"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path". Ps 119:105
The Reward of the Righteous.
It is a sad misconception that man somehow possesses an immortal soul that goes to heaven at death. The Bible teaches plainly that man was created from the dust of the earth and returns to the earth when he dies. Only God our Creator is eternal. The psalmist writes "From everlasting to everlasting thou art God." Psalm 109:2.
Man is mortal, he will die, but the promise of God is life and joy for those who are faithful and strive to serve God to the best of their ability. Those who are accepted at the judgement will be given eternal life. Their bodies will never again feel pain or tiredness or any human weakness, and their minds will never again be prone to disobey God [commit sin]. It will be a time of great rejoicing for the faithful. In the Bible it is said to be like a wedding feast, and we read in Revelation 19: 9 "Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." Blessed indeed!
When Jesus was with his disciples, sharing his last meal on earth with them before his death, we call it "the last supper", he said to them:
"I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" Luke 22:29-30
When the Kingdom comes, the twelve apostles will be granted to rule over Israel, which will then be the most important nation on earth. Every disciple accepted by Jesus will share in the work of ruling the world. So we read in Revelation 5:9, 10 that the faithful saints sung a song, saying:
"Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation: and hast make us unto our God kings and priest: and we shall reign on the earth."
They will have the privilege of helping Jesus set up the Kingdom of God. Jesus shall rule the earth in righteousness bringing true and lasting peace. Something this world has never known before.
What will happen to those who are rejected?
We have seen that those who come before the Judgement Seat of Christ will be divided into two classes. Christ will accept some, and reject others. He will give eternal life to those he accepts. But what will happen to those who are found unworthy? What will their punishment be? We do not know the precise details but some things are quite certain. First, they will see how foolish they have been; they will realize what wonderful blessings they have thrown away, and this will cause them agony of mind. Jesus said of such people:
"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out." Luke 13:28
Finally, they will be completely destroyed. Jesus likened the judgement to a harvest where the good corn is separated from the useless weeds. The corn is carefully preserved, but the weeds are destroyed in the farmer's bonfire (Matthew 13: 36-43). Paul taught the same thing very plainly:
"The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
Love or fear?
There are some passages in the Bible which seem to warn us not to be too confident about our position at the judgement; whereas other scriptures seem to encourage us to be full of confidence. There is no real contradiction. We can have no confidence in ourselves - but we can have total confidence in the saving power of God. For, as we read in Romans 8: 32
Though we may begin by either not understanding God or being afraid of God, we shall gradually learn to love Him and trust Him completely. And so John says:
"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" (1 John 4: 17, 18)
A good verse to memorize: 2 Corinthians 5:10
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad"