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What Luther Says

The Judgment Seat And The Mercy Seat

Back in the day, when I spent much more time talking to people about the last days than I did about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I remember how a lot of the Christians I associated with who were just like me all had this strange fascination with things like the "Judgment Seat" and the "Mercy Seat" mentioned in the Bible, and it's apparent direct connection to the fulfillment of end times Bible prophecy.

This is because when you believe in what's commonly called the "Rapture," then you then have to believe that the Judgment Seat will occur immediately following the so-called "Rapture of the Church."

In fact, we even believed that this Judgment Seat of Christ and the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" both occur in Heaven simultaneously as the so-called 7-year "Great Tribulation" is unfolding here on Earth.

Then there were subgroups stemming from that one who always wanted to talk about the Mercy Seat of Christ, but not in the way you'd expect (or the way that they should!).

Instead of using any discussion about the Mercy Seat of Christ to point people to forgiveness, hope, mercy, and salvation in the Person of Jesus Christ, they preferred to talk about it only in connection with the actual Ark of the Covenant, and the discussion always seemed to center around how it will be rediscovered during the last days.

I thought about all of that this week after reading an excellent explanation of of both the Judgment Seat and Mercy Seat from a distinctly Lutheran perspective (which I hope you know by now is the most Biblical, orthodox perspectives there is) that put the focus on the only place it should ever be.

The Mercy Seat 
2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Scripture teaches us that God has set up two seats. One is the judgment seat for those who are proud and don't acknowledge or want to confess their sins. The other is the mercy seat for the poor, timid consciences who feel their sins and confess them, who despair of His judgment, and who hope to find God's kindness. 
In Romans 3:25, Paul says this mercy seat is Christ. God has given this seat to us as a place where we can find refuge because we cannot withstand God's judgment on our own. I want to find my refuge there too, for I have done and am still doing too little. I keep sinning against God's law even after my justification and sanctification. My heart and conscience, no matter how pure they might appear to others, will count for nothing there. But they will be covered with a vaulted ceiling called mercy and forgiveness of sins. It will serve as a strong protection and defense for me. My heart and conscience will crawl under it and be safe. 
For God has led His apostles to preach and proclaim that everyone who believes in His name will receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43). Likewise, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:16). And Jesus says, "God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life" (John 3:16). Therefore, God Himself has established this mercy seat. He is the one who directs us away from the judgment seat and towards the mercy seat. 
*- Martin Luther (By Faith Alone / October 9th)

Pretty simple and straightforward, huh?

What I like most about that explanation though is that it's focused ENTIRELY on God's grace and mercy -- it's Gospel oriented as opposed to Law-based.

See, the old me would've emphasized the Law part (a.k.a. the Judgment Seat of Christ) without giving any mention at all to the Mercy Seat of Christ. I suppose that was because I wanted to scare people into "Making A Decision For Christ" which I now know is incredibly un-Biblical.

The point is that a simple explanation like that is not only doctrinally sound, but it's focused entirely on Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (just as Romans 3:25 pointed out) while clearly giving God all the credit for our justification and salvation too.

The place where we are to meet with God is through the Person of Jesus Christ, our Mercy Seat, because He is the Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).

That's the key difference with what I've learned as a Lutheran as opposed to what I believed, taught, and confessed when I didn't identify with any denomination.

Sure, I talked about Christ and I mentioned and wrote about Him, but it was always sort of secondary to the prophetic point I was trying to make that I thought was some kind of "direct fulfillment" of end times Bible prophecy.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, I was sitting on a Seat of Self-Deception while ignoring the Mercy Seat Himself. Please don't make the same mistake I made for so many years.

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.


  1. I see the image you used was take from the discoveries of Ron Wyatt. Have your heard Ron's testimony of the physical blood of Jesus being sprinkled on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant?

  2. I see the image you used was take from the discoveries of Ron Wyatt. Have your heard Ron's testimony of the physical blood of Jesus being sprinkled on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant?


Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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