The Person of Christ - 34- The Father's House

 

Chapter 34 - The Father?s House, The Review

And Marriage

Phillip Harding

 

In John 14:1-3 we have simple yet sublime language that should thrill our hearts.

 

A.        A Word of Consolation.

 

?Let not your heart be troubled.? Knowing full well what was ahead the Lord in His love would seek to console His own. Troubled they might be at the thought of the betrayer and the Lord?s reference to a little while (John 13:21,33) but the Saviour would assure them and impart peace to them (John 14:27).

 

B.         A Word of Exhortation.

 

?Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.? The Lord was thinking of His going to the Father, when they would no longer see Him with the natural eye. They believed in God Whom they couldn?t see and thus He exhorts them to believe likewise in Him when He had returned to the Father. (I Peter

1:8).

 

C.        A Word of Revelation.

 

In verse two the Lord unfolds something completely new. The disciples had been occupied with earthly things, fully expecting the redemption of Israel and the restoration of the kingdom (Luke 24:21, Acts 1:6) but the Lord reveals that Heaven was to be their abode. The Lord had called the Temple ?My Father?s house? for there the people of God communed with Him, but here in John 14 the Lord Jesus is referring to Heaven, the abode of the Father and of the Father?s family. The Father?s house with its many abiding places speaks of Home for believers of this present dispensation, the place of infinite love and glory and of eternal bliss and joy. When we enter the Father?s house the last tear will have been shed, the last pain will have been felt, all heartache will be over, every sorrow will be past and then we shall serve Him perfectly and praise Him with unsinning lips. What a glorious prospect! How we should long to be at home in the Father?s house!

 

When to Canaan?s long-loved dwelling

Love divine thy foot shall bring,

There, with shouts of triumph swelling;

Zion?s songs in rest to sing.

There no stranger-God shall meet thee -Stranger thou in courts above?

He Who to His rest shall greet thee,

Greets thee with a well known love.

When the Lord spoke of going to prepare a place, He was referring to His going to the Father. At Calvary the Lord Jesus prepared a people but in His ascension He prepared a place. As the Forerunner He has entered in, thus securing a place in Heaven for us (Heb. 6:19-20).

 

D.        A Word of Expectation.

 

?I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.? That the Lord comes personally for that wondrous meeting in the air, unfolds His immeasurable love for us, love beyond all thought or comparison (I Thess. 4:16). He is coming personally to conduct us into the Father?s house. We ought to be eagerly anticipating that glorious moment.

 

E.         A Word of Consummation.

 

?That where I am, there ye may be also.? There is ample room for the saints as well as the Son in that home of divine love. His heart?s desire is to have us with Himself and to this end He prays in John 17:24. Here then is the assurance of the Father?s house; here is the blessed hope that the Lord Jesus is personally coming to take us there and the precious promise that we shall be forever with Him. (I Thess. 4:17).

 

No future but glory, Lord Jesus have we.

How bright is the prospect of being with Thee!

Oh home of all homes, with the Father above!

O            wonderful dwelling of infinite love!

Home, home, bright, bright home!

How blessed the prospect, Lord Jesus, of home.

 

THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

 

1. The Claims of The Sovereign Lord

 

We must recognize that the Lord Jesus has the sovereign

right to dictate to us the manner of our life and service. ?Ye are not your own for ye are bought with a price.? (I Cor. 6:19-20). This passage reveals that the Spirit of God takes up residence in the believer to take practical possession of what has been purchased and use him exclusively for the pleasure of the One to whom he belongs. As bondservants we belong to Christ and therefore whatsoever we do, we should do heartily as unto Him, remembering that we serve the Lord Christ (Col. 3:23-24). It does matter how we respond to His sovereign claims because our lives are going to be reviewed.

 

2.         The Certainty of Examination

 

For the believer, judgment as a sinner is past (John 5:24, Rom. 8:1); judgment as a son is present (Heb. 12:6-12), but judgment as a servant is yet future. Every believer will stand at the judgment seat of Christ, none will miss it. (Rom. 14:10 and II Corinthians 5:10).

 

A.        The Place of Examination.

 

There are two Greek words translated ?judgment seat? in the New Testament - kriterion. a tribunal where sentence is passed (James 2:6) and bema, a raised platform or rostrum, a place of review and reward. It is this second word that is used in Romans 14:10 and II Corinthians 5:10. Associated with this word are the ideas of dignity, honour and reward. It is never linked to punishment. We believe that the judgment seat of Christ takes place in Heaven.

 

B.         The Person Who Examines.

 

It is clear from II Corinthians 5:10 that the Lord Jesus will review the believer?s life (See John 5:22). The sovereign Lord of our lives will unfold to us how we have lived in the scene of His rejection.

 

C.        The Period of Examination.

 

In Luke 14:14 reward is linked with resurrection and in I Thessalonians 4:16,17 resurrection is linked with rapture (at least with Church saints), thus the judgment seat of Christ cannot take place until the rapture. This is further confirmed in I Corinthians 4:4 and Revelation 22:12. However, in Revelation 19:6-8 we see the church, the Lamb?s wife, arrayed in fine linen, which is the righteous acts of the saints. This indicates that the judgment seat of Christ is past, so we conclude it must take place between the rapture and the time when He comes forth with His ?wife?to celebrate the marriage.

