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Standing before the Bema 1/8/17


  1. Intro
  • A preacher, who shall we say was “humor inspired”, attended a conference to help encourage and better equip pastors for their ministry. Among the speakers were many well-known and dynamic speakers.

One such speaker, boldly approached the pulpit, gathered the entire crowd’s attention, and said, “the best years of my life were spent in the arms of a woman that wasn’t my wife!” The crowd was shocked! He followed up by saying, “And that woman was my mother!” The crowd burst into laughter and delivered the rest of his speech, which went quite well.

The next week, the pastor decided he’d give this humor thing a try, and used that joke in his sermon. As he approached the pulpit that sunny Sunday morning, he tried to rehearse this joke in his head. It suddenly seemed a bit foggy to him.

Getting to the microphone, he said loudly, “The greatest years of my life were spend in the arms of another woman that was not my wife!” The congregation inhaled half the air in the room! After standing there for almost 10 seconds in stunned silence, trying to recall the second half of the joke, the pastor finally blutted out, “…and I can’t remember who she was!”

  • Today we are going to talk about the judgment of believers works. Often called the BEMA seat of judgment

What would He say?

If He should come today, And find my hands so full
Of future plans, however fair,
In which my Savior has no share,
What would He say'

If He should come today, And find my love so cold,
My faith so very weak and dim, I had not even looked for Him.
What would He say', 
If He should come today

And find that I had not told , One soul about my Heavenly Friend
Whose blessings all my way attend, What would He say'

If He should come today, Would I be glad, quite glad'
Remembering that He died for all, And none through me had heard His call,
What would He say?

Read 1 Cor 3:10-15

      I. Future Judgments

  • The judgment seat of Christ. Believers in heaven for reward. (2 Cor 5:10)
  • Old Testament believers (Daniel 12:1-3) rewarded at Second Coming
  • Tribulation believers (Rev 20:4-6) These are martyred believers
  • Jews living at the 2cd Coming. (Ezekial 20:34-38) Jews who survive the Tribulation.
  • Gentiles Living at the 2cd Coming. (Matt 25:31-46) Sheep and the goats
  • Satan and Fallen Angels (Rev 20:10) Takes place after the Millenial Kingdom
  • The Great White Throne of Judgment (Rev 20:11-15) The judgment of all who reject Christ. This is where the Lake of Fire appears.
  • The one we are concerned about here is the judgment seat of Christ.
  • As believers we need to be ready for this one.
  • Romans 13:12 says that ‘12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.’
  • The Bible is clear that God is both a judge and a giver of rewards.
  • Daniel Webster was once asked what the greatest thought was to ever enter his mind and he said ‘The most important thought that ever occupied my mind is ‘my accountability to God.”
  • Every person will face that day. It’s unavoidable.
  • Listen, this is a judgment that you want to attend!
  • So let’s unpack this and understand the when, where, who, what, and the preparation for this judgment.

        II  The When

        This will happen in heaven right after the Rapture of the church.

         1 Cor 4:5 ‘Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now            hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.’

        III.  The Where

  • 2 Cor 5: 10 " For we must all appear before the judgment seat (Bema) of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
  • The where is Heaven
  • What is a Bema? It’s used 3 ways in Scripture
  • It was a court of justice where people aired their complaints.
  • Acts 18:12 Paul appears before the ‘Bema’ of Gallio at Corinth
  • Secondly, it’s a military camp where the commander spoke to the troops
  • Finally, it was a stand at athletic games where rules were enforced and rewards were handed out
  • Christ Himself will reward those who have finished the race and remained faithful to Him.

         IV.  The Who

  • Paul says ‘we must all stand before Christ to be judged.’ Paul is obviously including himself here.
  • All believers in Christ, the church, will be at this judgment.

