Part 3: The Judgment Seat of Christ

“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. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Cor. 3:13-15).

As we have seen, one of the symbols of the Word of God is fire. At the Judgment Seat of Christ it will be applied to our works and purge away the dross. Only those things done for Christ of a permanent nature will endure this Divine review. For those who consistently built upon the foundation with gold, silver and precious stones, their works will abide and they will be rewarded accordingly. While we are not told the nature of these rewards, we should always desire the fullness of what God has provided for us. It is a solemn thought that our present conduct will have a bearing upon us throughout eternity.

Those who carelessly built upon the foundation with wood, hay, and stubble are going to suffer irreparable loss, but Paul adds an interesting statement: “but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” God is always faithful to His Word. Even though a believer may suffer the devastating loss of eternal reward, according to the Word of God he will still be saved, for God has promised eternal life to all who believe (Rom. 6:23). You see salvation isn’t based upon our good works, but rather the finished work of Christ. It is after our conversion that we learn believers “are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Notice we “should walk in them,” which strongly implies not all will see the importance of living for the Lord.


“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (I Cor. 4:5).

Judgment may take the form of discernment or passing final sentence upon someone. For example, we are at liberty to judge or discern the things that differ in God’s Word; however, we have no right to judge others. Those who hastily condemn their fellow man are treading upon Divine ground.

As the apostle says, we are to “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come.” We simply are not in a position to judge anyone. Who among us can know the motive behind someone’s actions, much less the intent of their heart? Certainly no one can ever say they have all the details needed to make an impartial ruling. Even general observations in life are usually an inaccurate assessment of the actual circumstances. Allow me to illustrate:

Charles Swindoll one time related an experience he had in his own life. He was speaking at a week-long conference in California where, every time he spoke, a certain man would fall asleep after twenty minutes. By the end of the week, Chuck said that he was irritated by it, yet he said nothing about it.

After the last meeting, the wife of the man came up to Chuck and told him that her husband was too embarrassed to come. She went on to share with him that her husband was dying and the medication he took made him sleepy. But she said that he wanted her to tell Chuck how much he loves him, and that his final request was that he be able to attend a conference where Chuck were speaking.

Things are not always as they appear; therefore, we are wise never to judge anything before the time. You may just generate more wood, hay, and stubble than you bargained for when the trump sounds.

Notice in the above passage that it is when the Lord comes, “who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” We are to understand that this is the Lord’s Secret Coming for the Body of Christ, which of course, includes the Judgment Seat of Christ. So Paul is speaking here of the judgment of believers at that day. This raises the question as to whether or not our sins will be taken into consideration at this review, especially in light of the fact the apostle states the Lord will reveal the hidden things of darkness.

Clearly the believer is forgiven in Christ of all sins: past, present, and future. As the apostle says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). We are beyond the reach of God’s judgment as far as condemnation is concerned. With this in mind, if there is to be a fair and impartial hearing it will be necessary for our indiscretions to be brought to light. In other words, the Lord is going to set the record straight, without forgetting we are His children.

Take for example the pastor who embezzles the savings of a godly widow under the pretext that she’s helping the work of the ministry. He may think he’s gotten away with it, but at that day his evil deed will be exposed. Although the widow was deceived, she will be richly rewarded since she gave the gift out of concern for lost souls. Her intentions were as pure as the wind-driven snow! The pastor, on the other hand, will suffer shame and great loss for his actions. Paul warns all those who minister in the things of the Lord in this manner, “some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after” (I Tim. 5:24).

Unsound doctrine is closely associated with ungodly behavior. Usually the premise is that the end justifies the means. Sadly, the motive of some who preach the gospel is not always what it should be. Paul could surely relate to this, for he says regarding his ministry: “The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds” (Phil. 1:16). These types of sinful motives will be brought to light at the Bema Seat, not to mention the harm they caused the Lord’s work.

Those who are guilty of spreading lies and slandering others will have much to answer for when they stand before the Lord. Remember these words and remember them well: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17). Those who have had their reputation ruined at the hands of carnal believers have this promise: God will right all wrongs.

The story is told of the American missionary organization that raised money for property, including buildings, in a country in Europe. When the Chairman of the European Board resigned, a local board member was able to usurp authority, rewrite the constitution of the organization, and declare himself owner. The Christian leader, in effect, stole the property from the Christian organization, expelled its leadership, and put the church and newly built apartments in his name. (Your Eternal Reward by Erwin W. Lutzer, Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois, pg. 66.) It is hard for us to believe that the Lord would simply overlook such an injustice. Rest assured, those who engage in such behavior will have their corrupt ways laid bare and suffer unbelievable loss in the process.

