Summary: What awaits the faithful disciple when they meet the Lord in eternity?
There is an old saying, "Just one life, will soon be passed; and only what’s done for Christ will last."
This is our emphasis today, as we think together about the inevitability of life coming to an end. One day, every Christian here will find their life has come to an end. Also one day, every Christian here will stand before our Lord to give an accounting for the life we have lived here below. This is what Paul is emphasizing in our passage for today.
The Bible has quite a bit to say about the Day of Judgment for the Christian. For example, John tells us that some believers will stand before the Lord with their heads held high, while others will stand before Him with their heads hung low.
"Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." - 1 John 2:28 (NASB)
How can we make sure we will stand before Christ on the day of judgment with our heads held high? By abiding in Him. By living in such a way as to allow Christ to be "at home in our hearts." By walking with Christ and learning from Him how to allow Him to live His life through us.
The Bible tells us that the degree of reward that every Christian will receive in eternity will be determined on that day when they stand before Christ.
"You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat." - Romans 14:10 (NIV)
"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 Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV)
The Greek word for "judgment seat" is "bema," which, in secular usage, had four meanings:
1. It referred to one’s stride, or manner of walking.
2. It referred to a platform for a public official.
3. It referred to a "rewards platform" in sporting contests.
4. It referred to the place where litigants stood for trial.
One can easily see why the Holy Spirit selected this word for Paul to use in describing the day in which every believer will stand before their Lord to give an account concerning the life they lived (or did not live) for Him.
One thing is clear: the degree to which I live like Jesus will determine the degree to which I will one day be rewarded by our Lord. This is Paul’s emphasis in our passage for today. Every Christian will be judged according to the QUALITY of the life they have built on the foundation of Christ. Gold, silver, and costly stones refer to those aspects of my life that were Christ-like, while the wood, hay, and straw refer to those aspects of my life that are not Christ-like.
Every Christian who is seeking to live as a true disciple of Jesus Christ can look forward to being rewarded on that day. If I seek to live my life as a true disciple of Jesus, my reward will be three-fold:
1. At the end of my life, I will receive the reward of knowing my time was well spent-vs. 14-17
Paul says it’s possible to be genuinely saved and heaven bound, yet have nothing to show for the fact that they are a Christian. In other words, it is possible for a person to have a saved soul, but live a wasted life.
For the true disciple of Jesus, however, that will not be the story of their life. They will be able to know that their life was not wasted, but invested for both time and eternity.
Jesus taught that we are either contributing to the work of His kingdom, or we are hindering His work.
"This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you ‘re making things worse."
- Matthew 12:30 (The Message)
How sad it will be for some believers to come to the end of their lives only to look upon them and see that their testimony made things worse, not better for the kingdom of God. How sad it will be for them to realize, all too late, that their life was a complete waste, because they lived only for themselves, not the Savior.
Paul is using the imagery of building a temple in our passage in much the same way Peter uses it in 1 Peter 2:1-5:
"Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious~ Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." - 1 Peter 2:1-5 (NIV)