Study 6 THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
The moment anyone believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, God saves him (Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:9-10). No one deserves to be saved, and no one can ever do anything to merit or earn salvation. Salvation is altogether of grace (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5), and it is bestowed fully and freely, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, upon all who accept Him and trust Him alone as their personal Saviour. Because, therefore, salvation is altogether of grace, when the Lord comes again, every Christian will be translated into His presence to be with Him for ever (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18). But there are different kinds of Christians - the faithful and the unfaithful (Matthew 25:21), the spiritual and the worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1), and the diligent and careless (Ephesians 5:15-17). What does it matter, then, as to the kind of Christian we are, if when the Lord comes again, we shall all be caught up anyway? It matters very much indeed, for:
“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10), and there we shall receive a reward! (1 Corinthians 3:14), or we shall “suffer loss” (1 Corinthians 3:15) according to the kind of Christians we have been.
Christian, there is a great Examination Day coming, and we must live and work in the light of that day if we would “be rewarded fully” (2 John 8)! It makes a tremendous difference what kind of Christians we are. No believer will ever be judged for his sins, for the sins of every believer have already been judged and punished in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross (John 5:24); but we are to be judged concerning our life and service, and this is the subject of our present study.
1. When we appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ we shall appear as we really are.
Down here we are never seen by each other as we really are; only God can see our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). Now look up 2 Corinthians 5:10. Literally, this may be translated, “we must all be manifested without disguise”, or, “in our true characters”. In this connection, look up Acts 5:1-10, and then notice in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 that the fire is to try the kind of work we have rendered to the Lord - not the appearance of that work. In 1 Corinthians 4:5, we are told that the one thing which counts before God is reality, and that at the Judgment Seat of Christ He will make manifest our motives and reward us accordingly.
2. When we appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, we shall have to give an account of ourselves and of our service.
Romans 14:12 tells us this. Notice that there are no exceptions, for Paul says, “each of us… ”; notice also that the account that we shall give is of ourselves - not of others. It will be revealed then:-
- Whether we have lived for God’s glory or for self-pleasing (2 Corinthians 5:15).
- How we have used our time (John 9:4; Ephesians 5:16; 1 Peter 1:17).
- How we have used our money, possessions, property (Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Timothy 6:17-19).
- Whether we have sought the salvation of the lost (Daniel 12:3;
2 Corinthians 5:11).
- Whether we have been faithful in prayer (Luke 18:1).
- All the words that we have spoken (Matthew 12:36).
- Our attitude towards our brethren (Romans 12:10; 14:10; Galatians 6:1).
- Our work will have to be accounted for (1 Corinthians 3:13).
3. When we appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, everything which is worthless and empty will be burned up and only that which can stand the test of fire will remain.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, and notice the two kinds of material:-
- That which abides the testing of fire and which is purified by the fire (gold, silver, costly stones).
- That which is easily burned up because it is worthless (wood, hay, straw).
The life we live and the way we serve is one of two kinds - either that which will stand the test of fire, or that which will not!
4. When we appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, the purpose of the Judge will not be to punish unfaithfulness but to reward faithfulness.
After the Grecian Games were over, the successful contestants assembled before the Bema, or the Judges’ Stand. This was an elevated seat upon which the umpire sat to pronounce the results and to make the awards. You and I will have to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ in order that He may give honour, promotion and reward where they have been merited. Prize days at school are held, not in order to punish and degrade those who have not done well, but in order to reward those who have. How important it is for us to live and labour in the power of the Holy Spirit in order that we may receive a reward (1 Corinthians 3:14)! When we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ:-
- Some will hear the word of Divine Approval (Matthew 25:21-23).
- Some will receive Promotion (Luke 19:17-19; Romans 15:10; Revelation 20:4).
- All of us may receive Crowns. Look these up: the Incorruptible Crown for living a disciplined life (1 Corinthians 9:25); the Crown of Life for enduring trials (James 1:12); the Crown of Rejoicing for soul-winning service (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20); the Crown of Glory for shepherding the flock (1 Peter 5:2-4); the Crown of Righteousness for loving His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).
5. When we appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, it will be too late then to wish that we had been more faithful, more zealous or more careful in our work and witness.
Now is the time to see to these things – 1 Corinthians 11:31; 1 John 2:28!