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"Judgment Seat of Christ"

"Part 2"

John Hoole June 1, 2003

In our last lesson, we began looking at the event known as the Judgment Seat of Christ. Today we continue learning about this event. First, let's review what we learned in the last lesson.

WHAT IS ANOTHER NAME FOR THIS JUDGMENT?

The BEMA Judgment. (2 Cor. 5:10; Romans 14:10)

WHO IS BEING JUDGED AT THIS JUDGMENT?

All the Christians who lived between the Day of Pentecost until the Rapture of the Church. This is a judgment of believers only.

WHEN DOES THIS EVENT TAKE PLACE?

Immediately after the Rapture of the Church.(1 Cor. 4:5; 1 Peter 1:7; Luke 14:14; 1 John 2:28) From the standpoint of God's prophetic plan, the Judgment Seat is the first order of business for the church after the Rapture.

WHERE DOES THIS JUDGMENT OCCUR?

It takes place in Heaven after we rise to meet Christ in the air.

WHY DOES THIS JUDGMENT TAKE PLACE?

It occurs to review the lives of Christians and reward them appropriately.

WHAT IS IT THAT IS JUDGED IN THIS EVENT?

The believer's works and deeds while they were alive on the earth. (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 22:12; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6)

HOW, OR WHAT METHOD, DOES JESUS USE TO EXAMINE THE BELIEVER'S WORKS?

God's refining fire.

We did not discuss at great lengths, in our last lesson, the last two questions. The "what" and the "how". We will address these two issues today, along with other important points.

I want to first address the "how" of the Judgment Seat of Christ. How is this judgment carried out? Earlier I mentioned that part of the "how" is the fire of God, that will be used to test and examine the believer's deeds. But the "how" also involves several additional things. Five principles of this Judgment

How will God judge us when we stand before him someday? The Bible provides some basic principles by which Christ will judge our life.

1. Believers will be judged fairly.

The Lord will take into account how long we have been saved, as well as the opportunities and abilities he has given us. The person who had been a Christian for only a short time, will not be judge low because he hadn't done many things for the Lord. The parable of the workers in the vineyard, in Matthew 20:1-16, teaches that those who enter the Lord's service later in life can receive the same reward as the "all-day" worker. The righteous Judge will make no mistakes. He bases his rewards on what we did with the resources and time that were at our disposal.

2. Believers will be judged thoroughly

The Lord will virtually turn us inside out at the judgment seat. He will expose every hidden motive, thought or deed (1 Cor. 4:5) Nothing will escape the scrutinizing eye of the Savior (Hebrews 4:13).

3. Believers will be judged impartially.

Our Lord is no respecter of persons. God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11). God has no favorites who get away with evil (Col. 3:25).

Having said that, let me ask you a question.

IS GOD'S STANDARD OF JUDGMENT DIFFERENT FOR SOME PEOPLE?

The only difference there will be between the standard of judgment God uses, is that those who teach God's Word and lead the Lord's people will be held to a higher standard of accountability.

James 3:1 (NIV)

1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (Also see Hebrews 13:17)

4. Believers will be judged individually

We addressed this topic in our last lesson. Every believer will stand alone before the Lord. Each of us will give a personal account to God (Romans 14:10, 12), I think the look in His eyes will say it all. Like it or not, that is precisely where you and I shall stand someday.

5. believers will be judged graciously

The fact that we will receive any reward or praise at all is a testimony to God's grace. Jesus is a kind and gracious judge who will reward us all with much more than we could ever imagine. (Matthew 20:15)

Pictures of the Judgment

The New Testament gives us three descriptive pictures of what this coming judgment will be like.

o A Building

o A Steward

o An Athlete

1. A Building

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV)

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.
14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.
15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

In this passage, Paul refers to people who are in the process of building the Kingdom of God. Each of us are building our lives every day, and God will hold us accountable for how we have constructed our building.

A. The Foundation

Notice that Paul makes a clear distinction between the foundation of the building and the superstructure. A building is only as solid as its foundation. The foundation of our life is the solid Rock, Jesus Christ. He is the only sure foundation on which we can build our life (Matthew 7:24-27). Our salvation rests solely on this foundation. Jesus Christ is the foundation for every Christian's life

B. The Superstructure

Our rewards will be based on the superstructure we build on top of that foundation. There is one foundation, but many superstructures, and we each select the building materials for our lives. Everything we think, do, and say is going into this superstructure. We are building day by day and we must one day give an account of our lives.

There are two basic categories of materials from which we select to build our superstructure.

1. Worthless, temporary

2. Lasting, valuable

The worthless materials are referred to, in the passage we just read, as wood, haw and straw. They represent our activities and attitudes that are motivated by a desire for self-glory or by improper motives. The valuable and lasting materials are gold, silver and precious stones and they symbolize our activities and attitudes that are motivated by the Holy Spirit when we live for God's glory.

