. In verses 25 and 26, Daniel is told that the Messiah will be cut off after "seven sevens and sixty-two sevens" (69 total), beginning with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. In other words, 69 sevens of passage years (483 years) after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, the Messiah will be cut off. Biblical historians confirm that 483 years passed from the time of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the time when Jesus was crucified. Most Christian scholars, regardless of their view of eschatology (future things/events), have the above understanding of Daniel's 70 sevens.

With 483 years having passed from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the cutting off of the Messiah, this leaves one seven-year period to be fulfilled in terms of Dan. 9:24 "to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy." This final seven-year period is known as the tribulation period-it is a time when God finishes judging Israel for its sin.

Dan. 9:27 gives a few highlights of the seven-year tribulation period: "He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him." The person of whom this verse speaks is the person Jesus calls the "abomination that causes desolation" (Matthew 24:15) and is called "the beast" in Revelation 13. Daniel 9:27 says that the beast will make a covenant for seven years, but in the middle of this week (3 1/2 years into the tribulation), he will break the covenant, putting a stop to sacrifice. Revelation 13 explains that the beast will place an image of himself in the temple and require the world to worship him. Revelation 13:5 says that this will go on for 42 months, which is 3 1/2 years. Since Daniel 9:27 says that this will happen in the middle of the week, and Revelation 13:5 says that the beast will do this for a period of 42 months, it is easy to see that the total length of time is 84 months or seven years. Also see Daniel 7:25, where the "time, times, and half a time" (time=1 year; times=2 years; half a time=1/2 year; total of 3 1/2 years) also refers to "great tribulation," the last half of the seven-year tribulation period when the beast will be in power.

For further references about the tribulation, see Revelation 11:2-3, which speaks of 1260 days and 42 months, and Daniel 12:11-12, which speaks of 1290 days and 1335 days. These days have a reference to the midpoint of the tribulation. The additional days in Daniel 12 may include the time at the end for the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-46) and time for the setting up of Christ's millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).

I hope this material on the tribulation period is helpful in understanding why there must be a tribulation period. Because I am convinced that having a good understanding of why there is going to be a tribulation period helps us understand why God is not going to allow the church to suffer through this period of time.

The tribulation period is a time for God to finish his special work with Israel and to once and for all open their eyes to who their Messiah is and to fulfill all his promises to that nation. It is also a time for God to deal with the sins of all nations and to usher in the earthly kingdom reign of His Son. Since this will be a time of dealing with Israel and the rest of the ungodly people of the world, it has nothing to do with the Church whom God has promised to keep from this time of horror.

I pray God's blessings have been upon you as your read through this material. I would appreciate any thoughts that you might want to share. Go to our contact page and email me.

Also you have my permission to copy any material from this website and email to others or use them in your private study time.


Understanding the Holiness of God, part one.

The following is a four part series on Discovering, Understanding and Applying the holiness of God to our lives. I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will lead all of us, who believe in the Lord Jesus as our Savior, to look seriously at our walk before Him and ask the question, "Do others see the holiness of God in me?"

Understanding the Holiness of God
Part One

There is a journey upon which we all embarked the day we accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. And it is the journey that becomes for some of us the longest, hardest trek of our lives. Now some of you may have started this journey full of spiritual vim and vigor and may be well on your way. However, I think it would be safe to say that most of us, though we may have started well, somewhere along the way we became complacent, discouraged, or we hit that proverbial brick wall. Or at the very best we reach a plateau and start walking in circles.

This journey I am talking about is the journey to discover all that we can about the holiness of God and then through the power of the Holy Spirit to understand the knowledge we gain and to apply that knowledge to our lives.

As for me, the journey has been on going since March 1975. Sometimes, I am convinced the trip thus far has not been very fruitful and the Holy Spirit has very little to show for the time, the toil and surely tears He has invested in me. To put it another way, if my salvation was equated to the planting of an acorn the day I believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior, spiritually I should be a mighty oak tree with branches reaching high towards heaven. However, that is not how I see myself. Considering the amount of time I have spent in prayer and personal bible study, scripture memory and research, in Spiritual seminars and retreats, in group bible studies and reading good, solid biblical based Christian literature I think I should be a spiritual giant, but I'm not.

But thanks be to God, as of late, He has given me a new desire to get serious about becoming conformed to the image of His Son. The desire and power for this renewed interest and determination has come mainly from the studies I have done on the blessings that are ours the moment we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. You can read what I have discovered through God's Word by going to and clicking on Reflections and Bible Studies.

