Judgment Seat of Christ

Judgment Seat of Christ
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 • Gabe Morris • August 9, 2015 • Guest Speaker

Transcript

SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH
Gabe Morris 8-9-15
Judgment Seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10

Good morning. Can everybody hear me? Please join with me and turn into your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 5:9-10. I’d like to thank God first for this opportunity and thank you guys for the honor of speaking to you this morning. Preaching in place of Andy is a very tall order [laughter] and I have some big shoes to fill so…. Speaking of Andy I’d also like to thank him for this opportunity and asking me to do this; it’s truly an honor and a delight to study this topic. Can we pray? Thank You, Father for Your Word. We acknowledge our dependence upon You and on Your Word. May You open our hearts to Your Word and use me Father as You see fit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This morning I’d like to speak with you about a prophetic event in the Bible called the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Judgment Seat of Christ is a topic that by and large does not usually get any air time in the church today. It’s considered by some scholars a secondary issue, a less important doctrine. In fact, some churches avoid it altogether. And as believers who clearly see it taught in Scripture we’re left asking why? Why is that? Well, we learned, before Andy went on vacation, in his sermon Entertaining the Goats and Feeding the Sheep, that for some churches it doesn’t really fit in their hierarchy of needs. This is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and for some it doesn’t flow with their agenda or their philosophy of ministry. And for some it just might negatively affect attendance, they don’t want to ruffle any feathers. But thank God for Sugar Land Bible Church, Amen! And thank God for churches who are heaven bent on teaching the whole counsel of the Word of God.

I believe the Judgment Seat of Christ is a very, very important doctrine. This is not a secondary issue, as some scholars say. The Judgment Seat of Christ is so important, not because it’s just taught in the Bible, because it affects, it directly affects the believer’s development in Christ, their growth, their walk with Christ. We’ll talk more about that as we move along.

This morning I simply want to ask six key questions, just your basic journalistic questions that anyone can ask during a study of the Bible, and it’s this: the who, the what, when, where, why and the how. And when we ask “who” we’re asking who are the participants. “What,” what is the Judgment Seat of Christ. When we ask “where,” where is this Judgment Seat going to take place? “When” will this Judgment Seat take place? And “Why,” what is the purpose of [blank spot in tape] and when we ask “How” we want to ask how are we to prepare for the Judgment Seat of Christ.

And so as we open to 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 I’d like us to break down these verses word by word, but before we do that I want to get familiar with this letter really quickly. This is Paul’s second letter, written around 56 A.D. Corinth was a very important city, a very big city and very wealthy city, and very pagan, known for its immorality, sort of like Vegas but worse. And in that city housed the temple of Aphrodite, with its thousands of prostitutes and it housed an athletic center for competitive games, sort of like the Olympics. And it was also the epicenter for commerce in a place called the Agora. And the church was surrounded by an immoral and pagan culture. And it was known for everything sinful; Corinth was. In fact, Corinth in Greek means to practice fornication. One of my professors said Corinthianize meant to engage in drunkenness and debauchery. And so the book of Corinthians is actually where we get the concept of carnal Christians.

So you can just imagine what the church was going through in that day and what they had to deal with, not to mention their congregants and what they struggled with. In fact, the first book, 1 Corinthians was more of a disciplinary letter to the church and he strongly confronted issues like divisions and sexual immorality, pride and incest and lawsuits and divorce and remarriage, even doctrinal error, things of that nature.

But thankfully many complied, many of the church complied with Paul’s first letter, but as Paul continued on Corinth began to court false teachers and they swayed the church; in Paul’s absence they swayed them to question Paul’s apostolic authority. So here comes Paul’s second letter, written from Macedonia, most likely from Philippi, you see in the top circle there. Paul writes a very intimate and loving letter to the church, and mainly because of their positive response to the first letter, to remind believers of their commitment to Christ and also to defend his authority, his apostleship.

If we were to outline 2 Corinthians it can be divided in seven sections and it would look sort of like this. And we are more concerned with this third section there in red. And if we were to break that down, that’s where we find our verse of study there, if we were to break that section down it would look like this and Paul describes his ministry and his compulsion for ministry. In other words, what was Paul’s driving force behind his ministry; what compelled Paul to do what he did? He wrote 13 letters of the New Testament, he went from city to city, building churches, spreading the gospel on three long missionary journeys and so what was his motive, and so we see that here.

