Judged According to Our Works – I Corinthians 3:10-15

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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There is an ancient story about an owner of a vast empire with many servants. When he determined to go on a journey, the owner summoned several of his servants and entrusted much of his wealth to them. When the owner returned, he required his servants to report what kind of returns they gained. Several gained much and were duly praised and rewarded. But one had done nothing but secure the initial capital entrusted to him. The owner rebuked this servant for his sloth, seized his capital, and punished his servant. This illustration, based on the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), loosely parallels some aspects of the coming Bema Seat.

Unfortunately, some think of the Judgment Seat of Christ as little more than an awards ceremony with no mention of one’s sins. Their premise is that only our “work” will be judged (I Corinthians 3:13-15), which they define as only inferior efforts, or workmanship, for Christ. But God defines “works” as any action, either good or bad. More often than not, God uses the word “work” as an obvious equivalent to sin. The “evil” Alexander the coppersmith did toward Paul was called “works” for which the Lord will reward him in eternity (II Timothy 4:14). The “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:11 can only be categorized as sins, and not merely an inferior effort. Paul also told believers at Rome to “…cast off the works of darkness…” (Romans 13:12). While each of us may only want reward for faithful service for Christ and hope that our sinful choices after salvation will be absent, it simply will not work that way at the Bema Seat. Paul tells us that all our “good or bad” will be manifest and judged at the “Judgment Seat of Christ” (II Corinthians 5:10). We will each “give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12), and the gravity of this reality is intended to motivate us to greater responsibility now on this side of eternity (II Corinthians 5:11). To be perfectly clear, this biblical description is NOT about punishment for sinful conduct after salvation. It is about responsibility and accountability for one’s actions when standing before the Savior.

God provides this sober picture of the Bema Seat to convince us to not take a flippant attitude toward sinful actions after salvation. Instead, with carefulness and a grateful heart, we are to build a life of “good works” (Ephesians 2:10) that glorify the Savior. How can you do so today?

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."