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Archive for Judgment Seat

Do Business Till I Come (part 4)

In the parable in Luke 19, the nobleman (the Lord Jesus has returned) called each servant to give an accounting of the use of his money. In like manner, believers in this age will one day be judged for the way that we have invested the grace gifts given to us for the building of the church of Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:3-7; 1 Cor. 12:1-31; Eph. 4:11-16). Speaking of this very truth, Isaiah said that when the Lord returns, He will bring His reward with Him (Isaiah 40:10; 62:11). Jeremiah, also weighed in, saying that the Lord gives to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings (Jer. 17:10). Jesus said in the last Bible book, the last chapter that He is coming quickly, and His reward is with Him, to give to everyone according to his work (Rev. 22:12).

I closed yesterday’s post with Paul’s powerful words, “take heed how you build upon it.” Speaking of building on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-11), these words now ring in our ears. Here is the reason. Six building materials are mentioned: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw. The categories vary in value from gold, which in this case is most valuable, down to straw, which has almost no value at all. We conclude from this that quality matters with God. In whatever way the Holy Spirit has gifted you, or how long you have been given to use it, use it faithfully and to the very best of your ability.

Another obvious difference is that one category of material is noncombustible. Gold, silver, and precious stones will not burn. The other group of wood, hay, and straw will burn, but not to the same degree. Wood will burn to a lesser degree than hay. And last, straw will burn quickly. Each person’s work will be exposed to the fire of God’s judgment.  Every work will be brought into the light to determine whether the work has the quality of gold, silver, precious stone, or wood, hay, or just straw. There are obvious differences in value and reward from the gold quality all the way down to straw. Each one’s work will become clear. For the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. Note that the word “Day,” begins with a capital letter, noting a special Day (1 Cor. 10:13, Rom. 14:10-13).

The words “each one’s work” mean that no believer will bypass this judgment. I do not know if this will be a private judgment between our Lord and His child or if other servants will be privy to another servant’s judgment. But God’s word says that before his own master each will stand or fall (Romans 14:4). This gives us a clue. Zero in on the words “of what sort it is.” Note again that it is the quality of the work that will be judged, not the quantity. This gives great hope to those sheep who are called to the Shepherd late in life. They may feel that they have missed the boat, but this is simply not the case. They will always be given sufficient time to do quality work for the Lord, to fulfill their work of faith for Him. It will be the use of their time and of their spiritual assets that will matter.

If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward (1 Cor. 3:14). That is, if anyone’s work which is built upon the foundation of Christ comes through the flames of God’s judgment, that believer will be rewarded.  Four crowns are mentioned in the New Testament, indicating the quality of ruling in the kingdom. These will be mentioned in a later post.  

Back again to the parable of the nobleman, we find that the last servant is called before the master with no investment gain at all and with a sour attitude. He had hidden his mina away, for he was afraid. He said to the nobleman, “You collect what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow” (Luke 19:21). The servant denied his master what rightfully belonged to him. As a result, this servant lost everything. His mina was given to the one who had ten minas.

The nobleman said that to everyone who has, more will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him (Luke 19:26). Please note, this unfaithful servant, though he lost his reward, remained a servant. The nobleman said to bring “his enemies,” those not wanting to submit to his reign, and kill them. He did not include the servant.

This has clear parallel at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Paul finished the section on rewards by saying, “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss” (1 Cor. 3:15a). What does it mean to suffer loss? I think it means exactly what it says. The believer will suffer the loss of reward and loss of the quality of reigning with the King in His kingdom (the cities).  Paul does not say that he may suffer loss; he says that he will suffer loss.

Paul quickly added, “But he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15b). The possibility that a vast reward for a believer’s works may all go up in smoke is very real, but he or she will be saved in the end. This is obviously talking about eternal security and shows once again the immense value of the shed blood of Christ.  These unprofitable “servants” will go into the kingdom and be very happy just to be in the kingdom of their Lord.  But they could have had so much more. Stay safe and stay tuned.

Do Business Till I Come (part 3)

As we go through this parable, do not lose track of who we are dealing with and where we are. This parable was given by the King Himself – the Lord Jesus Christ – and He was just days from the cross. His words – often written in red – are always important, but at this juncture as the Lamb of God shortly to be sacrificed, His words should scream to us. We have made the obvious leap that this nobleman mentioned by Jesus is speaking of Christ Himself.  He is going away to receive for himself a kingdom and return. He has called ten servants to Himself, given them money to invest, and told them to do business until He returns. The world that He created sent a delegation after him rejecting his right to reign.

We likened the parable to a precise New Testament equivalent found in Ephesians 4:7-16. The King, the Lord Jesus, now crucified, buried, and having risen from the dead is ascending back to His Father. As He did, He equipped His people to help build His church. Like the servants in the parable, we are to do business (use our gifts) until our King returns to establish His kingdom.

Let’s continue the parable. “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise, he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’” (Luke 19:15-19).

