Before we start with verse 1111Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. let me share a few more thoughts about the judgment seat of Christ. The Lord Jesus will pronounce His judgment from the judgment seat at three different interludes. Three different groups of people will appear before the Judge at three different intervals. We can say there will be three different sessions:
1. The first session will take place when the church is caught up and all the believers are revealed. We saw this already in verse 1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. of this chapter.
2. The second session will take place when the Lord Jesus has returned on earth (cf. Mt 25:31-4631“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.32All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.34“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.35For I was hungry, and you gave Me [something] to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me [something] to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’37Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You [something] to drink?38And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?39When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’40The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, [even] the least [of them], you did it to Me.’41“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;42for I was hungry, and you gave Me [nothing] to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’44Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’45Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’46These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”). He will sit on “His glorious throne” (Mt 25:3131“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.) and all the nations of the earth will be gathered before Him. The nations will be judged by Him according to their attitude towards those He calls “these brothers of Mine” who preached the gospel of the kingdom during the time of the great tribulation.
3. The third session will take place at the end of the millennium. In this session the judgment seat is the “great white throne” (Rev 20:1111Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.). Before this throne will appear all the people who have lived on the earth and died in unbelief. They are people who never repented for their sins and returned to God. They will be judged according to what is written about them “in the books” (Rev 20:1212And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.). On the basis thereof they will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:3131It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.).
V1111Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.. The thought of the judgment seat should urge you to live for the glory of God and to warn people of the impending judgment. You know “the fear of the Lord”, don’t you? Paul had no doubt about it and therefore he persuaded men. “Persuade” is a not friendly requests but an insistent warning. The judgment seat has an impact upon your life to live for the glory of God, and this also impacts others. You will share the gospel with them.
Paul was not afraid of the judgment seat. He was quite transparent before God. He was always conscious of the fact that God looked into his inner life and he was pleased with that. Also before the Corinthians his life was always transparent and he had nothing to hide from them and hoped that they would see this in him. Some people spoke ill of him saying that he was after his own glory. Once suspicion is sowed it is difficult to judge the innocent victim – in this case Paul – properly and sincerely.
V1212We are not again commending ourselves to you but [are] giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have [an answer] for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart.. He adds to refute the charge that he is after his own glory. He matters not about himself but on the contrary about them! By his manner of life they had reason to boast. The Corinthians accepted the gospel not from some stranger, but from someone who stood behind his message with his whole life. There were many other preachers who came to them with an outward appearance. Their aim was self-acclamation. They merely kept an outward appearance and they did not speak from their heart. They were mainly concerned with their name and fame. They could perhaps rouse the audience with their speech, or they could boast of their lineage. Paul spoke to their heart and fed their soul leaving behind no grounds for self-glory.
V1313For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.. He wanted to serve the believers. People could say that he was sometimes beside himself, ‘in ecstasy’. Others could say that he was out of his mind. Let such people just talk. Anyone who reads the Word of God with love and rejoices in the Lord Jesus will end up in intense joy and delight. God and the Lord Jesus are everything to them. I hope you also know such exhilarating moments.
But you can also be sober-minded as Paul was. Then you can speak to your fellow believers about every day activities like eating and drinking or about your work, marriage etc., of course in the light of the Bible.
V1414For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;. The love of Christ is the only right motive for all that you do. His love was so great that He gave Himself to death for sinners. That the Lord Jesus had to die speaks volumes about the condition to which mankind had come. That means every man is dead. Death means there is no life for God. We “were dead in … trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:11And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,).
The fact that the Lord Jesus died for all shows that there was no one who lived according to God’s expectation. The death of the Lord Jesus shows how hopeless was and is the condition man brought himself to with his sins. Man could not free himself. How can a dead person do anything?
The uniqueness of the gospel message is that the Lord Jesus has done what no man could do, namely to give life to men who are sentenced to death. This became possible because He did not enter death because of His own sins. He never did anything that deserved the death sentence. He took this place voluntarily and out of love and for the sake of others so that everyone who believes in Him passes from death to life (Jn 5:2424“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.).
V1515and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.. For the second time it is said that He died for all. Now it has become possible for everyone to be saved through what He has done. Every man is dead. The Lord Jesus voluntarily took death upon Himself and made Himself one with the condition in which every man found himself. That does not mean that every person is now saved. Salvation from sin and the judgment of God will benefit only the one who personally and sincerely confesses his sins and believes that the Lord Jesus died in his place on the cross. The one who has done this lives and will continue living. He has passed from death to life as mentioned in John 5 (Jn 5:2424“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.) to which I already referred.
It was so with you also. The life that you received is Divine life. When you were dead you were living, but you lived for yourself. That was not the real life. The life that you now received is the eternal life which is not the life in which you are the center of attention. God has given you this life so that you can live for the One Who died and rose again for you. The Lord Jesus is the center of the new life that you have received.
It is a privilege to live for the Lord Jesus, you may always think of that. But here it is presented as a normal thing, nothing exceptional but as a natural course of life. The Lord Jesus died in order to show you the true meaning of life and let you live the real life. A person really lives only when he serves God and Christ. He has been created for this purpose. Every person who lives for himself has missed the actual goal of his life. Unfortunately there are plenty of Christians who do not understand this.
God and the Lord Jesus know that you will find the greatest joy and satisfaction, if you live for Him Who died and rose again for you. Every devoted Christian will testify to this.
Now read 2 Corinthians 5:11-15 again.
Reflection: How does ‘the love of Christ’ work in you?