Could I ask three questions regarding the Judgment Seat of Christ? When will it take place? Where will it take place? Why will it take place?
In the two specific mentions of it in the New Testament we see that every believer will appear or be manifested at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Our attitude to other believers will be reviewed (Rom 14.10). Our activity in service for the Lord will be assessed (2 Cor 5.10). The Judgment Seat is an important event in God's prophetic programme. It will take place after the Rapture of the Church and before the Revelation of Christ from heaven to earth. One Scripture that helps us to see this is 1 Corinthians 4.5: "Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart". This Scripture shows us that our motives will come to light then. Thus the mention of the Lord coming indicates that the Judgment Seat will take place immediately following the Rapture (see also Luke 14.14). Then again in Revelation 19.7 it is said of the Church that "His wife hath made herself ready". How could this be true if the Judgment Seat had not taken place? The words presuppose the fact that the Judgment Seat has passed for the Church. She is now fitted and prepared to be with Christ at His Second Advent.
As to the second question, we believe that the Judgment Seat will be set up neither on earth nor in the air at the Rapture, but in heaven. We note that vv.1-10 of Revelation 19 is a scene that occurs in heaven. The Judgment Seat seems to take place earlier rather than later in the course of the presence of the Lord with His saints in heaven. Does not the Lord say, "Great is your reward in heaven" (Mt 5.12)?.
Why is the Judgment Seat necessary? The primary answer to this is that then the Lord will assess and reward the believer. The rewards given will determine a believer's position in the Kingdom (2 Pet 1.11). Every believer should live in the light of it and treat the subject of the Judgment Seat of Christ with the solemnity it deserves. "Dare to be right, dare to be true; keep the great Judgment Seat ever in view".
John J Stubbs
Is it true to say that, under the law, through the sacrifice of an animal and the shedding of its blood, sins were covered, whereas since the sacrifice of Christ and the shedding of His blood, sins are removed?
The following verses need to be considered in answering this question, "…Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom 3.24-26).
The Greek word paresis, translated "remission", is found only here in the New Testament and means "a passing over" or "a passing by of debt or sin" (W E Vine). A different word, aphesis, meaning "a dismissal or release", is used of the forgiveness of sins and is found in such passages as "…the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Eph 1.6-7), and "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb 9.22).
The expression, "sins that are past", refers to sins of the old economy committed prior to Calvary. On the Day of Atonement divine justice was not fully satisfied. God might have punished the sins of the children of Israel, but He did not. He moved in forbearance and remitted (i.e. passed over) their sins because of the blood upon the Mercy Seat. Atonement covered sins in Old Testament times; however, it needed to be repeated, it was never a finished work.
It is true that David himself was brought to a point where he acknowledged to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin" (2 Sam 12.13). Indeed in his penitential psalm David says, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Ps 32.1). Nevertheless, there could never be absolute forgiveness of sins until the work of Christ was complete. In contrast to what took place on the Day of Atonement, propitiation was made once and for all at Calvary.
It is clear from Romans 3.25 that propitiation took into account those sins of the past covered by atonement in view of the death of Christ. Paul establishes that God was righteous in exercising forbearance in passing over those sins in view of the sacrifice to come and in virtue of the blood that would be shed.
David E West