Tony Evans - The Purpose of Judgement
This is your life. God will distinguish between that which was gold and that which was only gold plated. Now you can never lose your salvation. If you've accepted Christ, you've won legally your eternal destiny, but you could lose relationally your eternal status. The idea is that choices matter. Our decisions are not neutral. You can't change yesterday, it's gone. If you are worried right now that if Christ came back, you would be ashamed 'cause you don't have much to show, what you can do is from today moving forward, prepare for that day that you will be required to stand for. This day is coming.
Right now you live in the dispensation of grace where Jesus Christ is your Savior. Where he gave his life in order to provide the gift of salvation to all who would come to him to receive it. But there is coming a day when the Jesus who is the Savior will be the Jesus who is the judge. The Bible says in Hebrews chapter 9 verse 27, "It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment". That death is not a period, it's a comma, and you move from this life to the life to come and in the life to come, there is a judgment. Non-Christians have a judgment, it's called the White Throne Judgment. We're gonna talk about that in our "Prophecy Series". That is a judgment of non-Christians to determine the level of separation from God that they will have. But our concern over these next number of weeks is another judgment.
This is the judgment of Christians. This is where God will gather those who have accepted Christ, who have been saved in order to be judged. So there is a judgment for non-Christians, and then there's a judgment for Christians. The judgment for Christians is called The Judgment Seat of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad." if you are at this judgment is because you are already a Christian. Non-Christians are not at this judgment. That's a separate judgment, the White Throne Judgment. The only reason you are here is because you have been born again, you have been saved.
So this judgment is not about your salvation. 'Cause if you're not saved, you won't be there. This judgment is about your service, not your salvation. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8 and 9, "By grace are you saved through faith that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not according to work, so that no one will boast". People are saved by the grace of God free of charge. You are saved by receiving Jesus Christ into your life as your personal sin bearer. When you trust Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins and the free gift of eternal life, he grants you as a gift salvation. But while you are saved for free, you are saved to work. You don't work to get saved, but having gotten saved, God wants you to serve.
That's why Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which he has created beforehand that we should walk in them". So we are saved for free, but God wants to know how much did we value the free gift? Did we appreciate the price paid for the salvation given, or did we not appreciate it? Now, you are saved by grace for free through trust in Christ, but you are saved for a purpose. And that purpose is that your life, my life, our lives will be lived in gratitude to the Savior who saved us for free. God says, "The price that I paid on Calvary, just cost too much. And since this price cost too much and I have paid the price, I would like to know that you are grateful for the price paid through the service that you render".
So what he wants us to know is there will become a time, a day in court, your day in court, where God will evaluate your stewardship of life as a member of his family. The word "Judgment" is from the Greek word "Bema". The "Bema" was a platform in New Testament days. We get our Olympic games from Greece and back in the Corinth where the Greek culture was dominating, they had what they call the Isthmian games. We would call them Olympics but they called them the Isthmian games. In the Isthmian games there was a platform where the judges set to judge the athletes who were participating in the various sporting events. They would sit behind the "Bema" or the platform. They would look to see who was competing, how were they competing.
Did they compete for the rules or with the rules, or were they appropriate in their dress and attire for whatever the sport was. So they would be the judges for the various contests and they would sit on the judgment seat known as the "Bema". Well, Paul the apostle takes the word that they used for the sporting events, "Bema," the judgment seat, and that is the word used to describe believers standing before the Lord when you are ushered into eternity for your evaluation. Let's look at this a little bit closer. Please notice that verse 10 says, "For we must appear". So let's get this straight, you do not get a choice about showing up. You're not gonna be asked, "Do you wanna come to court today"? This will be your day in court and you will attend. In Romans chapter 14, this is what Paul says there about the same event. In verse 10, he ends it by saying, "For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 'As I live,' says the Lord, 'Every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall give praise to God so that each one of us will give an account of himself to God.'"
