The Judgment Seat of Christ

Understanding the Three-Fold Judgment of a Believer

1 Corinthians 3:10-15



16 Jan 2011  PM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction


A.    There are three judgments of every believer


1.      One in the past

2.      One going on right now in the present, and…

3.      One in the not too distant future


B.     These judgments are too often forgotten about by Christians, but are part of what keeps us sober, and watchful against sinful habits, and neglecting our service for God

C.     I want to focus on the Judgment called the “Judgment Seat of Christ”, but to do that, I think we need to look at it in the context of all three judgments by God

D.    It will make us appreciate the grace and mercy of God towards us!


II.    Message


A.    A Christian’s PAST Judgment—Judgment as a SINNER.


1.      We are already all judged as sinners (Romans 3:23; 5:12; Ps 51:5)

2.      Christ took all our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross (Isa. 53:6).


a.       1 Pet 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree

b.      Not because we are worthy, or good, but because God loves us (Rom 5:8)

c.       Christ suffered the judgment that you and I so deserved.


1)      1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

2)      Isaiah 53:5 –  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

3)      What are our sins? Lust, hatred, covetousness, disobedience, blasphemy, idolatry, selfishness, … and the list goes on and on!


3.      Every person has a choice to accept God’s provision for his sin or they are free to do nothing!


a.       If you accept God’s payment for your sin—You are saved and justified (Rom. 10:9-10).

b.      If you neglect salvation, you will die, forever and ever in a lake of fire


4.      ILLUSTRATION: During the old days of the wild west, there would be prairie fires. These fires would burn across the prairie at great speeds. It would be impossible to outrun one of these fires. So, a cowboy would set fire to a spot where he was and after the fire burnt away the grass he would stand on the area that he just burned. When the on-coming prairie fire arrived where he was, it could not harm him because he was standing on ground that was already burned out and could catch fire again.

5.      The fire of God’s judgment already fell on my sins at Calvary (Gal. 4:13). Therefore to escape from God’s wrath to come, I simply need to stand on the ground that God already judged.

6.      The law says you cannot be judged twice for the same offence (double jeopardy). Jesus already was judged for my sins.

7.      If you do not accept Christ’s payment for your sin, you will have to face God’s judgment for your sins yourself, and will die and go to a devil’s hell.

8.      If you are NOT a believer in the death of Jesus Christ in your place, then that judgment is ON you right now!


B.     A Christian’s PRESENT Judgment—Judgment as a SON (1 Cor 11:31-32).


1.      When you accept Christ’s payment for your sin, you are born-again and adopted into the family of God as a Son of God (John 1:12).


a.       When you came to Christ for salvation, you didn’t come as a SON, you came as a SINNER. Lost, empty, messed up.

b.      God will never deal with you as a sinner again—He deals with you now as a SON!

c.       As a Son, you should seek to live to please your Heavenly Father. That’s obvious!


2.      But what if the believer sins after he is saved? God commands us to JUDGE our own sins (1 Cor. 11:31-32).


a.       By confession – agree with God that we have done wrong (1 Jn 1:9)

b.      Repentance – dumping our way of living and our old way of thinking


3.      What happens to the Christian who will not judge his own sins?


a.       God chastens His children (Heb. 12:5-11). Which would you rather?

b.      Chastening is not making a payment for sins.

c.       If a parent spanks a son for breaking a window, the spanking doesn’t pay for the window.

d.      When God chastises His child, it is not payment for sin, because Jesus already paid for them.

e.       As a son of God, you will never answer to God for any sin! Only for your attitude when sinning – for your love of the sin instead of your love for God!

f.       You may be chastened for sin, but chastening is CHILD TRAINING, not payment for sin.

g.      Every bit of trouble, and chastening by the Lord in your life is to correct you, and make you more like Christ – not condemn you!


4.      Take responsibility for your actions as a believer and keep short accounts with God! By humility, loads of confession, lots of effort to do right, and a good washing in the blood!


