The Judgment Seat of Christ is one of the greatest doctrines in the Bible to get you to serve the Lord after you get saved. That’s because most Christians don’t know about this judgment that all Christians will face right after the rapture. This is the Lord’s judgment of our service to him. You and I are expected to serve the Lord as a living sacrifice [Rom 12:1-2]. Notice that the Lord calls this sacrifice our reasonable service.
You can actually find the phrase “the judgment seat of Christ” in two places in your Bible, Rom 14:10 and 2 Cor 5:10. Rom 14:10 says, “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.” And 2 Cor 5:10 says, “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.”
You see, the judgment seat of Christ is a literal judgment and at this judgment we are judged for the things done in our bodies whether those things are good or bad!! The reason that we are judged is simple. After we were saved, we were no longer our own. We have been bought with a price and our bodies are now the temple of God [1 Cor 6:19-20, 1 Cor 3:16-17]. Since we are God’s possession, he has the privilege to use our bodies to do whatever he wants. When we yield to him and let him do what he wants, he rewards us and when we don’t, he strips us of the potential rewards.
God describes the whole process in 1 Cor 3:11-15, which says, “11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every 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. 14If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
Once you are saved, you have the right foundation in Jesus Christ. After that, you begin to build. And the Lord is not as interested in what size building you build as much as he is in the quality of construction. The things you do for the Lord, with the right motive (1 Cor 4:5), show up as gold, silver and precious stones in your building. The things you do for God with the wrong motive, or that you do for yourself and not for God, show up in this building as wood, hay and stubble. When you die, your building is finished. Then at the Judgment Seat of Christ you essentially present your building to the Lord, and the Lord sets it on fire. Gold, silver and precious stones will survive the fire. You will be rewarded for the things that survive. Wood, hay and stubble, of course, will burn. You’ll get nothing for these.
The way you build with gold is to do things for the glory of God [1 Cor 10:31]. In the temple, there were many things made of gold which represent God. The mercy seat and ark in the holy of holies represent God the Father. The table of shewbread represents the Lord Jesus Christ, the bread of life. And the golden candlestick represents the Holy Spirit, who sheds light on the word of God. The altar of incense is where you and I have access to the Trinity through prayer [Ps 141:2]. So, when we do things for the glory of God, we are building with gold.
The way you build with silver is to proclaim the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel, to tell others about Jesus Christ and his salvation. Silver stands for redemption, which is what Christ did for us on the cross. You will find references to this in Ex 30:12-16, Lev 27:6, Num 3:47-49, etc. You don’t necessarily have to win souls to get silver; you just need to testify to others that Jesus died to save them.
The way you build with precious stones is to win souls. Precious stones stand for souls in Mal 3:17 and in 1 Pet 2:5. So every time you lead a soul to Christ, you get a stone for your crown [Zech 9:16]. In other words, we not only need to sow by preaching the gospel, we also need to reap by leading souls to Jesus. This takes persistence, compassion, prayer, study, time, wisdom, discernment, and filling with the Spirit.
Unfortunately, building with wood, hay and stubble is very common for Christians. These things are all temporary, whereas the gold, silver and precious stones are all eternal. Today, most church growth is accomplished with the wood, hay and stubble of fancy church buildings, rock and roll bands, light shows, and human efforts. The Holy Spirit has little if anything to do with most of what’s being done in the name of Jesus today. Consequently, all of this is going to burn down to the ground in the fires of the judgment seat of Christ. It will be a total loss.
In addition to the gold, silver, and precious stones, there are five crowns that will be given out at the Judgment Seat of Christ, if the Lord so chooses.
The first crown is the Incorruptible Crown, which is found in 1 Cor 9:24-27. This crown is given to the man who keeps himself PHYSICALLY FIT through temperance [self-control and self-denial], so that he is always able to do any task that God requires of him. He must apply himself diligently to every task as a living sacrifice. He must deny himself [Matt 16:24-25]. He must live by the Spirit [Rom 8:1, 13, 14].