 

D. The Purpose of Examination.

 

We stress that the life of the believer before he was saved will not be the subject of the judgment seat of Christ. In II Corinthians 5:10 the word ?appear? means to be made manifest, i.e. brought fully to the light. We shall be made manifest as to:

 

(i) The Matter of relationship to each other (Rom. 14:10-12)

- it does matter how we treat each other and what we say about each other. Our attitude to fellow believers will be fully revealed.

(ii) The Motive behind our service (I Cor. 4:5,11 Cor.5: 10)- the reason why we upheld truth or otherwise will be made known. The motive behind what we do and say will be brought to the light.

(iii) The Methods we adopt (II Tim. 2:5) - whether or not we lived and served in keeping with the Word of God will be unfolded.

(iv) The Materials we use (I Cor. 3:8-15) - here the teacher is in view in relation to the assembly. However, we can apply it generally, the material we contribute, the service rendered, will be reviewed as to their true character. It will not be quantity that matters then but true quality.

 

E. The Principles

 

We lift three principles from three parables of the Lord. We stress that we are not interpreting the parables but simply suggesting principles.

 

(i) The Parable of the Nobleman (Luke 19:22-27) - a pound given to each suggests the principle of equal responsibility. We all have the same responsibility to be occupied in service for the Lord until He comes and we shall be rewarded according to the measure in which we fulfil this responsibility.

(ii) The Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30) - each receiving according to his own ability suggests the principle of different ability and thus different gift. Faithfulness in the handling of gift received will be the governing factor at the judgment seat of Christ and not the gift itself.

(iii) The Parable of the Labourers (Matt. 20:1-6) - the good man giving as he willed suggests the principle of divine reckoning. Believers will be rewarded according to the Lord?s righteous assessment, not according to their own estimate.

 

F.         The Pointers

 

We refer to illustrations of the judgment seat in the Word of God.

(i)         II Samuel 23 - the list of David?s mighty men illustrates review in relation to service as linked with the rejected King.

(ii)        Ezra 8 the numbering and weighing of the vessels at the close of the journey illustrates review in relation to the handling of divine things.

(iii)            Nehemiah 3 the details of the building of the wall illustrates review in relation to the part we play in building for God.

 

3.         THE CONSEQUENCES OF EXAMINATION.

 

Reward will be received or lost. It is evident there will be differences of reward from the principle stated in Proverbs 11:24-25, II Corinthians 9:6 and Galations 6:7. That there will be loss is clear from I Corinthians 3:15 and II Timothy 2:12. Things done for self-ambition, self-advancement or the

praise of men will mean loss. All that is done out of love to

Christ will be recompensed.

 

4.         THE CONCLUSION.

 

The judgment seat of Christ will manifest the righteousness of God and will therefore be for the glory of God. In the light of this it behoves us to be faithful to the Word of God, Out of love for Christ. ?Only one life, ?twill soon be past, Only what?s done for Christ will last.?

 

THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB

 

Without any hesitation we state our deep conviction that the church is the bride of Christ. Ephesians unfolds the church as a body that cannot be dismembered (ch.l), as a building that cannot be destroyed (ch.2) and as a bride that cannot be divorced (ch.5).

 

1.         THE BRIDAL RELATIONSHIP OF THE CHURCH.

 

Ephesians five brings before us four ideas as to this relationship:

(i)         Her subjection to Christ (vs. 23,24) - this presents the absolute allegiance of the church to Christ and should be expressed by each believer now in explicit obedience to the Word of God.

(ii)        Her suitability for Christ (vs.25,26) - the Lord Jesus had to make the church suitable, because those who comprise the church were totally unsuitable in themselves. The Lord Jesus saw the church mirrored in the perfectly accomplished purpose of God. That purpose was formed in unapproachable light but the price was paid in unfathomable darkness.

(iii) Her sufficiency in Christ (vs.28,29) - Christ will unfailingly meet every need of His own until at last the end is reached in elernal glory.

(iv) Her surpassing beauty when she is with Christ (v.27) - a glorious church, not having spot as to defilement or wrinkle as to decay. It will be seen then in absolute perfection.

 

2.         THE BRIDAL DISPLAY OF THE CHURCH.

 

When Christ steps into the air, it is to take His bride to Himself so that the relationship pledged might be consummated at the marriage.

 

(i) When will it take place? The aorist tense is used in Revelation 19:7, ?The marriage of the Lamb is come? suggesting that it has already taken place. The marriage therefore takes place before the return of the Lord to the earth. In Revelation 19:8 we see that the wife has made herself ready and is arrayed in fine linen, indicating that the marriage takes place after the judgment seat of Christ. We are now weaving the robe we shall wear then. The marriage takes place after the judgment seat of Christ and before the manifestation of Christ to the earth.

 

(ii) Where will it take place? Since the marriage follows the judgment seat and is prior to the Lord?s return to the earth, it must take place in Heaven. Since the church is heavenly in calling and in character, no other place would be more suitable (Eph. 2:6).

 

(iii) Who will be there? Without going into detail but stressing that we are dealing with the marriage and not the marriage supper, we suggest that only Christ and the church will be there. The church will not be there by virtue of her nghteous acts, though she is arrayed in them. With her journey past and the wilderness behind her, the church will be seen in the full display of bridal glory.

 

3.         THE BRIDAL DIGNITY OF THE CHURCH.

 

The church is called the wife and bride of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7, 21:9) showing the unchanging purpose of God and the unfading beauty of the church. The church will be manifested in bridal glory, intimately assoc??ed with Christ eternally. The bridal dignity of the church is that she is ever with Christ, never to be parted from Him and to be seen in the bloom of eternal youth, forever enjoying the freshness of eternal affection.