C. The Building Inspector

When a building is completed, a final step in the process is the inspection by the city inspector. It is the inspector's job to make sure that all the codes have been followed, and that the proper materials have been used. God's Word says that someday the building inspector is coming to inspect our life.

What king of building are you and I constructing? First of all, is the building of our life on the sure foundation, Jesus Christ? Or has it been built on the faulty foundation of possessions, prestige, pleasure, or power? And are we using inferior materials or materials that will keeps its value when the time of testing comes?

2. A Steward

The second picture of our judgment before Christ is that of a steward. A steward is someone that manages the property of another. As believers, everything we have is owned by God. We are simply stewards - mangers or caretakers - of the Lord's gifts and property while He is away.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NKJV

1 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
.

At the Judgment Seat of Christ, our Lord will evaluate how we used the time, treasures and talents He has graciously entrusted to us (see Matthew 25:14:30). The test will not be how much money we have or the array of talents we possess. Rather, God will examine how faithful we were with what we were given. The issue for the manager (steward) is faithfulness to his or her master. Those who have been faithful stewards will one day receive the master's praise. "Well done, my good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:21)

3. An Athlete

The third picture is that of an athlete.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV) develops this theme.

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul's main point is very simple. He says that the same commitment and dedication that makes a winning athlete will make a winning Christian. If athletes are willing to subject themselves to the suffering and demands of rigorous training so they can receive an earthly prize that will fade away, how much more should we be willing to sacrifice our life for an incorruptible reward in heaven.

Imagine what would happen if we, God's people, put the same time, effort and resources into our Christian life that we put into sports. The Bible tells us that we are to live our life with purpose, dedication, and self-control, giving maximum effort as we diligently pursue the prize (Philippians 3:12-14).

In addition, we will only receive reward as God's athletes if we obey the rules of God's rule book, the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:5 reminds us to Follow the Lord's rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize.

We must sacrifice our own comfort, disciple ourselves, and follow God's rules if we are to receive the eternal prize from our Savior

To review, there are three pictures used in the Bible to describe the Judgment Seat of Christ.

1. A building
2. A Steward
3. An Athlete

The building of our life must be on the right foundation, and the superstructure we have built on that foundation will be assessed by the building Inspector, Jesus Christ.

As a steward, eventually the master will return, and He will evaluate that which He has put under your management. As an athlete, we are to exhibit the same dedication and commitment to winning. We are run the race to win, but we must obey the rules God has given us.

Gold, Silver and Precious Stones or Wood, Hay and Straw

Paul gives us six figures of speech to represent the deeds or works of a believer.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 (NIV)

12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.

I believe the six can be placed into two major categories.

o Gold, Silver, Precious (costly) Stones
o Wood, Hay, Straw (stubble)

Gold, Silver and Precious Stone

These are indestructible and worthy objects which will survive and actually thrive in the fire.

Wood, Hay and Straw

These are those destructible and worthless objects which will be totally consumed in the fire.

1 Corinthians 3:13 tells us that the fire of God will test every Christian's works. And when Jesus has tried your works with His fire, if your works remain standing before Him, you will receive a reward in Heaven. If your works are like gold, silver and precious stones, they will abide the fire and each person will receive a reward for his works. If they are like wood, hay and straw, they will be burned up and the person will suffer loss of reward, yet he/she will be saved from loss of his soul.

All of our lives are going to be filled with a lot of things which will bring us no reward. Some things are just neutral. They are neither moral or immoral. They're just stuff that gets burned up.

Then there are other things that could have received a reward, but we did them with the wrong motive or wrong attitude. Like the Pharisees, if you gave to the Lord for the applause of others, then they will not survive the fire of testing.

After the testing by fire, all that is left are those things we did that equate to the gold, silver, and precious stones. And your reward will be based on these items that survive the fire.

Even though we are redeemed and even though we are the children of God, and even though our hearts have been changed and transformed and our desires are right, because we are still incarcerated in the unredeemed flesh, we can fill our lives with stuff that really has no eternal consequences. And those things will be totally burned away.

But keep in mind, this is not the fire of judgment. It is the burning away of the dross and chaff of our lives, and purifying the real stuff that is to be rewarded. No one at this judgment is sent to hell. Some people will lose rewards, but they are still saved.

Some people wonder if the Lord will review our lives and distribute rewards publicly for all to see, or if He will do it privately. We have already discussed the examination and review process, and it will be conducted privately. But is that the way the issuing of rewards will take place.

WILL GOD GIVE EACH INDIVIDUAL'S REWARDS PRIVATELY OR PUBLICLY?

Matthew 6:3-4 NKJV

3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly
.

In the verses that follow in Matthew 6, Christ makes similar statements in verses 6 & 18. I believe that the distribution of rewards will be done for all to see.

Preparing for the Judgment

How do we prepare for this judgment seat? How are our actions going to be evaluated by Jesus? What is the criteria He uses? On what Basis are the rewards issued?