And please take note that two of those sections are prophetic in nature. And so to put this verse in context at the end of the chapter, 2 Corinthians 4, Paul is talking about death, he’s talking about how the believers are constantly being delivered to death, chapter 4, verse 11. He’s also talking about resurrection and as we reach chapter 5 Paul it talking about the intermediate state where believers go when they die. Remember Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. [2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”]

And so these saints that go to be with the Lord, Paul seems to be saying that they are without their bodies, they are naked, verse 3. [2 Corinthians 5:3, “inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.”] So the prospect of death, Paul says, as he’s being led by the Holy Spirit, caused Paul to inform them, to press them, to exhort them to think about this reality of the Judgment Seat of Christ.

So notice, if you will, Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:9 he says, “Therefore….” “Therefore we also have as our ambition,” King James Version says goal, we have this as our goal, “we have this as our goal whether at home or absent to be pleasing to Him.” We’re not necessarily to be called successful, it’s not about the one who dies with the most toys wins, it’s not about our career, none of that, or being happy. We are called to be pleasing to Him. And so this message of pleasing Him, pleasing the Lord, was nothing new to Paul. It was obviously paramount on Paul’s agenda among the churches that he communicated to. We know that because he wrote a letter to Colossae, in Colossians 1:9-10 he says, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, [11] so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit…” and so on.

He also wrote a letter to the church at Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 4:1 says, “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you” the church, “in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God …” and “that you excel…” So pleasing God while walking with God was a very big deal to Paul. And why is that? Notice the next word; “For,” this is a very important connective word, it indicates the reason. Why are we to be pleasing to God? Paul says because, or “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” [2 Corinthians 5:10] let’s stop there.

Paul says we should have this as our goal, as our ambition, because there is a day on the horizon that we will all someday meet Jesus Christ. Notice the next word, “we,” this is our first key question that we answer is the who, “who” are the participants. And Paul says “we,” referring to the church, the believers. And he refers to believers only. And how do we know that? Because Paul addressed both 1 and 2 Corinthians “to the church of God in Corinth.”

Paul uses “we,” including himself, Paul is saying the Judgment Seat of Christ will exclusively be for believers only, the church, to those who put their faith and trust and reliance in Jesus Christ and the work of Jesus Christ, from the day of Pentecost up until the Rapture will ultimately stand at this judgment. And so Paul here is talking about born again believers and it’s safe to say that we fall in this group.

So notice the next word, “we must,” “we must all” in other words, we don’t have a choice in this matte; we cannot be exempt from this judgment, we can’t call in sick that day. This is an incredible and sobering thought, that people in this room today, your family members and friends and classmates and coworkers, believers, will be present at the Judgment Seat of Christ. And I’m reminded of this Scottish theologian, James Denney, he said, “is it not a solemn thing to stand at the end of life,” if you are a born again believer you will take part of this Judgment. So notice the next word, “we must all,” Paul reemphasizes the totality of believers; the body of Christ will take part in this judgment.

And I again observe the plurality of these words, “we” and “all.” There’s going to be a lot of people at this judgment. The judgment will not only be corporate it will ultimately be on an individual basis. Notice how Paul goes from the plural to the single as he narrows the playing field down to one, “For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

So this idea of a personal relationship with Christ should take on a whole new meaning after reading this. I like what Daniel Webster, the great statesman in the late 1700’s said, he said this after someone asked him what was the most important thought that ever occupied your mind Daniel, and he said, after a pause of thinking he said, “my accountability to God.” And so Paul is saying each one will give an account of his deeds, good or bad.

And so who else will be a part of this judgment? Another participant will be the Judge, Christ Himself. And notice how Paul tells whose judgment seat it is, it’s “the judgment seat of Christ.” The Judge that you and I will stand in front of, the church age saints will face, is Jesus Christ, all the church age saints. I’m reminded of John 5:22, it says, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.”

Do you remember that account in chapter 1 of Revelation, when the Apostle John, in his apocalyptic vision, he saw the Lord Christ Himself? Now John, he was the apostle that Christ loved, right? He was one of the privileged three to witness the Transfiguration. This was the guy who laid on the test of Christ in the Upper Room. This meeting with Christ in John was based on an entirely different circumstance. Revelation 1:17 says, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.” And so you ask why? This is because John was in the presence of Christ, the judge, in Christ’s unveiled and undiminished glory and splendor. And we know this because in the following chapter Christ judges the seven churches, beginning with Ephesus.

