When the apostle Paul was making his defense before King Agrippa, he spoke of the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. After a belittling comment by the governor, Festus, Paul stated, “For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). The purpose of this article is to impress upon us the fact that if in the end we are lost, it will be our own fault. All that we need to know in order to have a home in heaven has been revealed to us, it is not as if it was all done in a corner where no one could see what was taking place.
First, though somewhat last before either heaven or hell, there will be a day of judgment. It is revealed unto us that, as death comes to all, so does the judgment (Heb. 9:27). Paul told the Corinthians that we must (not might, should or can, but must) appear before the judgment seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10). Many are the passages of scripture that reveal this fact. There is no way that one should ever be surprised to find themselves being judged as to whether they will enter into heaven or to hell.
Secondly, there should be absolutely no surprise in the means or grounds upon which we will be judged. That too is clearly and repeatedly revealed to us. We will not be judged according to our race, nationality, prosperity or popularity. The Bible teaches us that “God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). So just what will be the means or grounds upon which we will be judged? First, we will be judged by Jesus Christ. Recall from above that we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10). The apostle Paul told the people of Athens that God “…hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that men whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). The standard by which Christ shall judge man is revealed as well. Jesus himself said, “…the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Paul wrote, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16). Our actions during the time we live on this earth, in these earthly bodies, will be compared to what the word of God commands. Solomon once wrote, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecc. 12:14). In writing of the future judgment of man, the apostle John wrote, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20:12). And, our II Cor. 5:10 passage, already noted a couple of times says “…that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”.
Let’s face it, we should not have any real surprises when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ. But, that is only if we have done our homework. Only if we have diligently studied that by which we will be judged, the word of God. Paul spoke of his fellow Jews saying, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2-3). They were ignorant of the very thing by which they would be judged. Jesus once said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day. Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-23). Obviously, even though there is no reason that anyone should be surprised on the day of judgment, many will be. There is one major reason for this being true. Far too many people rely upon what others have told them God has said in His word, rather than studying the book for themselves to see just what God did say for us to do in preparation for the day of judgment.
The apostle Paul told the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17). He also told Timothy that the scriptures are “…profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17). This thing was not done in a corner!
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]