Sunday Sermon – Meeting Our Maker pt. 3 – Growing in Christ Series

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If you’re like me, you’re excited that the summer Olympic Games have started. I enjoy very much watching world-class athletes compete go for the gold. I am especially pleased when the winner comes from America. Every time I hear them play the Star Spangled Banner, I wished that I was the one standing on the platform.

I will never compete in an Olympics competition; however, I am running in a race and there is the possibility that I can win a crown. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us – “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Our life is like a race that the Lord has given to each of us and if we run our race according to His will, there is the promise of reward. At the close of scripture Jesus said– “… behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev 22:12) Jesus promised to one day to return and when He does, He is going to reward those who have faithfully served Him.  It is our Lord’s desire that each of us would go for the gold.

I. Accountable to God

We read from the book of Romans – ‘So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.’ (Romans 14:12) Everyone, both Christians and non-Christians, will one day stand before their Maker and give an account for how they have lived their life. As we have learned thus far, what this moment means for the Christian and the non-Christian is very different.

A. Non-Christians

1. Accountable for Our Sins

The Bible teaches us that at the end of time, men will have to stand before God at a judgment known as the Great White Throne. (Revelation 20:11-15) Books will be opened and the sins of mankind will be revealed. The result of this judgment will be the sentencing of sinful mankind to spend eternity in a lake of fire called hell.

2. God So Loved the World

One of the saddest parts of this judgment is that it doesn’t have to be this way. The Bible says – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) God doesn’t want to send men to hell. The Bible says that God receives no pleasure in the death of the wicked. (see Ezekiel 33:11) God hates the sin of men, but God loves sinful men. He loves us so much that He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come to this earth so that He might die for our sins and thus provide a way for each of us to be forgiven. The Bible says that when Jesus died on the cross, He took our place in God’s judgment. The Bible says – “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Is 53:5-6) No one has to stand before God and be judged for their sins. Forgiveness is available to us all. How can we be forgiven of our sins? Forgiveness comes by receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior. If you will …

A –  Admit that you are a sinner who needs of salvation

B –  Believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins

C –  Come to Christ and receive Him as your Lord and Savior

… you can be forgiven of all your sins and have a home in heaven.

B. Christians

1. Accountable for Our Stewardship

Non-Christians are not the only ones accountable to God. The Bible teaches us that Christians are as well. Believers will not stand before God at the Great White Throne, but they will stand before God at a judgment known as the Judgment Seat of Christ. What is this judgment and what does it mean for the believer?

In writing to Christians, the apostle Paul said –

2 Corinthians 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 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.

If I would rewrite these verses in my own words, it would say – “One day each of us will have to stand before Christ and give an account for how we have lived our lives as a Christian. Both the good and the bad will be revealed. Because we desire to please our Savior and because we desire to receive His praise, we live out our lives with this day in mind.”

2. Should We Call This a ‘Judgment’?

There are some who struggle with putting the words judgment and Christian in the same sentence. I remember in particular how one of my Bible professors in college was in strong opposition. His resistance was based upon his believe that Christians will not be judged for their sins. He is right in that aspect.

a) No Condemnation

The Bibles says – ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…’ (Romans 8:1a) The word ‘condemnation’ refers to a judgment and sentence of damnation. There is no condemning judgment awaiting the believer. Jesus suffered for our judgment when He died on the cross. That is why we must understand that the Judgment Seat of Christ has nothing to do with determining whether someone goes to heaven or to hell. That is settled once and for all on the day someone receives Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. At the moment we turn to Christ and embrace Him as our Savior:

– All of our sins (past, present and future) are forgiven;
– We are declared judicially justified in the sight of God;
– And our name is recorded in the Lamb’s book of life.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is not about salvation. It’s about stewardship. It’s a revelation of how we have lived our lives as a believer and it is the basis for our eternal rewards.

b) Comparison of Judgments

Perhaps this chart will help us distinguish between these two judgments.