I am convinced that God wants all of His children to experience all the blessings that are ours through faith in His Son. I am convinced that we are living in the last days with the coming of the Lord Jesus in the clouds above the earth to call His bride, the Church, to Himself nigh at hand. Therefore, I want to be ready and living for Him when He comes.

My greatest desire today is to be holy as my heavenly Father is holy. I am trying to live each moment in expectation of that clarion sound coming from the clouds on high as is recorded in 1 Thess. Chapter four:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

I want to discover all I can about the Holiness of my heavenly Father so that I might know Him more intimately, more profoundly and to a greater spiritual depth than I have ever imagined.

Let me start by sharing from my Webster's New World Dictionary as it defines holiness.

holiness (hō'lē nis) n. the quality or state of being holy

holy (hō lē) adj. 1 belonging to or coming from God; 2 spiritually perfect or pure; untainted by evil or sin; sinless; saintly 3 regarded with or deserving deep respect, awe, reverence, or adoration.

In regards to holiness, as it pertains to the one and only great God of the Universe, our Creator, Merrill F. Unger in his New Unger's Bible Dictionary states:

Holiness of God. Holiness is one of the essential attributes of the divine nature. It is, on the one hand, entire freedom from moral evil and, on the other, absolute moral perfection. The Scriptures lay great stress upon this attribute of God. Of great consequence in this connection is the revelation of God's holiness in the character and work of Jesus Christ.

By the holiness of God, it is not implied that He is subject to some law or standard of moral excellence external to Himself, but that all moral law and perfection have their eternal and unchangeable basis in His own nature. He is the One in whom these eternal sanctities reside, who is Himself the root and ground of them all. In this sense it is said without qualification, "There is none holy like the Lord" (1 Samuel 2:2); "Thou alone art holy" (Rev. 15:4).

The holiness of God is set before us in the Scriptures as of great practical consequence. (1) It is the special ground of reverence, awe, and adoration. (2) It is the standard of all holiness. (3) It implies necessarily the divine opposition to, and condemnation of, all sin. (4) The contemplation of this attribute is accordingly peculiarly adapted to awaken or deepen human consciousness of sin. (5) It is revealed to men, nevertheless, as setting before them the highest end of their aspiration, hope, and endeavor. -New Unger's Bible Dictionary

My first objective in this pursuit of the Holiness of God is discovery. I hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit working in me, to discover all that can be found about the holiness of God. From the Word of God I want to discover what holiness looks like, how it feels, what is the scent and flavor of it. Plainly speaking, I want to see, feel, smell and taste the holiness of God.

My second objective is to have a broad, biblically based understanding of His holiness. I want to know intimately, thoroughly and deeply what holiness is and how God, my Father, wants it applied to my life.

Thirdly, I want His holiness, to become my holiness and I want it to change, enlarge, simplify, identify and solidify who I am in Christ. I want the Holy Spirit to inculcate into my inner most being the greatest awe, respect and reverence for our heavenly Father and our God that any mortal has ever experienced.

Here are a few verses from the Old Testament that give us an inkling of the holiness of God:

"Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?" Ex.15:11

Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever. Ps. 93:5
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." Isaiah 6:3

One of those verses that convicted me of the attitude of most Christians today toward the Holiness of God comes from Ezek 36:23;

"And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,""says the Lord God, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes."
I know that in context God is addressing Israel in this verse and He is telling her that she has profaned His great name by living in rebellion and disobeying His law. But, let's be honest. The same can be said of the church today. We do not testify with our lives that the God we serve is a Holy God who is to be revered and worshipped in His holiness. Therefore, I believe the Lord God is saying that one day, before His Son comes to set up His millennial Kingdom on earth and perhaps before the rapture, His people are going to worship Him in His holiness as they should have been doing all along.

We, the Church of Jesus Christ, need to be praying, in part, the prayer of Zacharias, the Father of John the Baptist:

" ... grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve You without fear, In holiness and righteousness before You all the days of our life." Luke 1:74-75.

Then we need to make sure that our testimony follows the admonition of the apostle Paul:

"For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in holiness and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you." 2 Cor 1:12

"Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Cor 7:1

"But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness". Eph 4:20-24

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." 1 Thess 3:12-13

Brothers and sisters in Christ I will be posting in the days ahead some of the insights that I hope to discover in God's Word, in the light of His holiness, how then we should live.

Some conclusions that I have come to through the study of and meditation on God's Word thus far:

Any understanding of the meaning of sin must begin with an understanding of the holiness of God.

