The Dais or “Judgment Seat”
of God and His Christ
GOD’S GLORY is the grand goal of the eons. Every atom of the universe, every item of creation, every action in history is part of a vast plan to bring glory to God at the conclusion of the eons, and at the consummation, when the eons end. Then perfection will prevail, and His purpose will be fully accomplished. Gleams of this glory have already pierced the gloom in the visions of the prophets and the appearances of our Lord. But it is not until the end of the evil eons and the commencement of the good that there is any great public display of divine glory. The return of Christ is the signal for its manifestation among mankind on the earth. Even before this, it will be revealed to His celestial saints in His presence. The dais will be the beginning, the prelude, to God’s revelation of His glory to the universe.
Important as we may deem our own presentation at the dais and our loss or applause, or our rule among the celestial hosts, or even the exaltation of Christ to the highest place in the empyrean, all of this is only preliminary to the prime purpose of it all, which is the display of the Supreme in all of the perfections and excellencies of His wisdom, power and love. Our highest privilege will be, not the homage of others over whom we rule, but to bow the knee to Him in deepest adoration, and to be the means of bringing the heavens back to His feet in humble confession and high acclamation.
The earth is the stage on which the tragedy of the eons is enacted, and men are merely players in the drama of reconciliation. Not all of God’s creatures are called upon to endure the harsh winds of adversity, the smashing power of evil. We learn this lesson in ourselves through sad experience, but others are allowed to learn it through us and our sorrows and afflictions. Yet we are only the supporting cast, whose duty it is to act as the foil for the great Principal, Whose might and mercy, wisdom, and love are the great theme of creation and revelation. The show is already going on. But the play is progressive. The first act, now on the stage, is a display of God’s multifarious wisdom. The audience is composed of the sovereignties and authorities among the celestials. It would be a great help to us if we realized the part we play and the characters we portray. Then we also would see the wisdom, and worship the Wise One.
It gives us a tremendous uplift to realize that we are essential to the display of God’s greatest exhibition of wisdom (Eph.3:10). Blessing for ourselves, exhilarating as it is, cannot compare with a realization of being a blessing to the great Blesser. He has put us in a place where we reflect the highest form of wisdom. God not only knows all, but He knows how to use all, and to transmute temporary evil into eternal good. Most of us lack wisdom, hence continually fail to accomplish the object we have in view. God can turn the worst failure into the greatest success. This is what He has done during the past eons, and in this, it is our privilege to have an important part.
The past eons seem to be replete with failures on God’s part. Adam sinned and offended, and brought the whole human race into the service of sin and the doom of death. Could not God have presented this by prudent provision? Thereupon the race that sprang from him became so wicked that they had to be almost wiped out by a deluge. Why did not God foresee this and forefend the evil? Thereafter the nation of Israel was segregated to be a blessing to the balance. But they became worse than the rest and even crucified God’s Christ, so seemed to utterly fail to fulfill their function. Failure! Failure! Failure! All that God did seemed to end in futile failure. Both creation and revelation were full of evidences of God’s infinite wisdom, yet His dealings with mankind apparently showed the reverse. He seemed to pyramid one failure upon another.
To the human, unanointed eye the present operations of the Deity are the greatest failure of all. In almost every avenue of life the mortals that He made fall short. They excel principally in evil and death-dealing devices. But the greatest of all failures is Christendom, His avowed representative on earth. Notwithstanding its immense privileges, its tremendous advantages over Israel, it has sunk even lower than the favored nation. Only the eye of faith on earth can see the multifarious wisdom of God in these apparent failures, for only those whose hearts have been opened to the secret which He concealed from the eons hitherto, are able to apprehend the vastness of the wisdom therein displayed.
Yet, now that the administration of the secret has been revealed, the sovereignties and authorities among the celestials can see that these failures are evidence of His super-wisdom, for they form the needed background for His present and future display of grace and glory, to His earthly as well as His heavenly creatures. I once saw and heard a similar plan used by a man who was lecturing on public speaking. When he first rose to talk he was ludicrously awkward and gawky and did not seem to know what to do with his hands and his feet. He hemmed and hawed and stammered and excused himself. Yet, all at once he was transformed, and explained that that is how one should not address an audience. To a limited degree, we can see in this case how it is possible for failure to be justified in the interests of success. His clownish capers at the start realistically revealed his later accomplishments.
TRANSCENDENT RICHES OF GRACE
Only by faith are we blessed today. We are “resting on the promises” of persecution for those wanting to live devoutly in Christ Jesus (2 Tim.3:12). Our blessing is not only among the celestials, but in the on-coming eons. Then we will no longer be weak and weary mortals, but grand and glorious immortals, the special objects of God’s kindness, whose former impotence and sinfulness are a perfect foil for the transcendent riches of God’s grace. And this is not ours because of aught in us, but because of the glory which it brings to God, in the eyes of the celestial hosts.
Today we are self-centered. Our hearts are engaged with our rights or our wrongs, our fame or our shame, our pleasure or our pain, due to our mortal frame. At the dais we will put on immortality and be rid of our selfishness, for pain will be past, shame will be absent, and grace will replace right. There will be no need to concern ourselves with ourselves, so that our hearts may be God-centered, totally absorbed with His grace and glory, and fully, engaged, not only in worshiping Him, but in His great plan of bringing every knee to bow in adoration. This will be revealed to the celestial realms not merely by words which we speak, but by that which we were and what we have become. Utterly unworthy of our high station in ourselves, we will be the prize exhibition of God’s grace, the revelation of the power of His love.