It doesn't take students very long to realize that one of the most important days in school is test day. When there is a test, the whole mood and atmosphere of the class changes. Some teachers gave out the test questions in advance, and it became very quiet when they gave the class the questions to study. Knowing the questions ahead of time was great.

The Bible tells us that the great test day for our life is coming. But, like a kind and gracious teacher, God has given us the "test questions" for the judgment seat of Christ beforehand. It is our job to study these test questions so we can be prepared and make an "A" on the final exam.

I want to give a list of areas that God is going to examine at the judgment. He has given these in His Word. I believe the Bible indicates at least 12 areas that can help us understand the areas that will be examined by Christ. I will read Scriptures applicable to each area, and in the verses we read, there will be some mention of either judgment or reward.

Examining ourselves in these areas will help us ensure that our works and deeds will be composed of gold, silver and precious stones, not wood, hay or straw.

1. How we treat other believers

Matt 10:41-42 NKJV

41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.
"

Our reward will be determined, in part, by how we treat other believers -- even in the giving of a cup of water.

Hebrews 6:10 NKJV

10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

God will not forget how you treated your brother or sister in the Lord. Let's act so we will not lose our reward.

2. How we exercise authority over others

James 3:1 NKJV

1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

Hebrews 13:17 NKJV

17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Those who occupy any level of leadership must give an account.

3. How we employ our God-given talents, gifts and abilities

1 Peter 4:10 NKJV

10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God is looking for good stewards of the gifts, talents and abilities. He will examine our use of them. Are we using them to minister and encourage others?

4. How we use our money

1 Timothy 6:17-19 NKJV

17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

With our financial resources, we are to abound in good works and give to those in need. We are to live in a manner that communicates that God is our source, not our wealth.

5. How well we accept mistreatment and injustice

Matthew 5:11-12 NKJV

11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heavenů

Jesus never taught that our lives would not have difficulties - even persecutions for our faith in Him. But He does tell us how to act and react to these times in our life.

2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

Romans 8:18 NKJV

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

The suffering for Christ we may experience here does not compare to the glory of God that will be found and revealed in us.

1 Peter 4:13 NKJV

13 But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

The joy each of us will experience in heaven will be far greater than the difficulties we have here.

6. How we spend our time

1 Peter 1:17 NKJV

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;

7. How we run that particular race which God has chosen for us

1 Corinthians 9:24 NKJV

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Each of us are running in the Christian race. We are to run with the intent of persevering to the end, so that we may win the prize.

8. How effectively we control our old nature

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (NKJV)

25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

We must continually crucify - put down - that old nature. This is a continual struggle. Paul said he had to die to the old nature every day.

9. How many souls we witness to and win to Christ

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 (NKJV)

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
20 For you are our glory and joy.

There's a song we used to sing when I was a child, called Brining In The Sheaves. Do you remember the words? Its words went like this.

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noon-tide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Go, the, ever weeping, sowing for the Master,
Tho' the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping's over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

God desires each of us to be active in spreading the good news. A crown of joy is awaiting those who bring others into the kingdom.

Proverbs 11:30 (NKJV)

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.

Listen to what Paul had to say about sharing the gospel with a willing heart.

1 Cor 9:16-17 NKJV

16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.

Eliza E. Hewitt (1851-1920) wrote the words to another hymn we used to sing. Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?

I am thinking today of that beautiful land
I shall reach when the sun goeth down;
When through wonderful grace by my Savior I stand,
Will there be any stars in my crown?

In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray,
Let me watch as a winner of souls,
That bright stars may be mine in the glorious day,
When His praise like the sea billow rolls.

Chorus
Will there be any stars, an stars in my crown
When at evening the sung goeth down?
When I wake with the blessed in the mansions of rest
Will there be any stars in my crown.

10. How we react to temptation

Revelation 2:10 (NKJV)

The devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Her is yet another crown. It is given to those who endure much testing and remain faithful.

11. How much the doctrine of the Rapture means to us

2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

12. How faithful we are to the Word of God and the flock of God

This one effects primarily those who preach and teach the Word of God.

1 Peter 5:2-4 (NIV)

2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;
3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Although this seems to limit its words to the Pastor or teacher, I'm not sure that it should be limited to a Sunday School setting like ours, or the sanctuary where we here the pastor preach. This could be teaching your children God's Word. It could be counseling a believer through difficult times.

We have just examined a dozen ways that God will assess our deeds. These will determine whether yours or mine are works of "gold, silver, and precious stones," or "wood, hay, or straw."

I am looking for Christ to return, for the Bible says that when He does, He will have His rewards with Him.

1 Corinthians 4:5 tells us that every person receives praise from God at this judgment.

o Not condemnation

o Not punishment

o Only Praise

Every believer's judgment is 3-fold.

1. At Calvary I was judged as a SINNER, with Jesus taking my place and bearing my punishment.

2. Today I am judged as a SON, being chastened by my loving Heavenly Father.

3. At the Judgment seat of Christ I will be judged as a SERVANT, giving full account to my Master for my Christian service.

   
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