          V. The What

  • So we need to look at the purpose of this judgment.
  • While we pin this down we need to think about what it ‘is’ and what it is ‘not.’
  • First, it’s not to determine whether we go to heaven or to hell. That issue is resolved once and for all when you place your faith in Christ.
  • The Bible is clear that the children of God will never be judged for their sin.
  • Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a]”
  • John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
  • Our salvation is secure, nothing can separate us from Heaven.
  • The purpose here is reward. Rewards are based on our works for Christ after we trust in Him.
  • There are 2 parts to this judgment. There is a Review and Reward at this seat.
  • First, Christ will review our lives. Now this if for our lives after we come to faith in Christ.
  • 2 Cor 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.’
  • 1 Cor 3:12-13 ‘Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.’
  • What in the world does Paul mean by ‘good’ or ‘bad?’ What are the ‘bad’ works? If our sins are forgiven then what is he talking about here?
  • The word ‘bad’ here is phaulos, which means something of poor quality, not something evil.
  • We’d call them ‘bad good works.’
  • The thing that makes them ‘bad’ is that they were done for selfish reasons. Good results from them, but they aren’t worthy of reward.
  • 1 Cor 3:12 compares them to ‘wood, hay, or straw.’
  • During this review every believers conduct, service and motive will be turned inside out.
  • In Matthew 6:1-2, 5, 16 Jesus says that practicing your righteousness before men in order to be noticed, when they are they’ve received their ‘reward in full.’
  • That means that’s all they’ll get.
  • A group of kids was lined up at the Cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. A note there said ‘Take only one. Remember, God is watching.’ As they went along a little further there was a huge pile of cookies. A child wrote a note there that said ‘take all you want, God is watching the apples.’
  • The truth is that God is watching both the apples and the cookies.
  • Now to the Reward
  • If you’re like me, you’re thinking ‘I’m not getting squat.’
  • I can’t do anything without my own pride or ego being involved somehow. Very few of us, if we’re really honest have pure motives about anything.
  • But listen, Grace Abounds!
  • Jim Eliot said ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.’
  • If you give up that which you cannot keep, God will not forget you.
  • 1 Cor 4:5 says ‘each man’s praise will come to him from God.’
  • God will find something in every believers life to reward.‚Äč

          VI  What are the Rewards?

  • The Incorruptible Crown (1 Cor 9:24-28)
  • This is a reward for self discipline and self control.
  • (expand)
  • The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 2:10)
  • This is a reward for those who eagerly look for the Lord’s coming and live in light of this truth.
  • The Crown of Life (James 1:12; Rev 2:10)
  • This is for those who faithfully endure and persevere under the trials of life.
  • The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thess 2:19)
  • This is for those who share the gospel
  • The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:1-4)
  • This is for those pastors, elders and leaders who faithfully shepherd God’s people.
  • What will we do with them? Will we compare our crowns with others? Not a chance
  • Rev 4:10-11 ‘the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,  to receive glory and honor and power,                                                                    for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

  • The truth here is clear, the person you are today will impact eternity.

       The Principles of the Judgment

  • First, believers will be judged fairly. Length of service doesn’t impact rewards. It’s based on what we did with the opportunities, resources and time we had to serve Him.
  • Second, believers will be judged thoroughly. Nothing will escape the Savior’s eye.
  • Third, believers will be judged impartially. God does not play favorites. If anything the Bible teaches that those who lead will be judged more strictly.
  • James 3:1 ‘not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.’
  • The line for preachers will be the slowest moving line.
  • Fourthly, believers will be judged individually. All of us will have to sing solo before the Lord.
  • Erwin Lutzer said this ‘Imagine staring into the face of Christ. Just the two of you, one on one. Your entire life is present before you. In a flash you see what He sees. No hiding, no opportunity to put a better spin on what you did. No attorney to represent you. The look in His eyes says it all. Like it or not, that is precisely where you and I shall be someday.”
  • Finally, Believers will be judged graciously. Remember, Jesus is a kind and gracious judge who will reward us all much more than we could ever imagine.

         The Pictures of the Judgment

  • First, the Building. 1 Cor 3:10-15 says that we are all participants in building a building. The building that we’re building is the Church. The materials that we are required to use are precious, spiritual materials that will last forever.
  • The foundation of the building and the structure are distinguished from each other. The foundation is clearly Jesus Christ. He is the only secure foundation. Our salvation rests completely and totally on Him.
  • The structure we can build in many ways. Worthless materials are temporary. Valuable materials are lasting.
  • Secondly, there is a steward. God owns everything that we have. We are simply managers of the Lord’s gifts and property. In this judgment God will evaluate how we used our time, treasure and talents.
  • The question is simple. Are we faithful with what we’ve been given?
  • Finally, there is the athlete.
  • I Cor 9:24-27
  • Athletes subject themselves to suffering and training. And that’s for trophies made of plastic, metal or wood. How much more ought we to subject ourselves to these things for trophies that are eternal!
  • What if we devoted ½ the time that we devote to things like golf, football, tennis or anything else into our spiritual race?
  • God wants us to live our lives with purpose, dedication, self-control and discipline while we run our race!

         Conclusion: Questions to Ponder

How do we treat other believers? (Matt 10:41-42)

How do we employ our gifts and abilities? (Luke 19:11-26)

How do we use money? (Matt 6:1-4)

How do we endure suffering and trials? (James 1:12)

Do we witness for Christ? (1 Thess 2:19-20)

How faithful are we to God’s Word and to God’s People? (Acts 20:26-28)

Are we hospitable to strangers? (Luke 14:12-14)

How do we support others in ministry? How do we use our tongues? (Matt 10:40-42; James 3:1-12)