And so the Bema Seat belongs, the Judgment Seat of Christ belongs to Christ alone. And so notice if you will, verse 10, the next key question we ask is what, what is this Judgment Seat of Christ. It says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” in the Bible there are four judgments that human beings will take part in. And notice the Judgment Seat column, the Judgment Seat of Christ column in red. This Judgment Seat should not be confused with any other judgments found in the Bible and on this chart. They are all distinct, they all have a distinct place of judgment, time of judgment, purpose, and process of judgment; even a specific audience.

In other words, we will not take part in the Great White Throne of judgment because the Great White Throne is reserved for the unsaved… correct. And we will not take part in the sheep and goats and the judgment of the Jews because for obvious reasons we won’t be a part of the Tribulation. Amen!

Now the Greek word for Judgment Seat” in verse 10 is the Greek word bema (bema), it literally means a step or a raised platform, like a tribunal, sort of like this. It’s an official seat of the judge. And back in Paul’s day there were three main uses for the Bema Seat, a court of justice for judgment; number 2, it was used for a military encampment, usually for dispersing awards or discipline, and number 3, the Olympic Games where awards were given. And every major Roman and Greek city had a Bema Seat. And in the city of Corinth there was what I mentioned earlier, called the Agora, and in the Agora there was the marketplace, where the Bema Seat was. And sometimes a person of authority would give judgment.

In fact, Paul personally experienced this, standing in front of the Judgment Seat in Acts 18. And so when Paul referred to the Bema Seat the Corinthians knew exactly what he was talking about. They would see this on a regular basis. And so what was the Bema Seat of Christ? It’s a place of judgment for believers. Here’s Andy trying to beat us to the Judgment Seat. [Laughter]

Next, we answer the fourth question, and it is “when,” when will the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Bema Seat take place. And I believe, and it’s the belief of Sugar Land Bible Church that the Bible reveals it will happen after the Rapture. And why do I say that? There’s an interesting passage in Luke where Jesus gives a clue as to the timing of the Judgment Seat of Christ. And if you like you can turn to Luke 14:13-14 and this verse of Scripture, it’s part of a short parable, and we all know parables were used by Jesus to conceal and reveal, in other words to conceal truth to unbelieving and rejecting Israel and reveal truth to His disciples. Christ said in Matthew 13:11, “To you,” speaking to the disciples, “it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” So Luke 14:13-14 says, “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, [14] and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” And by the way, that word “repay” in Greek can be translated “to be recompensed.” Christ you, the disciples, will be recompensed at the resurrection of the righteous. And what is the resurrection of the righteous? It’s the Rapture.

1 Corinthians 15:51 and 53, a very well-known Rapture passage, explains what the resurrection is and it’s “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. [53] For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

1 Corinthians 4:5, Paul, speaking to believers, said this, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise,” notice “each man’s praise will come to him from God.” So take notice of the nature, also the nature of the Judgment Seat, it will involve the disclosure of the revealing of motives of my heart. So the timing of the Judgment Seat takes place, notice “until the Lord comes,” and when does the Lord come? At the Rapture. And when is the Rapture? At any moment.

2 Timothy 4:8, concerning the “when” question, Paul again is talking to Timothy, a believer, and he refers to himself as well, he says in fact: “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Another passage that describes and answers “when” is Revelation 22:12, “”Behold, I am coming quickly,” says the Lord, He’s speaking to John, “and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” I take this verse as Christ referring to the Judgment Seat of Christ, because if we read further, verse 16 says this message is for the church. [Revelation 22:16, “‘I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’”]

And on a side note I believe this verse here, I believe it’s a clear and conclusive argument for the pre-trib, pre-tribulational Rapture. What is the pre-tribulational Rapture? It’s the belief that the Rapture will come before, or “pre” the Tribulation, before the Tribulation, talked about in Daniel 9 and in Revelation, and there are other theories that say when the Rapture takes place, the last three, the mid, the post and the pre Rapture, I don’t have time to hash this out with you guys but in short these theories violate many things already explained and taught in Scripture, like imminence, the Rapture could come at any time. If I’m a part of this Rapture or the last three of the Rapture I’m going to be part of the Tribulation and that violates hope and comfort, that doesn’t bring me hope or comfort if I’m to be a part of the Tribulation.

