Wednesday, February 29, 2012
John Murray on believers before the "bema" seat of Christ
I preached Sunday on We are the Lord’s (Romans 14:7-12) and was struck in particular by Paul’s statement in v. 10: “for we shall all stand before the judgment seat [bema] of Christ” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat [bema] 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.”).
In his Romans commentary, John Murray stresses the fact that Paul teaches that believers (and not just unbelievers) will have their actions judged by Christ:
These two texts [Rom 14:10; 1 Cor 5:20] therefore place beyond all dispute the certainty of future judgment for believers. It is only by deflection from biblical patterns of thought that doubt could be entertained or the consciousness of the believer fail to be conditioned by it. Furthermore, this judgment is not merely of persons. It is of the behaviour of believers Paul is speaking here and it is for the correction of wrong behavior that the fact of God’s future judgment is adduced. Conduct is to be judged…. The judgment embraces not only all persons but also all deeds (p. 184).
He later continues:
Reluctance to entertain the reality of this universal and all-inclusive judgment springs from preoccupation with what is conceived to be the comfort and joy of believers at the coming of Christ rather than with the interests and demands of God’s justice (p. 185).
But he then adds:
And it should not be forgotten that, although God will bring evil as well as good into judgment, there will be no abatement of the believer’s joy, because it is in the perspective of this full disclosure that the vindication of God’s glory in his salvation will be fully manifest. It is only in the light of this manifestation that the believer’s joy could be complete (p. 185).