God's holiness is the benchmark by which we gain an understanding of what sin really is.
Our concept of God determines our response to God.
For most people, sin is defined by the person's concept of "God".
What one considers holy determines how they will live.
No person lives beyond his or her concept of God.

I want each of you to think about these conclusions and what the ramifications are when applied to our lives. Contact me via our contact page if you have any thoughts or questions.


Understanding the Holiness of God Part Two

Part Two
For mankind to understand the meaning of sin they must understand the holiness of God. God is our point of reference when we begin to understand what sin really is. In the mind, sin is mainly defined by a person's concept of God. If we see our God as a loving, passive, patsy whose love for man overrides His Own Holiness, then we will live and respond in conjunction with that belief. If we believe that a loving God would never condemn anyone to eternal suffering in hell for sin; our lives, for the most part, will reflect this concept of God. If we believe that the degree to which one rejoices or suffers in the afterlife is determined by a God who continually weighs our good and bad deeds with His balance, we will always be convinced that the good things we do will always outweigh the bad things. Thus we assure ourselves of a heaven with minimal suffering. However, this assurance is based upon faulty memory not intuition.

Our concept of God determines our response to God. To the extent that we consider our God holy determines how we will live. No person lives a more holy, righteous life than his or her concept of God.

The extent to which we understand the holiness of God helps determine if we serve Yahweh, the true God of the Bible, or some false god. We do not have the prerogative to define God as we want Him to be. God defines Himself. He defines His nature. He defines His holiness and all that He is. God is the standard by which we must judge what is holy and what is sin.

There is no one who upon reading the sum of Scripture could come away saying I know nothing of the holiness of God. However, apart from faith in Jesus Christ man can never fully discover, understand and appreciate the Holiness of God in its totality. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit of God living in a true child of God that reveals the Holiness of God to those He indwells. The striving for holiness apart from Jesus Christ always results in self righteousness. A perfect example of self righteous men are the scribes and Pharisees of the New Testament. Who was the chief Pharisee? Saul of Tarsus. And the same man thought he was doing a holy work for Jehovah by hunting down and persecuting Christians, until He met the Son of Jehovah who had died on the cross for the sins of man and was in fact Saul's long awaited Messiah. Through this encounter on the road to Damascus, Saul the Pharisee became Paul the apostle who became perhaps our greatest example of one seeking the holiness of God.

Therefore, I will be so bold as to say that one of the chief desires of God for mankind is that all humankind come to know Him in the fullness of His holiness. Why would Jesus have given his followers this admonition if it were not so:

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matt 6:33

I know that one of the great reasons most of the Old Testament and the bulk of the four Gospels were originally God breathed into the heart of Godly men was for the purpose of drawing Israel to the true God and providing a way for all mankind to have fellowship with Him through a faithful Israel. Yet, we must never get away from the total purposes of Holy Scripture as recorded by the apostle Paul.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Tim 3:16-17

This allows those of us living under the New Covenant to find great comfort, encouragement and purpose in the whole of scripture. Therefore, I rejoice in the words of the prophet Jeremiah even though he was speaking to the nation of Israel when he proclaimed these words of God.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jer 29:11-13

Based upon this promise to men and women of all time, I know that humankind can find this holy God. They can discover for themselves who this wonderful, holy God is when they call upon Him and seek Him with all their heart. Once we find God, through faith in His Son, the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in us the moment we believe will lead us to all truth and understanding.

I wonder if perhaps Peter wasn't meditating on the grace and holiness of God when the Holy Spirit inspired him to write these words to us:

"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."" 1 Peter 1:13-17

As I have meditated on these verses and come to an understanding of what the Holy Spirit must be saying through Peter I am putting forth that information in the TNT version (Tom's Nifty Translation).

"Tom, I want you to wrap My Belt of Wisdom and Knowledge, which is My Word, around your cranium and in the power of The Holy Spirit walk daily by faith in the abundance of Grace that has been available to you since the moment you placed your faith in Me. I want you to be obedient to My perfect will, conforming yourself only to Me. Forget the things your did and were out of ignorance and disobedience in the past. Because I am holy, I have called you to be holy in all you think, say and do just as the Holy Spirit has written in My Word. ‘ Be holy, for I am holy,' This is the way, walk in it!"

