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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Greetings and welcome to HBS.
Thank you for being here with us today.
Please open your Bible at 2 Corinthians 5:10-11.
The Judgment Seat of Christ
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his (or her) deeds in the body, according to what he (or she) has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men (and women), but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences (10-11).
This is the second time Paul has warned Believers we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10). The Greek word for this judgment is bema, the dais upon which the judges in court actions or judges at sporting events, either sat or stood. The judges in court room settings dealt out justice, while those at sporting events dealt out rewards to those who excelled at sporting events.
The word bema appears twice in the N.T. in regards to sporting events (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). This word is never used, however, in connection with God’s judgment of the unsaved. All true Believers have only the aspect of bema to face, with its rewards or loss of rewards, the latter of which can, however, be a most embarrassing and humiliating experience – I would imagine. I mention this because no member of the Body of Christ will escape having his or her life reviewed at the Lord’s Bema Seat Judgment.
The Scriptures don’t tell us everything we’d like to know about the Bema Seat Judgment except to say we’re all going to be called before the Creator God and everything we’ve said or done, whether good or bad, will be revealed: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his (or her) deeds in the body, according to what he (or she) has done, whether good or bad (v10).
Personally speaking, I was a shy, self conscious lad in school. I didn’t enjoy being called up in front of the class to recite something from memory or to finish a problem on the blackboard. However, I’m not getting the impression that the Lord is going to call us up front and then run a video of everyone’s life from start to finish, handing out popcorn and soda to the Church audience in attendance. But, as I’ve said this book doesn’t say how it’s to be done. Remember this; once we’re in the 3rd heaven there is no time clock. Time will not be a factor to contend with, so Jesus Christ can do whatever He wants.
This book does say: Now if any man (or woman) builds on the foundation (which is Jesus Christ) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s (or woman’s) work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s (and woman’s) work. If any man’s (or woman’s) work which he (or she) has built on remains, he (or she) will receive a reward. If any man’s (or woman’s) work is burned up, he (or she) will suffer loss; but he himself (or she herself) will be saved, yet as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
I’ve been teaching my classes from the word “go” we are not saved to sit in church pews in our Sunday best and then return to the world until the following week; and then repeat. Were not saved by doing good works, but we’re saved to do good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). This book says Believers are accountable for their actions (Romans 2:6, 14:12; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Galatians 6:7-10; 2 Timothy 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17).
While we’re here on earth we are Christ’s ambassadors of good will (2 Corinthians 5:20). We speak for the Lord when we plead for people to return to the Father. You may tell someone at home, at work, or a stranger you meet while waiting for an oil change, in this dispensation God is in the forgiving business; Jesus Christ has already paid the penalty for their sins, all they need to do to appropriate God’s free gift of grace and salvation is believe the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). It’s as simple as that, folks; easy-peasy.
But here’s the thing, God is interested in your motivation and not the number of people you relay this message to; not the amount of work your doing. In other words, why are you building on the foundation of Jesus Christ crucified? Is it to promote Jesus and His kingdom or yours? Believe me, it’s a very fine line to walk – pride is a terrible thing. Pride gets in the way of a great many things, including your eternal rewards.
There was a story circulating amongst the churches awhile back about a youth pastor who received a medal for being a “humble servant of the church.” But he was told to return it when he started wearing it. This youth pastor experienced a loss of reward and although this story is told “tongue in cheek,” the biblical truth concerning Believers experiencing a loss of reward because the quality of their work did not stand the Lord’s test of fire; their labor equaling wood, hay, and straw is most certainly not.
Let’s go to verse 11.
2 Corinthians 5
11: Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men (and women), but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord – Paul’s still speaking about the Judgment Seat of Christ, adding there is a certain awe and respect attached to this future event (Acts 5:11, 9:31) because the Creator God is going to be the Judge of the righteous saints. Knowing this should motivate Believers to live godly lives, to serve in some capacity using their God-given spiritual gift(s), and to share the gospel often for each one will give an account to God.
We persuade men (and women) but we are made manifest to God – Some of the Corinthians brought false charges against Paul declaring he was influenced by improper motives. Paul’s response to this is seen here. Paul’s saying God sees his true aim and purpose in the ministry, i.e. our motives are known to Him. Paul plants a grace-filled comment as well with this: I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. It disturbed Paul to have to defend his apostleship and his ministry constantly. We see some of his frustration in the following verses.
Paul Defends His Ministry
2 Corinthians 5:12-15
We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind (Paul wasn’t crazy), it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
We are not again commending ourselves to you – this phrase mirror’s Paul’s comment at 2 Corinthians 3:1: Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Paul uses the term “to commend” often in this letter because of the ongoing conflict with the antagonistic false teachers from Palestine who elevated themselves above Paul and his co-workers by besmirching him, his background, and denying his gospel. He used the same expression in a negative sense in 1 Corinthians re: some of the church member’s beliefs (2 Corinthians 4:18).
