Wednesday, August 24, 2011


And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones-- like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. Rev. 4:2-3
Christ is seated on the throne, and this dazzling sight is going to be our introduction to heaven when the church is "raptured". The throne that we see here is not the "great white throne", the throne of judgment and condemnation that the world will face (Rev. 20:11-15). For the world, a day of judgment is coming; that moment is still looming in their future. But for those who believe in Jesus now, that day is in the past. We have been judged and found not guilty, covered by the innocent blood of Jesus Christ. We will not face the great white throne, but we will come before another throne...

At the rapture of the church, we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, or the Bema seat. The Bema seat refers to the type of platform that the Roman Olympic judges would stand on as they awarded the competitors with their winners' crowns. It is a judgment of commendation, NOT condemnation.
1 Corinthians 9:25 tells us, "All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize." The verse just before this one tells us, "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!"
Some might say that heaven and eternal life with Jesus is all the "reward" they could ever need, that to want anything more than that is greedy and mercenary. But to believe that you will be content with the bare minimum is as naive as a 6 year old declaring that he loves his little toy car and never wants another car for as long as he lives. In about 10 years, as his maturity and awareness grow, his tune is going to change. Jesus spoke profusely about rewards in heaven. Heaven itself is not a reward. You cannot earn heaven. Heaven is a gift. We have to live our lives in such a way that we will have stored up an eternal reward once we get there. Right now, in our present spiritual state, we are like that little boy, so naive and unaware of the magnitude of what awaits us. Don't arrive at heaven, not having taken the race seriously and be disappointed when the person next to you is driving a Mercedes and you're still playing with your Hot Wheels. Don't be fooled into believing that the prize isn't real or that you don't have to work to get it. Eternal life is a free gift, and you cannot lose your salvation. But the rewards that await you once you get there must be earned.
"Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown." Rev. 3:11
As believers in Jesus Christ, we will NEVER be judged for our sins. Romans 5:1 and 8:1 assure us that every moment of weakness, every moment of selfishness, every moment of self-promotion, self-centeredness and pride will be erased. God promises us that our sins will be fully and completely forgotten (Hebrews 8:12, Micah 7:19Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:34). While that thought is unbelievably comforting, as it guarantees that we won't have to suffer the punishment that we deserve for the many sins in our lives, I believe it will also be a bit of a rude awakening for some.

We are all aware of the "obvious" moments of failure in our lives, but I wonder how many paths were pursued, how many "good" deeds were done, how many "accomplishments" were achieved in life that we thought were important or valuable, and in reality held absolutely no eternal value. They may have enriched our lives or the lives of others in the moment, but when we stand before God on our day of "judgment", how many of those moments that we took pride in and treasured so much in this life will suddenly be as if they never existed? And likewise, once the fire has destroyed all of the worthless moments of our lives, how much will remain? Will there be a great wealth of eternally enduring righteous deeds, worthy of remembrance and reward? Or will we look back and realize that we have missed the point entirely, having made it into heaven "like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames"?(1 Corin. 3:15)

Jesus promises to wipe away all of our tears, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be a moment of recognition when we finally come face to face with him. It is reasonable to believe that there will be a moment of truth when all the dark little areas that not even we were fully aware of are brought to light(1 Corin. 4:5). A moment, perhaps, when we suddenly remember and must acknowledge everything that we could have done for him, but didn't. Sadly, there will be many who live their lives for themselves, never truly sacrificing their own desires to serve God, and will be sorely disappointed when they realize how much those "intangible" eternal rewards are really worth.

You can live a forgettable life, one centered around making yourself "happy", "fulfilled", "comfortable", "accomplished", "known", "successful", and "content". Or you can live a life worth remembering, one lived in the unashamed and self-sacrificing slavery and service to the King, one centered around making Jesus known, glorified, and famous.

What kind of life will you live? Will you be famous here on this earth and forgotten for eternity? Or will you give up your rights in this life and be remembered throughout the ages?

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