As a believer in Jesus Christ I have eternal life, period. Praise the Lord. It is a free GIFT received by faith alone, not works. I did not earn it and I do not deserve it, but by God’s grace it is available to all who will believe in, trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. The faith formula is so simple that even a child can receive it. In fact, it is this kind of faith that does receive the gift of eternal life. There is no theological education required, no promise of faithfulness on our part. BELIEVE in Christ and you will RECEIVE his Eternal Life freely, with no strings attached.
Jesus saves all who believe in Him, our past, our present and our future (body, soul and spirit). When I believe my spirit is “born again.” The Holy Spirit regenerates my dead spirit. I am now alive in Christ. As I live the Christian life and submit to the Holy Spirit I experience salvation from the Power of sin. He is saving my soul daily as I walk in newness of life. In the future, at the resurrection, my body will be saved. This is guaranteed by Christ’s down payment of the Holy Spirit. I will receive a new incorruptible body like the Lord Jesus’. Yes I will be saved completely, body, soul and spirit. What an incredible gift!
Once saved we are reminded NOT to sin. Paul asks rhetorically in Romans 6, “now that we are saved from eternal death should we keep on sinning since grace is all abounding?” The answer is, “Of course not!” But the problem is we DO sin (1 John 1:8). This is why most of the Scriptures were written, to exhort believers not to sin and the consequences of sinning against our heavenly Father, our crucified and risen Savior Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The Apostle John tells us that he wrote his first epistles so that we would not sin, 1 John 2:1. The New Testament is replete with exhortations and challenges for us to remain faithful to Christ, to abide in Him, to hold to our confession of faith in Him and to persevere to the end. The reason for these exhortations is because there is a PRIZE to be won, an inheritance to be realized, and much that can be lost.
This Prize consists of glory and honor with Christ (Romans 8:17) and “reigning with Him” in the Millennial Kingdom (2 Timothy 2:12), called the “Sabbath Rest” in Hebrews 4:9-13. It can also include the receiving of “Crowns” for faithfulness. Most of all, it means hearing the Savior say, “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into the JOY of the LORD.” The opposite of winning the PRIZE is to suffer shame and loss (1 John 2:28, 1 Corinthians 3:15) and being disqualified from the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
The GIFT is free and the PRIZE is earned. Both are attained by faith, The Gift by simple faith without works, and the PRIZE by persevering faith that works. (Compare Romans 4 and James 2)
The PRIZE will be determined/revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ. ALL believers will appear before this BEMA Seat and it is here that we will be “recompensed, paid back, given our just wages” according to what we have done in our flesh, whether good (faith/obedience) or bad (without faith/disobedient). (1 Corinthians 3:10-17; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10; James 2:11,12)
Yes siree, little children, there is a Day of Judgment for all believers. Peter reminds us that “judgment begins in the house of the Lord.” God is just! He will not destroy the wicked for their sin and wink at our sin committed after we have been saved from the wrath of God by the Blood of Christ. He disciplines us while we are living this “Christian” life so that we should live holy, but if we do not respond and continue to rebel there is a final judgment for us as well, The Judgment Seat of Christ. “If we judge ourselves correctly (NOW), we will not be judged (for these things LATER). 1 Corinthians 11:31
SO, how do we prepare for the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is a serious matter and one that should consume our daily living. Our God is a “consuming fire.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. “And there is nothing hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
- BE SERIOUS about the Christian Life. Be a disciple maker. We are ambassadors of Christ and He is holding us accountable for our representation of Him, whether good or bad.
- BE DILIGENT about living an obedient life. Obey the Scriptures. This is the will of God.
- Have a CLEAR CONSCIENCE. HOW? 1. Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21, Hebrews 13:17). 2. Avoid deliberate/willful sin (1 Thessalonians 5:22) 3. Confess sin as soon as you are convicted (1 John 1:9). 4. Make restitution if possible (Matthew 5:23, 24).
- COVER your many unknown and unconfessed sin by being Christ-like in acts of mercy (Hosea 6:6) by being forgiving (Matthew 6:12-15), by being loving (1 Peter 4:7-8), by being merciful in judgment (Matthew 7:2) and by caring for others by meeting physical needs (Matthew 12:1-18, 2 Timothy 1:15-18) and their spiritual needs (Matthew 9:9-13, James 5:19-20).
I can’t speak for you, but I know that I will need a lot of “extra” mercy at the Judgment Seat of Christ. In my rebellion there are many sins I have not confessed and have subsequently forgotten them. Jesus will not forget. In my fleshly ignorance I have sinned and not even known it. I’ve said and done things that have injured others and I am oblivious. These will be revealed when I stand before the One with whom I have to do. I will need mercy. There will be NO excuses.
So, if I want mercy then I must be merciful now to others. I need to remember to be careful in my judgment of others now, because it is by this same standard that Jesus will hold me accountable on that great and terrible day.
The Bema Seat is where all believers will give an account for their faith and faithlessness, for obedience and disobedience. God is just. Our God is an Awesome God. If the righteous are scarcely saved, what will be the end of those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Get Ready Now because “Here comes the Judge!”
Here is some suggested reading for more study besides your careful study of the Scripture.
“Reign of the Servant Kings” and “Future Destiny, the Future Reign of the Servant Kings” both by Joseph Dillow
“The Judgment Seat of Christ” by Samuel L. Hoyt
“The Kingdom of God Visualized” by Ray Baughman (Abe Books)