Calvary Church of the Nazarene Huntsville, Alabama
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Pablo Picasso, an avowed atheist, was, nevertheless, one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. He was well known for his endeavors in sculpturing, graphics, and ceramics. In his relationship with women, however, he was less successful. In fact, his mother warned his first wife,AI don=t believe any woman could be happy with my son. He=s available for himself but for no one else.@
AAvailable for himself but for no one else.@ Does that sound like anyone you know? Life. It=s a strange thing. None of us asked to be born. We did not arrange where, when, through whom, or any other facet which impacted our arrival on this planet. But hopefully we soon learn this one incontrovertible fact: life is worthwhile for one basic reason - we are here to hear God=s call, to answer that call, to fulfill God=s will & carry out His purpose for our lives. W/out this fact, no other facts jell well or last very long. Once we take away the camoflague, remove the varnish, and strip away the superficial surface, we know that life makes sense only because of Jesus Christ. Our one basic, foundational, overriding aim in life, therefore, should be that of pleasing Him. Indeed, there is no higher way of living than that Jesus Christ would approve our life. AWhy?@ you may ask. Listen to these words of Paul in Romans 14:10: AFor we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.@ Also, in II Cor. 5:10: AFor we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for the deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.@ In both passages, the words Awe@ and Aall@ are inclusive. They refer to everyone.This is our destiny. A>Available for himself but for no one else= - do you want that to be said of you at the judgment seat of Christ?@ Even though the words are not used there, some think that I Cor. 3:10-15 refer to the judgment seat of Christ. We will, therefore, follow this suggestion and examine its content in relation to the judgement seat of Christ from a 3-fold standpoint:
I The Reason For It
II The Revelation Of It
III The Reward From It
I THE REASON FOR IT (v. 10-11):
AAccording to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each one be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.@ Why should we Abe careful how we build upon the foundation of Christ?@ In biology classes, we dissect worms, frogs, cats, and perhaps other animals. We do so in order to see or discover the inner networks, the Aanatomical mapping@ which makes the particular organism function as it does. The reason for the judgment seat of Christ is that it is going to be a time of divine dissection of our lives & service. It will be a judgment of our works from the time we were initially saved until the time we evaporate from this earth. Eph. 2:10 says that God expects His children to do Agood works.@ The judgment seat of Christ involves the inspection of our works. Our life=s service will come under the scrutiny of the Sacred Surgeon.
Just like the marriage vow,Afor better or for worse,@ we shall given an account to Him for our life=s works. One of the most lucrative businesses today is that of advertising. There are numerous advertising agencies devoted to advertising everything from outerwear to underwear, from cars to bars, from that which is religious to that which is repulsive, from that which is sacred to that which is sexual. We are bombarded with billboards, TV commercials, and radio DJ=s powers of persuasion to buy this, join that; go here, avoid there; eat this, drink that; fly here, drink beer. It=s a miracle we have ten neurons that know how to properly assimilate this influx of competing, conflicting messages into anything meaningful and coherent. Advertising is a powerful and profitable business. Every Christian is an advertisement for Jesus Christ. The honor of Christ is in our hands. AWhat kind of message about Him are we displaying on our personal billboards and commercials?@ The judgment seat of Christ will determine how effective & qualitative an Aadvertisement@ we were. No wonder, then, that Paul urges us in vs. 10 to Abe careful,@ or Atake heed,@ how we build our life=s superstructure upon the foundation of Christ. This matter of Christian living & service must not be pursued with lackadaisicalness, frivolousness, spiritlessness, lethargic, superficial halfheartedness. Christ and His cause deserve our best. Our personal lives will not be enriched nor will our effectiveness as Xns be maximized unless we proceed with determination and diligence as the Lord=s disciples, not as deadbeat, disgruntled defectors who dishonor Him and to whom He will say, AHe was available for himself but for no one else.@ From the least to the greatest, we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ for a final reckoning. He who died for our sins and was raised for our justification will dissect our service. This is the reason for the judgment seat of Christ.