In this connection the question is often asked, will there be tears in heaven? As sure as the sun rises in the morning, you can count on it! These will be tears of regret and remorse over what could have been if we had only remained faithful to Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. The emotion at times is going to be overwhelming. But the greatest regret of all will be when we see the sorrow on our Savior’s face for how we mistreated one another as members of the Body of Christ. Thankfully these tears will be wiped away at the close of this judgment—there will be no more sorrow or crying. “Then shall every man have praise of God” (I Cor. 4:5). The same will be true of the prophetic saints as they prepare to enter the eternal state (Rev. 21:3-5).


Sadly, most believers have little interest or concern regarding the Judgment Seat of Christ. They live as though they will never stand before the Lord and give an account of their life. By the time they take the matter seriously it will be too late. But did you know there are at least three areas that will profoundly affect our walk throughout eternity?

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (I Thes. 2:19,20).

In Paul’s epistles there are three crowns promised to those who faithfully serve the Lord. This particular passage seems to indicate that these are not literal crowns that will be handed out; rather they will be honors bestowed upon those who have earned them. The crown of rejoicing has been called the soul-winners crown. Paul had personally led many at Thessalonica to a saving knowledge of Christ. He rejoiced that they had been delivered from the power of idols, which can neither speak nor reason, to worship the true and living God.

Think of it, if the angels rejoice when one sinner is saved, surely heaven will resound with a shout upon the completion of our redemption. In that day, the Lord is going to publicly acknowledge Paul and all those who had a burden for lost souls. This will be a reward in itself to hear the Savior say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” The rejection and ridicule we experienced at the hands of unscrupulous men will be but a passing memory.

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us: If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself” (II Tim. 2:12,13).

Every member of the Body of Christ is said to be seated with Christ in the heavenlies; therefore, we will rule and reign with Christ over the earth. But not all will hold the same position or degree of authority. This will be determined by our willingness to suffer for His name’s sake, here and now. We are going to assume the positions of authority left vacant when Satan and His fallen host are cast out of heaven. Each of these positions represent degrees of authority which have been patterned after God’s orig-inal heavenly order; they are: principalities, powers, mights, dominions, thrones, etc. (Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16 cf. Eph. 6:12).

If you had a choice, which earthly position of authority would you wish to hold—a Cabinet post in Washington or a Clerk at a small town County Seat who files court records? You see, “if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him,” but if we are ashamed of Christ due to the fear of men, “He also will deny us,” that is, a higher position and greater degree of authority. Bear in mind, there will be no room for advancement in eternity since our position will be fixed by what transpires at the Bema Seat. Perhaps we need to follow the motto of the Army, “To be all that you can be,” but in this case for the Lord. You will not regret the decision!

If we “believe not” that this is true and that He is able to keep us, He abides faithful, even though we are unfaithful, because He cannot deny Himself. In short, He has promised to save us and will honor His Word. The honor of His name is at stake.

Apparently, the degree we are going to be glorified in the resurrection is also determined by our current conduct and service. As Paul develops the theme of the resurrection in I Corinthians 15, he states:

“All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory” (I Cor. 15:39-41).

I have always believed that this passage is clear proof that evolution is the Devil’s lie. “All flesh is not the same flesh.” How true! If we evolved from the lower life forms as the evolutionists claim, then the flesh of fish should be compatible with human flesh; yet one is warm-blooded and the other cold. Nor is it possible to give a transfusion of blood from animals to humans, which you would think could certainly be done since this is farther along on the evolutionary timetable. Of course the point Paul is making is this, terrestrial bodies differ from one another and each has its own glory.

He now contrasts earthly and heavenly bodies. As we look heavenward, the sun has a greater glory than the moon. It sustains life upon the earth. Interestingly, God created the sun on the fourth day of creation to demonstrate that He could sustain life upon the earth apart from the sun. He is sovereign! The very essence of His being is greater in power and glory than the sun.

The light of the moon which graces the night sky has a greater glory than the stars. Its phases during the course of a month are a heavenly demonstration of God’s handiwork. Amazingly the moon’s gravitational pull upon the earth causes both high and low tides that show not only order, but design.

Although the moon has a greater glory than the stars, the apostle adds, “One star differeth from another star in glory.” Man continues to build more and more powerful telescopes to peer into the universe, but with each one he discovers more of these heavenly bodies called stars. He is increasingly frustrated because he’s unable to number them. But consider this: God “telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names” (Psa. 147:4). We agree with King David, “such knowledge is…high,” it’s infinite!

Astronomers tell us that stars vary in size—some are much larger than others. In fact some, like the North Star, are brighter while others form constellations such as the Big Dipper. Paul would have us understand that in both the earthly and heavenly realm there is diversity and differing degrees of glory. Then he adds, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” (See I Cor. 15:42).