C.     A Christian’s FUTURE Judgment—Judgment as a SERVANT (2 Cor 5:10) – The Message!


1.      This is an examination of our life for REWARD. Salvation is a free gift, but rewards are earned by our works (Eph 2:8-10). Jesus talked about laying up treasures: Matthew 6:19-21

2.      This is a Judgment of BELIEVERS (Rom 14:10-13). Not the unsaved – they have another judgment!!!

3.      This is a judgment of SERVICE (works), not sins (1 Cor. 3:11-15)


a.       It is not for punishment, but only for rewards or loss of rewards.


1)      The believer's punishment fell upon Christ (1Jn 2:2)!

2)      Christ died to pay off the judgment of my SINS

3)      All my sins are GONE (Psalm 103:10-12)

4)      The judgment seat of Christ is like when an athlete is completing for the Olympics. If he loses the race, he is not punished but he loses the crown that he could have earned, and all of his effort was expended for nothing. At the end of the race, he stands before a judging committee who makes sure he ran fairly, and won fairly, and then they reward him!

5)      I go through chastening in my daily life to correct me as a SON

6)      But what about the things I do for the Lord (or the lack of them)? They get judged by God too!

7)      Christianity is all about living a life of good works


a)      Some religions try and make the works good enough to earn a place in heaven

b)      Jesus said only HE was the way to heaven – without ANY good works – only faith in Him!

c)      But after getting saved, the Christian’s life matters – how you live, where you go, what you think, what you look at, what you spend your money on, how you spend your time, what attitude you have…


b.      So, it’s purpose is to reward our service to Christ (1Cor 3:8,10,13,15)


1)      Salvation is a gift not a reward (Eph. 2:8-9). A gift is something that is purchased by someone else and is given to me freely. If I pay anything whatsoever for it or work for it in any sense, it is no longer a gift. Christ purchased the believer's eternal salvation by himself (Heb. 1:3) by His blood. There is nothing the believer can add to this.

2)      After I am saved by God's grace, I am to serve the Lord who saved me (Eph. 2:8-10), and the judgment seat of Christ will examine this service.

3)      It is like a son who works for his father in his father's farm or business. If the son is a slacker, he is still a son and is still loved by his father, but he will not be rewarded as he would have been had he been diligent and faithful and sincere in the father's service. 1 Cor. 3:15 is one of the clearest verses in the New Testament on the subject of eternal security. If the carnal believer who loses all at the judgment seat of Christ "shall be saved," how could it be possible to lose one's salvation?


4.      This judgment is a judgment of SORTS not SIZE (1 Cor. 3:13).


a.       Quality is the important thing in our lives – whether something has value (EX: having a LARGE pile of sawdust, or a SMALL bar of solid gold)

b.      Fire doesn’t measure size, it reveals quality

c.       The Lord is not only interested in WHAT you do, but also WHY you do it. Your attitude, and your motives!

d.      IMPORTANT: A life of Service that is not motivated by love for Christ will not be rewarded (1 Cor. 13:1-3).


5.      REMINDER: A believer can lose their reward, but not their soul (John 10:27,28).


D.    What Will Be Judged At The Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:12)? There are only two kinds of Christian lives, and each will receive its own reward:


a.       One kind of Christian life is likened to "gold, silver, and precious stones." This refers to that which is eternal, to that which has eternal value. For example, that eternal city, the New Jerusalem, is made of pure gold (Rev. 21:18).

b.      Another kind of Christian life is likened to "wood, hay, and stubble." This refers to that which is associated with man and this world, things that do not last and have no value before God. Note that structures made of wood or even hay can be very large and impressive in this world, but when they are tested by fire they go up in flames and nothing is left.


2.      So, What will be Tested? 1 Corinthians 3:11-15


a.       OUR SECRET LIFE – He will expose us! You had better just be real!


1)      Rom 2:16

2)      Eph 6:5,6 – God will expose the fact that you only did things for man’s praise

3)      Luke 8:17

4)      It is Christians only who are in view here. All that we have hidden shall be revealed. The things we have done in the body will come back to us, whether good or bad.


a)      Every pious thought, and every thought of sin;

b)      Every secret prayer, and every secret curse;

c)      Every unknown deed of charity, and every hidden deed of selfishness;

d)     We will see them all again, and though we have not remembered them for years, and perhaps have forgotten them altogether, we shall have to acknowledge that they are our own.


5)      If you don’t want to be thoroughly humiliated, you might as well just be real, and get growing, instead of always putting on a “show!”

