Who is the source of blessed rewards and living hope (1 Peter 1:3) for the righteous? It’s JESUS!
JUDGMENT IS COMING
There’s a day coming when God is going to evaluate our lives–all of us as Christians. This evaluation far outweighs any the world has ever seen: athletic, academic, or job performance.
Hebrews 9:27 – It is appointed unto men once to die, and then the JUDGMENT…
Some Christians seem to think that they can live completely unexamined lives. They’ve trusted Christ as Savior, their sins are washed away, heaven is a sure thing, and that’s all there is to it as far as they are concerned. And now they can live as they please and never answer to God for their actions.
This is not so! A day is coming when the divine Judge is going to evaluate our lives–all of us as Christians. Let’s live in a way that will please God and bring us blessings and rewards.
JESUS IS A REWARDER
Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a REWARDER of those who diligently seek Him.
Colossians 3:23 – And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the REWARD of the inheritance; foryou serve the Lord Christ.
Psalm 58:11 So that men will say, “Surely there is a REWARD for the righteous; Surely He is God who judges in the earth.”
Isaiah 40:10 – Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His REWARD is with Him, And His work before Him.
Matthew 16:24-27 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will REWARD each according to his works.
Rev. 11:18 And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should REWARD Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great.
GOD WANTS TO CELEBRATE YOU!! BOTH NOW AND IN ETERNITY!
Zephaniah 3:17 – The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
There appears to be several judgments referred to in Scripture.
- Great White Throne judgment, where your destiny determined and set (Rev. 20:11-1).
- The Bema Judgment Seat– A Reward Ceremony for Christians! The words “judgment seat” are the translation of one short Greek word pronounced Bema.
2 Corinthians 5:9-11 – Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 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.11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…
Romans 14:10, 12 For we shall all stand before the JUDGMENT SEAT of Christ…12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
THE BEMA JUDGMENT SEAT
The BEMA was not just a judicial bench where someone was condemned; it was a rewards seat. There’s a day coming when God is going to evaluate our lives. All Christians lives here on earth will be evaluated. We all must stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
In the Greco-Roman world the BEMA was a raised platform, like a speaker’s platform, mounted by steps, and used by an official of high rank. It might be the seat of a king addressing his subjects, or a judge carrying out his official duties, or a commander giving instructions to his troops. In the Greek Olympic games it was the seat of the president of the games before whom the winning athletes came to receive their crowns or awards.
For the believer, there’s going to be a BEMA, a judgment seat. The BEMA will be a place of evaluation and reward. Therefore, the judgment seat of Christ appears not to be designed just to punish disobedient believers, but rather primarily to REWARD them for their obedient & faithful service. All of us will give an account of what we have done after trusting Christ as Savior.
The Christian life is a race and the Great Rewarder is Jesus Christ. After the race is over for each believer, Jesus will gather every member before the Bema and give the proper REWARD to each.
One day you and I will have our own awards ceremony in eternity. The halls of heaven will ring with praise and celebration. There will be witnesses from every nation and every generation. You receive your reward for eternity based on what you DID on earth.
Psalm 62:12 – With you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You REWARD everyone according to what they have done.”
Ephesians 6:8…knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord.
THE TEST OF YOUR WORKS
I Corinthians 3:11-15 – But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a REWARD. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Gold and silver and costly stones – refer to works done for the glory of God, with the right motive, and depends upon the power of the Holy Spirit.
At the judgment seat believers will be REWARDED according to how they faithfully served, obeyed and followed Christ.
THINK OF REWARDS AS “WAGES” AND PAYDAY IS COMING!
Revelation 22:12 – “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My REWARD is with Me, to give to every one according to his work…what he has done.
…And MY REWARD (MY WAGES) are with me. What’s the first thing that Christ wants to do? He wants to give you a reward.
He is a REWARDER…the one who pays back your wages in return for your work. This is an expression of His own generous nature.
In the midst of serving Christ we might grow weary and ask, “Where are my WAGES for serving you? Is this all really worth the effort?”
Our REWARDS are with Jesus in Heaven. When do those REWARDS come? When He comes again and when the Bema takes place. At this time will want to have done our best for the Lord, and will want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
When you honor God, he says, in effect, “You don’t work for me for free. I’ll pay you for seeking me”. So if we’ve put God first. If we’ve done our best to please Him, we can be sure that our payday is coming!
Matthew 6:7 – God who sees in secret will REWARD you openly.
Romans 2:6 – “God will REPAY each person according to what they have done.
LAY UP YOUR TREASURES IN HEAVEN.
Matthew 6:19-20 – “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Don’t let this life’s cares cause you to be unfruitful.
Mark 4:18-20 – Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
IT WILL BE BETTER THAN WE COULD IMAGINE!
I Corinthians 2:9 – But it is just as the Scriptures say, “What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!”
Psalm 63:3 – Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.
