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1 Corinthians 3:10-15
THE DAY SHALL DECLARE IT
Intro: I was watching television yesterday when the jury in the Casey Anthony murder trial came back with not guilty verdicts on the three most serious charges. Everyone, from the TV anchors to the crowd, expressed anger at what they saw as a miscarriage of justice. Most people believe that she got away with murder. Maybe she did. Maybe the jury made a terrible and tragic mistake. I know how I feel about the issue, but how I feel does not matter in the least. The fact is, Casey Anthony will walk out of jail very soon and she will be a free woman.
A lot of people have looked at this event and they have declared that Casey Anthony has “escaped justice.” Well, I want to clear up that notion today. Yes, she has escaped the judgment of men. She can never be retried for the death of her daughter. But, there is a higher court. One day Casey Anthony will face God and she will receive justice on that day. If she comes to faith in Jesus Christ before she leaves this world, she will enter Heaven, forgiven of her sins. If she dies lost, she will go to Hell, where she will pay for her sins for eternity. Even if she is saved when she leaves this world, she will still have to face God. And so will you and me.
I want to take some time to consider the Judgment Seat of Christ. This event is spoken of in several passages of Scripture. Notice 2 Cor. 5:10 and Rom. 14:10-13.
· “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” 2 Cor. 5:10.
· “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way,” Rom. 14:10-13.
These passages, along with the passage I am preaching today, speak of the same event. They refer to a time when every child of God will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and give an account of their service to the Lord. The primary interpretation here is to preachers, teachers and church leaders. These words can be applied to all who have a part in the building of the church. In other words, they speak to every believer who serves the Lord.
I don’t mind telling you that when I think of that event, I do so with a bit of dread. I know that there will be plenty to answer for in that day. Be that as it may, I want you to know that there will be far more for us to look forward to than there will be for us to fear! For it is on that day that the fruits of the journey are rewarded. It is then we may hear the Lord Jesus say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” I want to take my title from verse 13, where Paul says, “The Day Shall Declare It.” For there will be a day when we will stand before God and give an account of our service to Him. On that day all of our deeds, motives and works will be brought into the light of His glory and they will be seen for what they are. The day shall indeed declare it.
Let’s notice some aspects of that great day that we need to notice today. Let’s consider those aspects together.
I. v. 10-13 IT WILL BE A DAY OF DISCOVERY
Ill. Paul describes the Christian life as a building. He tells us that he laid the foundation, but it is our responsibility and duty to build on that foundation. It is our duty to build correctly!
Note: verse 11 makes it clear that this is an event that is for believers only! In other words, if you aren’t building from your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you will not be at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but you will either be in the Tribulation or you will already be in Hell! My lost friend, I need to remind you that you are one day closer to eternity than you were yesterday! You need to prepare to meet God!
A. v. 10 Our Methods Will Be Discovered – Paul tells us that “how” we built on the foundation will pass under the microscope of God in that Day. The whole idea of this verse is this: When the Lord saved your soul; He placed you on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since the very moment you were saved, you have been building a life. This life can either be a thing of glory to the Lord, or it can be a thing of disgrace before the Lord. When we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, we will answer for how we have built our lives.
Ill. In Paul’s day, in every city there was a place called the Bema, or judgment seat. It was from this raised platform, usually in the center of town, that announcements were made, judgments rendered and commendations handed out. It was at the Bema Seat that rewards were given out to the winners of the Greek games. It was here that their crowns were given to them. All public proclamations came from this Bema seat. So, we mustn’t think that it was only a place for fear and trembling. Certainly some were rebuked when they came here, but many others were rewarded and blessed. Christ’s seat of judgment is no different!
Ill. There are two issues that will not be addressed at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Those issues are:
1. Salvation – That was forever taken care of at the moment of conversion. Nothing can ever change the state of the believer’s soul. If a person is saved, they are saved forever! Ill. No lost person will appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ. There will be another Judgment that takes care of the lost sinner. If you are here, you are saved!!!
2. Sin – For the saints of God, sin was taken care of forever at Calvary when the Lord Jesus died, John 19:30! When Jesus died, He died for the ALL sins of those who would receive Him - 2 Cor. 5:21. Now, when a sinner places his faith in the Lord Jesus for salvation, all his sins are forever taken away! They will not be mentioned when we arrive here! Hallelujah, that is enough to shout about!!!
Ill. What will be dealt with is the manner in which we have lived this earthly life, from the moment of our conversion until the day we died, or were raptured. It will be about how we used the responsibilities, privileges and opportunities we were given by the Lord Jesus as we journeyed through this world. Perhaps it would help us to remember that every born again believer is a “steward,” 1 Cor. 4:2. That is, we are the servants of God. He has placed in our hands His ministry to the world. To accomplish this ministry, the Lord has given each of us certain things.