II THE REVELATION OF IT (v. 12-13):
ANow if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man=s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man=s work.@ Once again, II Cor. 5:10 says the Lord will examine what we did: AFor we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for the deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.@ And I Cor. 4:5 says the Lord will expose why we did it: ATherefore, 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 darkness and disclose the motives of our hearts.@ There will be a making manifest, a definite declaration. There will be no pretense for a covering, no hypocrites behind which to hide. All will be laid bare. Our life will be laid open for scrutiny/close examination/inspection and divine decision as to its quality. It shall be a manifestation of what manner of people we really are. Our motives will be revealed; why we did what we did. AWell, why do we do what we do? Is it merely to please the pastor? Is it to pacify other people? Are we striving to impress others with our >religiosity,= or does real care and concern precipitate our service? Are our motives corrupt or commendable? Do we seek praise from others or position over others in churchly-matters, or do we >regard one another as more important than ourselves=@ (Phil. 2:3)? At the judgment seat of Christ, the Lord Himself will reveal it all. The Lord will reveal it and no one will be able to conceal it! Vs. 13 declares Aeach one=s works will become evident, for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed by fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one=s work.@
Jesus Christ is concerned about our actions and the motives behind our actions. To those who had corrupt motives, He will exercise some type of corrective measure. But those with commendable motives will hear the words,AWell done, you good and faithful servant.@ And we can be assured that He will not say, >Well done,= unless it is >done well.= But in addition to our motives, our methods will also be revealed. I.e., not only >why= we did what we did but also >how= we did it. ADid we adopt worldly methods/procedures in our service or did we do things God=s way? Did we >use= and >manipulate= others to promote our own selfish interests, or did we love and encourage others from the depths of our hearts to follow Jesus?@ God=s methodology has remained constant throughout His dealings with people. It is a methodology that will still work today. It is recorded in II Chron. 7:14: AIf My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and heal their land.@ In vs. 12, the words, Agold, silver, precious stones,@ refer to both motives and methods that will stand the scrutiny of the Saviour. The words, Awood, hay, straw,@ refer to both motives and methods that will be discarded by the divine.
All self-seeking, fleshy-oriented, carnal egotism, and vain presumption will be revealed to beAwood, hay, straw,@ fit only to be burned up. Once again, vs. 13 says, Aeach one=s works will be made manifest.@ The motives behind our service and the methods of that service will certainly come under the testing fire of Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire. Therefore, in the words of Phil. 2:12, let us Awork out/develop our salvation with fear & trembling@ [rather than frivolousness and folly] lest we grieve Him and our service be deemed unworthy and unacceptable to the One Who called us into service.
III THE REWARD FROM IT (vs. 14-15):
AIf any one=s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any one=s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.@ Let us take note, fellow-believers. Our familiarity with the gospel must not breed inattention, casualness, and slackness in behavior which show no sign of our having listened to the call of God from Calvary. We must not let our convenience-loving society water down or dilute our response to the call of God.
We must not become so flippant and overly-familiar with God that we treat Him with complacency. In light of the judgment seat of Christ, and the reward that awaits those who are faithful to Him, we must fear God more than we do the favors of our modern, soft-gospel invitation age. After all, the modern world is a decisive challenge to the authority of God over our lives. Let us take note, fellow-believers. For if rewards are granted for faithfulness, then faithlessness and slothfulness will irrevocably forfeit those rewards. In courses of study in school, final exams are given to assess student=s comprehension of material. At the judgment seat of Christ, our works will come under the final exam of God=s assessment. The wrong and the inadequate will be Aburned up.@ But in the mercy of God, even the inadequate builder will be saved, Ayet so as through fire;@ i.e., Alike someone escaping through a wall of flames@ (NLT).
At best, our personal versions of Christianity are still somewhat inadequate.But we would be saved much inadequacy if we tested our lives not by our own prejudices and presuppositions or those of others, but by the light of the NT. A test like that will rescue us from many a mistake! The testing of the fire will reveal it and the Lord will reward it - if we stand the test.
Therefore, in the words of II John 8,AWatch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.@
AThe Judgment Seat of Christ@ - The Reason for it . . . The Revelation of it . . . The Reward from it! Let us, therefore, move forward, faithfully serving the Lord. From our hearts, let us sing: AIt will be worth it all, When we see Jesus! Life=s trials will seem so small, When we see Christ! One glimpse of His dear face, All sorrow will erase! So, bravely run the race, Till we see Christ! Hymn - AI Have Decided to Follow Jesus@
Dr. Morris Murray, Jr.
Content copyright July 2010 jmhall. All rights reserved.