Summary: Paul tells us that some will enter heaven even though their life work was basically worthless spiritually. This is both good news and bad news.
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
Warsaw Christian Church, 1/9/05
Richard M. Bowman, Pastor
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- 13 the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14 If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.
For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
The foundational message of the Christian faith answers the question, “How can sinful, fallen human beings find peace with God?” The answer, of course, is found in the Gospel. Salvation is given as a free gift to all who put their faith in Jesus. In this congregation I believe we all understand the Gospel messag,e and are persons who do place their hope in Jesus Christ alone. Our text is addressed to Christians whose feet are firmly planted on the foundation, which is Jesus Christ. Paul reminds us that there is no other foundation upon which we can stand.
If Jesus Christ is the only foundation, the one who alone freely bestows divine pardon and eternal life to all who trust in Him, this very truth raises a critical question. Since salvation is a free gift, unrelated to any good works we do, why should I concern myself with serving God? Why should I strive to do good works since faith is all I need to enter heaven? The answer lies in our two texts and I find the answer to be kind of amazing.
Paul makes it very clear that all who are on the foundation - - - all who trust in Christ alone as Savior, will finally be redeemed. They will enter heaven and enjoy eternal life. This is true for those who worked hard to serve the Lord Jesus, and for those with nothing to commend them except their faith. Thus, we might expect to find hard working Christians like Martin Luther in heaven, as well as John Does who accomplished nothing for the Kingdom of God. We expect to find Paul in heaven, a man whose accomplishments for the Kingdom of God are enormous, as well as the thief on the cross who did nothing for the kingdom. All he had was bare faith, a faith which came to him at the very end of his life.
Our text teaches clearly that salvation is by faith alone, having nothing to do with our good works or lack thereof. We have probably all lost friends or relatives who gave little if any evidence of having done much in the way of service to God. This text gives us hope, that in spite of their lack of good works, perhaps there was a bare faith in Jesus which will take them to heaven.