The Judgement Seat of Christ
DAY 1 | The Judgement Seat of Christ
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
2 Corinthians 5:10, ESV
There is a story about a frustrated basketball coach, Cotton Fitzsimmons, who hit on an idea to motivate his team. Before the game, he gave them a speech that centered around the word pretend. "Gentlemen, when you go out there tonight, instead of remembering that we are in last place, pretend we are in first place; instead of being in a losing streak, pretend we are in a winning streak; instead of this being a regular game, pretend this is a playoff game!"
With that, the team went onto the basketball court and were soundly beaten by the Boston Celtics. Coach Fitzsimmons was upset about the loss. But one of the players slapped him on the back and said, "Cheer up, Coach! Pretend we won!"
Many of us appear to be winning in the race of life but perhaps it is all "pretend." But the Bible says a day is coming when we as Christians will have to give account to Jesus for our life lived on earth. There will be no pretending then. Jesus will see right through every deed, action, motive, thought, or lack thereof. He will review our lives in all the good, the bad, and the ugly!
This isn’t about our salvation. Jesus isn’t going to weigh or good deeds vs. our bad deeds to see if we can get in. The Bible clearly teaches that Salvation is by God’s grace through faith. It’s not a work, it’s simply faith in Jesus Christ that saves. (Ephesians 2:8-9). The day Paul refers to here is the appointment we will have right after the rapture of the church. It’s called the Judgement Seat of Christ.
In the first century, these were platforms raised for judges in courtrooms, or in Paul’s usage here the idea is a stage with steps in an athletic arena. From this platform or stage, the athletes would come to receive a review and rewards ceremony after long months of training or competitions to be evaluated and awarded by the judges.
As a believer, we are told that we must all appear. It’s not a group activity, it’s individual. It’s for what we did or did not do on earth. Dr. Mark Hitchcock wisely noted on this topic that there are at least 15 things we ought to consider before facing the Judgment Seat of Christ.
15 Things Every Christian Will Have To Talk To Jesus About
- How we treated other believers (Hebrews 6:10; Matthew 10:41-42)
- How we employed our God-given talents and abilities (Matthew 25:14-29; Luke 19:11-26)
- How we used our money (Matthew 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
- How well we accepted mistreatment and injustice (Matthew 5:11-12)
- How we endured suffering and trials (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)
- How we spent our time (Psalms 90:9-12; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5; 1 Peter 1:17)
- How we ran the particular race God had given us (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1)
- How effectively we controlled our fleshly appetites (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)
- How many souls we witnessed to and won to Christ (Daniel 12:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
- How much the doctrine of the rapture meant to us and controlled our lives (2 Timothy 4:8)
- How faithful we were to God’s Word and God’s people (Acts 20:26-28; 2 Timothy 4:1-2)
- How hospitable we were to strangers (Matthew 25:35-36; Luke 14:12-14)
- How faithful we were in our vocation (Colossians 3:22-24)
- How we supported others in ministry (Matthew 10:40-42)
- How we used our tongues (Matthew 12:36; James 3:1-12)
We all must take into account that how we live and act now, knowing that it really will impact eternity. The Apostle Paul used a building illustration, liking the Christian to a church or building, with Christ being the foundation. He stated…
"For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." (I Corinthians 3:11-15, ESV)
The Apostle Paul points out that if one's life is to have a lasting impact it must be built on the foundation of Jesus! (vs.11) Furthermore, he said that some will construct a life that’s built with things that will last, (gold, silver, and precious stones) and others will have used wood, hay, and straw! The comparison and contrast are obvious. Some people’s lives will have a lasting impact, others will not!
The fire represents God’s judgment that is meant to reveal what each believer has done with his/her life on earth. Some will have built lives that have an everlasting impact, enduring forever. These are those that heeded Christ’s Great Commandments to love God and neighbor (Luke 10;25-28) and Christ’s Great Commission! (Matthew 28:19-20) These are those that sought to live by the scriptures and follow God’s Word and live a life directed by God’s Spirit.
We discover as well that some have absolutely wasted their most of their life on trivial things that don’t matter. They wasted their time, their talents, and their treasures on things that really don’t have any eternal weight or substance to their life!
This is what Paul likened to “wood, hay, and straw.” When it’s tested by fire, it’s all burned up. There is nothing to show. This doesn’t mean that the believer goes to hell or dies (vs. 15) Yet he will suffer loss. This is not a physical loss rather it’s the idea there is a sense of loss from having missed the opportunity to live well on earth!
It reminds me of an old tale I heard about three men crossing the desert by camel at night. As they were crossing the desert a voice came out of the darkness. The voice commanded them to dismount, pick up some pebbles, and put them in their pocket. The voice said, at the coming of the sun, you will be both glad and sorry. The travelers did as they were told and later when the sun came up, they checked their pockets and realized these pebbles were no ordinary pebbles they were diamonds! They remembered what the voice said, that at the coming of the sun you will be both glad and sorry. They were glad they took as many as they did and sorry they did not take more. Today, the LORD is telling us that at the coming of the Son, we will be both glad and sorry. Glad we used the opportunities we did and sorry we didn’t use more.
What opportunities are you using to honor God? What are some things you might be glad or sorry about if you were to face Jesus Christ today?
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