GOD HAS SWORN that He will win the worship of every
knee and the acclaim of every tongue. Before His bema, or dais, all must come
(Rom.14:11). This is in full accord with His purpose to reconcile all to Himself at the
consummation (Col.1:20). Then, after the unbeliever has been judged and vivified, it will
be fully accomplished. But those who believe will come to this blessed end long before, in
the former resurrection, when Israels saints are raised, and, still earlier, when
those of this secret administration are presented at the dais of Christ, and each gives an
account of himself to God (Rom.14:12).
Hitherto we have stressed
the grand purpose of God to save and justify and vivify all mankind and finally reconcile
the universe. It may be well in the future to press to the attention of all who love God
and revel in His Word this still more precious and fundamental truth. Not only will all
His creatures obtain blessing, but HE will be glorified by all. God Himselfis the
great Beneficiary of His marvelous operations. I sincerely hope that even those who refuse
to believe His plain declarations concerning the blessing of all His enemies, will not
deny that He will get the worship of every knee and the acclamation of every
tongue, for His oath is back of it.
All will give account of
themselves at the two great crises of the eons. For the unbeliever it will take place at
the great white throne, after the present earth is swept away. For the believer it may
come in the near future, between the evil and the good eons, in preparation for the
millennium on earth or our removal to the celestials. In brief, it follows mans
present existence in humiliation and distress, and precedes his future life in glory and
bliss. And this is just what should be expected. So long as mankind fails to give God His
due, there can be and should be no blessing worthy of the name. But when the race or any
part of it comes to the full acknowledgement of the Deity, blessing is bound to overflow.
The dais will be the second
great crisis in our experience. When we first believed, most of us were exercised
concerning our sins. Faith in the blood of Christ relieved us of all condemnation. We were
happy because our acts would not be reckoned against us. But what we are was not so
satisfactory. Being still mortal, we soon found that we were not freed from sins presence,
and by no means delivered from its power. In order to please God we had to die
to sin. Death and crucifixion are the means of escape from its thralldom
now. But this will be reversed in the resurrection. Then we will enjoy life and glory.
We will be rid of the very presence of sin and free from its power, because we will be
immortal. The dais is the introduction to this. Our whole past will be put into the
crucible for final assay, so that all the vexing and troublesome problems of the present
will be settled, and whatever is of value will be preserved.
First of all let us clear
the ground, lest the dais of Christ should be confused with suffering for our sins. Those
who stand before the great white throne will be judged according to their acts, but
those who are presented before His dais will be requited for their good deeds. The
dead who stand before the final judgment throne will be condemned for their doings,
but the immortals who appear before His dais will be applauded for their
achievements. Christ is the Judge of one company, but distributes the prizes
to the other. He may, indeed, penalize for infringement of the rules, but He does not
condemn. Negatively, as all our work will be tested by fire, some of it will be burned up,
and we will forfeit our wages, but we ourselves will be saved (1 Cor.3:12-15). For the
first time in our existence, our sins will not only be gone, but we will be what we
Moreover, the dais will
not be a judgment. It is a grave error to translate the term bema thus, and
leads, not only to serious confusion, but positive contradiction in the Scriptures. Judgment
for sin is past for the believer. Even the Circumcision were assured by our Lord
that he who is hearing My word and believing Him Who sends Me has life eonian and
is not coming into judging, but has proceeded out of death into life (John
5:24). Here we have a hint why there is no judging possible. Even the circumcision saints
will be vivified at their resurrection and receive eonian life. Instead of the judging
that comes to Israel at the return of their Messiah, the saints receive wages
(Rev.11:18). They will receive a place in the millennial kingdom commensurate with their
deeds. If they are not judged, how should we be, to whom grace abounds in
such fuller measure, and who receive bodies far exceeding theirs in glory?
The key words which
describe the dais are illumination, manifestation, requital and applause.