Bible scholars, historically have understood that holiness in Scripture takes its essential meaning from what and who God is. God, as He has revealed Himself in the three Persons of the Trinity, is holy in Himself. Therefore, all holiness that is of man is derived from a relationship with Him. Under the New Covenant no one comes to God except through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

Thus, if we are to be holy as God wants us to be holy, we must first enter into relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Perhaps, some of you might be wondering how do you do that? For those of you who are in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ bare with me for a moment. For those who are not sure about their relationship with Jesus Christ, I beseech you to go the webpage, on this website, titled The Way, The Truth and The Life and discover how you can have an eternal relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son.

I believe that men and women since the Garden of Eden have struggled greatly with the concept of holiness. Natural man just does not like the sound of the word, much less the meaning. I wonder when any mention of holiness evokes a negative response in the human heart if it isn't just the old Adamic nature raising its ugly head.

In light of the fact that there is some kind of mental or negative emotional response to holiness, perhaps it would be more acceptable to some if we used the word "godly" "godliness," or "God-likeness." Of or from God is the definition of godliness. And that is what holiness is. The extent to which someone is godly is determined by their likeness to the One True God. Sin in the eyes of God is disobedience to His known, revealed will. A child of God should always make the greatest effort to obey God's will regardless the cost.

My next article on discovering, understanding and conforming to the holiness of God is in draft form. Look for it in about a week. If you have any questions or comments contact me through the contact page. Until then, I again ask God's blessing upon every reader by opening the eyes of their spirit to His truths as they study His Word, as Bereans, to determine if what is proclaimed on these pages are true. Tom



Understanding the Holiness of God Part Three

Part Three
Of the many differences between Christianity and other religions of the world the one that stands out most prominently is that the God of the Bible is infinitely holy. The God of Jews and Christians is absolutely, infinitely, perfectly Holy as revealed in His Word.

In Part 1, I gave the definition of the Holiness of God from Merrill F. Unger's New Unger's Bible Dictionary. On the Holiness of God Unger says:

Holiness is one of the essential attributes of the divine nature. It is, on the one hand, entire freedom from moral evil and, on the other, absolute moral perfection.

I quoted several passages from God's word that tells us of His holiness, included in these:
"Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?" Ex.15:11

No one is holy like the LORD, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God."
1 Sam 2:2

"Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the LORD our God is holy." Psalms 99:9
"He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name." Psalms 111:9
"And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" Isaiah 6:3
"Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You,...." Rev 15:4

Though I was in my mid thirties when I came to faith in Jesus Christ, as a child and until I was about seventeen I attended a strong bible teaching protestant church three or four times weekly. I suspect that almost everyone who regularly attended any church in the forties and fifties as I did will testify to the importance in that era of God's holiness in sermon, prayer and song. We grew up with a sense of God's holiness that permeated the churches teaching, literature and form of worship.

Today, the holiness of God is one of the most neglected subjects in Christendom. Since, perhaps the late sixties, it seems that there has been a great void in the voluminous work of our many preachers, writers, and teachers on the subject of the holiness of God. This is a tragedy. Our children, or in the case of my generation, our grandchildren and great grand children are growing up in churches with dynamic personalities and programs, motivated children's Sunday Schools and youth clubs, but without a true sense of the awesome holiness of God nor the awe and reverence He so greatly deserves.
I remember from my childhood and early adolescence that when the stories of Moses and the burning bush, or the receiving of the Ten Commandments were told great emphasis was placed on the Holiness of God having such a powerful element to it that had Moses gotten too close to God he would have been destroyed. And then when Moses came down off the mountain with the two tablets of stone his face glowed for days because of the effects of the holiness of God upon his physical being from having been in God's presence. As a child I couldn't really understand all that was being taught about God's holiness, but I recall thinking each time I heard the story that to be so impacted by the holy presence of God must be a good thing.

Well, today, over a half century later I know with all my heart that being impacted by the presence of our awesome, Holy God is of the greatest importance. In fact, in the life of a believer it is the very best thing that could ever happen to us. That is one of the main reasons why I am writing this series of articles on the Holiness of God.
I closed article two of Understanding the Holiness of God by saying:

"In light of the fact that there is some kind of mental or negative emotional response to holiness, perhaps it would be more acceptable to some if we used the word "godly" "godliness," or "God-likeness." Of or from God is the definition of godliness. And that is what holiness is. The extent to which someone is godly is determined by their likeness to the One True God. Sin in the eyes of God is disobedience to His known, revealed will. A child of God should always make the greatest effort to obey God's will regardless the cost."

