Matthew Henry said, “It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day.” What “last” day? Our final day on earth.
In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, Paul tells us this life isn’t all there is. There’s a life to come and a new body to put on (vs. 1-5).
In his book, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, Rick Warren said, “This life is not all there is. Life on earth is just the dress rehearsal before the real production. You will spend far more time on the other side of death – in eternity – than you will here. Earth is the staging area, the preschool, the tryout for your life in eternity. It is the practice workout before the actual game; the warm-up lap before the race begins. This life is preparation for the next.”
It’s an exciting proposition that we are going to get new bodies (vs. 2-5) and there will be a “new heaven” and “new earth” (Revelation 21:1-4). It will be a new day in a new place with a new body – without pain, suffering, tears, sorrow, sickness, disease or death.
But then Paul adds, “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” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
What a colossal mistake it would be for someone to put everything they’ve got into THIS LIFE and miss the NEXT!
Wait a minute! Everything was going so well. New bodies, new heaven, new earth, etc. What happened? Now there’s a judgment? Yes. We are all going to “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” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
What is the “JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST?”
Dr. Erwin Luther said, “The judgment seat of Christ is often called the BEMA (the Greek word for judgment seat used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:10. Literally, the Bema refers to a raised platform that was used for the assembly where speeches were given and crowns were awarded to the winners. In ancient Rome the Caesars sat on a tribunal to award those who had made heroic contributions in winning the battle. The Bema of Christ dwarfs all other tribunals, for here we shall be called into account before the all-knowing Judge.”
So what will we be judged for?
1. We WON’T be judged for SIN. That judgment already took place at the Cross. Our case was settled out of court. “He who knew no sin became sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
2. We WILL be judged for our WORKS. “For what we have done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Paul made it clear in Ephesians 2 that we aren’t “saved by works,” but we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
PAUL EXPLAINS HOW our works are going to be tested in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. There’s coming a DAY, when our works will be tested by fire. In other words, a DAY (the Judgment Seat of Christ) when He will determine if we built with wood, hay and straw or with gold, silver and precious stones.
Doesn’t He already know that? YES. But at the Judgment Seat of Christ, WE’LL find out and so will everyone else. There are going to be REWARDS GIVEN and REWARDS LOST. You’re not going to LOSE your salvation. But you could lose REWARDS you could’ve enjoyed for all eternity.
Here are a few of the things God will reward us for:
1. Seeking Him (Matthew 6:6) “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
2. Submitting to our boss (Colossians 3:23-24) “Whatever you do work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
3. Self-denial in His service (Matthew 16:24-27) “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For the Son of Man is going to come and he will repay each person according to what he has done.”
4. Serving others in His name (Mark 9:41) “For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.”
5. Suffering for His name (Luke 6:22-23) “Blessed are you when people hate you and revile you on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for your reward is great in Heaven.”
6. Sacrificing for Him and His Church (Matthew 19:29) “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”
7. Sharing your time, talent and treasure (1 Timothy 6:18-19) “Do good and be rich in good works, be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for yourselves as a good foundation for the future, so that you may take hold of that which is truly life.”
Listen to what JESUS said:
Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for YOUR REWARD IS GREAT IN HEAVEN, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
And to what MOSES did:
Hebrews 11:25-26, “By faith, Moses chose to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for HE WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO THE REWARD.”
In Matthew 16:26, Jesus asked a question, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
What a colossal mistake it would be for someone to put everything they’ve got into THIS LIFE and miss the NEXT! How foolish would it be to live for THIS LIFE ONLY and ONLY HAVE THIS LIFE when eternity begins?
In Matthew 16:27, JESUS said, “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will REPAY EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO WHAT HE HAS DONE.” We are all going to “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” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Dr. Erwin Lutzer said, “Hell will not be the same for everyone. And heaven will not be the same for everyone. The way we live here will have eternal, unchangeable, and profound consequences.” In other words, EVERYTHING WE DO TODAY MATTERS FOREVER!
This is what we’re teaching all of our kids at KNL (KIDS NIGHTS LIVE!). Every child who comes is learning how to build with the right blueprints, the right tools, on the right foundation, realizing that building won’t be easy and the only way to do it right is to do it with JESUS. It’s an incredible week with eternal ramifications. I hope your kids and grandkids are already here. If not, you can SIGN THEM UP NOW or do it tonight when you come.
One more thing, what on earth are you building?
© 2018. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.