GREAT WHITE THRONE
– Timing: End of time
– Participants: ‘the dead’
– Issue: Sin
– Reward: No reward
– Penalty: Eternity in lake of fire

JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
– Timing: At least 1,000 years prior to the end
– Participants: Saints
– Issue: Stewardship
– Reward: Crowns, praises, positions, and joy
– Penalty: Loss of rewards, but not loss of salvation

How do I know this about the Judgment Seat of Christ? Again, as always, the Word of God is the basis for all I believe.

II. The Judgment Seat of Christ

1 Corinthians 3: 13 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. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

A. The Revealing of Our Works

1. What Will be Revealed?

What will be revealed on that day? Paul says ‘every man’s work.’ We should note that in this passage, Paul is speaking to Christians. Paul is telling us that on that day, the life you and I are living today as a believer will be revealed. Paul says that it will be made manifest.

2. How Will it be Revealed?

Paul says that it will be ‘revealed by fire.’

13 … because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

a) Fire for Punishment

We think of fire being used only as punishment. Scripture says that sinful men will be cast into a lake of fire.

b) Fire for Purification

Yet scripture also teaches us that God uses fire for the purpose of purifying.

(1) Purifying of Our Faith

Peter (1 Peter 1:7; 4:12-13) refers to God using ‘fiery trials’ or difficulty for the purpose of purifying our faith.

(2) Purifying of Our Works

In this passage we see that Christ is going to use fire for the purpose of purifying our works and determining what is fit for reward and what is not. Again we read from our passage –

1 Corinthians 3: 13 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. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

(a) Examining What We Did and Why We Did It

The Bible teaches us that Christ will use fire to examine our works in order to determine their validity. Christ will examine not only ‘what’ we did, but ‘why’ we did it. Did you know that it’s possible to do something in the name of Christ, but it not actually be for Christ? Jesus accused the Pharisees of giving and praying and doing all sorts of religious activity in the name of God, but for their own glory. This Judgment Seat of Christ will examine the things that we have done to determine genuineness. Only those things that were truly done for the glory of Christ will remain and receive a reward.

(b) Making Wise Choices

How will this fire examine our works? Note what Paul teaches us in the verse just prior to this.

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

(i)  The Apostle Paul

(a) Paul’s Passion for the Gospel  

In this passage Paul uses the illustration of a builder. A lot of you men are builders and so you will understand what Paul is saying. Like any good builder, Paul begins with the foundation.

“…as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation…”

As you study Paul’s life in the book of Acts, you will discover that God often sent him to places where no one else had ever preached the gospel. Paul was a pioneer missionary. This was Paul’s purpose and this was Paul’s passion. Regarding this passage we read from the book of Romans –

Romans 15:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

What was the foundation that Paul laid?

11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Jesus told a parable about a wise and foolish builder. The wise many built his house upon a rock. The foolish man built his house upon the sand. The wise man’s house stood firm. The foolish man’s house fell. What was the solid rock that the wise man built his house upon? It was the solid foundation in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

(b) Paul’s Passion Was a Gift

It wasn’t that Paul believed that he was the only one who could win people to Christ. It was that Paul passionately desired to win people to Christ and so he looked for places where no one else had ever preached the gospel.

(i) The Desire Comes From God

Why did Paul have such a passion? Consider what he wrote to the Philippians –

Philippians 2:12 …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Even the desire to do God’s will comes from God.

(ii) The Ability Comes From God

The Bible speaks of spiritual gifts. What is a spiritual gift? A spiritual gift is a specific way that God chooses to work in and through our lives. There are many spiritual gifts, including: giving, serving, teaching, helping, and being a pastor.

(c) Paul’s Passion Was a Gift of God’s Grace

The word ‘gift’ in the phrase spiritual gift, comes from the word ‘grace.’ A spiritual gift is a way that God shares His grace with those in need. Note what Paul says in our passage.

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation…

Paul was a church planter. He was an evangelist. Therefore he went everywhere he could and preached Christ. It was his passion and his purpose.

(ii) You and Me

It’s easy to see how God used Paul, but what about you and me? How can God use us?

Salvation through Jesus Christ is the foundation of every life that pleases God. But when we build a building, we don’t stop with the foundation; we continue to build. Note again what the Bible teaches us.

