Believer's Rewards

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Immediately after the rapture we go to the Father’s house and receive our rewards
— This is called by Paul ( 2 Cor 5:10 ) the judgment seat of Christ
We read at the end of Revelation:
12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. ( Rev 22:12 )
What is this time of rewards?
It is a time of rewards for the service that we have rendered to God
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. ( 2 Cor 5:10 )
The Place of Judgement — unfortunate translation. Judgment usually means sin, but that is NOT the idea behind this word.
— 7 Major judgments in scripture
— Each has it’s own time and place
judgment of sin: 4 gospels. Happened in time (30AD) and the place was at Calvary.
Judgment of self - goes all during your life. 1 Cor 11:31 If we judge ourselves we will not be judged. If we evaluate our lives carefully, we will avoid chastening
Judgment of believer’s works — this is the rewards that we are talking about tonight
Judgment of Israel. When Christ returns at the end of the tribulation He will judge Israel
Judgment of the Gentiles, the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31:46)
Remember how Christ comes down. His feet touch the Mount of Olives. He splits the Mount of Olives. All the nations are gathered into the Mount of Olives, and there he judges the nations. The place is earth; the time is the end of the tribulation.
f. The judgment of Satan and his demons. This happens at the end of the 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom
g. The judgment of the unsaved. Rev 20:11-15 is called the Great White Throne Judgment. After the thousand-year reign of Christ, there is a resurrection, and all the ungodly are brought before the throne, and Christ judges them out of the books that are written. They cannot make it on the basis of good deeds, and they’re all throne into the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
The Judgment of the Believer’s works - all of the other judgments are based on Sin. This is not
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. ( 2 Cor 5:10 )
— Now the word judgment seat is the word that we want to notice. The literal Greek term is the term bema; if you’re going to transliterate it, it’s B-E-M-A. Now that describes the place of judgment. Literally, bema means a raised platform mounted by steps.
— It is just a seat of authority
— It’s merely a seat of dignity or prominence or authority.
— Outside Corinth was a large Olympic stadium, and the Greeks of course were great on athletics
— During the Olympics there was a platform — BEMA
— It was a platform of prominence. It was a platform of honor. It was a platform of dignity.
— Every believer is going to climb up on the honor stand
“And every man shall have praise of God.” ( 1 Cor 4:5 )
— BEMA is never used of a judicial bench
the Person - Who is the judge? Christ. John 5 Jesus said, “God the Father has committed all judgment unto the Son.” And you see that’s a part of the exaltation of Christ, he will manifest authority in judgment. And in Revelation 22:12, “Behold I come quickly and my reward,” – watch this, I love it – “my reward is with me to give.” You see? So the reward is going to come from Christ himself.
God is always person with giving out rewards. It is individual
The People - We must all appear. It is the church. It is Christians
1 Cor 3:15 is the same account. Everyone at the BEMA will be saved but some of us will smell like smoke
5 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. ( 1 Cor 3:15 )
The Purpose — What is the point of this judgment?
So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. ( Ro 14:12 )
— Every believer will give an account of himself to God
— God knows that we need to be accountable to somebody.
— But someday we’re going to stand face to face with Jesus Christ, and we’re going to have to talk about the issue of our life.
— There is no penalty for our sin: Is 38:17
If I go to a rich man or something and say, “There’s a real need and I know you’re one of the richest men in the world and you’ve got X millions of dollars and I want you to give to this need.” And the man says, “Oh, I will give to that need,” and he sits down and writes out a check for $9.25. You say, “Thank you very much, sir, you have given me out of your riches.” But if I say to another rich man, “Rich man, I have a need and the need is for X number of dollars.” And the rich man takes out of his checkbook and says, “How much do you need?” And he writes me double the amount I need. Then I say, “You have not given me out of, you have given me according to.” And when God starts dispensing grace, he doesn’t dole it out out of his grace; he gives it out according to his grace. As rich as he is, that’s how much forgiveness you have. There are no limits; it is full and it is total.
