Monday, January 12, 2009

Vindication: A Believer's Biblical View of The Judgment Seat of Christ - Intro

This study was birthed out of several conversations with people that I personally believe are biblically born from above (ie: “saved”). The issue to address is the fear of meeting God face to face. One in particular has told me several times how fearful he is of meeting God at the judgment seat, because of all of the wrongs he has done throughout his life. While I understand the validity of his feelings, I believe it is not a healthy, scriptural view of God. Not long ago, he looked me dead in the eye and asked me if I feared standing before God when my days were through. I responded, without any real thought or deliberation, “No. I don’t fear it.” Although my response was confident and sure deep within me, the personal significance of this statement was astronomical. You see, I was pretty much raised Baptist and I was taught far more about the devil and hell than I ever was about Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. I grew up in fear of God – fear that He was angry at my disobedience and disappointed with my life that was riddled with selfish decisions (yes, even as a child). At the age of fifteen, after yet another sleepless night of imagining my own death and going to hell forever, I made a “decision” to “believe”. Of course all that I really believed in was that I was going to eternally suffer for my sins and get the punishment that I deserved. Jesus was just a ticket out of what I was, for whatever reason, enamored with – eternal hell.

Fast forward through years of lust, disobedience and flat out blatant defiance of God – attending church and Christian youth activities all the while. Even fast forward through the season when I grew older, became more responsible and tried to “do better” and even worked on staff at two churches. I truly thought that this was it – this was the Christian life. After thirty plus years had come and gone, I had an encounter with the LORD Himself. It was not about warm and fuzzies, nor was it initiated by anyone else… not really even by me. It was not emotions nor was it coercion. It was not to please anyone else and most importantly, it was not rooted in fear whatsoever – it was no “decision”. I encountered God Himself and there was no disputing it.

All Are Without Excuse

To get things started, I’d like to briefly address what I have previously studied and written an article about, titled “Without Excuse”. It is regarding how all men are subject to the Law of God. To do so, I want to share a personal experience that will paint a great picture of this correct understanding of God’s Law and how everyone is accountable to It.

I love to fish. I go as often as I can. Several years ago, I was introduced to trout fishing in some beautiful mountain streams here in the mountains and hills of Northeast Georgia. Living where I do, it is quite easy to drive an hour or so and find some great waters in order to catch some trout. Recently, I spontaneously left on a Saturday morning and headed up to the foothills for the day in order to see what I could catch. It was a chilly and gloomy Winter day and the water was beautiful. I fished for an hour or so with no success, but it didn’t matter really as I was having a great time just being out in God’s beautiful Creation. As I was standing on the shoreline of this small river, a Georgia DNR truck pulled up behind me and stopped. A DNR officer began to scale down the side of the bank and addressed me. Knowing he was likely just checking licenses, I calmly greeted him and asked him how he was doing. “Great. May I see your license please?”, he responded. Of course I obliged and stood there with pole in hand as he looked over my information. Then everything changed. “Sir, do you know that these waters are closed for the season?”, he asked. “Closed?” I thought. “No, I didn’t know that” I said. “Well this part of the river is closed for trout fishing and it is illegal to fish here at this time of the year”, he went on to explain. As he asked me to go up to his truck with him, I knew that this was not going to end well. He asked me if I had a Georgia Fishing Manual – I did. He asked if I had read the rules and regulations – I had… some. He asked if I saw the two signs posted a mile or so back that referenced the river being closed to fishing until May – I saw one, but honestly thought it was not regarding public use (is a long story as to why). He then began to write me a citation. As he wrote it out, he was kind, he was chatty – I however was feeling neither. As he finished, he asked me if I had any questions. I responded with a “no”, walked two steps and then stopped. I turned back to him as he sat in his truck and calmly said, “You know what, I’m a clean-cut guy. I take care of the water that I fish on. I’m responsible enough to be careful with the fish that I catch and release and I, on occasion even pack out trash that I find that is not mine. I see people out here drinking beer and littering and doing whatever they please… and I’m the one who gets fined. I’m not a law breaker - this just doesn’t seem fair.” Then I proceeded to walk back to my truck and leave.

As I drove home discouraged, I talked to my Father. I was in a position to learn much regarding this study that I have been doing. I was experiencing first-hand what being deemed guilty was all about. In this case, I was not vindicated – I was found guilty for breaking the laws of the land that I was standing on. Whether I was fully aware of it or not, I was breaking the laws that were in place and was subject to the punishment due for doing so. It did not matter whether I was being completely rebellious or just ignorant of the law, I was guilty. It was my responsibility to know the laws of where I was.

I had just said to this officer what millions of people say regarding their disinterest in, or lack of addressing, spiritual issues – “I’m a good person. I’m not a law breaker”, but the fact of the matter is, I was a law breaker. In the greater whole of things, we all are. We are in need of a Vindicator. His name is Jesus, The Christ.

Paul understood this as he stated in Romans 1:20. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

In other words, God has clearly “posted the Laws of His Creation” and all are subject to the Laws that God Himself has put in place. All are responsible to know what Laws they are to live according to. All are without excuse.

The next post will get into the meat of this study. This post is more or less just an intro. Stay close.


Yvonne said...

