The seats refer to the two separate encounters man is going to have with God, now and later. Each person has the option to appear at one or both seats. It is important to note that the seats are available at different times, under different circumstances and for different reasons. Going to the Mercy Seat (MS) is strictly by choice, and is for one reason only, to obtain mercy. Going to the judgment Seat (JS), will be for one of two reasons. For the Christian, it will be to give an account of himself to God, and to receive a reward (see Romans 14:12). For the unbeliever, it will be to hear the verdict for not accepting God’s offer of salvation. “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3 NIV). It matters, very much, which seat one goes to first.
The Mercy Seat is available to all, for as long as they have life, and as long as they are capable of making decisions. The invitation to the Mercy Seat is simple; it became available with the death of Christ, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that, whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). At the MS, there is forgiveness, cleansing, new life now, and eternal life in the life to come. At the MS, all who want to, may come!
The JS comes after this life, and is not so much by choice. It is the way God has set things up. For those who never appeared at the Mercy Seat, the JS is by default. They have indirectly and gladly made a choice to accept without complaints, the verdict that is pronounced at the JS. They’ve missed the opportunity to receive pardon. There will be no second chances there, how sad, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV). As misused as the word is, hell is really a place. It was prepared for the devil and his angels, but “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” Revelation 20:15 NIV).
The book of Matthew puts it this way, “When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all His angels with Him . . . all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats . . . . then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’ . . . Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:31-41 NIV).
God is not interested in anyone going to hell, and that was the reason He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins. He wants people to stop in at the MS and be forgiven; the price for
sin is already paid. Christ died for sins, once! He is not going to do that again. Of course He would, if it were necessary, but God is completely satisfied with the one sacrifice, for all time. Don’t be expecting any other way by which to escape hell. The ‘good works’ (kind deeds) route won’t work, because He has already said, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6 NIV), and please don’t say, “There isn’t only one way to heaven.”, because there is only one way to heaven, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).
Choose life while you still have the opportunity. Tomorrow might be too late. Disbelief won’t help; turning up your nose at God won’t either. In humility, please go to the MS, believe in Jesus, and find forgiveness and the assurance of eternal life. Refusing to go to the MS means, one has elected to gladly live with the pronouncement from the JS. Please go to the Mercy Seat, today. This could be your last call to believe in Jesus!