Thus, there is a major difference between these natural bodies we possess and the resurrected body. One is sown in corruption and eventually will perish, but the other is raised in incorruption never to perish again. One is sown in dishonor due to the Adamic nature while the other is raised in glory. With creation as a backdrop, there will also be differing degrees of glorification in the resurrection, based on whether or not we faithfully served the Lord. This could well mean that the faithful will have greater adaptation to their eternal surroundings and perhaps greater responsibility.

The Judgment Seat of Christ ends the administration of Grace. As we witness the dawn of eternity, wonder of wonders, God is going to “show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). May the love of Christ motivate us to live for Him rather than ourselves. After all, the things around us which we call prized possessions are merely temporal, but the unseen things that we’ve laid up in heaven will impact us for eternity.

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Our Greatest Drawback — And How to Overcome It

Years ago I had the pleasure of a rather intimate acquaintance with a First Mate on an ocean liner, a distinguished and vigorous man who had spent many years sailing the high seas. One day he intimated that he would very much enjoy going out in a common row boat, so we made arrangements to hire a small boat for a day of fishing on New Jersey’s beautiful Greenwood Lake. It was a lovely summer’s morning as we got into our boat and I rowed him out to a spot some distance from shore.

I have since forgotten how well we did at fishing, but I do recall that when it was time to return, my friend insisted that since I had done the rowing so far he would row us back to shore.

He had been working the oars for some considerable time when he remarked that distances are deceiving on the water, whether from a row boat or an ocean liner. With all his rowing we were still far from shore.

Since he was not as accustomed to rowing as I, I suggested that he let me row the rest of the way back. He seemed willing enough, so we changed seats again and I pulled in the anchor and rowed back to shore!

He was a First Mate on an ocean liner but had failed to make headway in a small row boat because he had forgotten to take in the anchor! I can still hear him “ho-ho-ing” over it!

This incident came back to me recently as I asked myself what, above all else, is the greatest drawback to Christian service. What, more than anything else, keeps us from constantly and consistently living for Christ and striving to make Him known to others?

After considering the many and varied hindrances to Christian service referred to in the Word, I thought of “our beloved brother Paul,” who, above all other men could say: “…I…labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily” (Col. 1:29).

I recalled how the magistrates at Philippi, yielding to the mob, had maltreated him and Silas, tearing the clothes off their backs, beating them with many stripes and then casting them into prison, where the jailor threw them into a dungeon and made their feet fast in stocks (Acts 16:22-24).

And then I recalled what the apostle and his companion had done after leaving Philippi. They had gone straight to Thessalonica where again they boldly proclaimed the gospel in the face of bitter opposition. Paul writes of it in I Thessalonians 2:2:

“But even after we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.”

We read in II Corinthians 11:23-29 the long list of sufferings he had already then endured for Christ, and hear him conclude: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?” and we ask ourselves what kept him pressing persistently on in the face of so much opposition, persecution, and disappointment.

The answer, we believe, is found in one short phrase from his pen recorded in II Corinthians 5:14: “For the love of Christ constraineth us,” or, more literally: “The love of Christ bears us along.” (The same original word is used in Luke 8:45, where we read that the multitude “thronged” our Lord.) He doubtless had greater reason to be discouraged than we will ever have, but he couldn’t quit, for a sense of the infinite love of Christ—to him and to a lost world—bore him along as resistlessly as an ocean tide.

And this continued year after year after year until, on his last journey to Jerusalem, surrounded by dangers and confronted with “bonds and afflictions,” he still found the grace to say:

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Nor, years later, after still more unreasonable persecution and imprisonment, did he regret the course he had taken, for among his very last recorded words we find this triumphant declaration:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6,7).

Without in any way disparaging the twelve or their ministry for Christ, it is still a fact that, compared with the twelve apostles, Paul seems like a blazing torch next to twelve candles, and this is not strange, for to him, the chief of sinners, was given the greatest revelation of the love of Christ.

It was an appreciation of this love that released him, as it were, and set and kept him on fire for his Lord. This alone explains the utter abandon with which he labored and suffered for Christ. Often he was “pressed out of measure, above strength,” and would have given up, but he could not, for the love of Christ bore him along. This infinite love, demonstrated in the grace that had saved even him, constantly overwhelmed him. This is why he wrote to the Corinthians:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Cor. 15:10).

What then, is our greatest drawback in Christian service? Obviously it is our lack of appreciation of the infinite love of Christ. Why do we not serve our blessed Lord as Paul did? Because we do not share his sense of being loved by Christ. Mark well, we are not referring to our love for Christ, but to His love for us.

