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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

2 Corinthians 5:8-10 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Fully understanding what awaits the faithful Christian, and due to the perils and suffering he faced during life on earth, Paul is, not only confident of the reward of eternal life in heaven, but he is, also, willing to welcome death - to be absent from the body (on earth), and to be present with the Lord (in heaven). Paul's desire was to immediately leave life on earth and enter into heaven. Yet he still realized his obligation to God to continue his mission of bringing salvation to both Jew and Gentile throughout the world. Here is how he stated it in his letter to the church at Philippi: For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you (Phil. 1:23-24). From this we are assured that Paul knew, at this time in his life, that his God-given task on earth, at this particular period in his life, was incomplete.

With the promise of eternal life in heaven, it became Paul's passion to so live here on earth in order to ultimately inherit the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (Prev. Vs. 1). In whatever state Paul existed, whether present in his earthly body, or absent from it, his ultimate goal was to labor in the vineyard of God to the best of his ability in order that he may be accepted of Him. The fact that Paul was not physically in the presence of God, nor was able to see Him with his human eye, did not deter him from living a life acceptable to God. Paul's dedication to the service of God should be the best possible example to all Christians here on earth. Without being able to physically see God does not give license to live a life filled with selfish, covetous ambition. In order to ultimately gain eternal life in heaven, dedicated, truthful, and obedient service to God is required, of all within His kingdom, while here on earth.

In verse 10, Paul introduces to us this truth: physical life here on earth is merely a probationary period for all mankind, but finally all men and women must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Paul's life is described for us as an example of one striving to inherit eternal life in heaven; it is an example we are to emulate. His life was one of dedication to the cause of Christ; preaching and teaching eternal salvation, offered by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. In order to accomplish this mission, Paul's life was one of self-denial, always placing God's will before his own earthly desires. This is the life by which Paul wanted to judged - this is the life that Paul desired to bring before the judgment seat of Christ. This is the example Paul leaves for us to follow.

All must appear before God, through His Son, Jesus Christ on Judgment Day. There is no place that one can hide from it; no one will be excluded. One's age, wealth, rank, status of life, nationality, degree of education, or any other human characteristic will exempt one from this final judgment. Male or female, bond or free, old or young, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile - all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. It is here, before Jesus Christ, our Savior,that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Reading and understanding these inspired words of God, should be the only incentive necessary for one to accept God's will as their own, become a Christian, and, to the best of their ability, live a life of total obedience to God, and to emulate the dedication and self-denial found in the life of the apostle Paul.

When one appears before Christ on Judgment Day, their life will be an open book. The probationary period will have ended. Final judgment will be determined by things done in his (or her) body during life on earth, whether it be good or bad (also see Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:25). This will be the day of reckoning. Not only will physical deeds be reviewed, but that which is left undone will also be weighed; even one's thoughts and words spoken must be accounted for. Hidden sins on earth will be exposed; unforgiven transgressions that were unpunished on earth, will not be overlooked on that day. This we know from Paul's inspired sermon that he delivered to the philosophers in Athens. His closed his sermon to them by saying, ...He (God) hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He (God) hath raised Him (Jesus) from the dead (Acts 17:31).