I Know the Judge!
James Smith, 1864
"Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ!" Romans 14:10
It is a solemn thing to stand before a human tribunal — but "we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ;" for God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, and Jesus is appointed Judge. He searches all hearts. He knows the exact state of our nature. He has observed every action of our lives. He has listened to every word we have spoken. He has noticed every motive that has influenced us. He has marked the end we had in view in every word and in every action of our life. He will judge righteously; he will minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
Do you dread the thought of appearing before Him? Must not all do so?
Go to the bedside of that dying Christian; he realizes the dread solemnities of eternity, he has been thinking of that solemn day when small and great shall stand before God; ask him, "Do you not tremble at the idea of appearing before the judgment seat of Christ?" See, his countenance is lighted up with a smile; there are no traces of fear in his pale face; he replies emphatically, "No!" Ask turn the reason, and now listen to his reply. He speaks he says, "I know the Judge!" Unspeakable blessing this! Unparalleled mercy! Yet this unspeakable blessing, this unparalleled mercy may be ours. Yes, we may so live, so believe — as to die without fear, go before the judgment seat without alarm, because we know the Judge.
WHO will judge the world? Jesus! And what is Jesus to the Christian? He is his brother. Yes, my brother will be my Judge. He was my God by nature, he became my brother by an act of grace. He took my nature to save my soul. He was born for adversity. He has a brother's heart. He loves me with a brother's love. His heart was set upon me in eternity, therefore he came into the world to save me in time. He obeyed the law for me; he died a sacrifice in my stead. He carried his own blood into Heaven to plead it on my behalf. He put his book into my hand, and his Spirit into my heart. He has prepared a place for me in his Father's house, and has promised to come again and receive me unto himself — that where he is, I might be also. And shall I fear to stand before him? Why, he died for me — that he might not condemn me. He lives in Heaven for me — that he might save me. He will summon me before him — simply to reward me.
Whose judgment seat is it? "The judgment seat of Christ." And what is Jesus to the Christian? He is his Husband. Yes, Jesus says, "I am married unto you." He chose us to be his bride — because he loved us. He ransomed us to be his bride — because his heart was set upon us. He gave his life for us, and ho has placed all his merit to our account. We shall rise from the dead in his likeness, and stand forth on that glorious morning, perfect in holiness, the objects of universal admiration!
Love us more than he does — he cannot. Love us less than he does — he will not. He is devotedly attached to us, and thought nothing too difficult to undertake for us, nothing too dreadful to suffer for us, nothing too good or too great to bestow upon us. And shall we fear to stand before Him? Why, he loved us, and gave himself for us, that he might present us unto himself most glorious. What! fear to stand before our husband, and such a husband? This can never be, if we really know him!
Who will sit on the throne on that day? Jesus! And what is Jesus to the believer? He is his Father. His everlasting Father. The Father who begat him, who educated him, who trained him up for glory, honor, and immortality. Who has pitied him, borne with him, blessed him, and promised never to leave him or forsake him. The Father who has written his name in his book, engraved him on the palms of his hands, and given the everlasting kingdom to him. The Father who never lost a child, disinherited a son, or refused to receive a returning prodigal. The Father who rejoices over his children, and has promised to present them all before His Father, saying, "Here am I, Father — and the children whom you have given me." And shall we fear to stand before him? Why, he will look upon us with a father's eye, feel towards us all the tender yearnings of a father's heart, and stretch out towards us a father's hand, saying, "Come, you who are blessed." What! fear to stand before our Father — and a Father who laid down his life for us! Never!
Before whose judgment seat must we appear? The judgment seat of Jesus! And what is Jesus to the believer? He is his Savior. This is the title he has won. This is the name he wears. This is the office he fills. He saves — not merely helps. He saves — not assists.
The price demanded — he paid.
The righteousness required — he wrought.
The strength necessary — he furnishes.
The Spirit needed — he bestows.
The wisdom requisite — he imparts.
He has a Savior's heart — and he has a Savior's
wealth. He will save, for . . .
it was in his heart to do so,
he engaged in the everlasting covenant to do so,
he pledged himself in his everlasting word to do so,
and he delights to do so!
He can save, for he has all merit, all mercy, and all might. Salvation is at once his business, his honor, and his delight. He has saved us righteously — yet freely; justly — yet graciously. He parted with everything — rather than part with his people, or allow one of them to perish. "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus, who, though he was rich — yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich."
And shall we fear to stand before him? What! before my Savior? Why, he was my Substitute, Sacrifice, and Surety; he died for my offences, and rose again for my justification; and being now justified by his blood, and assured that I shall be saved from wrath through him — shall I tremble to stand before him?
Reader, you must stand before the judgment seat of Christ! Do you know the Judge? Is he your Friend? Are you reconciled to him? Have you confidence in him? Are you looking for salvation by him? Are you his friend? Do you know his person? Do you love his name? Do you trust in his blood? Do you wear his righteousness? Do you walk by his Word? Do you possess his Spirit? Do you copy his example? Do you aim to do his will? Can you say with Paul, "I live by faith in the Son of God!"
If so, happy are you. You need not fear death, or be alarmed by the near approach of the judgment day. You are safe. Your state is fixed. Your character is stamped. Your conduct is approved. Your mansion is prepared. Your welcome home will be hearty. Your glory will be great. Your happiness will be complete. Go on, my brother, my sister — cleave to Jesus; walk in close and holy fellowship with Jesus; aim to bring honor to the dear name of Jesus; grow up into him your living head in all things. And if any speak to you of judgment, or if Satan tries to harass with the thought of the last great day, let this be your reply, "I know this Judge."
But, lost sinner, you must stand before Christ, and account for your rejection of him. You must assign your reasons for closing your eyes, ears, and heart against him. You must give an account of yourself to God. To you, the Day of Judgment will be a dreadful day. You will stand alone. No friend to speak for you. No advocate to plead for you. No mercy will be extended to you!
Oh, it will be fearful to appear thus before the judgment seat of Christ! To be charged with violating his law, despising his gospel, rejecting his mercy, scorning all his counsel, and saying, "I will not have him to rule over me!"
You do not know the Judge!
You do not know the power of his anger.
You do not know the terror of his frown.
You do not know the weight of his wrath.
The eye which is as a flame of fire will be fixed upon you, and pierce you through and through! The voice which is like the sound of many waters, or the most terrific thunder — will pronounce your doom. And that hand which was once nailed to the accursed tree — will strike the dreadful blow! Eternity alone will measure the duration of your punishment — if you dare to persevere in sin, and die without hope. "Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out!" Acts 3:19