This will be our felicitous function in the on-coming eons. During the millennium and the new heavens and the new earth which follow it—the last two eons—God will display His transcendent grace through us. This should humble us in the dust, for grace demands, not our works or our worth, but our utter degradation. If we had any glory of our own, that would destroy this display. If we think we are at all worthy, that would only increase the grace, for it would show how ignorant and conceited we are.
But is not this grace already on display? By no means! There is very little outwardly visible of what God has done for us. Inwardly, our spirits may be exulting in the glory of His grace, but this is not apparent to the celestial hosts. Indeed, it is necessary now that they become acquainted with our mean estate, that they realize the depth of our degradation, so that the contrast will be apparent when we are glorified. This is why the flesh is still in us, why we fail so utterly in our walk, why the saints are often more unjust and ungracious than sinners. This does not excuse them by any means, but it is a relief to realize that God will use even this for His own glory in the eons to come.
Grace is much easier to grasp when we see it as an ingredient of God’s glory. In our pride and self-righteousness we would like to earn the prize, which will be ours in the future, we would like to pay the price for our portion. This would contribute very little, if anything, to the display of God’s heart to the celestial hosts. To them, there would be nothing especially attractive in such justice. Their hearts could not be reached by righteousness, even though this is essential in God’s government. It is only when God justly dispenses transcendent grace, through Christ, that the heart of these superior creatures will be stirred, and they will also fall down and bow the knee in fervent adoration. To be the means of this will be our highest happiness.
In my school days, it seemed to me very odd that the end of the school course should be called a “commencement.” But it now appears to me as a very good designation for the beginning of our career, after the time of tutelage is past. So it will seem to us in the coming glory when we look back at the dais. It will no longer appear to us as the end of our mortal existence merely, but as the commencement of real life, the beginning of the career for which we were created and called, justified and reconciled, vivified and glorified. It will encourage our hearts in the midst of our present sufferings and persecutions to anticipate that future bliss, and compare it with our present state.
Let us keep God’s grand goal ever in view, not only now, in the midst of our suffering and humiliation, but in our thoughts of the future. It will transform the dais from a “judgment seat,” concerned mostly with the “punishment” of our “sins,” to the grand celestial inaugural of the eons of the eons, in which God commences to take a public part in the affairs of His creation, through His Christ and His saints, in transforming the creatures of His hand into the comrades of His heart. The dais will prepare us to have a part in this the greatest and grandest achievement of the eonian times.
We are assured that the sufferings of the current era do not deserve the glory about to be revealed for us (Rom.8:18). How this should help us now! In the midst of weakness and weariness, lack of recognition and much opposition, slander and reviling, not only from foes, but from false friends, how heartening it is to compare their weight with the transcendently transcendent eonian “burden” of glory! When Paul did this, his severest suffering was transformed into a momentary, light affliction (2 Cor.4:17).
However, the highest happiness of heaven will not lie in our own blessings, but in that which we bring to others. Happy is it to give, rather than to get (Acts 20:35). The unveiling of the sons of God will free the whole creation from the slavery of corruption to which it has been subjected. Salvation and reconciliation, justification, and vivification will be the portion of all at the consummation, not only the saints. But we are not only blessed with all this, as well as immortality and eonian glory, long, long before, but we are the means of blessing the rest, the channel in which all happiness will flow to the balance of God’s celestial creation.
In the imperial palace in one of the European countries was a wonderful white hall, with magnificent decorations, and a place for the musicians. When visiting it I was struck with the thought that this was very much like the popular idea of heaven. No doubt many a young heart who was invited to this most exclusive place, thought it the highest happiness on earth. But alas, some of those who were there, with whom I am acquainted, found it shallow and transcendent. There is a surface happiness in getting what we ardently desire, but it cannot compare with that which is based on giving to others what they greatly need.
In contrast with this, it has been our privilege to send food and clothing to quite a few of the famished and exposed refugees of Europe, saving them from disease and death for the time. The overflowing expressions of thankfulness which reached us continually are the source of much joy. Not only that, but, for the time, we furnish many, with spiritual food “without money and without price,” because they are not allowed to send money out of the country. There is great and lasting happiness in such an effort, even though it means much toil and loss for the time being. The only drawback is our lack of means and strength, which prevents us from doing all we would like to do.
But in that glorious day, we will not be hampered by our limitations, our lack of means, our feeble strength. We will be perfectly equipped for every task, amply provided to fill every need. No doubt but that we will revel in the appreciation and thankfulness of those to whom we bring blessing and find in this a higher source of happiness than our own bliss, especially as all will bring praise and glory to the great Blesser of All. Let us, then, look upon the dais as the day of our deliverance from the infirmities of the flesh, when we will be empowered to bless others far beyond our present possibilities, and engage in that greatest of all endeavors, revealing to the celestial realms the glories of our God, so that every knee, from the north star to the southern cross, will learn of His grace and glory and bow before Him in ardent adoration.
A. E. Knoch
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