28. The Throne of Grace and the Throne of Judgment
THE THRONE OF GRACE AND THE
THRONE OF JUDGMENT
“And thou shalt put the mercy-seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there will I meet thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” (Exod. 25:21-22).
“For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Cor. 5:10)
There are two places where man may meet God. The one is at the throne of grace; the other is at the throne of judgment. The first has been established by God here on earth among sinners and for sinners. The other is beyond the bounds of this life; we appear before it only after we leave this world and the time of grace is over. No one is compelled to appear before the throne of grace. He who wishes may do so, but he who chooses to do otherwise may do so.
With these two places in mind I should like to use a picture to clarify what I want to say.
A human being enters into this life through a narrow gate; we enter one by one. Having entered, we are in a large plain; this plain is life. Here we move about, at times singly and at other times as ants in an ant hill. Sometimes each struggles for himself, and at other times the individuals unite for work or to make common cause against an enemy.
This whole mass of men is ravaged by sin and the power of the devil. Millions of these harassed souls have no other prospect than a grave. If we could listen to these people, or look out over this multitude of men and visit them in their homes, we should be made aware of a great deal of suffering.
The prisons are bursting with criminals and the hospitals are filled with ailing people. Hatred, jealousy and murder rule the day. We may see it in everyday communities; it is still more evident on the battlefield where the ground is made red with the flow of blood.
We are worse off than we think. We like to believe that we are great, strong, and free people; we do not realize that we have been kidnapped by sin, Satan and death.
In the center of this plain, right in the midst of these milling millions, God has set up His throne of grace. From this throne He calls out to every one: I want to meet you here! By the Spirit through His Word and His servants He calls: Come to meet your God here!
To live in the time of grace means that we have an opportunity to hear the gospel of grace. It is from the throne of grace God speaks today, for as yet it has not been removed from the earth. When the time comes — as come it will — that God removes this throne from the earth, there will be no further invitation to seek a gracious God.
Let us remember also that we appear before the throne of grace voluntarily, but that we must appear before the throne of judgment whether we want to or not. No one shall escape; we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.
This plain is not our true homeland. We are driven by an irresistible force toward another gate; we have to leave this life, one by one, as we entered it. It is at the exit that we meet God on the throne of judgment. We shall not escape it; prayers and tears will avail us nothing.
He who is so wise as to meet God at the mercy-seat will be acquitted at the judgment-seat. Grace takes the place of justice at the mercy-seat. The sinner is saved by grace as he stands face to face with the living God. It is the same God before whom he shall stand on the day of judgment. If he then has with him his letter of acquittal, judgment for him will then be merely a confirmation of that acquittal. God Himself will invite him to enter the eternal kingdom.
“If God be for us, who is then against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead!” (Rom. 8:31-34).
All those who meet God at the mercy-seat stand on solid ground. Shouldn’t this truth bring joy to all the anxious children of God who are afraid of death and judgment? There is reason enough here to bring cheer to all the discouraged.
Let us also hear some of the serious truths that are written about the seat of judgment; perhaps they might awaken you who have not met God at the mercy-seat.
““I beheld till thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit. His raiment was white as snow, and the hair on his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him; thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (Dan. 7:9-10).
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before his throne; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Rev.20:12-13).
It will be a serious matter to be a human being on the day that the books are opened. There will be no scoffing then. If our names are not written in the Book of Life we shall be weighed in the scales of God –and found wanting. It is not a tyrant who is to judge us according to whim and fancy; it is a righteous judge whose decisions are based upon what is written in the books. Only he whose name appears in the Book of Life will be saved; it is at the mercy-seat the names are recorded in this Book.
Have you met God at the mercy-seat?
I do not ask if you have been converted, if you have a living faith, or if the Spirit testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God. These questions are not always so easy to answer; even a Christian may at times have difficulty with them. The question is if we have met God at the mercy-seat. All of us can answer that if we want to. It is not a matter of thought, wish or opinion; it is a matter of an act that is as simple as eating or attending church.
Have you met God at the mercy-seat?
Give the answer yourself, but answer truly. Eternity hangs on your answer to this question.
Someone may ask, “What is this mercy-seat? Where can I find it? How can it save me?
To these questions the Scriptures give this answer: The mercy-seat is Jesus Christ. He is both the offering for sin and the mercy-seat. He took away our sin by His perfect sacrifice. With His own blood He appeared in the Holy of Holies and made an atonement for us.
Now it is possible for us to appear with boldness before the mercy_ seat and find grace to help in time of need. He who meets God here will be acquitted before the throne of judgment and will be permitted to go in to eternal life.
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