The Word of God helps us to know what will earn us rewards:
Let’s keep on doing what we know will earn us rewards –things like:
- Patiently enduring through trials,
- Graciously sharing our faith,
- Steadfastly staying on course until God calls us home,
- Faithfully shepherding God’s sheep,
- Generously investing our money in things of eternal value,
- Unselfishly using our gifts and abilities to serve the Lord,
- Maintaining an effective prayer life,
- Doing our job well–even our secular jobs–
- Loving our enemies,
- Growing in the likeness of Christ.
We need to do these things for the glory of God rather than the praise of men.
We need to do them by the Spirit’s power rather than the energy of the flesh.
I Corinthians 9:24-27 – You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. So run to win! 25 All those who compete in the games use self-control so they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time, but our crown will never be destroyed. 26 So I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air. 27 I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that I myself will not be disqualified after I have preached to others.
1 Corinthians 9:24. You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. So run to win!
Special note: “Is this a selfish motive – to obey God and please Him just to get a reward?” Our greatest motive is just to give glory to God… but it isn’t wrong also to obey Him in order to earn a reward.
The apostle Paul wrote this by inspiration of God’s Spirit. “So run in such a way that you may obtain it.” That’s a motivation, and a perfectly wholesome one. There are prizes available to the believer, and we are encouraged to live our lives in such a manner as to win them.
1 Corinthians 9:25. ” All those who compete in the games use self-control so they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time, but our crown will never be destroyed.
The requirements for competitors in the ancient Greek Olympic games were rigid and demanding. They had to certify that they had engaged in ten months of rigorous and grueling training, during which they kept every official training rule–including restricted diet and restricted daily habits. They exercised self-control in all things. They could not even enter the race without certifying that.
Then the last 30 days of training were even more regimented. The race was won or lost in those final weeks before it started, and it required long hours of training and strict discipline, sometimes agonizing and painful. To win the race demanded total self-control. And the winner was usually the best-conditioned athlete, the one who had kept all the rules and then put out a little bit more, willing to bear the necessary pain.
That’s the way the Apostle Paul lived his life. He was out to win the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:26a. So I do not run without a goal.
Special note: Uncertainty refers to a lack of purpose or aim. He knew he would never do it unless he set it as a goal in his life. It wouldn’t happen by accident. He had to establish it as a certain and positive priority and be willing to make any sacrifice necessary to accomplish it.
At that point he changes the topic to boxing.
1 Corinthians 9:26b. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air.
Special note: He doesn’t swing wildly. He knows where his opponent’s nose is, and he’s going to connect with it (spiritually speaking, of course!). But the point is that it will require purpose and discipline. You have to want it to happen. It won’t happen by accident.
1 Corinthians 9:27. I treat my body hard and make it my slave, so that I myself will not be disqualified after I have preached to others.
He actually treats his body hard and he makes it his slave. He exercises total self-discipline, willing to make any personal sacrifice necessary, lest after calling others to follow Christ, he himself is disqualified from receiving his reward. If we don’t want to lose our reward, it will require a life of self-control and self-discipline.
God is saying to us here in 1 Corinthians 9 to run the race, live the Christian life, in such a way as to win the prize. Aim for the top! Go for the gold!” Some people think it’s selfish and immature to serve the Lord for rewards… It can hardly be immature when God tells us to do it. This was His idea, not ours. He used the promise of rewards to motivate us. He says, “Run the race in such a way as to win the prize.” And if Almighty God uses the promise of prizes to motivate us, you can be sure He will make it worth the effort it takes to win them!
WE DON’T WANT TO BE ASHAMED OR LOSE OUR REWARDS
I John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
That is a sobering thought: we could be ashamed as we stand before the Lord…or we could receive His lavish rewards if we serve Him faithfully during our time here on earth.
Don’t be consumed by things. Don’t chase after money, fame, fortune, bigger this, bigger that. When we seek earthly things, life is very shallow. Chase after God. Let your highest priority be to please Him.
Can we lose our rewards? The unfortunate answer is yes.
At the Bema judgment…He will give us the rewards we are due. Some of them we will keep, but others will be taken away according to our actions and choices here on earth.
As we read in I Corinthians 3, Paul makes the analogy of someone losing their heavenly rewards, as someone surviving a fire. Yes, you made it, you’re alive, but you lost everything except for the scorched shirt on your back.
2 John 1:8. “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”
Let us do as Pastor David Jeremiah expresses in this quote, “Serving God involves narrowing our focus to those things with highest eternal value.”
LIVING WITH ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE
Every Christian should look forward to the rewards that Jesus will give us. Yet nothing could ever compare to the splendor of seeing and just being with our Lord and Savior forever.
His love is so great for His people. He will rejoice over us with joy and give us things that are far better than we can imagine. He is truly wonderful and truly a GREAT REWARDER!
Special Acknowledgement: Thanks to Colleen Jaquith for her assistance in the preparation of this message and for sharing it at our online service.