Is the Manifestation to Be Before Brethren of the Lord Simply?

2 Corinthians 5:10  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 8
I find nothing in scripture which speaks of manifestation to brethren. The question is apt to connect itself very closely with the state of the conscience. it presses on it when there is anything from which it is not entirely purged before God. There may be a conviction that God will not impute without the conscience being de facto pure or purged. When purged before God or practically pure in walk (though this, as the apostle says, does not justify), the soul is not anxious about being manifested at the judgment-seat, because it is manifested to God now. This is of great practical importance.
The passages on the subject, which will be seen to be of two classes, are these—Rom. 14:1212So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12). So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God, connected with verse 10, We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. 2 Cor. 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10). For we must all be manifested (appear) before the judgment-seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body.
1 Cor. 4:4, 54For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. (1 Corinthians 4:4‑5). For I know nothing by myself (no evil of myself), yet am I not hereby justified: he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who shall bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and shall make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
Rom. 2:1616In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Romans 2:16). In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men's hearts according to my gospel.
This is one class of texts. The other here follows: Matt. 10:2626Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. (Matthew 10:26). Fear them not, therefore, for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known.
Mark 4:2222For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. (Mark 4:22). Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel or under a bed, and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid which shall not be manifested, neither was anything, kept secret, but that it should come abroad.
Luke 8:16, 1716No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. 17For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. (Luke 8:16‑17). No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel or putteth it under a bed, but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest, neither anything hid that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed, therefore, how ye hear, etc.
Chap. 12:1, 2. Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy, for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known.
Three great principles are here presented. First, the great general truth, that man can keep nothing secret (though it may seem so), and can conceal nothing. All must be in light. God must have the upper hand and light shall prevail. Secondly, that we are to give an account of ourselves to God. And, thirdly, that we are not to fear the secret machinations of men, but to fear God and bear witness according to the light given to us. When I say man can conceal nothing, it is scarcely absolute enough. There is nothing secret but that it should be manifested.
This is a very important principle. It maintains the authority of God as light. For could anything be withdrawn from this, it would escape His power and judgment, and evil be maintained independent of Him. It maintains also integrity of conscience.
In the second point, our personal responsibility to God is maintained in everything. Each one shall give an account of himself. We may be helped by every vessel of grace and light in the Church, but man cannot meddle with our individual responsibility to God. Each one shall give an account of himself.
The third point maintains confidence in God, in presence of what might seem otherwise a wickedness which was of a depth with which it was impossible to deal, and for which Christian truthfulness was no match.
All this is to maintain the conscience in the light before God. Where there is anxiety as to manifestation before the brethren, shame before men has still power over the heart, and will; self-love and character govern the mind. We are not in the light before God, nor has sin its right character in our eyes, because self has yet its power and place.
All is to be brought into the light, all thought of concealment rooted out and destroyed in the heart; but God will not maintain the influence of men and reputation by presenting a manifestation to them in the word, which is exactly what falsifies the moral judgment; and He does not. If the heart is comforting itself with the thought it will not be known, He breaks through the heart's deceit relentlessly, and says it will be known: everything hidden shall come to light. He does not neutralize His own authority and destroy the purity of moral principle, in saying it will be known before your brethren in that day.
Everything will be in the light, thank God; it is for the blessing, and for the joy, too, of every upright soul.
It is not necessarily simply in the day of judgment that this takes place: the Lord may deal with it now. “Thou hast done this thing secretly,” says God, by Nathan, to David, “but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”
Thus the bringing of sin to light and judgment may be here from the hand of God. Men are chastened of the Lord that they may not be condemned with the world.
One passage remains, demanding more particular notice—2 Cor. 5— “For we must be all manifested before the judgment-seat of the Christ, that each may receive the things done by the body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.”
