Sunday, August 1, 2010

Revelation 19:6-8

Verse 6-7 “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”

Now all of heaven together praises God announcing the fact that the world now again belongs to God and He alone reigns. They also announce the marriage of the Lamb and the fact that now his wife, (the church) has been made ready. She has been purged of all of her sins and refined and made fit to be the wife of the Lamb.

Verse 8 “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”

From chapter 11 we know that when the seventh angel (the vials judgments) sounds the last trumpet it is said that it is the time for the dead to be judged (first resurrection), and for the prophets and saints to be rewarded, and that those who destroy the earth should be destroyed. Over the years this time of judging (this is the first resurrection and only those who love the Lord get resurrected at this judgment) and rewarding has come to be known as the Judgment Seat of Christ or more commonly the Bema Seat Judgment. Much is taught about the Bema Seat Judgment for Christians. The concept and terminology of the Bema Seat comes from the ancient Olympics, where a judge would sit on the Bema Seat at the finish line. The judge's purpose was to determine what position the runners came in - first, second, and so on-and then to give out the appropriate rewards. That is the imagery behind what is known as the Bema Seat. The word “Bema” simply means the raised platform from which a service is conducted, or the altar area of a sanctuary.

This judgment seat is described in 1 Cor. 3:12-15 “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble--every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built upon it, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet as by fire.” We are judged for the motives and obedience of our good works, not for the works themselves as to how spectacular they were. Giving a cup of cold water may leave a gold piece after the refining fire, while giving millions may be burned up as hay.

The Bema Seat Judgment is not a place where salvation or lack thereof is determined. For Christians who have endured to the end, that decision was determined upon their death. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The judgment for sinners comes later on and is known as the Great White Throne Judgment. The Bema Seat is where we give an account of how we either lived our lives for the Lord or for ourselves. Rom. 14:10-12 “But why doest thou judge thy brother? Or why doest thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So, then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” It is not a time I am looking forward to myself, as I know I could be doing much better than I am. It will be a time of humiliation for many people. While our sins are forgiven, we may still possibly have to give an account of our sins, and Christ will be our advocate thereby letting us off the hook for punishment for those sins. 2 Cor. 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Would that I could always keep that in the forefront of my mind. As for rewards, many will have a distinct smell of smoke lingering after the refining fire, and no jewels and precious metals left to throw at Christ’s feet. There is a common saying, “You can’t take it with you.” Whenever someone says that to me, I always reply with, “I may not be able to take it with me, but I can certainly send it on ahead.” Whenever we do a good work with the right motive or behave correctly in a Christian manner when treated badly, mocked, or persecuted, we add jewels to our treasure chest in heaven. We can send it on ahead.

God grants that the bride be clothed in white linen. Without Christ we would have no hope of salvation or of righteous works. It is only through Christ that we are granted the grace to have and do these things. God gives us righteousness and He also gives us the good works to do, however in all cases we must pick up the gift or do the good work. We can refuse both if we so choose, which is something that many people do not acknowledge. Some say we are chosen (by definition it would then have to be arbitrarily done if there is nothing within us individually to make God choose us) and compelled to accept Christ. If that is the case, it is no longer of free will and no longer would our love for God be of our own free will, yet that was the whole idea behind the Garden of Eden test - free will. It is only through choosing (By our intellectual will, not our spirit - we are indeed spiritually dead before accepting Christ. The will and spirit are two different things, just as God the Father and Christ the Son are two different beings, yet one being. Add to the intellect (will), and spirit, the body and you have a triune being, which is how we exist in the image of the triune God.) to accept all that God has done for us that opens the door for God to justify us, cleanse us of our unrighteousness, extend us the faith, and provide us with the good works by which we can earn our rewards, which we then give back to him. Some have a problem with this concept, because they feel if we accept it we have a part in providing our own salvation, and we cannot provide our own salvation, therefore we have no choice in the matter. Our choice to accept does not mean that we are providing for our own salvation. No matter how much we may want it, it still requires God choosing to give it to us. Nothing can force Him to do that including our decision to accept His gift. It is still all His doing, no matter what we decide, therefore our decision does not make us responsible for the justification Christ provided through His death on the cross. We still have to maintain that faith through doing the good works and walking with God though. While God gives us the opportunity for these works, again we can choose not to do them. Thus we are responsible in that respect for maintaining our relationship with God. He never moves or changes, but we can. So the fine white linen that the bride wears is the righteousness that has been granted to her by God. He has provided the means for her salvation and has extended it to her when she has accepted the invitation.

In the course of researching, I came across information that lends a new idea to whom the bride of Christ is. I cannot say whether it is accurate or not, but it is of enough interest that I thought it should be included here. When a couple was married (during Bible times) people would take palm leaves and wave and throw them in front of the couple. There was a virtual parade leading up to the wedding. The couple were king and queen for a day and were treated as such. The idea was put forth that the saints on the sea of glass with palm branches in their hands are the guests at the wedding who are going to do all the palm waving, and only those who make it through to the rapture alive, who sing the song of Moses are the actual bride of Christ. It is an interesting comparison, but I cannot say whether it is directly comparable to the situation or not.

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