Titus 3 “3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”
– We are saved by Grace through faith and not any works at all.
– We were born-again by the Holy Spirit who made us new creations, holy, blameless, righteous in Christ.
– Our works have no role in salvation
– There is no reward for good works from God because God has already taken away our sin on the cross and given us His Righteousness as a free gift.
We are saved by faith without works.
If the greatest blessing of salvation is by grace…
therefore there is no extra reward for good works.
We already have Christ in us, what extra thing do we need ?? Nothing at all.
To be with Jesus in heaven is the greatest blessing we receive by grace and not works.
– So then why do good works?
To bless people in this lifetime, especially fellow believers who are our brothers and sisters. It is excellent and profitable for others.
1 Corinthians 14 “Follow after love….so that the church may be edified.”
What did Paul mean about the judgment seat of Christ and rewards?
1 Corinthians 3 “Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? 5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 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. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
Paul is not talking about the judgment of works for believers because we are already saved by grace and not works.
The above passage is about rewards of the ministry of preachers. Each pastor/teacher/preacher’s ministry will be rewarded based on how many people they got saved. The foundation is Jesus Christ and the building is the Temple of God (the believers) that is built on top of it. The wood, hay, straw that is burnt away are those people who did not get saved. The gold, silver, costly stones are the believers who are in Christ. Therefore a preacher’s ministry is judged based on how many people he got saved. If their ministry was useless, then the preacher will still be saved but suffer loss in that his earthly efforts were all in vain.
The reward for the minister is the joy of seeing people saved in his ministry. The loss is sorrow of seeing how many people didn’t get saved due to bad ministry. But the preacher is still saved.
We see how the believers are the precious stones in the temple of God (body of Christ) here:
Ephesians 2 “19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Revelation 21 “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal….18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. “
Will believers be judged in the judgment seat of Christ ?
Romans 14 ” Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. 5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
Paul is telling believers not to condemn each other over trivial doctrines like food, days, etc. This is because we will all appear before the judgment seat to receive salvation from God. So then why judge each other if God is the ultimate judge?
It is God who judges (saves) us. So then let us not pass judgment on each other, condemning other Christians if they have different beliefs in minor issues.
Our faith and salvation is between us and God, and it is not for others to judge.
That does not mean that we remain blind to problems in the Church. If believers are hurting others or doing bad deeds, then the believers should deal with it appropriately so that they repent (not for salvation but for coming to their senses and living in peace).
1 Corinthians 5 “11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.””
But God does not judge us, He judges the unbelievers. We will judge the unbelievers on the last day.
1 Corinthians 6 “If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!”
So then at the judgment seat of Christ, we will receive the gift of salvation (resurrection), also known as the crown of life/glory/righteousness.
2 Timothy 4:8 “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
1 Peter 5:4 “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
For a preacher, he receives the crown of the great joy of seeing the salvation of other people (who are the crowns for the preacher). It is the great joy of seeing other people being saved.
1 Thessalonians 2 “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?”
Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!”
For the believer, our only judgment is that we receive eternal life (resurrection) that we already have the deposit by the Holy Spirit. There is no condemnation for believers.
The full inheritance of the glorified immortal body will be received when we see Jesus.
John 5 “24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
Ephesians 1 “13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”