1. He has given us 24 hours in every day.
2. He has given us some financial resources.
3. He has blessed us with gifts and abilities to use for His glory.
4. He has given us opportunities for service and for ministry.
Our Master, the Lord Jesus, has entrusted us with His business and He will require that each of His stewards give an account of their service unto Him when He returns. The Bible tells us that we are the “stewards” of God – 1 Pet. 4:10. It also says that as stewards, we are to be found faithful – 1 Cor. 4:2. We will answer for the lives we are living in this world. Is that clear enough?
This judgment will not determine whether or not you get into Heaven. That was decided when you received Jesus as your Savior. This judgment will not take into account your sins. They were paid for at the cross. When we sin in this world, we reap the consequences of those sins, but the sins themselves were completely paid for by the Lord Jesus at Calvary!
B. v. 12 Our Materials Will Be Discovered – This verse tells us that there are two possible categories of materials from which we can construct our spiritual house. J.B. Lightfoot said this was a description “of a palace on the one hand, of a mud hut on the other.”
1. There Are Worthy Materials – Gold, Silver and Precious Stones. These refer to things that are precious, valuable, beautiful and hard to come by. These are also things that survive and even thrive in the fire. These picture the kind of works that the Lord will bless in that day, and the kind of works that every believer should have in his or her life as they journey through this world. The reference is to dedicated, spiritual service that helps build up the church.
2. There Are Worthless Materials – Wood, Hay and Stubble. These refer to those things that are temporary, ugly, cheap and easy to come by. They would speak of things that are done out of the will of God, or things that are done out of a mean spirit, or things that are done out of selfishness, etc. They differ from the other materials in that flames immediately destroy each of these. The reference is to shallow activity with no eternal value.
Ill. Just how does one determine the difference between works that will burn and works that will endure the flames of judgment? That may be easier to answer by telling you of some areas that are sure to be judged by the Lord.
1. How We Treat Others – Heb. 6:10; Matt. 10:41-42
2. How We Exercise Authority Over Others – Heb. 13:17, James 3:1
3. How We Use Our God-given Abilities – Cor. 12:4; 1 Cor. 12:11; 1 Pet. 4:10
4. How We Use Our Money – 2 Cor. 9:6-7; 1 Cor. 16:2;Mal. 3:8-10
5. How We Spend Our Time – Psa. 90:12; Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:17
6. How Much We Suffer For The Lord – Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17; Matt. 5:11-12; Mark 10:29-30
7. How We Run The Race God Has Chosen For Us – Heb. 12:1; 1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 2:16; Phil. 3:13-14
8. How Effectively We Control The Old Nature – 1 Cor. 9:25-27
9. How Many Souls We Witness To And Win To Jesus – Pro. 11:30; Dan. 12:3; 1 Thes. 2:19-20
10. How We React To Temptation – James 1:2-3
11. How Much We Love The Rapture – 2 Tim. 4:8
12. How Faithful We Are To The Word Of God And To The Flock Of God – Acts 20:26-28; 2 Tim. 4:1-2; 1 Pet. 5:2-4
C. v. 13 Our Ministry Will Be Discovered - Verse 13 lets us know that all of our works will be put to the fire. Somehow, the Lord will apply the fire of His judgment to the things we did in this life and they will be made “manifest”. This word means that they will be “Made known publically.” The “fire” refers to God’s discerning judgment. This expression probably refers to the penetrating, purging, and discerning gaze of Jesus, Rev. 1:14, 2:18. He sees, all knows all, and discerns every motive.
Ill. I used to imagine this judgment as being like a huge oven. All of our works were cast in and some burned and some didn’t. I now believe that Jesus Christ will turn His all seeing gaze on us. When He does, all the junk and everything that displeases Him will melt away. Everything we did to impress others will melt away. Everything we did to draw attention to ourselves will melt away. All that will be remain are those things that were done in Him, by Him, and for Him!
Ill. As we travel toward Heaven, there are those among us who have all the appearance of having plenty of good works in their life. However, behind the things they do is a self-serving motive. Their works will burn.
There are others who serve, others see them and say they do those things to be seen. However, behind their works is genuine love for the Lord. They do what they do to glorify God. Their works will abide!
What I am trying to say is that you cannot look around you and tell much about a person’s works by what you see. On that day, there will be no hiding from the truth! Every motive, every work, every secret thought, every self-serving motive will be revealed for all to see! The fire of Christ’s judgment will make the truth known!
Ill. I am sure that there are sermons I have preached that will burn up when I stand before the Lord. Maybe I preached them to “tickle” someone’s ears. Maybe I preached them to make folks think more highly of me. I am sure that many of the things I have done in the name of the Lord will burn up before my eyes on that day. I cannot change the yesterdays of my life, but I can do something about the tomorrows, and so can you!
Ill. What is the bottom line? Our cats will all be out of the bag when we stand before Jesus and face Him in Judgment!
