Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

The Judgment of Believers
Pastor Steve Schell
2 Corinthians 5:9, 10
Next week I expect to talk about the moment when unbelievers will be judged, but today we’re going to look at the judgment we will face as believers. What happens to us is profoundly different yet it’s clear in Scripture that even the lives of those who are saved will be evaluated by God. So each of us needs to know what He’ll look for so we can make wise choices in the way we live our lives.

John doesn’t record the judgment of believers in his Revelation except of course he starts out by recording the Lord’s evaluation of seven churches which existed during his lifetime. And if we read the Book of Revelation rightly, we’ll see it’s written to warn every generation to serve the Lord faithfully regardless of the obstacles they face. But Jesus Himself did speak a great deal about it, and so did Paul, which means it’s not a subject we should ignore. It will take place sometime during these final events that we’ve been reading about in these last chapters of Revelation. As we listen to Jesus and Paul, we’ll find a fairly clear picture emerges. In fact, I think Jesus deliberately modeled it for us during a private moment in Galilee.

1. How are we saved?
Before we talk about how we’ll be judged, let’s remind ourselves of how we are saved.
a) How we begin
• Repentance: submission to God’s will in my life
• Faith: thankful trust in the cross of Jesus Christ
b) How we change
• The Holy Spirit “marries” the believer
• He comes to us: As another helper (Jn 14:16); to conform us to Christ (Ro 8:29); to provide the power to become a new person (Php 2:13); especially to teach us to love (1Jn 4:11-13); to cause us to bear much fruit (Jn 15:8)

We can never earn our salvation. It is a gift we receive by faith. However, when men and women are saved, their attitude toward God changes and He fills them with the Holy Spirit so that their lives become fruitful.

2. Will believers be judged?
In Christ, our sins are not only forgiven, but forgotten (Jn 5:24; Jude 1:24; Ps 103:12). But the Bible clearly states that our faithfulness will be reviewed. How will this happen?
a) The “fire” will consume the false (1Co 3:13-15; 4:2-5)
• What will remain? faith, hope, love (1Co 13:13)
b) The judgment seat of Christ (2Co 5:9, 10)
• Good or worthless (wood, hay, stubble)
c) In His parables Jesus warned His followers He would evaluate their faithfulness and the outcome would affect the role they would play in the Messianic Age (Millennium): Seed sown in four types of soil (Mt 13:18-23); wheat and tares (Mt 13:24-30); faithful head of house (Mt 24:42-44); servant in charge of a household (Mt 24:45-51); hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, in prison (Mt 25:31-46); talents (Mt 25:14-28); mina (Lk 19:11-22)

3. Must we serve?
We might as well ask, must we breathe, because the born-again heart will be filled with God’s love (1Jn 4:7, 8)

4. In what ways must we serve?
a) Bottom line: Love your neighbor (Good Samaritan, Lk 10:25-37)
b) As you mature: According to the gifts and calling God gives you (1Pe 4:10)

5. What is our role as a church?
God places each of us into a local church (a regular gathering of believers) so we can faithfully serve Him for a long time. Here are some of the ways a church strengthens us:
a) Bread (Word) and Wine (worship)
b) Community: brothers and sisters who love you and strengthen you when you’re weak (Heb 12:12, 13)
c) Prayer support: spiritual covering when you step out to serve
d) Opportunity: Revelation 3:8 “I have set before you an open door...”
• Modeling: Watch how others serve
• Training: Teaching and apprenticeship
• Open doors: People and groups who invite you to serve with them
e) Liberty: An atmosphere that celebrates the diversity of God’s gifts & calling
• 1 Corinthians 12:18-20, 27-30
• A “field of wild flowers”
• Some called inside the church, some outside
• Each person is a steward of God’s calling to them

6. What is my responsibility as a believer?
a) Ask God how He wants me to serve Him at this season of my life
• Remember: Parenting is at times full-time discipling; some work in jobs that are service in themselves (police, fire, nursing, teaching…); some face long commutes; some are single parents; elderly or exceedingly busy will gravitate to prayer
b) If I have no idea I should “put (His) money in the bank” (Mt 25:27)
• Support others who do know (give, pray, help); refuse to be idle

7. What will be our reward?
Our fruit cannot truly be measured in this life. Only God really knows the effect of our lives and we often judge ourselves very harshly. But there are some things we do know:
a) Our reward is not salvation
b) Our goal is “treasure in heaven”: people who thank God for sending you to help them
c) Increased responsibility to minister and lead, both now and in the Millennium (“you are to be in authority over ten cities,” Lk 19:17)

8. What will that judgment look like?
a) Peter’s private walk with Jesus (Jn 21:15-23)
b) No one else will hear the conversation
c) He won’t bring up your sins. It’s about the good things you’ve done, not the bad things. Though He may address your shame as He did with Peter… “He will wipe every tear from (your) eyes” (Rev 7:17).
d) And here’s what His reward will sound like:
• “Well done good and faithful servant. You were faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:23).
• “By the way, you have some friends over here waiting to see you…”

9. Discussion questions
a) Name one way you regularly serve God right now.
b) Name a person or a group of people you have helped come to know God.
c) How can busy Americans find the time to serve other people? Discuss some practical steps we might take.
d) Name some ministries a person who is elderly or infirm might do.
e) Name some ministries a young person might do. 

Return to Sermon Notes