The meaning is clear. Jesus Christ is going to return to establish His kingdom on a renewed earth and reign as King for a thousand years (Rev. 19:11-16; Rev. 20:1-7; Zech. 14:9). Hence, the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,” will be fulfilled.

The nobleman called his servants to himself to know how much each servant had earned by trading. This is an exact parallel to the Judgment Seat (the Bema) of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Every Christian will stand before Christ to give an account of how they used their giftedness, not of their sin (that was placed on Christ) but their grace work.

Paul wrote, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom. 14:10-13).

In our Lord’s parable, the first servant’s mina earned ten minas. The nobleman responded, “Well done, good servant, because you were faithful in little have authority over ten cities.” Two points become clear. There will be cities in the Lord’s kingdom, and we are given the potential of reigning with our King as partakers (metachoi, servant kings) of His kingdom (Hebrews 3:14).

The second servant in the parable was called. His mina had earned five minas. The nobleman said to him, “You also be over five cities.” Notice that the reward equals exactly the effort made. The King, who knows all the facts, will judge fairly. The details of the Judgment Seat of Christ are found in 1 Corinthians 3. Paul said that we are all to have a part in building on the foundation laid by our Lord. He likened us to farmers. He said some will plant, others will water, but it will be God who gives the increase. But Paul said that we will all receive our own reward according to our own labor.

The Judge will be fair (1 Cor. 3:6-8). Carefully read Paul’s words written to the church at Corinth. “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:9-15). Take special note of the words in italics, “But take heed how he builds on it.” (1 Cor. 3:10). Stay safe and stay tuned.

 

The Judgment Seat of Christ (part 1)

Dr. Mark Cambron, one of my first and best mentors, taught me that repetition is theological mucilage. And he repeated that phrase over and over again. I really had no clue at that time what he meant. But God etched the words in my mind, nonetheless. He repeated it so often that I could never forget it (case in point). Doc knew that one day we would figure it out.

I discovered that mucilage is a thick, gluey substance produced by nearly all plants. It is found in seeds and works like a glue to lock food and water in them, causing them to be more capable of germinating. That wise mentor was teaching that repetition is to learning what mucilage is to plants. It causes truth to stick in the mind and ultimately to become productive. Needless to say, he made his point. Therefore, in my effort to teach the Bible, I have purposely repeated myself. Not because I didn’t think that people heard it or read it the first time but to allow the truth of the seed of the word to stick firmly in the mind. Every Bible truth that I have really learned has come as a result of this method. I unashamedly use it to teach others.

God has set aside a special time that will be used for the purpose of judging the works of believers. That time is called the judgment seat of Christ. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The words “good and bad” could not refer to the judgment of personal sins. Sins were judged at Calvary! The “good and bad” here means good works or bad works, works that are profitable to God or unprofitable to God. The things that believers do as they run their race for Christ that either help or hinder. Specifically, the way that we perform our work of faith.  

That is as it should be. Why? Paul said the body grows “by that which every joint supplies” (Ephesians 4:16). From the day of Pentecost to this very day, generation after generation of the church, God’s construction crew, have come along to help build upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets. God has equipped every believer to have a part.

Observe carefully again Paul’s warning concerning the use of these gifts.  “But let each one take heed how he builds on it” (1 Corinthians 3:10). Take heed means to be very sensitive about something, to examine closely. We are to take our part in this building process very seriously. Paul began his explanation of this judgment by reminding us of our very firm foundation – Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). One of my seminary professors used to say that we are not to build a chicken coop on a foundation built for a skyscraper.

Paul begins his explanation of the judgment seat by mentioning six possible building materials: gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, and stubble. These materials vary in the degree of value from gold being the most valuable down to stubble, which has almost no value at all. We conclude from this that God takes note of the quality of work that each believer is doing – from very useful to not useful at all.

Another obvious difference in the building materials is that one category is combustible and the other is not. Gold, silver, and precious stone will not burn, but wood, hay, and stubble will. This gives us the impression that fire is going to be involved in the judgment process. Remember that fire in the Bible is associated with God’s judgment. Fire is used to purify, to purge. The result of the fire is that each one’s work will become clear. Each believer’s work will be brought into sharp focus. The fire of God’s judgment will burn through our works and that which is left becomes the basis for our reward. This emphasizes once again is the quality feature of the building process.

We are to use the gifts that God gives us wisely (1 Corinthians 3:12-13). Either we are making wise investments of our spiritual gifts within the body of Christ, or we are not. God will bring our works to light and expose them. Every believer’s work will be passed through the fire. The quality of our work is not revealed in this life, but it will be made known at a special time when the Lord returns. “The Day will declare it” (1 Corinthians 3:14). Note the capital “D” meaning a special day. One who knows all the facts will be the judge. That’s why we are told not to judge anyone prior to that Day. Another mentor of mine used to say that pie in the sky by and by will not be a good motivator for many – but it is for some. It is the “some” who will profit. Pray this truth sticks. Stay safe and stay tuned.