In Christ’s reference to our dwelling places in heaven, moreover if we study Revelation 19 we see Christ’s Second Advent coming with Him a bride, in fine linen, which are the righteous acts of the saints and so in order for Christ to come back with His bride He must first retrieve His bride, amen! So when does the Judgment Seat of Christ take place? It’s after the Rapture.

The next question we have to ask here is where? Where will this judgment take place? And I believe the answer to this question is in the air, or in heaven. Allow me to explain with this quote by J. Dwight Pentecost, he says concerning the place, “It is scarcely necessary to point out that this examination must take place in the sphere of the heavenlies. It is said in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that “we shall be caught up…in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” Since the bema seat follows the translation, the ‘air’ must be the scene of it. This is further supported by 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, where Paul is describing events that take place when the believer is ‘absent from the body, and…present with the Lord.’ Thus, this event must take place in the Lord’s presence in the sphere of the ‘heavenlies.’” [J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 221.]

Where will the Judgment Seat of Christ take place? In the “heavenlies.” Let’s turn back to 2 Corinthians 5:10 again, and we’ve reached the point of the verse where it answers a key question, “why,” why must we as believers appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ? Notice the words, “so that,” another very important connective indicating a purpose, “so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” “…recompensed.”

Before we look at the purpose of the judgment, what it is, let’s make clear first what it is not. It’s not to determine whether we get into heaven or not, that’s not what the Judgement Seat is. It’s not to determine our salvation, that issue (salvation) has already been dealt with, praise the Lord. The moment we believed in Jesus Christ the Bible clearly says over and over that when you put your trust and faith in Christ, in that moment you are saved. The Bible calls that justification. And this issue of salvation has been resolved…PRAISE GOD!

And I am reminded of John 5:24, when Jesus said this, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into live.” That’s beautiful words, isn’t it? And by the way, that word “judgment” there in John 5:24 is not the Bema Seat, it’s a different Greek word that describes a judgment of condemnation; it’s a damnatory judgment.

Another purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ is that it’s not… it’s not to judge sin. It’s not to determine salvation; it’s not to judge sin. Remember the beautiful words that Christ said on the cross? “It is finished,” in Greek it’s tetelestai, [tetelestai]. Christ was literally crying out “it has been paid in full,” and the sin debt has been paid, the redemptive work of Christ is complete, it’s finished.

Let’s not forget that there are three tenses to our salvation, justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification happens the moment we believe, that’s the first phase, and sanctification comes second, it’s the time where we begin to avail ourselves to the Holy Spirit and the resources of God, serve God with all heart, soul, mind and strength. We serve God with our time and our talents and our treasures. You begin to conform to the image of His Son. These are called good works. This “good works” in this phase, in the sanctification phase, that’s what we will be evaluated on in this Judgment Seat. The good works we do for Christ in the sanctification phase will determine what kind of rewards we receive, or lack of. And sadly many Christians get these mixed up, they think the good works get us into heaven but it’s actually the opposite. And so there is absolutely nothing I can do to contribute to my salvation… nothing! All I do is believe, and God considers that a non-work.

So it’s very important to keep these things distinct. We know Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace alone you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one may boast.”

And so having said this, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 becomes a very important verse in the life of the believer. So what’s the purpose, rather what’s the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ? It is to be recompensed, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” That word “recompensed” means to repay, to get back reward for a service or aid.

And to further explain this point we can turn to 1 Corinthians 3 for a second; hold your place here in 2 Corinthians 5:10. This needs to be established before we go any further because many Christians, like myself, I believed that (in my younger days) when Christ judges us it will be like a penal type of judgment, it’ll involve punishment for my crimes and my sins.

So 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 says this: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. [11] For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, [13] each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it,” the work “because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” Verse 14, “If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. [15] If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

So what is this saying? Is that the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ is to be an evaluation of the quality of the work we did, whether good or bad, “in Christ Jesus.” The good remains as the bad gets burned up. This Judgment Seat is to determine rewards.

