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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.  

 


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