I would first say, to remove what obscures the passage, that I am satisfied that the passage is general, and embraces all men. I cannot conceive how the context can leave a shadow of doubt on this point in any mind. It ought not. It is not a question of the time of appearing, but of the fact. Secondly, it is very important to remark, that as regards the saints there is no calling in question their righteousness. The manner of their arrival before the judgment-seat, and their state in arriving clearly show this, as well as the declaration of the Lord (John 5), that they shall not come into judgment. But how do they arrive on high? “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Christ comes Himself to complete His work of perfect grace in bringing us there. In that state we “wait for the Lord Jesus Christ [as] Savior, who shall change our vile body and fashion it like his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.” (Phil. 3:2020For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (Philippians 3:20).) We shall be already like Christ; conformed to the image of God's Son, bearing the image of the heavenly. He who sits to judge according to His righteousness, according to what He is, is our righteousness.
The judgment of the saints begins when righteousness and glory are complete, when we are the same as Christ in them by grace.
What immense gain will our manifestation now be to ourselves! We shall know as we are known. If now, when perfect peace is possessed before God in a purged conscience, the Christian looks back at all his past life before and since his conversion, what a lesson of grace, patience, holy government for his good, that he may be partaker of His holiness—of care against unseen dangers, of instruction and of love, will his new history afford the Christian! How much more, when freed from the very nature which produced the evil in him, he knows as he is known, and can trace now the perfectness of God's ways with him! It will immensely increase and enhance his apprehension of what God has been for him, and of His patient perfect grace and purpose of love. It is surely a solemn thing, but of immense price and value to us. It is all wrought out in the conscience, as we learn from Rom. 14:1212So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12).
Here it is the fact. Remark the true effect on a right state of mind. First, not a thought of judgment as to righteousness has any place whatever. The judgment seat only awakens that love which thinks of those still exposed to it. “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” Secondly, it is realized so as to put him who realizes it responsibly in the presence of God. Now “we are manifested to God.” Oh, what a healthful and blessed thing this is for the soul! The rest is a mere effect readily hoped for— “I trust that we are manifested in your conscience.” The other considerations produced a conduct proper to have this effect; but if a man was before God, it was of little matter—did not affect the soul, save in the desire of others' good and Christ's glory. This double effect will certainly be produced in any such manifestation before others, and we then shall as certainly desire nothing else. The shame of a nature we have left will not be there then; the just judgment of evil will. I say this, however, in respect of the present condition of the soul. Anxiety on this point is a proof that the soul is not wholly in the sight of God. There it disappears because we are wholly there. Scripture never brings in the thought of brethren as concerned in this manifestation, and could not; but it does maintain, in the fullest way, manifestation in the light, so that if the heart reserves anything—has not brought it wholly out before God, it should be ill at ease. We are certainly perfectly manifested to the Lord, consciously I mean (for we always are so), and to ourselves. If it be for His glory that anything should be known to the saints also, we shall not regret it then; but our proper full manifestation is certainly to God, and in our own souls. All that is needed to verify the government of God will, I doubt not, be made manifest. All that has been, through evil, sought to be hidden, so that the heart was false, the counsel of the heart evil, will be brought to light; but where men have walked in the light, the counsels of the heart, however man may have judged them, will be made plain; for in that day God will judge the secrets of men's hearts. His grace and His government may have wrought all this in this world, and some men's sins and good works go before to judgment, but those that are otherwise cannot be hid.
My answer then is, that the brethren are never, and can never be those, manifestation to or before whom can be the subject of the revelation of scripture—everything being brought into light is. God is light, and the light manifests everything; He will bring every secret work into judgment. Further, as to responsibility, our thoughts are directed to God and to the judgment-seat of Christ. But all that is needed to display God's ways and government, and His approval of His saints will surely be brought out, as the passages quoted clearly prove. The saint loves the light, as he loves and blesses God for the grace which enables him to stand in it, and makes him meet to be partaker of the inheritance of the saints in it. This, though doubtless imperfect, is, I believe, the true scriptural answer to the question. Where the thought of shame is introduced, it is referred entirely to the presence of Christ, and regards the service and work done for Him (1 John 2:2828And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:28)).