by Steven Chan
The apostle Paul shared with us the reason for making it our aim to please God in all of our conduct; it is because of the fact that each one of us will have to appear before the judgement seat of Christ:
”Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…”(2 Cor 5:9-11)
The Judgement that follows after our death and the Coming of the Lord (Heb 9:27; I Thess 5:13-18; 2 Thess 1:7-10) is given by the apostle Paul as the reason why he and the apostles persuade men to obey the gospel. At another place, the Bible warns of the day of Judgement: “The LORD will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:30-31)
The Bible gives a glimpse of the Day of Judgement in Rev 20:11-15:
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them (also mentioned in 2 Pet 3:10-13). 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
The Bible says that if our names are not found written in the Book of Life, then we will be cast into the lake of fire. We must therefore make every effort to ensure that our names are written in the Book of Life.
On that Day of Judgement, there will be those who will be “surprised” that they have pleased God by the acts of kindness, love and concern shown towards their fellow-brethren in Christ: To their query of when they did their acts of kindness to the Lord, “the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matt 25:40). The Bible says: “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”( 1 John 4:20-21)
On that Day of Judgement, there will be those who will be “surprised” that they have displeased the Lord by ignoring His needs. To their question, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 “And these will go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt 25:44-46). Jesus taught the same thing in Matt 10:40-42:
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
Let’s make every effort to show our love and concern towards our fellow brethren, as that is the distinctive mark by which the world will recognize us as being ‘disciples of Christ” (John 13:34-35), but more importantly, it will also please our Lord because we would be doing His Will and pleasing Him.
On that Day of Judgement, there will be those who will also be “unpleasantly surprised” that they have failed to please the Lord:
“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matt 7:22-23)
The reason for them failing to please the Lord was because they failed to do His will: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21) Jesus told the parable of the house built on the “rock” and that which was on “sand” to illustrate “those who hear these sayings of Mine, and does them” and “those how hear these sayings of mine but does not do them” (Matt 7:24-27). The point to note is that of “doing what Jesus says”. We must not fail to do what He says – for whatever reasons/excuses. Neither can we expect to please Him by doing something else that He did not say that we are to do. We need to do His will; not our own will. That was the attitude of Jesus Himself when He prayed to the Father in Matt 26:39: “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
We must be focused on ensuring that our names are written in the Book of Life. Jesus reminded His disciples that they ought not to glory that they had been given miraculous powers but to rejoice that their names are written in the Book of Life:
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”(Luke 10:20). The Bible urged us to help our fellow brethren who are our co-labourers in the kingdom of God because their names are written in the Book of Life:
”And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”(Phil 4:3-4)
It should be noted that there were “women who laboured with Paul in the gospel”; hence, we ought to banish from our thought that only men are required or expected to labour in the gospel. Indeed these women who are co-labourers are also worthy of support from the brethren. The names of these women co-labourers are also written in the Book of Life.
But let us be warned that our names may be blotted out from the Book of Life:
To the church at Sardis whom the Lord noted that “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent… 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life” (Rev 3:1-5)
The warning is that we need to “overcome” our shortcomings in our service to the Lord – otherwise, our names will be blotted out from the Book of Life. This is a serious warning and we do need to take heed – and repent if we have become “cold” in our love and service to the Lord.
God has given us a glimpse of the Day of Judgement so as to warn us that we ought to walk circumspectly/soberly, righteously and godly in this life (Titus 2:12-13)