So let’s turn back to 2 Corinthians 5:10 to clear something up. And as a side note, all of the many passages that contribute to the Judgment Seat of Christ, the four main passages are found in the Corinthian letters, and as it was said before, the Corinthian church was one of the most carnal, immoral and immature churches Paul dealt with. And isn’t it interesting that he talked most to them about the Judgment Seat of Christ.

So according to Paul what was the remedy for this carnal church? Or carnal Christian, the Christian who is struggling to walk with Christ? It’s prophecy, it’s this idea that the message of the Judgment Seat of Christ, having to stand one day and give an account of your life. And so let’s clear something up back in 2 Corinthians 5:10 it says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Okay, what are the good works and the bad works? Well, we can easily conclude that the good works are the works we did for Christ. And what are the bad works? Well, there’s a Greek term for “bad” in the sense of evil. This is NOT that word, it’s sort of like the word agape love, there is a self-less type love, there’s a brotherly type love and there’s a sensual type, all different geek terms, but it means love. The Greek term used for bad in this verse is the Greek term phaulos, [faulo~] and phaulos is in the sense of worthless, no good. If I was to use this sense of the word I would relate this to my basketball game, it’s phaulos, it’s worthless. I love playing basketball but if we were to play a game I’d be the last one to be picked, it’s that bad. It’s phaulos, it’s worthless.

In other words, Paul here is referring to good works that are bad, good bad works. For example, God cannot only see the works we did with a clean and pure heart; He can also see the works we did with bad and impure intentions. Remember 1 Corinthians 4:5, it says, “…the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts,” this is what that is.

Remember in Matthew 6:1-6, listen to this: [1] “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. [2] “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” That’s their reward, being seen by men; congratulations! [3] “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, [4] so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. [5] ‘When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. [6] But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

These works, those works described by Jesus, are examples of bad “good works,” they are worthless to Him, they’re phaulos. Also remember in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 when it talks about gold, silver, precious stones, and then wood, hay and straw, remember that? What does the good and silver and precious stones have in common when they are put in the fire? They don’t get burned up; they are noncombustible. And in contrast, the wood, hay and stubble are combustible; these are the worthless works, they will be burned up and be non-rewardable. The gold, silver and precious stones are the works we’ve done with pure intentions, righteous motives, ultimately to please the Lord.

And it’s important to stress, please take note of the balance here; there’s a balance, learning the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ should not cast us into a total state of fear. Okay. And it should not cause so much joy to where we become flippant in our walk with Christ. There will be a reward, yes, but there will also be loss. There will be a sense of joy at this event but Scripture says we will suffer, if we suffer loss, yet we will be saved, the Scripture says.

And here’s a quick quote by Samuel Hoyt, that gives a balanced perspective concerning the Judgment Seat of Christ and he says this: “The Judgment Seat of Christ might be compared to a commencement ceremony. At graduation there is some measure of disappointment and remorse that one did not do better and work harder. However, at such an event the overall emotion is joy, not remorse. The graduates do not leave the auditorium weeping because they did not earn better grades. Rather they are thankful that they have been graduated and they are grateful for what they did achieve. To overdo the sorrow aspect of the Judgment Seat of Christ is to make heaven hell and to underdo the sorrow aspect is to make faithfulness inconsequential.”

And so as I read this the first question I ask myself is am I giving Christ my all, in terms of the quality of work that I’m doing for Him? When I have this mindset, all of a sudden my approach to my marriage is different. My approach to my children is different, my work, the unsaved, washing the dishes becomes different. And so there will be an evaluation of service, of our service in the Lord. That’s the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ. And so now the question begs to be answered, what kind of rewards will we be eligible for? And again I refer to 1 Corinthians 4:5 we read a while back, the last phrase of that Scripture says that “each man’s praise will come … from God.” Did you catch that? Think about that for a moment; the Creator of heaven and earth, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Shepherd of the stars will praise me; in my wretched self God will find something in me to praise me.

What else types of rewards are we going to get? There are five types of crowns described in the Bible; there’s the incorruptible crown for the one who masters the old nature. There’s the crown of rejoicing for the one who leads people to Christ; the crown of life for those who endure trials, tribulations and severe suffering, even unto death. There’s the crown of righteousness for those who love and anxiously wait for God’s coming, the rapture. I think we fall in that category, don’t we. The crown of glory for those who faithfully teach the flock.