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 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. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

To put this passage in simpler terms, Paul is saying that once the foundation of salvation in Jesus Christ is laid, it is then up to each man how he builds upon that foundation.

(a) Stewards of Building Lives

Each of us is building in at least two ways:

(i) Building Our Lives

First of all, we’re responsible to build our own spiritual lives. Jude tells us that each of us should be ‘building ourselves up in our most holy faith.’ Each of us is a steward of our own spiritual growth and maturity.

(ii) Building the Lives of Others

Each of us is a steward of our own spiritual growth and maturity, but we are also a steward of the spiritual growth and maturity of others. We each have a job to do in order to help people come to know Christ as their Savior and then to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

(b) Stewards of Building Wisely

Paul refers to building materials we use as consisting of either ‘wood, hay, and stubble’; or ‘gold, silver, and precious jewels.’ What are these? How do we know which type of material we are using?

Perhaps this simple comparison will help us understand.

GOLD, SILVER AND PRECIOUS STONES
What is heavenly and eternal
What is pure and holy
What is precious and valuable
What takes effort to obtain

WOOD, HAY AND STUBBLE
What is earthly and temporary
What is worldly and sensual
What is useless and worthless
What takes nothing to obtain

The Bible says – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

Sometimes we are tempted to see how close we can live near the edge and not fall off. Yet what we fail to understand is that one day we will have to stand before our Savior and give an account of their choices. On that day the question will not be – ‘Could I have done that?’, but ‘Should I have done that?’ ‘Did the choice I make please my Savior?’

(c) Eyes as Flames of Fire   

Before I go on to my last point and bring this message to a close, we should take a moment and consider the fire that Christ will use to examine our lives.  In Revelation 1 we read of John the apostle description of Jesus Christ in all of His glory. Note what John says about the eyes of Christ – “…his eyes were as a flame of fire…” (Rev 1:14) I don’t know this for sure, but I believe that the fire that will examine the deepest parts of our lives will be the penetrating gaze of our Savior. Get this vision in your mind. Here is the Savior who still bears the scars of the wounds He received on Calvary. There are still nail prints in His hands and a scar where the soldier’s spear went into His side. Later John describes Him as a ‘Lamb that had been slain.’ Every time we look upon Christ in heaven we will be reminded of what He suffered to save us from our sins. Yet at the same time, His eyes will be as flames of fire. I believe that at the Judgment Seat of Christ, our eyes will meet the eyes of the Savior and His purity will expose and burn away all of this junk we sometimes try to pretend is a part of our Christianity. And perhaps, at that moment, there will be a sense of shame that will sweep over us as we see much of our lives go up in smoke.

B. The Reward of Our Works

Lastly, consider just for a moment the reward of our work.

13 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. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

1. Those Who Lose Their Reward  

Again I point out that this judgment does not determine salvation. Even the person whose works are completely destroyed and he suffers the loss of all heavenly rewards, will himself be saved if his foundation is Jesus Christ.

2. Those Who Gain a Reward  

But what about the person who hasn’t wasted their life? What about the person who committed their life to Christ and thus built their spiritual house with God’s gold, silver and precious stones? What will happen to them?

14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

The Savior will give him rewards that will last for all eternity. A million, billion years from now, we will still be thankful for the wise choices we make today.

Conclusion  – “Only What’s Done For Christ Will Last”

Many years ago there was a great missionary by the name of CT Studd.  CT was born in England to a wealthy family and he himself became a famous cricket player. He was a star athlete of the 19th century.

CT’s brother, George, became severely ill and died. CT had the world at his finger tips, but he was faced with a sobering question. “What is all the fame and flattery worth … when a man comes to face eternity?”

He had been saved, but he was not living his life for Christ. He described himself as being in – “an unhappy backslidden state.” He then concluded – “I know that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it was worthwhile living for the world to come.” Later he wrote a poem entitled – ‘Only One Life, Twill  Soon Be Past.’ Here are three stanzas from that poem –

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say, ”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

Every Christian needs to ask themselves – ‘What of my life will last for eternity? What will remain after the penetrating gaze of my Savior? What will He consider to be gold, silver and precious jewels? What will cause Him to say – ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant?’

Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.

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