The believer’s work and reward -1. 1 Cor. 3:10-17

Points Covered: Types of judgments in the Bible, how God evaluates a believer’s work.

Joke: Two funny brothers were building a big dog cage. Once the frame was ready both went into the frame; one started nailing the wood from one side and the other nailed from the other side. The one who was nailing from the left would reach into his nail pouch, pull out a nail, look at the nail and either threw the nail or nail it in. Looking at the wasted nails the other brother asked, “Why are you throwing those nails away?” The first explained, “If I pull a nail out of my pouch and it’s pointed toward me, I throw it away ’cause it’s defective. If it’s pointed toward the cage, then I nail it in!” The second brother got completely upset and yelled, “You fool! The nails pointed toward you aren’t defective! Give it to me, they’re for the other side of the cage!”

We are all in the process of building up something in life – we build our career, build relationships, build up marriage, build children up, build houses, build business etc. As we are involved in building things in life I want to ask you today – is your building strong? Will your building stand the test of time? Are you building something that will cease with this world or for eternity?

Paul is saying here, there is coming a time when all the works of all believers, will be subject to a test by fire to determine whether they are worthy of reward. One of the greatest motivating forces in the life of a believer is that is was coming back and that when He came it would be a time of reward. Revelation 22:12 Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

Romans 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

1 Corinthians 3:13 …their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. Jesus is coming and we will have to give an account of our work to him. Now this is talking about a judgment on believers’ works.

1. Judgments in the Bible.

a. Judgement of sin. The Scripture talks about the wages of sin as death. When did that occur? At the cross Jesus died and was judged for our sins. There’s no more judgment there for sin.

b. Judgment of self. 1 Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. If we take care of our own lives, God wouldn’t have to discipline us, self-judgment.

c. The judgment of Israel. Ezekiel 20. God is going to judge Israel through the nations during the Great Tribulation.

d. Judgment of the nations. Matthew 25.

e. Judgment of Satan and demons. Jude 6:6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

f. Judgment of the unsaved. Revelation 20, the Great White Throne Judgment.

g. The judgment of the believers’ works. There’s coming a day when we will be judged on the basis of what we have done.

Who is the judge? Jesus Christ.

John 5:22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son. That’s why it’s called the judgment seat of Christ.

The purpose of Judgement: Believer’s work will be tested. Romans 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

Don’t run ahead of God and try to evaluate everything. You don’t know whether a man’s ministry is all it ought to be or not. Only God knows that. You say, but it looks good on the outside. God is more concerned with motive than He is with actual deed.

Now watch, when Jesus comes: You see every believer will have praise. There won’t be anybody condemned. There won’t be anybody shipped back to hell from heaven. There will be no one who will have to be punished. Christ bore all punishment. There will only be praise, but there will be varying degrees of praise depending upon the work of your life.

When it says in 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. it’s the word bema in the Greek. It refers not to a tribunal or a court. It refers to the Olympic stadium which was outside Corinth. The athletes went up the bema and were rewarded for the victories. Every believer will be at the bema, which means everybody’s going to get reward, a prize. Everybody will have praise, some more than others. Some will be more highly honored than others because some will have lasting and eternal work. Others will have worthless effort, but all will be saved. That’s this judgment.

Let’s look at the judgment as it appears here. When you get to the judgment seat there are going to be a lot of people surprised at what’s left after the test. Some people are going to think they really made a great contribution and not going to have anything left. And some dear saints out of nowhere that nobody knew are going to have the greatest rewards of all. Only God knows that.

2. Criteria for God’s evaluation of our works.

a. Motive. 1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. So God is going to judge you on your motives.

b. Conduct. 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. The things we’ve done and physically that the way we live our life, the day to day conduct of our lives is will be brought out in the judgement seat of God.

c. Service. Our service, our ministry, the use of our spiritual gifts will be evaluated by God. The ministry that you do will be evaluated. Your involvement in the church, using your spiritual gifts.

So God is going to judge your motives, your conduct, and your service. Now, Paul uses the analogy of a building here. In fact every day you’re building a building with your motives, your conduct, and service. Our work is considered as a building in the Bible. So, Paul here shows that all believers are constructing a building.

3. Foundation is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. What is foundational to Christianity? Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christianity. We can only build on a true doctrine of Christ. In a sense, the foundation is the whole of the word of God. The OT is the revelation or shadow and prophesy of Christ. The gospels are written to give us the history of the life of Christ. The Epistles were written to give us commentary on that life and to draw principles from that life. The book of Revelation is written to tell us that Christ is yet alive and reigning and will return. The whole New Testament is Christ. Christ is life on earth in the gospel. Christ active in the church, the book of Acts. Christ’s work commented on and explained, the Epistles. Christ coming again, the Revelation. It’s all Christ.

You cannot build on any other foundation than that. Christianity doesn’t need a new foundation. Some people are trying to build on top of a foundation of good works. Some people are trying to build their lives on morality and ethics. The only foundation is Jesus Christ. If that foundation goes, everything falls.

In Acts Chapter 4, Peter and John went into the temple and a man was there begging. Peter says, “Silver and gold have I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” The man jumped up and leaped and went to the temple courts praising the Lord. They brought Peter before the council. Peter spoke boldly: Acts 4:10-12 10It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Jesus is the cornerstone, the only foundation on which a life can be built, on which a faith can built, on which a nation can be built, a home, anything.

1 Peter 2:6 6For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame. 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Matthew 16:13-17 13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Jesus the foundation. Altar Call.

Conclusion: Beloved, there’s coming a day of rewards and God wants us to build our Christian lives on the foundation we have in Jesus Christ.