I want to revisit that last statement and continue with the precept that godliness and holiness are the same and what that should mean to a child of God today. I maintain that people today, primarily outside of the Christian faith, but to a small degree within, have a negative, emotional response to the word holiness and too, what they believe holiness to be. I suspect that it stems from a natural proclivity toward hatred of anything holy in our old sin nature. Lost sinful man, left to his own inclinations, will never move toward a holy God. He will always move away from anything having to do with holiness. I am not talking about false piety here. We all know of people of all religions that put on pious airs in the public while in private they seethe with great disdain and hatred for anything that is of the true God.

Christians understand that sin in the eyes of God is disobedience to His known, revealed will. Thus in disobeying God's will we are being ungodly or unholy. In obeying God's will we are being holy or godly. As I said in the above quote from the second article, a child of God should always make the greatest effort to obey God's will regardless the cost. Think about that for a moment and let the truth grab you and hold you tightly and never let you go. This I proclaim to you as being truth upon truth, until a believer values the holiness of God above everything else he or she knows about God, he or she will never truly understand that what they should desire above all else for themselves is to be holy as He is holy.

I know that the loudest cry of every believer's heart, at one time or another is, "It is impossible to be holy as God is holy". I have said it, you have said it and in it's most profound sense it is absolutely true. But, I want to reach a place, spiritually, where my walk with the Lord proves that statement to be a ball face lie. We never say that it is impossible to be a godly person, so why do we say it is impossible to be a holy person. In fact, most believers include in their prayers for themselves this request or one similar, "Father help me to be a godly person in all that I do." Now you might say, "Hey, I have never prayed a prayer like that." So I ask, don't you ask God to help you do His will?" If you sincerely have ever asked God to help you stay in His will, or do His will, or accept His will for Your life, then you have asked God to help you be a holy, a godly, a righteous person. And that is what God's will is for every child of His.

I just came across the following blog about an hour ago and I believe it was God sent. The person has stated very succinctly and beautifully some of the things I believe the Holy Spirit had giving me to say in this article. So, I am going to close with this timely blog from Jana Fischer. I do not know who she is and this is the first blog of hers that I have ever read. I promise you and her that it want be my last. Enjoy it. I give her the credit and God the glory for these things she has to say to all of us about the pursuit of His holiness in our lives. We will pick up here next week as we continue our discussion on the Holiness of God and how to discover, understand and begin living it in our lives.

The Excitement of Holiness
by Jana Fischer
Written 1-08-2010
This early, early morning I was kept awake thinking about what it means to live a holy life. I think we as Christians have been influenced by the current social climate (aka, critics of religious thought and/or culture) into approaching holiness as the utmost of isolation, tedium, irrelevance, pithiness, detachment, holier-than-thou, legalistic boredom. Oh my word is it ever something much more radical and amazing.

Living a holy life means living a life of risk.

Living a holy life means laying everything we have and are on the line.

Living a holy life means that every moment has the potential for greatness beyond what we can imagine.

Living a holy life means surrendering our pitiful efforts and sinful hearts to the One Who is powerful beyond measure, loving beyond belief, and merciful beyond comprehension.

Living a holy life means exchanging the limited for the limitless.

Living a holy life means living the best, most exciting, most fulfilled life we can imagine (and the best, most exciting, more fulfilled life He knows)

Living a holy life means living to the fullness of who we are, who we desire to become, and what we bring to this world.

Living a life of unholiness, no matter how "insignificant" the unholiness in your life is, means living a life where sin is allowed to be in control (no matter how small that part it controls is).

And God cannot work unfettered in any area that we have given over to sin. The Limitless cannot be wed to the limited, just as electrons cannot be bound to protons. Sin is everything He is not. Sin is everything that is limited, hateful, weak, blind, trapped, caged, decrepit, dying, bound.

But to live a holy life--to reject sin and thus to REJECT ALL LIMITATIONS!--means living a life where the power of the Holy One, the power of the Infinitely Loving, Infinitely Powerful, Infinitely Wise, Infinitely Good God does His Loving, Powerful, Wise, and Good work in us, and in through us into the world.

In choosing to live a holy life, we choose to exchange the bondage of sin and worldly satisfaction for the limitless, loving, powerful freedom of Christ. I can't wait to live a holy life! I can't wait to show others--even Christians--that holiness is so much more than monotonous prayer and the shunning of sin. It's an emptying of everything empty, it's a filling up of everything--EVERYTHING--wonderful, beautiful, satisfying, joyful, exciting, risky, profound, limitless. Living a holy life means living a life wherein God has the complete freedom to direct and work through. Do you realize what that means?!

