September 1, 2019 The Judgement Seat of Christ Part 9

The Judgment Seat of Christ Part 9

 

Our scripture reading this morning is 2 Corinthians 5:9-11; 6:1-2; 7:1. READ. PRAY.

 

This passage in the 5th chapter of 2 Corinthians plainly states that “each one” of us will receive from the Lord at the Judgment Seat “what is due” to us. With that portion, by itself, not many have a problem. But Paul adds four words that can be alarming. He adds “whether good or bad.”

 

If we have done good things we will receive something from the Lord. We have been looking at what those “somethings” are for eight consecutive weeks. They are positive rewards meant to inspire us to greater service and greater diligence on the Lord’s behalf.

 

The rewards that the Lord has revealed are not, by themselves, ever meant to be the sole motivation for obedience and service. They are not even meant to be the primary motivation for service. That position falls to love – love for the Lord Jesus, love for his brothers and sisters, and love for the lost. The power of love changes everything and we must recognize that the love that we have is not a natural love but a supernatural love that is a gift from above. Those who do not love neither know God nor genuine salvation.

 

Second, to love is gratitude – gratitude for what the Lord has done for us in saving us from our wretched condition as sinners and rebels before a Holy God. He reached down to unworthy, radical dissenters to His love and His holy law and He lifted us up and placed us in His household. Hallelujah! When that happens one is filled with gratitude and desires to follow and serve the Lord.

 

I do not know where rewards are placed with respect to other encouragements that the Lord has provided but they are important. But there are also what one could call negative rewards and they are touched on in our passage. If we have done bad things we will receive something from the Lord. What will we receive? That is what today’s message is about.

 

Please notice this matter: I have taken eight messages to communicate all the positive rewards that overcomers will receive from the Lord. I am only giving one message on the potential negative consequences for disobedience, although we did touch on this issue when we looked into some of the parables. Despite the emphasis on the positive I suspect that some people will still have objections to what the Bible teaches on this subject because people do not like bad news…even Christians!

 

What we like or what we do not like should never determine what is true. We can come to a knowledge of the truth in different ways but the final arbiter of truth is the word of God. If we love the truth we must subject our thoughts and feelings to its authority for it is an authority that originates in God Himself.

 

I. There are negative rewards in this life. No one disputes this. But what some seem to forget is how serious the retribution can be in this life for those who belong to Christ yet are disobedient. Hebrews 2:1-4 addresses this. The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, those already in a covenant relationship with the Lord. This is clear throughout the book but can easily be seen in chapter three, verses 1 & 2 where the author writes, “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house.”

 

The book is to “holy brothers” who share in the “heavenly calling.” They, with the author, have a mutual confession, “our confession.”

 

Writing to believers in the Lord Jesus let us read the first four verse of chapter 2. READ. The recipients of Hebrews heard the gospel, according to verse 1, but they are admonished to pay closer attention to it unless they “drift away from it.” In order to drift away from something you must be at it to begin with. Then, in verse 2, the author says that even though the law of Moses was reliable “every transgression (that means breaking one of the laws) or disobedience (that means not heeding what was written) received a just retribution.

 

I think most of us know what retribution is. It is not something good. The KJV has “a just recompence of reward.”

 

The NIV has “received its just punishment.”

 

This retribution, this punishment, this reward was something that took place in this life by the followers of Moses. Verse 3 says “how shall we escape?” Escape what? Escape a similar fate of retribution in this life if we neglect what we have: a great salvation.

 

Brothers and sisters, do not neglect what you have! Cultivate it! Nourish it! Make it to grow! Serve the Lord with both gladness and fear. Seek those things which make for godliness.

 

Hebrews 12:3-5 is even more explicit. READ. Yes, it is a surety that he disciplines us and most of us, unless you're very young in the Lord, have had experiences of his discipline so not much more needs to be said. Still, It is reassuring to see this play out in Scripture so that we are certain we understand it right. There are many such examples. Let us consider only one.

 

In 1 Cor. 11: 29 - 32 we read this. READ. We see that weakness, illness, and death may all be discipline from the Lord. This does not mean that every bout of weakness and sickness means that we are undergoing discipline. But it can be. Here's what we should notice: if we judge ourselves, that is, if we assessed ourselves, Observing our failures and sins, and then taking measures to overcome the sin we own, we do not need to be disciplined by the Lord! Hallelujah! More often than not, our self-discipline will be easier than the Lords discipline. That is certainly true of those who died in Corinth, is it not?

 

[ILLus] Out of parental concern and a desire to teach his young son responsibility, the radio talk show host Dennis Miller and his wife required him to phone home when he arrives at his friend’s house a few blocks away. He began to forget, however, as he grew more confident in his ability to get there without disaster befalling him. The first time he forgot, dad Miller called to be sure he arrived. They told him next time it happened, he would have to come home. A few days later, however, the telephone again lay silent, and dad knew if he was going to learn, he would have to be punished. But he did not want to punish him! He went to the telephone, regretting that his sons great time would be spoiled by his lack of contact with his father. As he dialed, he prayed for wisdom."Treat him like I treat you," the Lord seem to say. With that, as the telephone rang one time, he hung up. A few seconds later the phone rang, and it was his son."I'm here, Dad!" "What took you so long to call?" The father asked." We started playing and I forgot. But dad, I heard the phone ring once and I remembered." How often do we think of God as one who waits to punish us when we step out of line? I wonder how often he rings just once, hoping we will phone home.