Have you ever noticed that Paul says little or nothing about his love for Christ, while he is constantly talking about Christ’s love for him? He, perhaps above all men, appreciated the truth of I John 4:10 and 19: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us….We love Him because He first loved us.”

But how can we overcome our natural indifference to His love? How can we cast off this evil drag on our Christian experience?

Ah, the apostle explains this at length in Ephesians 3:14-21. Humbly bowing his knees to “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he prays with intense earnestness that God will grant us “according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man,” and then goes on to explain how this can be accomplished.

First, he says, Christ must dwell in our hearts by faith that we might be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ver. 17). We must draw our strength from His love as a tree, through its roots, draws its strength from the ground. All we do must be founded on His love to us, not a desire to gain His favor, or fear that we might displease Him.

Thus alone will we be able to “comprehend,” or appreciate, the breadth, length, depth, and height of God’s great message of grace.

And as we measure the dimensions of this glorious plan we find ourselves launching out into the depths of the love of Christ.

But is the message and program of the “mystery” broader than what had been previously proclaimed? Yes. When on earth our Lord said: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24) but now, in the light of Calvary and the revelation of the mystery, the invitation has been infinitely broadened:

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:12,13).

In the program of grace the view is longer too. In His earthly ministry our Lord went back only as far as David and Abraham in proclaiming the kingdom. Paul’s epistles, however, go back to “one man,” Adam, by whom “all were made sinners” and then point to Christ, the “One” by whom believers receive “abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness” (Rom. 5:12-18). Indeed the revelation of “the mystery” takes us back to “His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9) and ahead to “the ages to come” when God will “show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).

This plan goes deeper and higher, too, than any hitherto revealed, for it takes sinners “without excuse” from the lowest place of condemnation and exalts them to the highest heavens, giving them a place at God’s right hand in Christ. And this because our Lord was made sin for us “that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

As we consider the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of this glorious revelation we find ourselves indeed “measuring the immeasurable,” but let us go on forever measuring, for as we do we will come more and more fully “to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge” and will be ever increasingly “filled with all the fulness of God.”

This is how to pull up the anchor that keeps us from making progress in our testimony and service.

Only as we become steeped in the glorious truth of the mystery, with its riches of grace, can we “know the love of Christ” as Paul knew it. Only thus can we find the needed help to press on in the work despite opposition and discouragement.

May God help us to “comprehend” these precious truths so that we may indeed be “borne along” by the love of Christ to serve Him faithfully and acceptably.

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The Lord’s Prayer Dispensationally Considered

Scripture Reading:

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.”
— Matthew 6:7,8

Religious leaders love to have their people recite the Lord’s Prayer. It’s been the religious thing to do for centuries. The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most beautiful, meaningful, and touching prayers in the Prophetic Scriptures, but those who recite it today are committing two major blunders. First, the Lord warned the disciples that they were not to pray this prayer, or any prayer for that matter, repetitiously (Matt. 6:5-7). Prayer is not a religious exercise, but rather communication with God; therefore, it should always be spoken from the heart. Second, the Disciples Prayer, which is the correct connotation for this prayer, was given as a model for those who would be called upon to endure the Tribulation. Since the Body of Christ is delivered from the wrath to come, this prayer does not apply to us in this dispensation (I Thes. 5:9).

The Disciples’ Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.The reference here to “our Father” is to the God and Father of Israel — the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In prophecy, heaven was His throne and earth His footstool. His name was so holy that the Jews feared they might inadvertently speak it in vain, consequently they changed it from Yahweh to Adonai — Master, Ruler (Deut. 5:11; Isa. 66:1; Matt. 15:31; Luke 1:68).

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.The hope of every Israelite was the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom. God’s will for the earth is to overthrow the kingdoms of this world and establish the millennial kingdom of His dear Son (II Sam. 7:8-17; Luke 1:68-72; Rev. 11:15; 20:6).

Give us this day our daily bread.In the future Tribulation, God will set a table in the wilderness for His people, as He did in time past. The saints in that day will find it necessary to pray for their daily provision of food, since they will be unable to buy or sell without the Mark of the Beast. Subsequently, God will supernaturally nourish the chosen nation (Rev. 12:14 cf. Rev. 13:13-18).

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.Today we are to forgive others, even as God for Christs sake has forgiven us, but under the kingdom gospel, forgiveness was based upon a like-spirit (Matt. 18:21-35 cf. Eph. 4:32).

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil [Gr. noun: evil one]. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. The sense here is, “Lord lead us not into the Great Tribulation, but deliver us from Satan, who brings death and destruction in his wake” (Rev. 6:7-11; 12:12; 13:1-10).

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.

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Berean Searchlight – February 2003

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