Do you really, I mean REALLY, grasp that potential?! It's amazing!

If we had any realistic concept of the wonder and glory of His Holiness, we would never, for a single moment, wish for anything else to be exhibited in us.

I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, but I'm too excited tonight not to make this my own. It is the one I will never stop making for the rest of my life, though I know I will fail many times. I choose holiness this year, and in doing so I choose to surrender to God's Power and Love, as well as His purifying, purgative, merciful work to help me let go of whatever keeps me bound in impotence. It's scary--but I love adrenaline. It's uncertain--but I love a good mystery. It's begun in a season of darkness and frailty--but I love a good rescue story. It's lonely--but the best romances are the ones with space for a hero. In certain ways it's dangerous--but there is no opportunity for heroism in times of perfect peace.
One thing I know: I'm in love with the Creator of my heart, the Creator of the universe, and I want to live a life that brings me so close to Him--the Creator of the earthly beauty that makes my heart and breath catch in awe--that He literally becomes the lifeblood in my veins. So close that I literally cannot imagine taking a single breath without Him. I want the One Who is All-Powerful, the One Who is All-Loving, the One Who is All-Knowing, the One Who is Perfectly Good, the One Who is Everywhere at Every Time, to be the One working through me.

Honestly, can you conceive of a more exciting way to start a new year and a more exciting way to live life? I DON'T THINK SO!!


Part Four of Discovering, Understanding and Applying the Holiness of God

As I have insinuated in the earlier articles, I believe we Christians today do not have the awe and reverence nor do we show the veneration that believers of earlier times had for our holy God. Let me see if I can prove my point. Consider these defining words from Webster's New World Dictionary and see if they truly represent the attitude towards and treatment of our wonderful God by most believers today.

Awe refers to a feeling of fearful or profound respect or wonder inspired by the greatness, superiority, grandeur, etc. of a person or thing and suggests a captivating effect;

Reverence is applied to a feeling of deep respect mingled with love for something one holds sacred or inviolable and suggest a display of homage, deference, etc;

Veneration implies worshipful reverence for a person or thing regarded as hallowed or sacred and specifically suggests acts of religious devotion.

You be the judge. Do you see these attitudes in the hearts of most believers today? Do you hear these attitudes being expressed in our conversations about the Lord today? Are we reading in our Christian books, articles and bible study materials these descriptions of how we should view, look upon, and approach our God and heavenly Father, as reflected in the words above?

I think you would probably agree with me that these things are missing in the lives of most of us. They certainly have been missing in my life. How then should we live? I will not speak for anyone else, but as for me, I have started on a journey that will end the day God calls me home or sends the Lord Jesus to rapture the church.

I am discovering anew the supreme holiness of God my Father through the reading of and meditating on scripture, praying for supernatural revelation, and seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness. I am asking the Lord Jesus to live His life through me every day from now through eternity. I want to be holy as He is holy. I want to walk daily in His righteousness.

I begin my journey each day by first dealing with my thoughts. From the moment I rise up in the morning until I close my eyes in sleep at night, I try to take my every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Here is my mandate and encouragement from my Father in heaven in the TNT version:

"Tom, though you walk in the flesh, you do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of your warfare are not carnal but mighty in Me, your God, for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Me Your God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ My Son, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." 2 Cor 10:3-6 (NKJV)


"Finally, Tom,, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, Tom, meditate on these things." Phil 4:8

If it doesn't come from His heart I don't want to think it.

Next on my daily agenda is dealing with my tongue. Here is God's message to me concerning my tongue and the words I speak:

"Tom you are no longer a child, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. Therefore, speak the truth in love! Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth. Speak only what is good for the necessary edification of others, that your words may impart grace to the hearers." Eph 4: 14, 15 and 29

As my day unfolds I commit myself to being His man for all seasons. His daily message for me as to how I am to conduct myself whether there is rain, sleet or snow, the bright sun shines or the ill winds blow is:

"Tom, do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in lowliness of mind esteem all others more important than yourself. Don't just look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others. Tom, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in My form, did not consider it robbery to be equal with Me, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore I also have highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to My glory." Phil 2:3-11

" Tom, take up the whole armor I have giving you, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Tom, stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And Tom don't forget, take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is My word for you; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for saints every where." Eph 6:13-18

Remember, in everyday language, holiness for you and me is simply godliness. Anything that violates the will of God for me or for you is ungodliness. So, how then are we to live? We are to practice living daily in godliness. How are we to do that? Begin with our thoughts. The moment we begin thinking anything that we know is out of God's will for us we are to stop and cry out in our hearts to God. "Father help me, right now, help me take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ!" Visualize if you need to, the hands of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us as children of God, snatching those undesirable thoughts and flinging them away. Then immediately ask God to give you thoughts that are pure, that are wholesome, and that build you up spiritually. Remember our minds can easily become Satan's play ground. So, by the power of God in you, tear down Satan's playground equipment by forcing yourself to think as God wants you to think. This is how you tear down the strongholds of the evil one in your minds. Memorize those things in Phil. 4:8 that God through the apostle Paul has told us to think on.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate (think) on these things.

