THE BROADSTONE BAPTIST CHURCH BLOG 
Review of ‘The Account Which We Must Give’ by Carl Johnson
Created by Jon Taylor - Thursday 04 Aug 2016
Jon Taylor
I read this book almost a decade ago and found it to be a wake-up call, while simultaneously encouraging. I am glad that I have just re-read it. While several topics relating to judgement are carefully examined and outlined, it is the bema judgement which relates to rewards at the judgement seat of Christ (this is a separate judgement to that of the Great White Throne Judgement) that is the main subject presented.
 
We are saved by grace through faith not by works. We are living under liberty, rather than the two unwarranted polar opposites of being under the law or license. We don’t sin all the more readily under the antinomian (without-law) false notion that sinning doesn’t matter since grace will abound further. Worryingly however, some profess to be Christian, but appear to have little interest in God and His Word other than ‘getting saved’ and then waiting in ‘cruise mode’ until they enter heaven. But apathy uncovers a lack of gratitude and a defective heart attitude and probably understanding; since we are created for God’s glory and are His workmanship and we are prepared for good works that we should walk in them (Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 2:10).
 
I soberly agree with the author following his extensive search of publications and sermons at the time of writing, that not enough has been taught or written about the bema judgement and the account that we as Christians must give. Amongst others, Johnson references Leonard Ravenhill that books concentrating on the judgement seat of Christ are neglected and A.W. Tozer that a sense of accountability unto God is somewhat lacking.
 

The Key Scriptures relating to the Bema Judgment
 
More imperatively, in regard to the account we must give Johnson appeals to Scripture. Whilst he quotes a number of references, the main ones mentioned throughout are Romans 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10 and 1 Corinthians 3:9-15.
 
‘But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God’ (Romans: 14:10-12).
 
‘For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad’ (2 Corinthians 5:10).
 
‘For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire: and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire’ (1 Corinthians 3:9-15).
 

How does this translate to living now and later judgement?

Paul would have been familiar with the imagery of the Isthmian games in Corinth. The judge would be sat at the bema (judgement seat) which was a platform positioned by the finish line. The winner would receive a prize and the other competitors obviously wouldn’t be punished, though they would experience disappointment as they competed keenly hoping to win. They would have undergone strict training and forfeited unnecessary distractions or hindrances and that is also a helpful reminder for us to remain steadfast in our walk and service for the Lord.
 
The above verses expose the reality that there will be a separate judgement for believers, not with respect of salvation, but specifically relating to rewards. We will also have to give an account, teachers of God’s word included (Hebrews 13:17). This is a tremendous motivating truth to consider and take hold of, since we must steward and exercise the spiritual gifts God has given us wisely and avoid burying our talents where they don’t even gain interest.
 
There is also an equally solemn contemplation and action required since there is both a positive and negative dimension in view here. There will be rewards for using our gifts for His glory and for the edification of the church and devastating loss (regret, sorrow and embarrassment-not punishment), for what we could have done for our Lord.
 

The Five Crowns
 
Johnson devotes a chapter to the five crowns relating to believer’s rewards contained within Scripture.
 
The crown of glory for faithful servants (1 Peter 5:4)
The crown of rejoicing for soul winners (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
The crown of rejoicing for those who love His return (2 Timothy 4:8)
The incorruptible crown for lives of purity (1 Corinthians 9:25)
The crown of life for Christian martyrs (Revelation 2:10)
 
It is exceedingly worthwhile to read these verses several times and then pause and think what or which crowns you may strive for to bring glory unto His name. These rewards are not meant for self-glorification-that would be ugly and farcical. The intention is worshipful adoration as an offering unto the Lord. At the throne room of heaven the twenty-four elders cast their crowns before the throne to Him who sits on throne. We also sing ‘Crown Him with many crowns’ and till we cast our crowns before Thee’ which helpfully reminds us of praise that extends beyond a duty and is expressed as joy!
 

Judgement begins at the House of God
 
We should look forward to and be ready for our Lord’s second coming. There is great joy in assurance of eternal security. But we must also press on so that we live our lives holding this essential truth in our minds and in our hearts that judgement begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17) and we will all give an account before God (Romans 14:12).  We will bear testimony of our words and actions concerning our obedience to God and His Word since we will all appear before the judgement seat of Christ. 
   
Thursday 04 Aug 2016