“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”1st Corinthians 3 v 13
The Judgement Seat of Christ
The judgement seat of Christ is the occasion for the assessment of the life and service of believers (not sins – Romans 8v1). It is an occasion of account and reward. It will take place after the Lord returns (1st Corinthians 4v5) and before the marriage of the lamb (Revelation 19.7), where we read that ‘His wife has made herself ready’- this is a reference to the judgment seat of Christ.
The judgement seat here is the ‘bema’ -which is distinguished from the throne of His glory (Pre-millennial) upon which Son of Man judges of the living nations (Matthew 25) and the great white throne judgement (post-millennial: Revelation 20) upon which He sits to judge of the ungodly dead.
There are a number of key passages of scripture to consider on the subject of the judgement seat of Christ,
- Romans 14.7-13: assessment of my attitude and actions towards fellow believers.
- 1st Corinthians 3.6-17: assessment of my contribution to the local church testimony.
- 1st Corinthians 4.1-5: assessment of my faithfulness as a steward of God.
- 2nd Corinthians 5.9-12: assessment of the things done on my body.
- Hebrews 13.17, 1 Pet 5.4: assessment of the local assembly elders
Assessment of my attitude and actions towards fellow believers (Romans 14v7-13)
Pivot of Paul’s appeal:
“for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (verse 10)
“So shall every one give account of himself to God” (verse 12)
- Self is not to be the object of my living (verse 7)
- The Lord is to be the object of my life – we live unto the Lord, and we are the Lord’s (verse 8).
- The example of Christ (verse 9)
- Question 1: Why do we judge our brother – it is not for us to make an such an assessment (verse 10).
- Question 2: Why do we set a nought our brother (verse 10)- this is a failure in our attitudes, regarding our brother of no account.
- In this light, we should see to it that we do not place a stumbling block before a fellow believer nor that which might cause a brother to fall (verse 13).
- In the context, if by exercising his right to eat certain meats he was to cause a brother to stumble and/or fall, Paul will desist from exercising that right. The spiritual welfare of his brother was of more account to Paul than his own right to eat as he liked.
Assessment of my contribution to the local church testimony (1st Corinthians 3.6-17)
The background is the carnality present in the assembly at Corinth (v1-4), particularly here a party spirit aligning themselves with certain servants of God.
Paul’s response (verses 5-9)
- Each man’s ministry has been to given to him by God (verse 5).
- God gives the increase, not the servant (verse 6)
- The servant is nothing, God is all (verse 7)
- Each servant is rewarded according to his own labour. Reward is for labour, not results (Rom 16v12, ‘beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord’, 1st Corinthians 15v58, ‘your labour is not in vain in the Lord’, Philippians 4v3, laboured with me in the gospel’, Colossians 4v12, labouring fervently for you in prayers, 1st Thessalonians 1v3, ‘labour of love’, 1st Timothy 5v17, who labour in the word and in doctrine’)
- Servants labour together under the authority of God (verse 9)
Three figures of the assembly (verses 9-17)
- God’s tillage – cultivated field, in which the saints are viewed as plants requiring watering and tending.
- God’s building -a structure built on the foundation of Christ, into which we can build.
- God’s temple – sphere of sanctity, where God dwells.
Building into God’s building
- Take care how we build (verse 10)
- Take care what we build (verse 12)
Materials are grouped in to two groups of three.
- Gold (what is of God), silver (redemption), precious stones (solid)
- Wood (type of man), hay (dry grass – product of the flesh, 1st Peter 1v24), stubble (light and worthless)
There will be an assessment of the materials we have built into the assembly – tried in the fire of God’s holy and righteous assessment. There are two outcomes:
- If any work abides then the servant is rewarded,
- If any work is burned up, the servant suffers loss – of reward.
Assessment of my faithfulness as a steward of God (1st Corinthians 4.1-5)
- How did Paul want to be regarded? (verse 1)
A minister of Christ (has the idea of an under-rower -under the authority and direction of Christ) A steward of the mysteries of God (truth previously hidden had been entrusted to Paul, to communicate to the saints (1st Corinthians 15151, Ephesians 3v2)
The requirement for a steward (verse 2) – faithfulness (see Matthew 25v21)
The assessment of the steward (verses 3-4)
Man’s assessment (verse 3)
Self-assessment (verse 3, 4)
The Lord’s assessment (verse 4)
Reward is given neither by man’s assessment nor by my own assessment, but solely by the Lord.
We are not to pre-judge either our own stewardship, or the stewardship of others
The time of assessment is when the Lord comes.
The Lord will ‘bring to light the hidden things of darkness’ -perhaps the sense here is of service largely performed away from the gaze and knowledge of men.
The Lord will ‘bring to light the counsels of the hearts’ – He will make the inner motives of the servant clear. What was it that motivated me?
Each man will have praise of God- not from our fellow servants, but from the highest authority, namely God Himself.
Assessment of the things done on my body (2nd Corinthians 5.9-12)
Paul’s ambition – to be well pleasing to Him (verse 9)
Must all be manifest before the judgment seat of Christ
Receive the Lord’s verdict on what we have done in our bodies – whether good or bad (worthless)
Paul’s response- knowing therefore the terror (fear) of the Lord- here Paul’s endeavour in the gospel and with the saints was his response to his fear of displeasing the Lord, and then receiving His verdict at the judgement seat.
Assessment of the local assembly elders (Hebrews 13.17, 1st Peter 5.4)