Now these crowns reveal what? What is most important to God, so much so he will reward them to us if we are found faithful to do them. Daniel 12:3 describes a reward that I believe is a greater capacity to shine forth and reflect God’s glory. Daniel 12:3 says, “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” In other words, we will have a greater capacity to honor and worship and reflect God’s glory when we see Him.

Another reward is found in another parable, Luke 19, where greater places of authority and responsibility is given to those who serve the King. Jesus said in Luke 19 that some will rule over five cities, some will rule over ten cities, and I take that passage to mean upon evaluation we are going to have greater responsibility and authority in the millennial kingdom, and on into eternity, a greater capacity to reign with Christ, based on our faithfulness. [Luke 19:17, “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.” [19] “And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’”]

And I think it’s very important to note here before we go any further that when we think about reward I think it’s important to establish that we don’t serve God to get reward; I don’t think any of these passages teach that. It’s not a bad thing but I don’t think these passages teach that. I think when we serve God it’s because we love Him.

If I could analogize this, the first thing I would think of is our military; many of the service men and women who serve our country, they go into battle losing arms and limbs and sometimes even their lives. Later on they get the Medal of Honor or the Purple Heart or some other type of prestigious award. But if we were to ask them, did you do it for the reward? You might be surprised at the answer. I bet all of them would say I did it because of my comrades, or for the love of country or the love of freedom. They got the reward, that’s wonderful, but what was their motive. What was going through their hearts and their minds during their heroic act?

I’m reminded of Hebrews 11:6 says this, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Did we catch that, “He is a rewarder of those who … seek Him,” not the reward.

So to review, we asked the “who question,” who are the participants, the believers. What, what is this Judgment Seat of Christ? It’s the judgment and evaluation of all believers. When is this Judgment Seat of Christ? It’s after the rapture. Where is it? It’s in the heavenlies. And why do we get evaluated, why does this judgment seat happen? It’s to determine reward and authority.

And finally let’s move on to the sixth and final key question which is how, and to ask that more specifically, how do we prepare for the coming Judgment Seat of Christ, the Bema Seat of Chris?. And since that day is coming for each one of us, is it not incumbent that we as believers get ready for that day? I want to quickly cover fifteen things on how we can prepare ourselves to be in a better position to receive the rewards that Christ has for us.

Remember in high school or in college the teachers that would drop the pop quiz or exam and they would drop it without giving you any notice or any time to study. Those are my least favorite. And Andy, he wasn’t one of those teachers, and guess what? Jesus is not like that either; He gave us the test questions beforehand and so these are 15 points of what they are and in advance.

So number 1, this is how we will be evaluated: How we treat other believers. In Hebrews 6:10 it says, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” We will be evaluated on that.

Number 2, how we use our God-given talents and abilities, and opportunities. In other words, how we steward these things. Matthew 25 talks about the talents, Luke 19 talks about the “minas,” and those are all opportunities and talents squandered by the servant or the slaves; we don’t want to do that, we want to steward the things that we have correctly and biblically.

Number 3, how we use our money. 1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. [18] Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”

Number 4, how well we take injustice and mistreatment, Matthew 5:11-12, this is the Sermon on the Mount, He says, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you. [12] Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” How well we take injustices and mistreatment.

Number 5, how we endure suffering and trials, James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Number 6, how we spend our time, Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You…” “…we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Ephesians 5:16 says, “Making the most of your time because the days are evil.” Everyone in here has 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week, everyone. So how we use out time is very important to God.

Number 7, how we run the race, Hebrews 12:1 says, “…run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….” 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you now know that those who run in the race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” The mindset of a winner.

How effectively we control our sin nature, number 8. 1 Corinthians 9:27 says, “but I discipline my body,” in the King James Version it says, “I buffet my body,” not buffet, I know you guys want to go to the buffet after this but it’s not talking about that, buffet, “buffet my body,” I make my body a slave so that after, it says, “after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified,” disqualified from getting a reward as in an athletic game.

Paul is saying here if we don’t get a handle over our sinful passions and appetites while we’re here on earth, I mean, sexual appetites, our food, gossip or whatever we’re struggling with, if we don’t get ahold of that we can be forfeiting great and glorious rewards. We know this as self-control, or bringing ourselves into submission to the Word of God.

