What will it be like to stand before Jesus? The very thought could terrify us, especially if we are of the understanding that He is who He says He is – the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Judge of the whole earth.
One of the first things that can pop into my mind is the title of that old, old sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Jonathan Edwards preached that message during the Great Awakening era that swept through New England before the American Revolution. It was, like all sermons are, a message for the moment and for the men and women sitting before that pulpit at that time. Pastor Edwards wanted to press home the truth of eternal destiny. He was concerned for those who had not called upon the Name of the Lord Jesus and His mercy. With his words, he was in effect, shouting, “The Bridge is out!” to those rushing along the road that leads to destruction.
Many responded to that message and for that reason it is counted as one of the classic sermons of all time. Revival was stirred among the communities nearby. And that very awakening likely helped the colonists stand up to the king of England who wanted to keep these states under his crown’s control.
Will we really one day find ourselves in the hands of an angry God? The Lord does hate sin and what it does to people, for we are those He created in His image. He is intensely interested in how we live our lives. He longs for us to live according to truth, to allow Him to put in us “the will to do of His good pleasure” (see Philippians 2:13).
One did put Himself into those angry hands that are compelled to exercise justice against all unrighteousness. That One, God the Son, did allow the wrath of all sin to be levied upon His Person, His perfect humanity that was nailed to the Cross of Calvary.
In casting our care upon the Son and His sacrifice for us, we become one with Him – “Hid with Christ in God” is how Paul defined it for us (see Colossians 3:3). This, however, is only the beginning for us as believers in Him. There’s more to the story, to our story.
In the Race
By taking the free gift of salvation that comes by grace through faith, we also into the race of faith. The word picture written for us in 1 Corinthians 9 describes us as runners who seek to win. There are rules for the race, training and disciplines to be exercised, and a lane for us to follow.
And there is, as with all such races, a prize that awaits us at the finish line. Rewards are a part of the equation for the Christian life. We are encouraged to run well and be good stewards or managers of our days.
“For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. . . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12). Again, some of these words are unsettling to our minds. Our imaginations could run wild over the thoughts of this “seat” and of us having to “give an account” for our lives.
Let us remember that Jesus said, “His yoke is easy and His burden light” (see Matthew 11:28-30). He was faithful to call us to Himself and now He will be faithful to work through us.
One passage that comforts me when I think of facing the Lord is the story about Peter on the seashore. Consider the circumstances: this amazing and often bold Apostle fell apart in the heart of the warfare when Jesus was arrested and brought to Pontius Pilate. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times on that dark, early morning. Luke’s gospel tells us that he and Jesus made eye contact after the final denial. The encounter brought Peter to tears of sorrow (see Luke 22:60-62).
Later, in John 21, Peter had led the gang of disciples back to their boats and the Sea of Galilee. Jesus showed up on the beach and shouted a question that asked if His “boys” had any success with their nets that night. Of course, they had come up empty in their own endeavor. Jesus directed them to the right side of things and there was dramatic catch of 153 large fish (see John 21).
After all of this was said and done, after Jesus fed them breakfast there, the Savior took Peter aside. He asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” It was an uncomfortable moment for sure, but it was a moment of love. When it was over, Jesus left Peter with these words: “You, follow Me.”
Peter was never left forgotten or forsaken by Jesus. The Lord picked him up and set him on his feet and told him to keep going.
That’s how we are to prepare to meet our God. We follow Him. We let the Holy Spirit shed His love abroad in our hearts. We do what we can do with all of our might.
Another short story from the gospels is the story of the poor widow who came make her offering among wealthier members of her congregation. All that she had was two small coins, pennies perhaps and she cast them into the basket. She gave a great gift, even though by the world’s standards it seemed like very little. “Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow has cast in more than they all” (see Luke 21:3).Christ has saved us. We have a standing in grace. Yes, we will see Him. He will receive us. It will be a joy for Him to welcome us in His full presence. Click To Tweet
Jesus was watching that poor woman and He watches us even now. He is right with us. He is faithful and true and merciful every single day.
Christ has saved us. We have a standing in grace. Yes, we will see Him. He will receive us. It will be a joy for Him to welcome us in His full presence.
“Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, who has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
For more about seeing Jesus and our heavenly rewards, check out this message from Thomas Schaller, Pastor of Greater Church in Baltimore: “The Bema Seat Encounter.”