Seven Big Events on God’s Calendar for Earth: #2 The Judgment of Believers The Fire
March 26, 2012
By: John Barnett
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Please open with me to I Corinthians 3:10-15.
Today we look at one of the most sobering day of our lives as believers. The entire Trinity will be involved in that day.
• We all were saved one day by God’s grace through the Cross of Jesus;
• We all live each day energized by the grace of the Holy Spirit; but
• We all will stand and have all our days lived as believers analyzed and tested by Jesus Christ for the works we used those days to accomplish.
Don’t Waste Any Days of Your Life
You see, even under grace it does matter what you do with your life. Don’t waste your life is the message of God to us today. We need to be gripped by the reality that choices we make have consequences both now and for eternity.
Only our sins are forgiven and forever forgotten by God—wasted lives are not forgotten, rather they are remembered and dealt with by God at Christ's Bema Seat.
Martin Luther lived by a motto he often repeated:
“I have but two days in my calendar—Today, and the Day I stand before Christ.”
In I Corinthians 3 we find ourselves standing before Jesus Christ. Please read with me today and follow along as I read.
Christ's Coming simply reveals what people have been all the time. For us as believers, Paul tells us that when we stand before Christ "each man's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it" (1 Corinthians 3:13).
Remember, the One who has planned the End from the Beginning has told us what will happen in the days ahead, and this is His Plan for History.
Seven Steps from Now to Eternity!
*RAPTURE I THESS. 4 BE READY – Christ is Coming
*JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST 2 CORIN. 5 BE HOLY – Christ will test our lives.
*TRIBULATION REV. 6-19 BE THANKFUL – Christ will keep us from the hour.
*SECOND COMING REV. 19 BE PATIENT – Christ will right all wrongs.
*MILLENNIUM REV. 20 BE FOCUSED – Christ will perfect the earth
*GREAT WHITE THRONE REV. 20 BE FAITHFUL – Point people to Christ.
*HEAVEN REV. 21-22 BE INVESTING – Lay up treasure in Heaven.
#7: Heaven: Be Investing—Lay up treasure in Heaven. (Revelation 21:1-7; 22:1-5)
#6: Great White Throne: BE FAITHFUL–Point people to Christ. (Revelation 20:11-15)
#5: Millennium: Be Focused—Christ will perfect the earth. (Revelation 20:1-10)
#4: Christ's Second Coming: Be Patient—Christ will right all wrongs. (Revelation 19:1-21)
#3: Tribulation: Be Thankful—Christ will keep us from the hour. (Revelation 6:1-17)
And that leads us to the 2nd event that looms biggest for all of us who know Jesus.
#2: Christ's Judgment Bema: Be Holy—Christ will test our lives. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For 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.
Standing Before Christ's Bema Seat
Dawn in the northern Ontario region called Chapaleau is cold! How vividly I remember that morning 25 years ago. Pulled out of a warm sleeping bag, plunked in a cold steel canoe and now shivering in the 4 AM morning somewhere out in a vast Northern Canadian lake.
There as my dad angled for Muskies and walled-eyes, I saw something that will forever remind me of the saddest moment any Christian could face. Open with me to II Corinthians 5:10.
As dawn broke and the huge red disc of the sun inched past the distant shore of the lake, warm rays cutting across the frigid waters drew wisps of vapor. Steam swirled in tiny vapor puffs lasting for just a moment before dissipating into nothingness. . .
Paul spoke of much the same when he wrote of the upcoming appointment we all have with God. He used the word phaulon for “bad”. Such a colorful word used by Greeks for the dust whipped up by the gust of wind on a dirty street. Also used of steam swirls on a boiling pot of water it describes exactly what I saw that early morning so long ago. Although the vapor trails swirled, ascended and formed fabulous shapes, they all became nothingness in a second. That is the last word of v. 10.
Join me at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Verses 9 and 10 give us two perspectives we must all heed.
We are first to live each day with an:
Ambition that is Consuming
II Corinthians 5:9
• Philotimeomai is a word not often used but rich in meaning. It means ‘actuated by honor alone’. This involves not only actions but also motivations. All must be seeking Christ’s honor.
• All of the metaphors Paul uses for the Christian life allude to opposing forces we struggle [agonidzomai] against. Hence his word pictures of warfare, races, struggles, and building. So all of life is a struggle [agony] to please Christ.
• Listen to Eric Sauer in his helpful book The Arena of Faith
“Is not the whole an astonishing, many-sided picture of the race and completion of the spiritual life? The arena of faith, the training, the self-control, the ruthless denial of self, the herald, the entrance to the racecourse, the different kinds of contests, the racing to the goal, the boxing, the wrestling, the rules of the combats, Christ the umpire, the danger of being disqualified, the appearance of the victor before the exalted throne of the divine Judge on the great day of the distribution of prizes.
It is out of His hands the victors will receive the wreath and the palm. The list of the victors ‘the book of life’, the triumphal entry in the homeland, the banquet, the festival, the gifts, the place of honor-- in fact, scarcely one essential feature of the whole course of the games has escaped the writers of the New Testament and not employed in their figure of speech.”
• In the British Museum of London there is an inscription from the city of Ephesus second century AD. “He fought [egonistato] three fights [agonas] and was twice crowned with wreaths [stepho].” This type of inscription was common in Paul’s day and may have influenced his mind as he said he finished his course [dromos] “I have fought [agona] the good fight [egonismai] henceforth there is laid up for me the wreath [stephanos] of righteousness.” II Tim 4:7.
• This struggle is so important that life becomes “a mere trifle ”, for we labor whether at home or absent, living or dying. Remember the Puritans who spoke of the refiner who held the gold in the fire and pulled off the sludge until his face was clearly reflected in the molten gold. So our Lord tries us until He can be seen reflected from us!
So with a life that is to have such a consuming ambition Paul calls our attention to v. 10 and our:
Appointment that is Constraining
II Corinthians 5:10
The Time is the Day of Christ. This is mentioned six times in the New Testament [I Corinthians 1:8; 5:5; II Corinthians 1:14; Phil 1:6, 10; 2:16]. This is the judgment of the church, one of three last day judgments.
• There is also the judgment upon the nations before the Millennial Kingdom starts in Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation. 20:4.
• This event is not to be confused with the final Great White Throne judgment of Revelation. 20:11 after the old universe is destroyed.
The Judge is Christ Himself as explained in II Tim. 4:8, John 5:22, II Corinthians 5:10 and Romans. 14:10. The Intensity of evaluation by the Heavenly Judge is very great. It is:
• A DAY OF BEING JUDGED as either great or least in Heaven
Matthew 5:19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
• A DAY OF FIRE:
1 Corinthians 3:13 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.
• A DAY OF THE BURNING UP OF A LIFE’S WORK - BURN OR REMAIN.
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 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. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
• A DAY OF DAMAGE AND LOSS - LOSS OR GAIN.
1 Corinthians 3:15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 2 John 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
• A DAY OF BEING SAVED BUT ONLY BY FIRE
1 Corinthians 3:15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
• A DAY OF TERROR:
2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For 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. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
• A DAY OF SHRINKING FROM HIS PRESENCE IN SHAME - SHAME OR HONOR.
1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.