Series: 2 Corinthians
II Corinthians 5:10 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
God made us in his image. As God has an eternal purpose (Eph 3:11) to bring great glory to his name through the Lord Jesus Christ (Ph 2:9-11), so he created us with the capacity to have ambitions and goals. For us, his dearly loved children, the Father wants our goals and ambitions to coincide with his. And since we have put off the old self and put on the new (Eph 4:21-24), we share his goal. Everything in our way of life starts with our new identity in Christ. However, during this in-between time in which we still live in this earthly tent, in this body, we still are affected by remaining sin in body and spirit (cf. 7:1). Yes, we struggle against sin; indeed, we’re in a war against sin (1 Pt 2:11). In this spiritual war, we have great resources: the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, partnership with other believers, etc. Yet we still become careless and neglect to live according to the truth that is in Jesus.
The apostle Paul understood this tendency to lose sight of our goal of pleasing the Lord Jesus Christ (5:9). So he gives every believer a compelling reason to stay focused on Christ and the gospel. Did I say a reason? Well, it is that, but think of it as a bucket of ice water dumped on you. Yow! All right, I’m awake now! After this earthly life, the Lord Jesus Christ will judge each of us. The Spirit through the apostle uses the doctrine of last things to influence our Christian way of life. May we listen attentively to the word of the Lord!
I. The appearance before Christ’s judgment seat
A. It is a necessary appearance.
1. The verb must is used many times in the NTS to set forth divine necessity (cf. 1 Cor 15:25, 53; etc.) It is God’s sovereign decision to bring us to the judgment seat of Christ (cf. Rm 14:10). The Greek word Paul selected means judicial bench or tribunal. Jesus appeared before Pilate’s judicial bench (Mt 27:19; Jn 19:13), and Paul appeared the judicial bench of Gallio (Ac 18:12-17).
2. This appearance is unavoidable. The verb appear is in the passive voice. God will cause us to appear. No one will be able to “settle out of court”. You and I will appear before the Lord of glory, the Risen and Ascended Christ, to be judged.
B. It is an appearance for all believers.
1. Certainly, all people, whether believers or unbelievers (Rev 20:11-15) will be judged by the Lord (Mt 16:27; 25:31-46).
2. But in this context Paul is talking particularly about believers, who look forward in this life to our resurrection bodies. However, the fact that this earthly tent will be taken down and replaced with something far better does not mean that our present use of our bodies is trivial or inconsequential. Without getting too philosophical, human thought through the ages has swung back and forth about the relationship between the spiritual and the material, between the soul and the body. The Corinthians may have been infected with ideas that the body didn’t matter. Religious experience based on ritual has the same problem. Sin how you want with the body, and a little religious ritual will take care of the misdeeds of the body. Instead, Paul presents the Lord’s position. Since he made our bodies and gave them to us for our present life, it does matter to the Lord Christ what we do with them (Rm 12:1-2).
Apply: Everyone should take seriously how this applies to sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:12-20). Sex is a good gift from God, but it must be satisfied in a godly manner.
Point: “All the new covenant people are being glorified; all will be raised; all will be judged” (Barnett).
II. The object of our appearance
A. The purpose is to give personal account to the Lord.
1. Notice the emphasis on “we… all” and “each one” (cf. Rev 2:23: 22:12). It is our personal session with Jesus Christ the Righteous to discuss how we used our lives.
2. The outcome will be from our Holy, Wise and All-knowing Lord. The Father has committed all judgment to him (Jn 5:22-23). So don’t bother to assume that you’ll be able to change the result by negotiation. It will be impartial (1 Pt 1:17). Regardless of what we think of each other or what we want others to think of us, each one’s praise will come from the Lord (Jn 12:43; Rm 2:29; 1 Cor 4:5).
B. The purpose is to receive what is due us. It is Christ’s time to settle up.
1. Clearly, we must keep a clear and certain hold on the teaching of justification by grace through faith in Christ as we think through this matter. When we trust in Christ and receive forgiveness and his righteousness, we are right with God (Ac 13:38-39; Rm 5:1; 8:1, 31-39; cf. Heb 8:12; 10:17).
2. Instead, it refers to how we use our present lives in service for Christ and the gospel. Christ expects our lives to produce fruit for the glory of God (Jn 15:1-17). The Lord will repay us according to how we live for him. This is true regardless of our station in life (Eph 6:5-9; Col 3:22-4:1), for what we do to further the gospel (Ph 4:17), about how we ministers built churches—not buildings but the people in an assembly (1 Cor 3:5-15), about what motives we acted from (1 Cor 4:5; Ph 1:15-18), about how much treasure we stored up in heaven (Mt 6:19-21), and about how we used our gifts and abilities (Mt 25:14-30; Lk 12:35-48; 19:11-27).
III. The kind of accounting we must give
A. It is an account about our earthly way of life.
1. Observe that he says, “While in the body….” Now is the time to live for Christ and the gospel. What you can do for Jesus, you must do now. We often mislead ourselves, supposing that we have to get in the right circumstances. Then we’ll serve the Lord. Don’t kid yourself. Each of us has the same 24/7. No one has perfect conditions in a fallen world with a weak body. “I’m so tired! I have a headache! I have too much to do!” Yeah, so what?
2. It concerns what we do. “I had all these plans that one day I would.” Really? So how many of them did you complete or attempt to complete? “I plan to join or start a small group, to witness to my friends, to pray for others, to do whatever!” Either you are using your body for the Lord or you are not. Face up to what you’re actually doing!
B. It is a comprehensive account
1. Paul speaks of two all-encompassing alternatives. What we do is either good or bad. It either brings glory to God through Jesus Christ, or it does not.
2. This accounting is given after the end of our earthly lives in this present age. Paul does not say when this will happen. Some suggest one time; others another. “But in comparison with the supreme and sobering fact of his accountability to Chris, the precise time… would have been a matter of relative insignificance to Paul” (Harris).
Point: Let’s all be ready to give account to the Lord. Are you ready?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/frampton-dave.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Pastor Dave Frampton: When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/author_info] [/author]