So the judgment seat is a time of accounting. You are going to, I am going to, we are going to have to give an account of our lives from the time of our conversion to the time of our transition into eternity, either by death or by the rapture. We will have to account for our lives. This is why accountability is so important because you're going to have to give an account, you're going to have to answer some questions, you're going to have to give some clarity, you're going to have to hear the analysis. He makes another statement. First of all, you will attend. Secondly of all, you will attend individually. Each one. You may have a mother over there where Jesus is, you may have a daddy over there where Jesus is, but they can't stand in for you.
There will be no lawyers to give you a spin on your case. You will have to stand, "Each one," it says, in the presence of God for a review of your life from salvation to transition into eternity. At the judgment seat of Christ, God is going to give full exposure to our lives, good, bad, and ugly. The Bible says that, "God the Father," John chapter 5 verse 22 and verse 27, "Has turned all judgment over to his Son," which is why it's called the Judgment Seat of Christ. God has turned all judgment over to his Son for the believers because we are the ones who make up his church and his family.
Now the thing is, you're giving an account to somebody who has perfect information. So you can't lie and get away with it because he has perfect data, not only of everything that is done, but everything that is thought. So it is laid bare, that's why it's called being laid bare at the "Bema". Now, to make you feel a little bit better, to make us all feel a little bit better, my last sermon in the series will be, 'How to Expunge Your Record,' okay. So stick with me here. Oh, now you're getting excited now, now you're getting excited.
Now but I do want us to grasp that this is no minor meeting, this is a major meeting and things will be laid bare as we stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And I know I'm moving very deliberate, slow, didactic because I want us to clearly understand the nature of this. He says, "To be recompensed for the deeds done in the body". In other words, doing your physical life on earth, from the time of conversion to the time of transition, the deeds done in the body, what we did in our humanity on earth during the time of our Christian pilgrimage. What God wants to see is that the grace he has granted produced the appropriate response of gratitude in the life that is lived. He says that this analysis will include verse 10 says, "Whether good or bad". So this is a comprehensive exam. This is not a pop quiz, this is a final. It is comprehensive for all of life.
He says to recompense that is to pay back based on what the evaluation says. During that day God will distinguish between that which was gold and that which was only gold plated. It will be his comprehensive statement on how we valued the salvation that he gave. 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 17 says, "If you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during your time of your stay on earth". "If you address as Father," your child of God, "you address as Father, the one who impartially judges," there are no favorites according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth. This is your day, my day, our day in court, when there will be the examination of the actions and the motivations laid bare before the Lord at the "Bema".
Now, the issue again is not your salvation, you can never lose your salvation. Revelation chapter 22 verse 12 says why it is. "Behold I am coming quickly and my reward is with me to render to each man according to what he has done". So God will bring you and me into whatever the cubicle is, push the play button and walk us through our lives to determine the gain or loss of reward. Weeping and gnashing teeth. Most of the time people hear that they think of hell but you'll discover something different, when we get to that. But the point is there will be regret by many of God's children. And so what Jesus will have to do, is wipe the tears from their eyes at their loss when they see what they could've had that they won't get because they didn't value a Savior who gave them such a gift.
God is comprehensive, he will address all the contingencies. He will know who had more opportunity than somebody else. He will know who was abused and that affected them where somebody else wasn't. He will take all the idiosyncratic nuances into consideration as he does the accounting and as he does the analysis because of the comprehensive nature of his being. But we will all give an account to the Lord on that day whether good or bad. Now, you can't change yesterday, it's gone. And there're probably not too many people here today, who don't have some regrets for yesterday. You wish you had a do-over 'cause you would have done it differently with what you know now and you can't do that. We will talk about some provisions that God has made, we'll call it Charitable Deductions.
