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The Judgment Seat Of Christ

June 30, 2014 Save Article

1 Corinthians 3:9-17

It is coming. Every person, saved or unsaved, is going to face judgment by God one day. Not one mother’s child is an exception. In this study we want to examine the three judgments all of us must face.

First, God will be judging both the saved and the sinners.
Next, God judges the saved as sons and daughters.
Then God judges the saved as servants.


All sin will either be pardoned in Christ or punished in hell.
No sin and no person who sins will slip by, unjudged.

Those who stand before the Great White Throne (Revelation 20) at the end are judged and cast into the lake of fire. But if you’re saved, for you that judgment is already passed.

When did that judgment happen? When Christ died in your place. When Jesus suffered, bled, and died on the cross, He took your judgment for you.

As we study what the Bible has to say about this, fill in some key words.

1. Turn to Ezekiel 18:20:

The soul that sinneth, it shall ______.

2. Turn to Romans 5:23:

Side note: Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome is considered to be as important to the Christian faith as the Constitution is to American government. Some have even called Romans “The Constitution of the Christian Faith.” While every word God has spoken is important, among the sixty-six books in His Word, Romans is without question one of the most important.

For ______ have ____________ and come short of the glory of God. Romans 5:23

Continuing in Romans:

3. Romans 5:12

Wherefore, as by _____ ______ sin entered into the world, and __________ by sin; and so death passed upon _____ men, for that _____ have sinned:

a. According to the above two verses, throughout the human race, over thousands of years, a select, saintly few have been able to escape without sinning, correct?

b. As a result of “sin entering into the world,” what entered with it?

Sin entered”—two words that indicate a moment in time when something happened. Before that moment, there was no death on planet Earth. Afterward, death “passed upon all men.” This consequence is beyond our comprehension in its results and the weight of it effects.

For a result so deadly, so earth-altering, sprinkling a little pixie dust over man’s condition or saying a few “I’m sorry’s would not satisfy this grievous breach of God’s holiness and character.

4. Romans 6:23

For the wages of _____ is _________; but the ______ of God is eternal life through __________ ____________ our _______.

It requires the ultimate cleanser, the ultimate gift—eternal life through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.


5. Turn to 2 Corinthians 5:21:

21 For He [God the Father] hath made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, Who [Jesus] knew no sin; that we might be made the ______________________ of God in Him [Jesus].

For centuries theologians have dubbed this “The Great Exchange.” Jesus provided a way out for you and me. He swapped out His righteousness for our sin. As hard as it is to imagine, Jesus surrendered His robe of sinlessness and became sin on our behalf, so that now we can be clothed not in our own righteousness, but we take on His righteousness.

The “Great Exchange” is one of the most important truths about our salvation for believers to grasp.

6. Back in Romans, turn to 5:1:

“There is therefore now _____ ___________________ to __________who are in __________ ___________.”

Are you one of “those”? No judgment for you. Why? Because you settled out of court. You have a Savior who paid for your sin. If you’re saved, that judgment is behind you.


If you have accepted what Jesus Christ did for you on the Cross (paying in full for your sins), you are a son/daughter of God. You are saved and secure. But let’s say you choose willfully, deliberately, to sin. God must chastise you. He must discipline you, if you are His child. Every good parent must discipline a child who disobeys.

This is not judgment to see whether you’re saved or lost. That’s settled. You can never, ever, again be a lost soul.

7. Turn to Hebrews 12:6:

“Whom the Lord loves, He ______________ and scourges every ______ whom He receives.

A clearer translation reads:

For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes.” [The Amplified Bible]

The Contemporary English Version translates it:

The Lord corrects the people He loves and disciplines those He calls His own.”

If you openly, willingly, deliberately disobey Him, if you choose to live in sin, God will “carry you to the woodshed,” not because He doesn’t love you, but because He does love you.

This is the judgment received by a son or daughter.


The judgment as servants is called “The Judgment Seat of Christ.”

One day, the way we have served the Lord during our life on earth will be brought into review. We will stand before Him. Many Christians think, “Well, I’m saved. Judgment is behind me. If I can just get my foot over the threshold of Heaven, I’ll be happy….” Don’t think the way you have served won’t make any difference. It will.

8. Turn to 1 Corinthians 3:9. Paul is using the analogy of creating a building.

9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.(NKJV)

a. Six building materials are described in verse 12. What sets the first 3 apart from the last 3?

b. What will happen to our work on the day of judgment? (v. 13)

c. Our work, this passage says, will be revealed by ________.


It kind of sounds like the three little pigs, doesn’t it, building with wood, hay, and stubble. What’s the difference between gold, silver, precious stones and wood, hay, stubble? You have to dig for gold, silver, and precious stones. Wood, hay, and stubble just grow on the ground. Gold, silver, and precious stones have been through the fire. That’s what makes them gold, silver, and precious stones. They don’t burn. Wood, hay, and stubble are highly combustible and not all that expensive. There’s coming a day when God is going to give a test—a torch test. There’s coming a day when it’s going to be revealed. When the torch test comes, wood, hay, and stubble are not going to abide—they are going up in flames. “If any man’s work lasts, if it abides, he’s going to receive a reward.”

9. Turn back to the last book in the Old Testament, to Malachi 3:1-3. Compare what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 with what the prophet Malachi declared centuries before, here in chapter 3. Keeping both passages open in your Bible and compare them side by side.