The second crown is the Crown of Rejoicing, which is found in 1 Thes 2:19. This crown is the SOUL WINNER’S CROWN. You get this one for leading souls to Christ. Each new soul that you win to Christ adds a stone to this crown. It is called the crown of rejoicing because salvation brings joy to the new convert, to the person who led him to the Lord and to those who are in heaven [Lk 15:7, 10].
The third crown is the Crown of Righteousness, which is found in 2 Tim 4:8. This crown is obtained by all them who LOVE THE APPEARING OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST [Titus 2:13]. This crown is the crown of righteousness because when you are expecting the Lord’s return any day, you live righteously [1 Jn 3:1-3]. For those of us who truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, there will be no greater day following our salvation than the day in which we actually get to see our Savior face to face. The greatest hope a Christian has for solving all of his earthly problems is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus Christ takes us home to heaven, there is not a problem which you are currently experiencing that will not be solved. That, in itself, ought to get you looking for Jesus Christ.
The fourth crown is the Crown of Life, which is found in Jas 1:12. This crown is given to men who ENDURE TEMPTATION. According to Rom 8:13 the way to do this is to “mortify the deeds of the body.” This way you will not yield to temptation. It is like you are a dead man. This crown also shows up in Rev 2:10. There it is a martyr’s crown given to the tribulation saints who are slain for their faith in Jesus Christ. So, you see that this crown is given to men who pay a great price. Your fight against temptation and sin would have to be great to match the sacrifice of a man who is a martyr.
The fifth crown is the Crown of Glory, which is found in 1 Pet 5:4. This crown is primarily a PASTOR’S REWARD. It is given to men who properly feed their flocks with the word of God [see the context in verses 1-3]. Perhaps this crown is also available to teachers of the word of God. Obviously, if a teacher is teaching out of a modern translation, and doesn’t believe that the King James Bible is the word of God, he wouldn’t be properly feeding the flock, and he wouldn’t get this crown. Even men who profess to believe the King James Bible could be teaching with the wrong motive and miss this crown. The Lord is the only one who can make this judgment properly.
In addition to these crowns and the gold, silver and precious stones, certain saints will be rewarded with authority over cities. In Lk 19, beginning with verse 11, the Lord spoke a parable about the Kingdom of God. Each servant was given a pound (verse 13), which is an English currency. Today it is called the Pound Sterling. When the first servant reported his earnings, he had multiplied the original pound ten times. Therefore, the Lord gave him authority over ten cities. Likewise, the man who multiplied his pound five times was given authority over five cities. These men will be given this authority during the 1,000 year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on this earth (Rev 20:6).
The servant, who did nothing with his pound, lost the pound and was given no authority. Furthermore, in verse 24, notice that his pound was given to the man that had ten. So, not only do men get to rule over cities, they also get to keep what they’ve earned for Jesus Christ. Like a man said, “Work for the Lord. The pay may not be that great, but the retirement plan is out of this world!” Then again, the pay may be greater than you think.
At the end of the parable, the man who laid up his pound in a napkin lost the pound, but he was not thrown out. In other words, a Christian will not lose his salvation at this judgment. The enemies of the Lord are the ones who are slain in verse 27. 1 Cor 3:15 says, “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
It is possible, therefore, to lose rewards at the judgment seat of Christ, but not your salvation. One of the surest ways to lose rewards is to do nothing for the Lord after you get saved. Just get in on heaven and keep living your life just like you did before you got saved. Another way is to support a deceiver (3 Jn. 7-11). Get to know your Bible so you can tell the difference between a deceiver and a teacher who’s telling you the truth.
So, with all of these potential rewards awaiting you, it is imperative that you present your body as a living sacrifice to the Lord and start letting him use you to do exactly what he wants to do through you for the rest of your earthly life. As the saying goes, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christi will last.” Be warned, this is not going to be an easy judgment. Paul said, “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men,” 2 Cor. 5:11. Get ready!!
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