Let me give you just a fabulous illustration of this; it comes out of Isaiah 38. And so many of the terms used in the Old Testament are vivid, but this one is really very, very vivid. Isaiah 38, you’ll know the Scripture, 38 verse 17 I think it is. Yes. Listens to this. You don’t even need to look it up; just listen. He says, “But thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption.” Now he’s talking to God, then he says this, “For thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” You know what the literal Hebrew is? You have put all my sins between your shoulder blades. Have you ever tried to turn around and look between your shoulder blades? There’s a lot of places you can see; that’s not one of them. God has put your sins in the one place that he can’t – now that’s a beautiful metaphor. God is saying in effect, “As a man could never see what was between his should blades, so I have placed your sins in a place where I cannot see them.” That’s forgiveness. And somebody comes along and starts telling me I’m going to have to stand before some big screen and watch my sins in sin-o-rama, I say, “Forget it.”
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no,” what? “Condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.”
Other people say that what’s going to happen there is that we’re going to be judged for every sin we didn’t confess. Now this is common, that if you didn’t confess it it doesn’t get forgiven. Beloved, I have told you many, many times forgiveness of sin has nothing to do with confession in the life of a Christian. Confession is for fellowship, not for forgiveness.
I told you it’s for rewards, but let me go back to 2 Corinthians 5 and let’s pick it up there. “We must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ that everyone may receive the things done in his body. According to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Now everybody’s going to receive the things done in his body. Isn’t it interesting that everyone is going to receive? It doesn’t say anything about judgment, just receiving. Verse 9, “We labor that whether present or absent we may be accepted.” Now notice the word accepted. Again, it’s confusing; it really means that we may be well pleasing. We’re going to stand before the Judgment seat of Christ. Paul says, “We work in this life that when we get there we may be well pleasing.” Remember the parable in Matthew 25? “Well done,” verse 21, “good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s a time of receiving. It’s a time of being pleasing, and yet more being well pleasing; that’s what the word accepted literally means. We’re going to be made manifest to Jesus Christ to receive a reward in accordance with the things which we have done in our body, whether they be good or bad.
Now let me take a footnote. Again, people have been confused on the term “whether it be good or bad.” You say, “Well there’s the bad things, what’s going to happen with that? Are all the bad things going to be exposed?” Let me give you a clear thought on this; I think it’s clear. You must understand the word bad. The Greek language mainly uses two words in reference to bad or evil; kakos and ponēros. Those speak of moral ethical bad as opposed to goodness. Those speak of evil, sin. Neither word is used here. The word used here is phaulos. Now that word is used to speak of something which is worthless. It is not a moral word. It is not the ethical word. It is not the idea of evil or sin. It is simply the idea of something that has no lasting value. The best synonym and the one that most Lexicons would give would be worthless or value-less. And so this judgment, beloved, is not to decide whether we’ve done moral good or moral evil. It’s simply to take those things which we have done as believers and see which of them had eternal value and which of them did not.
Now believe me, there are things that I have done in my life that are morally inconsequential. But at the judgment seat, they’re just going to be worthless. I mean you know you go out and you spend an afternoon mowing your lawn. Now morally that’s inconsequential, and when you get to heaven that’ll go into the fire and it’ll be burned up, in terms of subtracting. Now that’s a very, very minimal reference; there are other things which may have more moral implications. But basically, the term here is not to give us the idea that there’s going to be a good bunch piled up here and a bad thing over here. It is valuable or it is worthless.
Now watch. The judgment seat of Christ then is this. A man goes who has lived believing in Jesus Christ, all of the works which he has done are there in the mind of God. It is then a process of God subtracting the worthless ones from the valuable ones, and then rewarding the believer on the basis of the valuable ones that remain. The difference in rewards is only going to come because some believers have understood their priorities and are going to have a pile of valuable things while other believers, probably most, are going to have a monstrous pile of worthless things. But it is not a question of moral evil. It is only a question of sorting out the bad from the good in the sense of what is valuable.
Stewardship - Rom 14:10 Why do you judge your brother?
— You be concerned about the stewardship of your life before you become concerned about some other person
— In the area that is non moral, don’t operate the stewardship of another man’s life
— We will stand before God and give an account
Stewardship 1 Cor 4:1-5
“I’m not going to judge my own stewardship. I’m not going to judge somebody else’s stewardship. I’m going to let God do that.” Verse 4 at the end, “He that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore, judge nothing before the time until the Lord come. And he,” – watch this – “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of God.” Did you notice that beautiful statement at the close of verse 5? Every man is going to have what? Praise of God. Every Christian is going to be a winner. Now he says, “Your life is a stewardship. You take care of your own life. Don’t judge others, and wait for the Lord who when he comes will make an evaluation and even reveal the inside, the hidden things of darkness.” Motives, and then reward you on the basis of the good which remains after the worthless has been subtracted. And so the Bible sees this as a stewardship.