6)      What we do in secret is what we really love!!! Think about it!




1)      Hebrews 6:10–“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”

2)      Matthew 10:40-42–“He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

3)      Matthew 25:40–“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. “


c.       OUR USE OF WHAT GOD GIVES US.   (Luke 19:11-27)


1)      TIME.


a)      Psalms 90:12–“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

b)      Ephesians 5:16–“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

c)      Colossians 4:5–“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”

d)     Jesus is going to ask you and me what we did with all our time!


(i)                 Some needs to be spent on rest

(ii)               Some on Family

(iii)             Some on working

(iv)             Some on fun

(v)               Some on Serving God


e)      Ask yourself, just how much time YOU waste, spend on just yourself? Are you a LITTLE out of balance or a LOT?




a)      2 Timothy 1:6–“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”

b)      1 Peter 4:10–“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

c)      Some of you can/should play a musical instrument, and yet you won’t develop that talent

d)     Some of you can sing

e)      Some of you can work maths

f)       Some of you can manage and organise

g)      And yet you will only do any of that when paid! Shame on you




a)      1 Corinthians 16:2–“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”

b)      2 Corinthians 9:6-8–“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

c)      1 Timothy 6:17-19–Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.



d.      HOW WE RUN THE RACE. How we compete against the devil by our lives


1)      1 Corinthians 9:24–“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.”

2)      Philippians 3:13-14–“ Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

3)      Hebrews 12:1–“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”




1)      1 Corinthians 9:26-27–“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

2)      1 John 2:28–“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

3)      OUR MIND – Our thoughts – YOU are responsible for what you think about!!!

4)      OUR TONGUE (Matt 12:35-37) – our words

5)      OUR HEART – what we naturally lust for




1)      Daniel 12:3–“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”

2)      1 Thessalonians 2:19-20–“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and joy.”

3)      Philippians 2:16–“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”




1)      2 Timothy 4:6-8–“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”




1)      2 Timothy 4:1-2–“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

2)      1 Peter 5:2-4–“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”




1)      1 Peter 4:12-13–“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

2)      Revelation 2:10–“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

3)      Matthew 5:11-12–“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”


3.      What Is The Reward At The Judgment Seat of Christ? Compare Mt 25:21-23


a.       CROWNS. This is a position of authority and service under Christ (Rev. 2:26-27).

b.      TREASURES in heaven (Mat. 6:19-21; 1 Tim. 6:19; 1Pet 1:7). We don't know exactly what these treasures will consist of, but the Lord Jesus has promised that treasures await those who serve Him in this world. Gold will perish, but these rewards will NEVER rust or perish!



1)      "His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Mat. 25:21).

2)      Surely, the greatest reward for the believer is to receive the Lord's commendation. The loss of this will be like that which Peter experienced the night Jesus was taken to trial. After Peter had denied Jesus he had to endure the look of disappointment and grief on the face of his Saviour and it was this that broke his heart (Lk. 22:61-62).


E.     Why Does The Bible Teach so much about Judgments?


1.      They motivate people to sober up and be ready to face God

2.      They motivate us to be responsible for our actions

3.      They motivate the believer to be spiritual instead of carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Paul taught on the judgment seat of Christ in the context of warning the brethren at Corinth about their carnality and challenging them to be godly.

4.      They also motivate the believer to be busy and faithful (1 Cor 3:9-10). When we recall that we must stand at the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for our lives, we are motivated to use our time wisely and fruitfully in His service.


III. Conclusion:


A.    There are three judgments of every believer


1.      One in the past

2.      One going on right now in the present, and…

3.      One in the not too distant future

4.      These judgments are too often forgotten about by Christians, but are part of what keeps us sober, and watchful against sinful habits, and neglecting our service for God


B.     There is a lot we are responsible for


1.      Our thoughts

2.      Our spending

3.      Our actions

4.      Our attitudes

5.      Our selfishness

6.      Our time

7.      We are SUPPOSED to be a peculiar people – holy – godly

8.      Not perfect, but striving to be like Jesus


C.     Where are you?


1.      Are you still a lost sinner?

2.      Are you starting to judge your own sins?

3.      Are you being chastened by the Lord?

4.      Will you have a reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ?