We Must All Appear Before the Judgment Seat of Christ

Detroit Free Press – Saturday, August 5, 1944


Sermon by Dr. J. Frank Norris, at Temple Baptist Church, Detroit, Mich., 11:15 A.M., August 6, 1944.

The text for this hour is found in II Corinthians, fifth chapter, tenth verse: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” I wish I could emphasize that text and you would forget everything I might say. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” What a solemn statement! And as we see the conditions among the nations this hour, everything points to the final consummation of all things. Not that we should turn prophet, but we shall study these signposts – for they are given to us to guide us – they shine as a light in a dark place. And how dark is the hour!

Everybody agrees that this phase of the war will soon be at an end. But then what? Therefore, for today and next Sunday, I want to discuss some phases of these tremendous issues to prepare you for what may take place on the earth soon.

Is the end of all things near? In both the Old and New Testaments, line upon line, page after page, we find that question the burden of the prophets of the Old and the apostles of the New. And our Lord Himself had much to say concerning that final consummation of all things.

This morning, I want you to notice how that when Christ comes it will be to the individual as well as to the whole world, and that judgment is individual and never collectively. There’s no such thing as a “collectivized” judgment; it is individual.

Therefore, Ezekiel says, “The soul that sinneth, that soul shall die.” He will not be responsible or die for the sins of his father, but for his own sins. Every soul is responsible for his own sins. Every soul does his own repentance. Every soul must have individual regeneration. Every soul has his individual name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and every soul must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. As Paul says, writing the church of Rome, Why dost thou judge thy brother ?” which is an easy thing to do and a quite common failure – or “Why dost thou set at naught thy brother, for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

“For it is written as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So, then, everyone of us shall give an account of himself.” Three times in that one Scripture “all,”” “everyone” and “everyone.”

And to the church at Phillipi, he writes: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the God the Father.” Individual judgment. So every man must give an account of himself.

Therefore, the text says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” that every one must, shall, give an account of himself, of all of his deeds, whether they be good or bad.

Suppose that hour should come now, tonight at midnight, when moon and stars, what signs and wonders!

“In the sun, and moon, and stars,
Signs and wonders there shall be:
Earth shall quake with inward wars,
Nations with perplexity.

Soon shall ocean’s hoary deep,
Toss’d with stronger tempests, rise;
Wilder storms the mountains sweep,
Louder thunders rocks the skies.

Dread alarms shall shake the proud,
Pale amazement, restless fear;
And, amid the thunder-cloud,
Shall the Judge of men appear.

But though from his awful face,
Heaven shall fade, and earth shall fly,
Fear not ye, his chosen race,
Your redemption draweth nigh.”

How we need to read again, “Therefore,” says Jesus, “be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.”

Cometh and find great confusion, cometh at a time of terrible distress, cometh at a time when the world is chaos, cometh at a time of great darkness, coming in a time of drunkenness, coming in a time of complete break-down, coming in a time of increasing divorce, coming in a time when there is no thought or fear of God.

As it was in the days before the deluge, so shall it be with the coming of the son of Man – eating, drinking, buying, selling, dancing, gambling and riotous living.

Isaiah, seeing that awful time, says “The great trumpet shall be blown.” It can be heard from shore to shore and from pole to pole. It shall wake the dead. It shall break all peace conferences, and end all wars.

Jesus says, “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet.” Isaiah said, “The sound of the great trumpet;” Jesus says, “With a great sound of a trumpet.”

“And they shall gather together his elect from the four winds” East, West, North and South “from one end of heaven to the other.”

Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, says, “Then.” It will be a new day for us if we would stop and take our Bibles and go through and underscore anywhere you find the word “then” or “when,” as it refers to that day, “Then, cometh the end.” And how quickly it comes! As the lightning shineth out of the east unto the west. Only recently have they been able to photograph a flash of lightning. It is the split fraction of a second, and yet it’s the most powerful thing that man knows anything about. Nothing can resist it. It destroys everything. It’s the mightiest manifestation of the Almighty One, the Creator. And thus shall His coming be, as lightning lashes from the east to the west across the dark skies – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. “For the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and they that shall rise shall be saved.”

For the Lord Himself, not an angel, nor any of the heavenly hosts, not Gabriel, but the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout! The earth has never heard a shout like that shout. It’s the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead shall rise first. So great is that trumpet sound, that the tombstones
will fall down in graveyards of the world and that which was in corruption shall be raised in incorruption. And those pale faces that we buried in mother earth shall come forth!

The question I want to raise is two-fold. First, what does it mean to the unsaved to stand before the judgment seat of Christ? Second, what does it mean to the believer? The unsaved 1 tremble as I ask the question, and I pray God today that every one of you in this, the most solemn hour of all history, and as we face still more solemn hours – who knows what each day can bring forth?

How we should put our houses in order. How we should gather our children together, how we should open the Word of God and listen to its Scriptures.

“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I trust that you will obey that gospel today, that you’ll put your faith in Him. And that’s why Peter says, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly man.”

Jude says, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

How good is God to give us page after page, through all of these sixty-six books, warning us of that terrible hour when we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. What does it mean to the unsaved, the unregenerate, the unbeliever? Hear this morning these words:

“But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

Oh, we talk of the sorrows and the horrors of this hour that can’t be described, on every land.

One of our dear boys, that I think a great deal of, just returned from three years’ experience in the Pacific. He’s been in many battles. But there is no suffering of this or any of it that will be equal to that hour when the whole world is on fire, and the whole teeming billions of earth stand before the flaming bar of God’s judgment! How shall we meet it?

That brings me to the second question. I turn aside from the unsaved. I don’t like to dwell on the doom of the wicked. You go through life in tears. You dread the thought of death. You shrink at the thought of divine judgment. “It is appointed to men once to die, and after this the judgment.”

And you wonder. Tomorrow. And you say, “Not now.” And God says, “Now is the accepted time.”

What does it mean to the saved man to stand before Christ? Oh, the Scriptures are abundant on the rewards to them that are faithful even unto death, the crown of life that He shall give to all that look for his appearing. Oh, how wonderful it is! The man who trusts in Christ!

So, therefore, there’s no need to go through life with the fear of death and the dread of judgment.

Oh, I shall never forget, when a wee small lad, of some five years, I saw my first corpse. And I didn’t want to see it. And I was afraid of it, I dreaded it. I was startled at the thought that I, too, must die.

Do you go through life with the fear of death? Do you tremble at the thought of it? Then, today, be victorious, and overcome that fear of death! You can look at it with a smile. You don’t think of yourself being put under the ground, but just take this old, worn-out house and bury it.

But, we know if this earthly house, this tabernacle should be dissolved we have a building eternal in the heavens, not made with hands. This old body, full of sin, sickness and sorrow – at last it breaks down, it departs instantaneously to be with the Lord. Therefore, “we must all appear” before the judgment of Christ.

Last week, a man of eighty-three years of age went to his reward. Many of you remember – I shall never forget – Frank Rummers – eighty-three years of age, came to Christ down at Clark park, with the joy in the Lord in his face. He clasped my hand, and I said, “Do you now trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation?”

He said with a triumphant note that he did, and I went there the other day, his frail body had gone, buried, and I said, There was no death to that soul. There was no death. It was a triumphant entrance into the presence of the Lord.”


I’m glad that Hitler spared one bridge – I hope they did leave it – for the most marvelous, historic paintings perhaps of all the world are in that old palace of the Medici, three hundred years old. I went back and looked at it, and if I go there again I’d stand there and look at It is a picture of old Julius Caesar after he’d it again. returned from three years of victorious battles, all through western and central Europe, and there he was giving rewards to the soldiers, who were standing in line. There was an old veteran with scar across his face, there was a wound across his breast, there was an arm gone. Grim looking – but with a smile on his face, as Caesar walks over and gives him the highest honor. As I stood there and looked at it, I said, “I can see now, when the Lord sees us, and comes down and gives His reward to every faithful servant and soldier that’s fought in the battles of His cause.”

Oh, the other night, last Sunday night, a heart-broken father, and yet with joy, was in the audience, and he’s just received the message – his only child – mother had gone home to God a few years ago, I baptized this boy when he was ten or twelve years of age and his father had just received the message that he had gone down in a crash in his bomber yonder in Italy. He was not killed instantly, but lived a little while.

And he sent this message to his father: “Tell father not to grieve for me, for there is no fear I’m ready.” And that father brought me that message, he stood there trembling, as he held it. He said, “Dr. Norris, I’d rather have that message than the whole world.”

“I’m ready!” “I’m ready!” There is no fear!”

And I close. We’re coming to that white throne judgment.

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away;and there was found no place for them.” Oh, why should we work, sweat and stew to get a little of this world that we don’t bring with us and we don’t carry out with us?” And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened” – and I love that book – “which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and the graves and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” And hear these solemn words: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

I sometimes try to visualize just one look on His face. The trials of this old world will be behind. Every battle will have been fought. And we’ll see Him, not as He was in Gethsemane on His face, not when He stood before Pilate’s judgment seat, not when He was crowned with a crown of thorns, not as blood and sweat flowed down his face, not when blood stained the hands and feet and side, not when He bowed His head upon His pulseless breast, not silent in the tomb but in glory, and power. And we’ll look on His face!

Though the road may be rough where He leads me,
Still His footprints I plainly can trace
And the trials I meet will seem nothing,
When I look in my dear Saviour’s face.

So I keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus
While I’m running life’s wearisome race,
I forget the hard pathway I traveled
When I look in my dear Saviour’s face.

Though the shadows around me may gather
Safe I rest in my Lord’s secret place
For I know there will be gladness and sunshine,
When I look in my dear Saviour’s face.

When I look in His face, His wonderful face,
In heaven, that beautiful place
Oh, the hardships of earth will seem nothing
When I look in my dear Saviour’s face.

I wonder how many this morning can say, come soon or come late, I shall be ready, and I have no fear.

(The power of the Holy Spirit was manifest and many were saved.)