The Bema Seat of Christ: A Sermon Primer on Romans 14.10-1

For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God (Romans 14.10).

Paul made this statement while teaching the believers in Rome not to judge one another on matters of opinion. On some issues, Christians will come to different convictions about what it means to honor the Lord in faith, and we are to welcome one another and pursue peace with these fellow believers. Not only is it not our job to judge their convictions, for that role is the exclusive right of their Master, but we must also remember that we will stand before the Lord ourselves and give an accounting of ourselves to God. And on the day of judgment, we will have to answer to God for judging our brother or sister in Christ and for despising them.

10Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14.10-12)

Obviously, Paul was using the reality of this truth to motivate them to welcome each other in the Lord and to resist the temptation to judge. The fact that we will stand before God and give an account was to be motivation towards doing the right thing.

But this idea of believers standing before the judgment seat of Christ and giving an account of their lives is more than just a throwaway line in Paul’s argument for church unity. In fact, the New Testament is replete with this teaching, starting with the words of Jesus Himself. Continue reading

The Rebellion: A Meditation on 2 Thessalonians 2.3

In 2 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul taught that two things must happen before our Lord and Savior returns: the man of lawlessness must be revealed and the rebellion must come.

1Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2.1-4)

This rebellion, or apostasy, was described by Jesus as a time where many will fall away, lawlessness will increase, and the love of many will grow cold (see Matthew 24.9-14). Elsewhere, the Scriptures describe the rebellion as a time where many will depart from the faith and follow the teachings of demons (see 1 Timothy 4.1-3), and as a time of great difficulty where mankind is a lover of themselves and pleasure (see 2 Timothy 3.1-9). Continue reading

The Judgment of Believers: A Sermon Primer on Romans 14.12

In Romans 14, as Paul was teaching about the reality that believers can come to differing convictions as to what honors the Lord on some of the issues that are non-essential to the gospel, he dropped this little bomb.

10Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14.10-12 ESV)

One of the reasons believers are not to judge their brothers and sisters in Christ on matters of opinion is that it is not our role to judge. That role has been exclusively reserved for the Master, and each one of us will give an account of our own convictions and choices before the judgment seat of God. And one of the things we will give an account of on that day is whether or not we “despised” our brothers and sisters or “passed judgment” on them.

This  idea of standing before the judgment seat of God is not unique to Romans 14. The apostolic writings of the New Testament are littered with discussions about the day of judgment. Continue reading

Esteeming One Day As Better Than Another: A Sermon Primer on Romans 14

In the larger discussion about harmony and unity within the body of Christ, Paul mentioned several issues that led the Christians in Rome to come to differing convictions about the same issues. He primarily talked about the appropriate diet for a believer, whether or not it should include meat or be a vegetable only diet (see Romans 14.2). He also mentioned the consumption of wine (see Romans 14.21). But it is his mention of special days that concerns us in this post.

5One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. (Romans 14.5-6 ESV)

As one commentator wrote, it almost seems that Paul is intentionally being vague so that the truths he wrote about might apply to various situations within the church. That may be the case, but the Bible student in me sure would appreciated a little more detail about the “special days” in question among the faithful in Rome. All we know for sure is that it was a day “observed in honor of the Lord” (Romans 14.6). This may have been a special feast day, but most likely it is a reference to the one day of the week that was unlike the other days. This, of course, was the Sabbath day. Continue reading

The Unique Day of the Lord (Zechariah 14)

One of the areas of biblical studies that I have yet to gain a firm grasp upon is the study of eschatology, or the study of the events of the end times. Like so many areas of theology, to understand the end times, we cannot study one passage in isolation. The complete picture only comes when piecing together the teachings of Revelation, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah along with the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. So, lacking a comprehensive study of all these makes me a little apprehensive when trying to explain portions of the Bible like the fourteenth chapter of Zechariah.

This particular chapter of Zechariah is one of the reasons I am more and more convinced of an earthly reign of Christ upon His return, what is often referred to as the Millennial Kingdom. Revelation 20 speaks of a period of 1000 years where Satan and his angels are bound in the bottomless pit, and the saints reign with Christ for a 1000 years over the nations. Continue reading

The Dangerous Edge of Grace: A Sermon Primer on Romans 14

In Romans 14, the Scriptures speak to what seems to be a minor issue, but one that has always had huge implications in the body of Christ. The official title might by “church unity,” but the issue goes deeper than that. Paul actually addressed the issue in Romans 14.1-15.7, but I will only quote a portion of it here.

1As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14.1-5 ESV)

The situation in the church in Rome seems to be that Christians within the church had come to different convictions about how to best honor the Lord in a given situation. The particular situation at hand was whether it was “right” to eat only vegetables or whether it was allowed for Christians to eat meat. Paul hinted at other situations that might have been causing conflict, too, like esteeming one day as better than another (Romans 14.5) and the consumption of wine (Romans 14.21). Continue reading