 

Have you had one ring from the Lord in times of great temptation?

 

When we "phone home," staying in living communication with Him, temptations fall away and our desire to please Him rises in our hearts. Never cease to pray, no matter how badly you have blown it. He is your lifeline. He will provide a victory. The victories will add up so that your character is changed. All we're doing is calling home and cooperating with the Spirit working.

 

If we don't cooperate and, instead, allow ourselves to be taken for a ride by sin time and again, the discipline of the Lord comes.

 

Passages such as these teach that the privilege of belonging to Christ will not protect the disobedient from being scourged by Him, even severely.

 

We see that it is incontrovertible that we receive divine discipline in this life.

 

II. There are negative rewards at the judgment seat of Christ. Some Christian leaders either teach explicitly or implicitly (by always teaching positive messages and never messages of warning) that when the Lord comes back every believer will be blessed. This is simply not true. In fact, it is a deception that puts one in a stupor thinking that if one can do just two things they're sitting pretty: if they believe in Jesus and fulfill their basic responsibilities (to family, job, country) then they can trudge through life seeking their own comfort and pleasures and everything will be okay in the end. Not true!

 

I must put my caveat in for those who have not heard the other messages in the series. I am not speaking about eternal life. Eternal life is a certainty for all those who trust in Jesus and what he accomplished at the cross, believing in his resurrection. This is about rewards and today I am talking about negative rewards, discipline, non-eternal punishment.

 

Turn to 1 John 2:28. "And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at his coming.”

 

As regenerated believers we have a choice to either abide in Him or not to abide in Him. It is clear from this one verse that we may not abide in him even though we are saved, Otherwise John would not need to command his readers to abide in him! But have you not known some who belong to Christ who do not abide in him? I suspect you have. Have you yourself had times when you did not abide in him? I suspect you have.

 

What is this verse saying? It plainly says that if we abide in Him we will not shrink from Him in shame when he comes. This just as plainly implies that if we do not abide in Him we will shrink from him in shame at his coming. Why? Because if we do not abide in him we do not have the strength to live the life that we are called to live!! It is a life that is more than just believing in Jesus and fullfilling our basic obligations. Look, most atheists and Buddhists fulfill their basic obligations too! God has more for you than that! The kingdom of God is calling you! Answer the call!

 

Consider 2 Timothy 1: 15-18. Onesiphorus was a disciple of Jesus and a disciple of Paul. What a faithful brother! When everyone else turned away from Paul he came and refreshed him. He was not ashamed of Paul as others were. Not only that but he rendered faithful service to the Christians in Ephesus as well. Yet, Paul writes," may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!" What day? Judgment Day! mercy! ! What is mercy? [wait for a reply.] Mercy is not getting the punishment we deserve. Paul is talking about a Christian here. Without punishment there is no mercy. For Paul to pray for mercy for his brother shows that punishment at the judgment seat of Christ is a real possibility for a believer.

 

A final passage in this regard is Galatians 6: 6-10. READ. The "Sowing" here represents deeds done in this life -any good deeds, though he specifically mentions caring for those who teach us in the things of God. What about the reaping? If we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption. If we sow to the spirit we will reap eternal life. Not get eternal life., but reap eternal life. There is a difference. I can get one apple and have one apple. But reaping a harvest of apples is something above and beyond just "getting."

 

Is the reaping in this life or the next? I used to struggle with trying to determine which it is. But I think that is the wrong question. It is not an either /or proposition. The reason it is not either/or is because the two are inextricably woven together. The one invariably leads to the other because there is strong continuity in want we are now in what we will be, not physically but spiritually. We very well may begin reaping in this life for sowing to the spirit now, but that reaping will continue into the next age. And I believe we have seen that clearly in the last eight messages. The same is true of the “corruption.” We will begin reaping in this life if we sow to the flesh, but that reaping will continue into the next age.

 

[Illus]A girl had a nice little piggy bank. Her father wanted to teach her about saving, so he talked to her about putting her money into a savings account at their bank. He very carefully explained to her that when she put money into her account, the bank would pay her interest on her money and that her money would grow that way. They went to the bank. She gave her piggy bank to the woman opening her account. Then she just stood there and stared at the woman. "Is there something else I can do for you?" the woman asked. The little girl answered,  "No, I'm just waiting on my interest!" The girl didn't understand that there was a delay between sowing her money in that account and reaping the harvest of her interest. That's the way it is in life. Since that is the case, you need to understand a couple of very important facts about today: 1. The things happening in your life today are the results of what you have sown in the past. You are reaping the harvest of what you sowed a week ago, a month ago, a year ago. 2. What will happen in the future will be determined by what you sow into your life today. If you want to change your future, then you need to change what your sowing today.

 

There will be a reaping but it’s not too late to change what your sowing. You can begin by sowing your

 

  • Time. We hoard our time and most often use it on ourselves. Begin to sow your time into the church and into others.
  • Money. The passage in Galatians that we read actually began with the example of money. Paul brought the stewardship of money and related it directly to rewards in the next age elsewhere in Scripture. When you sow money into God's work it will result in rewards at the Judgment. This is because how we give and use our money is a fairly accurate reflection of what our true desires are. Certainly more accurate than our words and our feelings.
  • Words.
  • Acts of love.