Structure 1 Cor 3:11
Now the Bible also sees it as a structure, another metaphor. Verse 11 of chapter 3, just go back one chapter. 1 Corinthians 3:11. Verse 10 he said everybody’s going to build on a foundation. Verse 11 he says the foundation’s Christ. Now he says, “Here’s your life. You’re going to build, and you’re either going to build gold, silver, precious stones,” or what? “Wood, hay, and stubble.” And what’s going to happen? “Every man’s work shall be made manifest.” The day will declare it. It will be revealed by fire. The fire shall test every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath build on, it shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss but he himself shall be saved yet as by fire.” Now what’s he saying? He’s saying as a Christian you have a foundation, Jesus Christ, and you have a choice to build. You can build your life on wood, hay, and stubble.
— As a Christian you have a choice
— Wood, hay or stubble
— And you know this is the tragedy of so many Christian’s lives, that they don’t live horribly-immoral lives. They just live disastrously inconsequential ones, that really if they died there wouldn’t be anybody in the world, spiritually speaking, who’d miss them. And everybody is going to be saved and everybody’s going to have praise of God, and there are crowns for all of us, but believe me there are some who are going to receive more than others, because some are going to have the gold and the silver and the precious stones that are going to go through the fire, and they’re going to be deemed by God to be precious with eternal value.
—A Race 1 Cor 9:24 “Know ye not that they who run in a race run all but one receives the prize. So run that ye may obtain.”
— As a Christian I have to race to win
— Keep your body in subjection - beat it black and blue
— God will judge motives - some people have all the works but they did it all for the wrong reasons ( 1 Cor 4:5)
— He will judge the conduct
— He will judge the service
The promise - What is going to happen? 1 Cor 3:14
14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. ( 1 Cor 3:14 )
— Did you know the Bible talks about five crowns? The incorruptible crown, the crown of righteousness, the crown of rejoicing, the crown of glory, the crown of life. Each a separate reward for faithfulness. There’s going to be wonderful rewards. The incorruptible crown, that’s for the one who obeyed the Lord’s command and made self-sacrifice and disciplined his life to live for God. The crown of righteousness, that’s to all those who love his appearing. That means everybody who is so in love with Jesus Christ that the looking for his coming dominates their life. The crown of rejoicing, the soulwinner’s crown. The crown of glory, the shepherd’s crown. That’s for the elders, the pastor-teachers. The crown of life, that’s for the guy who went through persecution and trial and martyred him for Jesus’ sake. Crowns. You say, “But, John, I mean we’re not going to.” I always think of the Imperial margarine commercial, you know boing you know. I mean is it some kind of a crass thing where we’re just racking them up for some cosmic closet to store them away? No, it isn’t at all because in Revelation 4, what do the 24 elders do with their crowns? They cast them at the feet of Jesus. What a blessed day that will be. Oh, what a joy.
But listen, beloved, I hesitate to say this and yet I say it because it’s in the Word of God. Some of you are going to be there and you’re going to suffer loss. You’re not going to receive the full reward that you could’ve received. Why? Because you haven’t lived the kind of life you should’ve lived. You haven’t ordered your priorities. Listen, listen to this statement. Second John 8, “Look to yourselves,” – listen – “Look to yourselves that you lose not the things which you have wrought, but that you receive a full reward.” You know you can actually earn things and you can actually do the things that please God, and then like Paul had such a fear of you can become a castaway. You can forfeit your crowns by some sin in your life. Remember in Revelation 3:11, remember this? “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man,” what? “take your crown.” Paul said in Colossians 2:18, “Don’t let anybody rob you of your prize.” For some people, I hate to say it, but it’s going to be a day of shame. You say, “But I thought there was no judgment.” No, but there’ll be shame there. How do you know that? First John 2:28, “Little children, abide in him that when he shall appear we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”
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