THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
2 Cor. 5:10
Intro: According to the Bible, there is a day coming when Jesus Christ Himself will return from Heaven, will raise those who have died in Him from the dead, and will change those believers who are living into His image. He will gather all these redeemed saints together and will take the back to His heavenly home, where they will abide forever with Him in a state of absolute joy and utter perfection. The Bible speaks of this event in several places including, John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thes. 4:16-18; Rev. 1:7. We know this event as the Rapture of the Church. I look forward to the rapture with profound joy! It is called the “Blessed hope of the believer,” and by it, millions will bypass the undertaker and leave with the Upper taker!
Many hold the opinion that as soon as the rapture takes place, the saints are going to go to Heaven where they will be issued a halo, a harp, and a new pair of wings. Then, they will be assigned to some cloud or the other where they will spend eternity strumming on their harps and floating serenely through Heaven. Well, the good news is there will be a new body, a new home, a new atmosphere, and new surroundings. Yes, there will be peace, bliss, and unsurpassed joy and contentment. There will even be the personal presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. However, before we get to enjoy all these things, we will have to appear, one by one, before the Lord Jesus Christ to give an account of the deeds done in these earthly bodies.
Since we are going to face Jesus in judgment, and since how well that goes depends entirely on how we behave here, it would do us all eternal good to spend a few minutes looking at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I want you to understand what it is, what will happen there, and how you can prepare yourself for that hour when you will meet Jesus face to face. So, this morning, as God gives help and liberty, let’s look together at the day when you will make your appearance before the court of Heaven, The Judgment Seat Of Christ.
I. WHO WILL PARTICIPATE?
Ill. This will a judgment for believers only! There will no lost people here. (Ill. They will face God at the Great White Throne – Rev. 20:11-15)
A. It Will Be Universal – (Ill. “All”) – Every believer, whether great or small will appear before the throne of Christ and will give an account unto Him of the deeds done in this body. Some think it will just be the preachers and Christian workers. However, we will all appear and give an account before God – Rom. 14:12.
B. It Will Be Unavoidable – (Ill. “Must”) – Many Christians live their lives as if they think they will never have to answer for what they do. In truth, every child of God is slated to appear at this judgment seat. There will be nowhere to hide and nowhere to run. When your name is called, you will stand before Jesus and you will face the deeds done in this body. (Ill. I do not know how you feel about it, but that scares me to death!)
C. It Will Be Undeniable – Ill. There will be no defense allowed before this judgment seat. Every deed will be exposed and will be accounted for in front of all the saints of God. We must understand that God in Heaven keeps perfect records, Matt. 12:36. (Ill. God sees it all, hears it all and knows it all – Heb. 4:13; Pro. 15:3. Nothing can be hidden from His gaze, or His judgment.)
D. For Many, It Will Be Unthinkable – Those things that were done in secret and so carefully concealed and hidden away will be exposed in all their ugliness. (Ill. Luke 12:3)
I. Who Will Participate
II. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE?
The issues will not be:
1. Salvation – That was forever taken care of at the moment of conversion. Nothing can ever change the state of the believer’s soul. If a person is saved, they are saved forever!
2. Sin – Sin was taken care of at Calvary. When Jesus died, He died for the sin of the world – 2 Cor. 5:21.
Those who appear here will not be judged for salvation or on the basis of their sins. Those who appear here are already saved. The Bible does, however, give us a little insight into who will participate in this judgment.
(Ill. It may help us to understand a little bit about what the judgment seat actually was. In Paul’s day, in every city, there was a place called the Bema, or judgment seat. It was from this raised platform, usually in the center of town, that announcements were made, judgments rendered, and commendations handed out. All public proclamations came from this Bema seat. So, we must not think that it was only a place for fear and trembling. Certainly, some were rebuked when they came here, but others were rewarded and blessed. Christ’s seat of judgment is no different!)
A. There Will Be Rewards – (Ill. The New Testament speaks of crowns that will be given to those who earn them. These are:
1. The Incorruptible Crown – Awarded for faithfulness to the Lord – 1 Cor. 9:25.
2. The Crown Of Life – For the person who endures and overcomes temptation – James 1:12.
3. The Crown Of Rejoicing – This is the soul winners crown – 1 Thes. 2:19.
4. The Crown Of Righteousness – This will be given to those who anticipate and live in the light of the return of Jesus – 2 Tim. 4:8
5. The Crown Of Glory -This will be given to the faithful ministers who give themselves to lead and feed the flock of God – 1 Pet. 5:4.
6. We need to understand that every deed done in the name of Jesus will be blessed and rewarded over there. Men may not see the value of your service but rest assured that Jesus takes perfect note and that He will reward you fairly for your sacrifice for Him. (Ill. Mark 9:41) (Ill. Matt. 25:34-40)
7. God will apply the fire of His judgment to our works, and those that were done for Him and for His glory alone will pass the test and we will be rewarded accordingly.
B. There Will Be Rebukes – All the motives, methods, attitudes, and activities will pass beneath the microscope of God’s just judgment and will be brought to light.
(Ill. The process that God will use – 1 Cor. 3:10-15 – Read and explain! Ill.
Gold, Silver, Precious Stones – represent that which is valuable, permanent, beautiful, and hard to come by. It requires sacrifice to acquire these things.