But you can't do that but what you can do is from today moving forward, prepare for that day that you will be required to stand for. And since nobody knows when they're going to die or when Christ is going to return, you and I can't afford to waste another day in preparing for that day of the judgment seat of Christ. So three things I wanna bring before you in this opening message of our series. He says in verse 9 of 2 Corinthians 5, "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent to be pleasing to him". "We have as our ambition". An ambition is a goal. Is something you're striving toward. He says, "In light of this judgment that is to come, I have made it my ambition," I have made it my goal, "To be pleasing to him".
So the first thing we must do in preparation for that day, is to begin today to ask by the end of the day, "Did I please God with my day"? To start your day and to say, "Lord, my goal today, ambition, is to please you in word and deed, in talk and walk, in life and lip, in mouth and movement. I want to please you today so that when I lay my head on the pillow tonight, I can look back and say, 'You were well pleased today.'" And then you repeat the same thing tomorrow and the day after that and you make it a daily enterprise to be pleasing unto him to ask the question, "Is God gonna be happy if I do this or do that, go here, go there, say this, say that? Is that going to make him smile"? He says, "That's my ambition".
So the first thing is to make it an orientation to pursue his pleasure. Second thing he says in verse 11, "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord," "Knowing the fear of the Lord". The word "Fear" means to take God seriously, okay. The Apostle Paul is the most spiritual person in the New Testament. He's the greatest Christian probably that's ever lived. And he says, "I operate in the fear of God". Knowing the fear of God. The Bible has a whole lot to say about the fear of God. To fear God doesn't mean to walk around trembling like this, to fear God is to take him seriously as opposed to taking him casually. It means that you don't just throw out the name God and leave it empty, that name has substance to it.
Knowing the fear of the Lord, 'cause he just said in the previous verse, verse 10, I'm gonna have to stand before the Lord, "Knowing the fear of the Lord" that I've gotta take God seriously. To fear God means to take God seriously. Not just using his name for invocations and benedictions, but his thoughts, his views, his perspectives. No, he says, "I fear God. I take God's name seriously". I enjoy the benefits and praise God for the benefits of God that is available to all of us, but he is to be taken seriously and so he wanted to please God, but he took God seriously and then it says in verse 11, "Therefore, having the fear of the Lord, we persuade men".
In other words, you should be influencing somebody else to fear God. Who are you persuading that they gonna face this day? They gonna be here this day and they must show up. If you've been born again, you're a child of God, you're a son or daughter of God, but you can't use being born again as a way out of the judgment because the judgment is not about your eternal destiny, the judgment is about your service to the Lord, your walk with the Lord, your commitment to the Lord in your earthly body. The bad news is we've run out of time, the good news is, we still have some because we're still here. This day is coming. From a prophetic standpoint, it looks like it's coming quicker than we think. When you look at the world and you look at the prophecies that the Bible talks about.
So if you and I haven't gotten started yet, today is a good day to start. Pleasing the Lord, fearing the Lord, and persuading others to do the same. Because we will be in front of him on that day. When you know your heavenly Father is looking, when you know your heavenly Father's evaluating, when you know your heavenly Father is seriously penetrating what you do and how you do it, it changes how you function, it changes how you walk, it changes how you talk, it changes how you relate, it changes how you interact, it changes whether you abandon your family or not, it changes whether you abandon your children or not, it changes whether you are trying to deal with your sins or not. It changes everything 'cause you know daddy is watching and that the camera is rolling.
So on that day, God has charged this church and every church to present every man perfect, every saint complete in Christ. That's what we should be about. And if we don't do that, we have failed you. If we don't make today help you for that day, then we have not been a good church because that day is coming and everyone will give an account.
The purpose of the judgment seat of Christ is for our king, the Lord Jesus Christ, to give recognition to believers for their faithfulness to him during their time on earth, from the period of salvation to the period of them going home or the rapture. He wants to give public recognition and private acclaim for believers who walked with him, served him and who've given their lives to impact others for him. He does not want our service to him to go unrecognized or unappreciated and at the judgment seat of Christ, he will let us know how our faithfulness has earned us rewards from time for eternity.