I. It Will Be A Day Of Discovery
II. v. 14 IT WILL BE A DAY OF DELIGHT
Ill. While many things dealt with at the Judgment Seat of Christ will be unpleasant, not everything will be bad! In fact, for many, the Judgment Seat of Christ will be the moment when all their trials are made worthwhile. It will literally be their crowning moment!
A. A Potential Is Mentioned - The first part of this verse tells us that there is the potential that some part of our works will remain after they have been put to the fire. Wouldn’t it be a glorious thing to see some of what you did for Jesus actually remain? Many will! What happens to your works all depends on you!
B. A Promise Is Mentioned - Those things that remain will be the basis for rewards. The Lord Jesus will honor us by giving us rewards for the things we do for Him. That is almost beyond belief, but the Bible tells us five crowns that are available as rewards to the faithful saint of God. Those crowns are:
1. The Incorruptible Crown – Awarded for faithfulness to the Lord – 1 Cor. 9:25.
2. The Crown Of Life – For the person who endures and overcomes temptation – James 1:12.
3. The Crown Of Rejoicing – This is the soul winners crown – 1 Thes. 2:19.
4. The Crown Of Righteousness – This will be given to those who anticipate and live in the light of the return of Jesus – 2 Tim. 4:8.
5. The Crown Of Glory – This will be given to the faithful ministers who give themselves to lead and feed the flock of God – 1 Pet. 5:4.
6. We need to understand that every deed done in the name of Jesus will be blessed and rewarded over there. Men may not see the value of your service, but rest assured that Jesus takes perfect note and that He will reward you fairly for your sacrifice for Him. (Ill. Mark 9:41) (Ill. Matt. 25:34-40)
7. God will apply the fire of His judgment to our works, and those that were done for Him and for His glory alone will pass the test and we will be rewarded accordingly.
Ill. Why is He going to give us crowns? The answer is found in Rev. 4:9-11. We will cast those crowns at His feet to honor Him!
I. It Will Be A Day Of Discovery
II. It Will Be A Day Of Delight
III. v. 15 IT WILL BE A DAY OF DISAPPOINTMENT
A. The Pain That Is Mentioned – While some of our works will remain, others will be destroyed before our eyes. This will surely be a painful time for every believer. There will be many tears shed right here!
Ill. Thankfully, after this event is passed, Jesus Himself will wipe the tears away, and the past life will be remembered no more – Rev. 21:4.
B. The Price That Is Mentioned – “he shall suffer loss.” This means that the believer will lose the reward he could have earned had his life been what it should be. Some would teach us that even earned rewards would be lost too. However, considering that God is Just, this probably refers to what the believer “could” have earned. Many of us will see rewards earned by others that could have been ours as well, if we had only been faithful too.
Ill. I don’t know about you, but I want to be as faithful as possible so that I might win every reward that I can. The reason is not so I can parade around Heaven with my crowns and trophies and show off. The reason is that I may have more to give back to Jesus, thus enhancing His glory! That is what this thing is all about! The Master rewards the servants and the servants in turn use those things to glorify Him! That is what this whole thing boils down to! If I will live my life to glorify the Lord God here, 1 Cor. 10:31; then I will have crowns to lay at His feet there, ascribing even more glory to the Lord, Rev. 4.
C. The Promise That Is Mentioned – Notice again that the believer who may see his works burn will still be saved. I cannot stress it enough that the issue here will not be about salvation! This was settled when you received Jesus. Now, some might take this and say, “Well, I’m saved! I can do as I please and live any way I want to and it doesn’t matter.” If you are really saved, you won’t think like that! If you are really saved, there will be a part of you that will long to please the Lord. If you are saved, despite your best effort, there will be times when you will serve the Lord. If you are saved, you will prove it by living for the Lord, at least some of the time!
Ill. I thank God that I am saved forever. I thank Him that nothing can ever change that! However, I want to have something to show for my life when I arrive there. I do not want to see everything burn up. I want some crowns to place at Jesus’ feet. How about you?
Conc: Well, if these verses have taught us anything, they have taught us that there are two ways to ruin a good building: A faulty foundation and faulty materials.
Of the utmost of importance today is for every person in this room to determine what foundation they are building on. Only those houses built on the Lord Jesus Christ, His death and His resurrection will stand, Matt. 7:24-27. All other will perish in the waves of God’s great wrath. Are you saved? Be sure before you leave this building today!
If you are on the right foundation, what kind of materials are you building with? Are you using gold, silver and precious stones? That is, are you building a life to the glory of God? Are you building with good actions and attitudes? If so, then won’t it be a blessing to see those things stand the test and bring honor to the Lord?
Maybe you are using wood, hay and stubble. If so, you know that your works are going to burn up before your eyes. You will miss out on some of the glorious things God has for those who are faithful stewards. Wouldn’t you like to scrap that shabby house, tear it down in this altar and with God’s begin to build a house that will honor Jesus both here and in the hereafter?
The choice is yours, but the reality remains: The Day Shall Declare It. What that day reveals is entirely up to you.