Wood, Hay, and Stubble – represent that which is temporary, ugly, cheap, and easy to obtain. What a difference there is in the things that honor the Lord and the things which honor men!)
There will be many who will come before Jesus expecting great rewards but will instead receive great rebuke. They will witness everything as it perishes before their very eyes. It will not affect their salvation, but it will affect the rewards they will receive. (Ill. No doubt, many believers will enter eternity smelling as if they were purchased at a fire sale.) (Ill. Lot is the perfect picture of a believer who allowed the loose living to take everything he possessed. He was saved from wrath, but he lost everything else – Gen. 13-19.)
C. There Will Be Reaping – Galatians 6:7-8 will be fully realized in the life of every believer on that day. You see, there are things that we think are hidden, and covered up, but God knows all about them and He will drag all those secret things into the open. Many Christians have wronged others and never made it right, have taken things and never made restitution, lied, and never set the record straight, etc. God knows about it all and will bring it to light at the Judgment Seat of Christ!
D. There Will Be Revelation – (Ill. “Appear” – To reveal) When we arrive here, all pretense will be taken away! We will finally be seen for what we really are. Down here, we are able to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Many times, people will have an image of us that is false and forewing to that which we really are. However, when we stand before Jesus, we will be seen in all our ugliness. We will be exposed.
(Ill. It is much the same as going to the doctor. He can look at the outside and not tell too much about you, but if he can do an x-ray, a CAT scan, or an MRI, then he can see what’s going on inside and make a more accurate diagnosis. Well, Jesus does not need high tech gadgets to see our hearts. He knows us perfectly and will expose us to the light one day.)
(Ill. The Judgment Seat of Christ may be compared to a commencement exercise. Certainly, there will be sadness and remorse over not doing as well as one could. However, the overwhelming emotion will be one of joy at having completed the race down here and having graduated into Heaven. To overdo the sorrow aspect is to make heaven into hell and to underplay the sorrow aspect is to say that faithfulness does not matter in our walk of life.)
I. Who Will Participate?
II. What Is The Purpose?
III. HOW CAN A PERSON PREPARE?
(Ill. First and foremost, a person wants to be sure that they will appear here. As bad as this judgment may be, it will be nothing compared to standing before Jesus and hearing him send you to Hell. Be sure you are saved. If that is settled, then your greatest preparation tactic is to practice self-judgment – 1 Cor. 11:31. I am not talking about judging your brother. It is none of your business what he does, your primary concern is to look at your own life and heart and see how they measure up against the revealed will of God.) There are several areas where we need to practice this self-judgment.
A. In Our Motives – Why do we do what we do? The Bible tells us there is only one valid motive for doing what we do in life – 1 Cor. 10:31. Everything should be done for the glory of the Lord. If whatever it is you are doing cannot be done for His glory, then it will burn up in the judgment!
B. In Our Methods – How do we do the thing we do? The Bible teaches us that we are to be like lights shining forth into the darkness – Matt. 5:16. If the world cannot see Christ in what we are doing, then we can be sure it will burn up before Him. (Ill. We should look at everything we do and ask ourselves,
1. Is this pleasing to the Lord?
2. What kind of message is this sending out?
3. When I say that, or go there, or wear this, what statement am I making about Jesus Christ and His church?
C. In Our Manner Of Life – Every activity must be laid alongside the Word of God. We must understand that the Word of God is like a plumb line. If we are out of line with this Book, then we will experience loss at the judgment. If we are in line with it, then we can expect rewards when we arrive there. How does your life stand up under the scrutiny of the Book?
D. It all boils down to this, we are called to live the best lives for God’s glory that are humanly possible. If we do, then we need not fear meeting our deeds, or the Savior at the Judgment Seat. After all, if we are living for the Lord, then we will be rewarded and not rebuked!
Conc: A husband and wife did not really love each other. The man was very demanding, so much so that he prepared a list of rules and regulations for his wife to follow. He insisted that she read them over every day and obey them to the letter. Among other things, his “do’s and don’ts” indicated such details as what time she had to get up in the morning, when his breakfast should be served, and how the housework should be done. After several long years, the husband died. As time passed, the woman fell in love with another man, one who dearly loved her. Soon they were married. This husband did everything he could to make his new wife happy, continually showering her with tokens of his appreciation. One day as she was cleaning the house, she found tucked away in a drawer the list of commands her first husband had drawn up for her. As she looked it over, it dawned on her that even though her present husband had not given her any kind of list, she was doing everything her first husband’s list required anyway. She realized she was so devoted to this man that her deepest desire was to please Him out of love, not an obligation. Doing things for him was her greatest joy.
So, it should be with us in our relationship with Christ. because He loves us, we love Him and want to serve Him. That is the law of love!
This is the bottom line. If you love Jesus, your life will show it. You will do the right things and act the right way. When your love for Him is the motivating force behind all you do, then you can expect to bless when you meet Him.
If you were to face Jesus today in the judgment, what would be the outcome? Would you see all your works and deeds go up in smoke? Would you hear Him have to rebuke the way you lived? Or would you hear Him say, “Well, done thou good and faithful servant? Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”? What can you expect over there? If it is not what you want, now is the time to make the changes that are necessary. Will you do what you need to do this morning?