These are closely connected with judgment, but the sting has been withdrawn. They are not
due to Gods indignation, as is the case with the unbeliever, but to His holiness,
which insists on the removal of all that might be, a source of evil in the future. He will
bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the heart (1
Cor.4:5). The true value of our service lies in the motive back of it, not in its
apparent success or failure. If it is done for His glory alone, it will not fail to find
applause. But if it is centered in self, it will not survive the fire. Yet we will be glad
to see it vanish.
It is helpful to note that
the bema, or dais, occurs only in those portions of Pauls epistles which deal
with conduct, in the second half of Romans and in Corinthians. It is not mentioned
where the evangel is in view. It is concerned with the deportment of the saints,
and does not affect their salvation. Justification is not of works, but the
dais deals altogether with deeds. The gratuity in one is grace, the other is
a test by fire. The judgment of Christ on the cross in the past settled for our
sins, the dais of Christ in the future will reward us for our service. In our meditations
may we always remember the vast contrasts between these great themes, lest we lose the joy
of our salvation by basing it in the least degree upon ourselves.
Justification frees from
all condemnation. It is not limited to our sins as unbelievers. It includes what we do as
believers. The righteousness that is ours in Christ is divine. God transmutes our every
act, by the alchemy of the cross, into a source of glory to Himself and blessing to His
creatures. Yet this does not imply that we are sinless in ourselves, or that we should
continue as before. By the illumination of Gods Word we learn about ourselves and
seek to shun evil and aim to do good. But we are much hindered by the flesh, which is
still with us. This is a slow process, which is never completed in this life. In the
resurrection, however, with our incorruptible bodies, the whole process is perfected
before the dais.
Many, however, are inclined
to dread that future test, especially if their conscience is not clear, or their relations
to their fellow saints leave something to be desired. This is a wholesome fear, but let us
be thankful that we are not called upon to endure the test in our present, mortal bodies.
When we are presented before Him, we will be clothed with powerful, glorious frames, and
will be able to endure the searching fiery flames. Moreover, we will welcome anything that
will clear up all the differences and dissensions that have marred our fellowship while on
earth. There is no one to decide our cause until our Lord Himself does so in that day.
The dais of Christ is not
only concerned with the service of the saints in relation to their Lord, but one of its
chief functions is to clear up the relations between the saints, in view of the future.
After the dais there will be no need to bear and forbear, for immortality will incline us
to do right, just as the dying process now makes us do wrong. There will be no need for
grace in dealing with one another after that. All that will need settling is the past.
Gods searchlight will illumine all. Right and wrong will, be instantly apparent, and
we will be glad to see our bad destroyed and our wrongs requited.
Any judging or setting of
things right while we are in our mortal, soulish bodies is bound to be a painful
procedure. The unbeliever will find it so at the great white throne. We would find it so
if we should seek to straighten out everything in this life. It is not pleasant to realize
that we have been in the wrong. The more sensitive our conscience is, the more miserable
we feel at the thought of displeasing God or harming His people, or any of His creatures.
It is a vast relief to look forward to a time when all will be cleared up by the only One
Who is competent, and when our frames will be able to bear knowing the worst, because it
will no longer be a soulish, or sentient body, but a spiritual organism competent and
eager to cope with the matter once for all, in order that nothing be left to mar the
Is it not evident that all
differences of doctrine and deportment must be cleared up before we can enter fully into
the service that awaits us in the future? Now our forbearance and grace and love needs
exercise. But then all of us will be like Him, and nothing can come between us to mar our
fellowship or service for the future. But our past needs to be fully purged, for
our own sake as well as for that of our fellow saints. We must be illuminated as to our
own mistakes, and the motives of all must become manifest. Now much is obscure and secret.
Motives are misunderstood and misrepresented. All is largely superficial and artificial.
Only God and His Christ can bring this into the open. And it will not be done, until we
are presented before the dais. Until then we must act in grace.