1 “Behold, I send My messenger,
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming
Says the Lord of hosts.
2 “But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap.
3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the Lord
An offering in righteousness.

a. How quickly in verse 1 of this Malachi passage will the Messiah appear?

This word carries with it the context of:

  • Catching the unsuspecting off guard
  • with rapidity
  • when we are least expecting it.

This passage speaks of Messiah’s first coming. The children of Israel were not expecting the babe of Bethlehem. In the same way, in our age, most are not prepared for His return. We cannot “prepare” once the coming starts to unfold. Then it will be too late. Our preparation must be made now, before that coming occurs.

b. Verse 2 says that the Lord will be like a refiner’s _________ and launderer’s ________.

c. In v. 3, what is the Lord going to do with His people? (two “p’s”) ____________ and _____________.

d. What building is mentioned in both passages?

e. Four key words appear in both passages:
__________________, _______________, __________________, _______________,

Written centuries apart, both passages speak of the Lord’s coming, and inherent in that is inevitably His people will be judged. Paul is using a wonderful illustration: the church is a temple, not made with stones, not an earthly building, but a spiritual temple of God, made of living, flesh and blood stones.

In the Old Testament, God had a temple for His people; in the New Testament, God has a people for His temple. And God indwells us by His Holy Spirit.

10. Back to 1 Corinthians 3:13:

Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the ______ shall _____________ it....”

“Made manifest.” “Revealed.” Imagine a curtain being pulled back and exposing to the light whatever is behind it. You can fool your pastor, your spouse, or your coworkers, but you’ll not fool God. One day it will be clear whether your life is wood, hay, and stubble or gold, silver and precious stones.

The Difference Between Spiritual People and Carnal People

Most people in the average church are carnal, fleshly—wood, hay, and stubble Christians—not gold and silver and precious stones Christians. The day of the Judgment Seat of Christ is going to come. Christ is the foundation. God is the building inspector. He’s going to put my life and your life to the test one day. It may be just a heartbeat away. We’re all much closer than we realize to eternity, when we’ll report in and stand, all of us, at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is important, therefore, that we learn what’s going to happen when we are judged as servants.

The Judgment Seat of Christ—A Day of Revelation

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be [here’s the operative word] revealed by fire...” (v. 13)

In that day God will reveal what kind of life we have lived, and we’re going to see it from God’s point of view.

What men necessarily applaud and look up to doesn’t impress God. Beauty, brains, and brawn don’t impress God.

11. Turn to Luke 16:15:

You are those who justify yourselves before ______, but God ______________ your ___________. For what is ____________ __________________ among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

a. Who is speaking here? ________________

b. Look at verse 14, directly preceding this. Who is being spoken to?

This is not saying that anything mankind esteems is an abomination to God, but that God looks beyond the surface—He looks into the heart.

c. Still in verse 13:

13 each one’s work…will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what _______ it is.

There’s a difference between sort and size. Quality is more important than quantity. Which would you rather have, a truckload of hay or a handful of diamonds?


He will judge based upon attitude, authority and ability.


Not only what we did but why we did it.

Turn ahead 6 chapters to 1 Corinthians 9:16. Paul explains his own passion for ministry:

16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward;”

Paul served God not grudgingly, not of necessity, but because his love for God would not allow him to do otherwise. God will judge us at the Judgment Seat of Christ not only for what we did, but if we did it willingly, gladly, from a free heart. Those who “serve just to be seen,” Jesus said, already have their reward—getting noticed.


Did you have authority? Are you serving God according to the Word of God? Does your ministry have heaven’s authority behind it? Some people are doing things God never commissioned, asked, or wanted. God has given us a rule book. Ask yourself, “Does my ministry have the authority of God be, behind it?”


God will require more from some people than He does others because they have more ability.

12. Turn to Luke 12:48.

But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever __________ is given, of him shall _________be ____________________; and to whom men have committed much, of him will they ask the more.”

In your own words, what does this verse mean to you? What are its implications for your life?

We have a way of measuring ourselves by other people. For example, some can give more than others. God doesn’t measure a gift primarily by the amount on the face of check but by the balance on the stub.

God doesn’t ask you to do what somebody else can do. That wouldn’t be fair. All Jesus asks of you is that you do what you can do.

Every one of us has a unique “SHAPE.”
S—Spiritual gifts
H—Heart motive
E—Experience in Life


You are unique. You are wonderful. When God brings you to the Judgment Seat of Christ, He’s going to ask, “Are you using what you have?” He will be looking at your heart, not comparing you to someone else.

  • God is going to test your work of what sort it is, not how big it is.
  • God is going to look at your attitude, not only what you did, but why you did it.
  • God is going to look at your authority. Were you obeying Him and doing what He told you to do? “To obey is better than to sacrifice.”
  • God is going to look at your ability. Did you serve Him according to what He gave you?

One day we will each give an account for the ability that God has given us, good or bad. There are so-called “little” people in heaven who are going to receive a greater reward than some who were “big shots” here on earth. Some of God’s greatest preachers are in country towns, overworked, underpaid, and God knows their name.

Some servants who basked in the limelight may be way behind some who served God in a small place, unknown, unsung, unwept, unhonored, but were faithful to the Lord.

Things are going to look different in the white light of eternity. God doesn’t see as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance; God looks on the heart.

If you would like to study this message in its entirety, please call 1-800 274-5683 and request message RA-2438, “The Judgment Seat of Christ.

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