Glory! I would love to hear about your encounter! I too had a marvelous encounter! Sad, many people I've talked to just bought "fire" insurance due to fear. What kind of relationship can you have with a Father you fear. God is love and is so beautiful!

Mark S. said...

good stuff, looking forward to the rest of it. always enjoy your studies - you bring up things that i just don't seem to hear much about in average christian circles. sorry to hear about your fishing incident though.

(have you ever heard of the book pagan christianty? just curious.)

Joel Spencer said...

Yvonne: The inception of the regeneration says alot about the fruit that follows. Sadly, prayer rececitation and programs have only produce carnal Christians. It is time we define salvation according to the Word of God.

Mark: Thanks for stopping by. There is much that is overlooked throughout mainstream Christianity that we need to know. We are responsible to study the Word for ourselves to be deemed approved by God.

I have Pagan Christianity, yes. It is a fantastic book that every Believer should read! Info about the book can be found here.

Harriet said...

Excellent write Joel! I'm looking forward to the "meat".

I used to say "no I don't fear the judgment"...then went through a period of being very fearful of it... now I honestly am not sure.. I know that my entire life..good works...sins..everything... will be open for scrutiny at that time..and even though I am ashamed of the sin..I can only trust the God I have given my life to, to love me..and treat me as He sees fit.That brings me peace simply because I have learned that whatever He does is right and righteous and loving. (even if I don't especially LIKE it).
blessings my friend!

NINA said...

Great blog. It leaves me with a lot to think about.I have no fear that on judgment day I will end up on the wrong side of the fence because of my relationship with God. Thanks to Christ and daily repentance I trust that there will be no fines waiting for me (smile). Daily repentance is our only insurance as well as assurance, so we must be sure to ask for forgiveness for the things that we are not even aware of and ask him to reveal them to us so we don't do them again.(I new this, but was not truly faithful at it, but now I will be more conscious after reading this blog, thanks) If we have true relationship, he always reveals these things through the spirit of conviction.Or in your case through an earthly encounter(smile).

However my biggest fear is not the sin of commission but the sin of omission. I fear disapointing God because of all of the things that he assigned my hands to do, that I did not do. I know that there have been many, though I am working on that now.

I thank God for people such as yourself and in every area of my life who bring light to certain things that were hidden. God has several venues in which he offers direction. When the student is ready, then the teacher will show up! Listening and taking heed is how we prevent the many surprises on judgment day. God is awesome and he always offers a way of escape! BE BLESSED

Joel Spencer said...

Harriet: Glad to see your participation! We just must remember that, in the end, when Father looks at us standing before Him, all He will see is His beautiful Son!

The "meat" is coming!

Nina: Sins of omission... I feel ya. I am much worse at NOT doing what I'm to do than I am about doing what I shouldn't.

Well I declare over us both that we'll start tending to our Father's business with new fervor - allowing no opportunity to pass us by.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog - can't wait to hear more. God has been pouring into me as well and it's funny that it all had to do with judgement and then I see your post ( confirmation I would say ) I just wrote something myself as a majority only want to know the * loving * side of God and many say we should not have to fear Him ( when it is a command ) I think Oprah Winfrey is the one who said why should you fear such a loving God and even got mad about it.. Fear is a command from Him - if we feared him I don't think this world would be in the state it is in. And while God is all loving he specifically states He is coming to judge the earth and the people in it. It is why us as believers must always be in a state of repentance. King David was a habitual repenter and God said he was a man after his own heart - David wanted to do right even when he was weak or tempted he said create in me a clean heart Lord so that I may not sin against you. We are going to have to face God one day and give accounts to all the the things we have said , done , the things we shoulda said but didn't. But if we live in a continual relationship with Him and put Him first and obey Him -we wont have to fear His judgment . A judge in a courtroom hands down verdicts to law breakers and if we obey God we will be deemed Not Guilty ! and then I know He will say those glorious words : Well done they good and faithful servant! Keep on writing it is great and also I noticed someone asked if you read Pagan Christianity.. that is such a great book everyone should have on there home library.. God Bless You

Joel Spencer said...

Tracy: I think you are gonna LOVE this study if you have had the "judgment of God" on your mind. I fully agree that God is absolute Judge. He is not just some lovey-dovey entity in the sky smiling and throwing down lollipops for His children while He sits atop the clouds.

However, GREAT things are in store for those who intimately know Him! Part 1 should be posted tomorrow (Friday).

Joel Spencer said...

Tracy: I've had you on my mind this morning as I try to plan out when I will post the parts of this study. Feeling that perhaps now is your time to address this topic, I'd be willing to email you the study in its entirety if you'd like.

That way you can print it off and mull over it all at once. Email me if you're interested (desh412[at]yahoo[dot]com).

Ford said...

Very good illustration. I have made the same excuse countless times regarding skateboarding in places it is deemed illegal. As nice a guy I am, it makes no difference if I am breaking the law. The cops will still kick me off or fine me. Compelling argument.

Joel Spencer said...

Ford: It sure made the "all are without excuse" leap off of the page for me. Although I had many good excuses, I had no valid one that made me exempt from the law.

rave.n said...

I love your illustration and even more so that it was very real to you.

I'm just reading thru to catch up for the most recent entry but wanted to comment on the fishing story.