Being a holy man is going to take great effort and lots of blood, sweat and tears. But our Great and Awesome God is worthy of all our efforts. And with His help we will prevail.

So, are you ready to get started? Are you ready to become a godly person? Whether you are a man or woman, as believers in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we all begin this journey the same way. We take that first step. I believe that first step is telling our heavenly Father exactly what we want to do in the power of His Spirit. Let me share my prayer to God with you.

Father in heaven I am ashamed that I have spent so many years just being satisfied with having my sins forgiven and a home in heaven, all the while missing out on so many great blessings and opportunities to bring honor and glory to You. If I had, for all these years, pursued being holy as You are holy, as Your word told me to, I would be much closer to attaining Your goal for me, which is being conformed to the image of Your beloved Son. Father, with the help of Your Holy Spirit that lives in me, I will become holy as You are holy. I will study Your word faithfully, seeking to discover every thing You want to teach me about Your Holiness and how to apply it to my life. Father, I want the desires of my heart to always be centered on being holy as You are holy. Give me, O Father, the grace, that is the desire and power, to always seek and do Your will. Father, I pray this prayer in the wonderful, powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Step number two of our journey is to begin making an unending list of those things we know to be God's will for us. In fact, let's call it, "God's Will for Me List". And I say unending because it truly is going to be just that. We could write from now until the Lord Jesus calls us home or comes in the air to call His bride to Himself and we would never be able to name all the wonderful things He has in store for us on this earth, much less throughout eternity.

We want our list to contain every single thing we know and each new thing we learn about God's will and we are to view each of them as a great blessing. Let's begin with the very first thing that should be on our list by reflecting for a moment on what Jesus said in Mark12:30-31.

"...‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Now I have no doubt that every child of God loves their heavenly Father in his or her own way, but I would suspect they have never given much thought to their love for Him. So, let us ask ourselves the question, "Do I love my heavenly Father as Jesus said I should, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?" If we are honest with ourselves we are going to say, "I don't know how much I love my heavenly Father, but I want to know and I want to demonstrate my love in all its fullness to Him"

If we have been honest with ourselves in answering that question, let's take it a step farther. Let us acknowledge that we are going to find that we are incapable, in and of ourselves, of loving God as completely as we should. We need help! This is a supernatural work and process. However, instead of being dismayed and feeling helpless over this truth, lets ask ourselves another question. If you and I are born again, who is it that truly lives in us? Let the Word of God answer that question for us. Here is what the Holy Spirit of God says through the Apostle Paul to all believers in 1 Cor. 6:19. I take the liberty of personalizing it in the TNT version:

Tom, do you not know that your body is the temple of a Supernatural Being, the Holy Spirit who lives in you, whom you have from God? Tom, you are not your own!

Yes, the Holy Spirit speaking through the apostle Paul says that a Supernatural Being lives in each of us. Therefore, we have supernatural power in us. Is this supernatural power there to do our bidding? Yes, if we are acting in His power for the purpose of doing God's will, we can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us. That is exactly what Paul said in Philippians 4:13.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

We can come to love the Lord our God with all our mind, soul, heart and strength through the working of the Holy Spirit who lives in us as He shapes and molds us into the image of God's Son. I promise you, our love for the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit and our heavenly Father just continues to grow and get sweeter as each day goes by on this journey to be holy as He is holy. This is called walking in the newness of life. It is called walking by faith and not by sight. This is exactly what the apostle Paul tells us we are to do in 2 Cor. 5:7:

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

It is of the utmost importance that we grasp this truth and make it our own reality, because another thing I can promise you is that while on this journey you are going to experience times when you will not see yourself as God sees you. You are going to have times when you "feel" like a complete spiritual zero, a washout, an unworthy, hopeless failure. These are all lies that Satan will give you in his attempts to get you down and keep you down. Satan's reason for existence is to kill, steal and destroy.