Number 9, how much souls we win for Christ. We read Daniel 12:3 and 1 Thessalonians 2 says this. I heard it once said, sharing the gospel with others is like one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. We are all in need of this bread of life, right? And are we willing to share that bread of life with others, Jesus Christ with others?

Number 10, how much the doctrine of the rapture means to us, 2 Timothy 4:8 says, “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and no only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” I think in times like this we are falling into that category.

Number 11, how faithful we are to God’s Word and to God’s people. 2 Timothy 4:1-2 says, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearance and His kingdom: [2] Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” James 3:1 says, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” Do you guys realize how nervous I got preparing this message? Oh my goodness. That’s why it’s so important to pray for our elders, Andy, our Sunday School teachers, they are in a position of… they’re in a very, very special position and they will be held to a stricter judgment.

Number 12, how hospitable we are toward strangers, Luke 14:12 says, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. [13] But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, [14] and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” I don’t think Luke is saying don’t invite your family and your friends and your neighbors, that would be silly; I believe it’s more of paying attention or being sensitive to the less fortunate, showing hospitality to those who are down and out, and not expecting something in return.

Number 13, how faithful we are at our occupations and all that we put our hands to. Listen to this, Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, [24] knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” That’s one of my favorite verses. Do your work heartily, the word “heartily” in Greek is psuchē, that means soul, do it with your soul, with all your soul. And you’re not serving men, you’re serving the Lord. That helped me out in the military; the military, I didn’t want to work for people in the military, certain people in the military, so every day I had to get into the mindset Lord, I’m doing this for You. It’s Christ who we serve.

Number 14, how we support other people in the ministry Matthew 10:40-41 says, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receive Me receives Him who sent Me. [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.” Paul is saying here if you support a man of God or any type of ministry that is in the business of doing God’s work, then that is acceptable.

Who are you supporting as it pertains to God’s ministry? It could be money, monetarily; it could be with your time, with your efforts, with your energy, volunteering, I think I’m stepping on some toes here, that’s my prayer.

And lastly, number 15, a not too convicting one, how we use our tongue. Matthew 12:36, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” Let’s do what it takes with the help of the Holy Spirit to control our tongue, okay?

So we looked at the six key questions; we answered “who,” who are the participants? It’s believer. Praise God! What is the Judgment Seat of Christ? It’s a judgment and an evaluation. When is the Judgment Seat of Christ? It’s after the Rapture. Where is it? It’s in the heavenlies. And why do we get evaluated? To determine reward and authority. And how do we get ready for the Judgment Seat of Christ, we just went over fifteen test questions beforehand, how to prepare ourselves for this coming event. So with no reserve let us run this race together in light of that coming glorious day when we meet Him face to face. Amen! And hear the words, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.” Amen. All right.

So now we established today that the Judgment Seat of Christ is exclusively for believers, ONLY, and if you are here today and you are not a believer, the Bible says you will not take part in this judgment, you’ll be part of a different judgment, and it’s a judgment of damnation. But there’s good news, oh, the good news—God loves you so much that he sent His Son to die for you, plain and simple. He wants you to be a participant of this glorious and prophetic event called the Judgment Seat of Christ.

But you have to be a child of God first. How do you do that? I’m glad you asked. The Bible says believe; that’s it! Believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ, believe in Jesus, He died on the cross, was buried and was raised again on the third day. He did it for you; He did it in your place. Believe in that, trust in that, bank your life on it. In other words, stop trusting in everything else, self, or friends, or religion, forget all that… trust in Jesus. You can do that as you sit there and if you did that you have just been saved; your soul belongs in the safekeeping care of God. Amen. Never to be lost again. And expect to see Him again, that’s the good news. And if any of you are unsure I am here to talk after the service. Can we pray.

Thank You Father for Your Word and the glorious truth of the Judgment Seat of Christ. And Lord, may we take this message and run with it; make it a part of our daily lives, our mindset that we are to please You in every respect and cause us to teach these lessons to our children. Give us opportunity to share this message with others. Bless the rest of this day and Lord, make haste to come. Come to us Lord, and we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory, and it’s in Jesus name we pray. God’s people said… Amen.