There is only One Who can
preside and decide between the saints in matters of conduct. Our Lord is alive and vitally
interested in all that concerns His own. He alone knows the heart and evaluates the
motives. After all, the relation of one saint to another and their treatment of each other
is a minor matter compared with the attitude of each one toward God. So that, primarily,
everything is being ordered so as to bring worship and praise to Him. That will be
the principal purpose of His dais. All the conduct of the saints, whether good or bad,
will contribute to this. There will be worship from all hearts when they see the glories
of His grace in contrast to their fearful failures, and there will be praise exultant when
they are commended for their good deeds, notwithstanding the forfeits for their bad. Then
will be fulfilled what is written:
For to Me shall bow every knee,
And every tongue shall be acclaiming God.
ever pictured to yourself how terrible it would be if all the saints continued to conduct
themselves, after being vivified, as they do on earth? Now one who seeks to stand for
Gods truth has far more to fear from his fellows than from the world. One who seeks
to act graciously must be prepared to be misunderstood and actually denounced, not merely
as lacking in grace, but as unjust and hateful. The Adversary sees to it that many of the
acts which will receive the most applause in that day are now condemned unmercifully by
those whose zeal exceeds their knowledge.
Most of us have the
impression that the worst offenders amongst mankind will all be found before the great
white throne, while believers, who stand before the dais to give account concerning
themselves to God, will be comparatively just and good. But, if we take into account the
light and privileges enjoyed by the saints, our estimate may be reversed. Our Lord laid
down the rule that to everyone to whom much was given, from him much will be sought,
and to whom they committed much, more excessively will they be requesting of him.
(Luke 12:48). How much more have we received than the world! Are we that much better than
they? By no means! And even great and honored saints of God have done things which few
worldlings would countenance. Many of these crimes are committed in the name of God and
for His sake. Alas! How much there is to humble us in the dust before Him! But what a
trophy of grace would it be if those to whom God was so loving should rate even lower than
His enemies in their conduct!
We shall be presented
at the dais. The dead stand before the great white throne. Such appropriate
perfections in the Word of God delight the heart of those who love His Word. In one the
action is related to the Saviour, as if we were invited to an earthly court in order to
obtain an audience or honor, so we are presented. The sinner stands before the
great white throne as a trembling criminal faces his judge. The A.V. uses the word stand
in both cases, even though they render it present your bodies just
before (Rom.12:1). Indeed, they have sadly discolored the picture presented at the dais by
miscalling it a judgment seat in ten of its twelve occurrences, when, in
itself, it implies neither judgment nor a seat, but only the platform on which it was
raised a STEP above the rest of the floor. A seat suggests a permanent tribunal, such as
that of the twelve who will be seated on thrones, judging the twelve tribes
of Israel. No one could well object if we called these judgment seats.
But they will deal out judgment for a thousand years to the tribes of Israel, whereas the
dais will, so far as we are aware, speed through in a single unseated session. It does not
appeal to my sense of the fitness of things to have any seats brought into this scene, not
even on the dais, for, even in the judgment of His enemies, God proceeds apace. How much
faster will He deal with the redeemed and reconciled!
THE DIFFERENT ASPECTS
is revealed to us from various aspects. In Romans it is concerned with judging
those who are infirm in the faith. This is forbidden. In 1 Cor.3:10-15 it applies to those
who seek to edify the saints, and to the value of their teaching. In 1 Cor.4:1-5 it
is related to the administration of Gods secrets. In 2 Cor.4:1-5:10 it
concerns all the practices of the saints, good or bad. Besides these we have a
special word for slaves, who will be fully requited in that day (Eph.6:5-8, Col.3:22-25).
If we keep these separate, it will help to clarify what has usually been deemed a most
difficult theme. An intelligent apprehension of the dais should shed much light upon the
practical features of our walk. Our attitude toward our fellow saints as well as the
character of our service may be greatly influenced for good if we keep His dais before us.
In this series we will seek
to separate the various aspects of the dais as it affects our conduct in the different
spheres of our experience, and endeavor to show, its place in Gods great purpose to
bring us and all His creatures into the enjoyment of His light and love, and thus become
the keynote of that great hymn which will celebrate His grace and glory for the eons of
the eons and beyond.
A. E. Knoch