Our first entry on our God's Will for Me List is of course this truth. It is God's will that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. But Jesus said there is another like it, "To love our neighbor as our self." What does Jesus mean by the phrase, ‘another like it'? I believe He is saying to me,

"Tom, to love your neighbor as yourself is of the greatest importance to our Heavenly Father. Because He wants people to see your love for Him being transformed and extending to those around you. When people see Your love for Your God empowering you to love others with a supernatural love they will want to know Him as you know Him."

That is precisely what Jesus meant in John 13:34-35.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

There you have another entry for your God's Will for Me List.

I am going to end this series on discovering, understanding and applying the holiness of God to our lives by just sharing some things from my list and how God is helping me come to a biblical understanding of His will and the application of His will to my life.

Early on in my walk with the Lord I began a life long process of memorizing scripture and then making personal application of the scripture to my life. Early on in this process God gave me one of my first spiritual epiphanies.

When my youngest son was 18 months old he developed a horrible ear infection. My wife, Dianne had taken him to the doctor that day and though he was taking a strong prescription drug to fight the infection and to give him relief from the pain. He was crying and calling out in agony, "Daddy, my hear hurts, my ear hurts".

My wife had gone to bed, worn out from having to care for a sick baby and meet the needs of our other two older children. It was about nine thirty in the evening, I was kneeling beside my son's bed praying that God would somehow give him relief and would quiet my anxious heart. I was begging God for a miracle, for anything that would help my baby stop hurting and drive out the horrible feeling of helplessness in my soul.

I'm not sure I understood immediately what was happening spiritually when a thought like a still, small voice spoke to my heart, clearly asking me what verse was I memorizing that week. In my heart I answered, "Philippians 4:6 & 7." Said the still, small voice, "Pray it." So, there on my knees beside my sons bed, I quoted the verses as a prayer to my heavenly Father saying,

"Lord, Your word in Philippians four, verses six and seven, says I am to be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving I am to let my request be made known to You and You will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus with peace that surpasses all comprehension. Well Lord, I am anxious. My baby is sick and hurting and I can't do anything about it. He needs relief from his pain and I need relief from this anxiety and worry in my heart."

About five minutes later, I realized that I had gotten off my knees walked into the living room, sat down in my recliner and began reading the comics in the newspaper. Here I was laughing at a Garfield cartoon when it hit me: my son had stopped crying! He was asleep, not even a whimper and I was at peace with the world!

Lessons from this encounter with the Lord that I have carried for thirty five years on my God's Will for Me List:

Read and study His Word
Memorize His Word
Personalize His Word
Apply God's Word to your life
Pray without ceasing, 1 Thess. 5:17
In everything give thanks, Thess 5: 18
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, Prov. 3:5
It is God's will for His children to have peace and joy
Use His Word in prayer
Listen for that still small voice

I hope and pray that you will soon come to experience these truths in your own life, if you haven't already, and will add them to your list.

As we become more and more obedient to God's revealed will, we see ourselves becoming more like the Lord Jesus every day. That is what is meant by becoming holy as He is holy.

As we search God's word in pursuit of the knowledge of all that is ours through Jesus Christ, we will begin to see how much God loves us and it is only then that we can respond in kind. Because the more we know and understand about the blessings that are ours the moment we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, the more we understand about God's infinite love for us and the more we find our love for Him growing deeper and richer.

Here are some of the blessings that are ours the moment we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and if you remember nothing else from this study, please remember: This is how God sees you and me.

All our sins, past, present and future have been nailed to the cross; we have eternal life with Jesus Christ and God the Father; we have a home in heaven; we are sanctified; we are justified; we are accepted in the Beloved; we are co-heirs with Christ to all God's blessings and riches; we have the Holy Spirit living in us; we have victory over death and the grave and the list of blessings go on and on and on.

Go to "Reflections/Bible Study on this website for a better understanding of all that is ours through Jesus Christ. God bless you as you continue this journey to be holy as He is holy.

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

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:

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” Rev. 22:12.

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.

Key Verses on Rewards: Rom. 14:10-11; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-10; 1 John 2:28; Rev. 3:11-12.

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.


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.

Related Topics: Rewards

J. Hampton Keathley, III

J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M. is a 1966 graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and a former pastor of 28 years. In August of 2001 he was diagnosed with lung cancer and on August 29th, 2002 he went home to be with the Lord. Hampton wrote many articles for the Biblical Studies Foundation and on occa... More


May 25th 2004

Author Unknown