So that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart – this describes one of the problems in the Corinthian church. They were impressed and took pride in a person’s appearance and not in (their) heart following the pattern of the world. They looked down on Paul and his co-workers because his glory was not in appearance but in heart. Paul was terribly ordinary in appearance. He was a poor public speaker. In 2 Corinthians 10:10 he acknowledges that many in the Corinthian church were criticizing him for his unimpressive preaching. Some folks, according to the account in Acts 14:19-20 found his appearance to be revolting, but this was after he was stoned in Lystra by the Jews and they dragged his body outside the city believing him to be dead. I for one believe he did die, but God intervened and kept him alive. (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). They didn’t use rocks for this act they used boulders; these would crush bones especially a person’s skull, which prompted Paul to remark to the Galatians, “…I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).
By carefully explaining to the Corinthians how God worked through his struggles and trials, for momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (v17), Paul gave those folks an answer.
Let’s look at verse 13.
2 Corinthians 5
13: For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.
To understand this verse you have to remember what Paul has been saying all along to these Corinthians or consider the context. The Corinthian church was a backsliding bunch of Believers. We know this from Paul’s first letter, a letter of rebuke, and most recently from verses 10-11. Paul informs them every Believer will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, every person will be recompensed for the things they have done, whether good or bad; a frightening prospect for a backsliding church I would imagine. Knowing, then, the terror of the Lord, he said, he persuaded men, realizing he himself was manifested to God and trusting that he and his way of life would be made manifest also in your consciences.
This information helps us to understand verse 13. With all this persuading and warning, some people may be thinking that Paul would be “beside himself” or extremely frustrated. But Paul, in effect, is saying, “That’s for God to say and not you.” “But on the other hand, if you acknowledge me to be of sound mind, then remember I have done all this intense persuading and warning for your sakes – that my words and my ways might commend themselves to your consciences in the sight of God and that this might bear fruit in your lives.”
Let’s go to verses 14-15.
2 Corinthians 5
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
Considering all that is written in the O.T. concerning God’s love for all people, particularly His chosen people the Israelites, even though they rejected the LORD and repeatedly wronged Him, God continued to love them (Exodus 34:6-7; Jeremiah 31:20, 32:40-41; Psalm 145:14-17). This foreshadows the love of Jesus Christ. When we see Him born as a baby in Bethlehem, becoming one of us, read about Him going about His Father’s business doing deeds of mercy in the four gospels, demonstrating love is indeed a verb, and at the end of His ministry and His life prayerfully loving those who put Him to death, “Father forgive them for they not what they do.” When we consider all this, I find it truly remarkable the phrase: “the love of Christ” is found only three places in the entire Bible. All three of these short but meaningful phrases are in Paul’s letters. They are:
Romans 8:35 – Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Ephesians 3:19 – and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:14 – For the love of Christ controls us,
Paul’s letters are filled with the message of Christ’s love to him, the church, and to a Christ-rejecting world. If you want to take the time to review his letters, you’ll find each one opens with words of mercy, grace, and love: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:2-3).
For the love of Christ controls us – the Greek word for controls is Sunecho (pronounced: soon-ekh’-o), a Verb, Strongs Greek # 4912, it’s a strong word meaning: to compress; to hold fast as a prisoner. The Apostle Luke used it in 8:45: And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding (Sunecho) and pressing in on You.”
The Lord could not exit the multitude that had gathered around Him. Our Apostle Paul was similarly controlled by love; it swept him along as a rip current would off of a Florida beach after a strong storm. We’re not discussing Paul’s love towards Jesus Christ, but the love of Christ towards him. God’s love is perfect. He set the standard of perfection for love in this statement: “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28).
But here’s the thing, our human understanding of love is quite limited. This book says we are to love others as God has loved us. The world has a different opinion. They love those who can further their career or provide something they need and that is not godly love. One other aspect of human love is it waxes and wanes; more than 50% of Christian marriages end in divorce for example. But the love of Christ to us, His church, and to a Chirst-rejecting world never changes; like true north it’s a constant (Romans 11:29; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:17, 13:8; James 1:17; 1 John 4:7-8).
Having concluded (make a logical judgment about) this, that one died for all, therefore all died – this verse says what it means and means what it says. The Lord Jesus Christ died our death, was buried, and rose again; according to the Scriptures, so that all those who choose to believe the gospel will have life in Christ, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
That’s the gospel my friends and Paul is not ashamed of it. He talks it up wherever he goes and it doesn’t change just because the people who make up his audience changes because that’s how God intended it. But as to his statement about Jesus Christ dying for all, for all have died, this is not the only place you’ll find it in your Bible. Please turn with me to Romans 3:22:
“even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for (who) all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for (how many) all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Flip on over to Romans 11:32: “For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to (how many) to all.”
I hope your Bible is starting to show some wear-and-tear like mine because this means you’re flipping pages and chasing down these Bible passages, one right after the other, searching for “the truth.” Let’s head on over to 1 Timothy 2:3-4. If you aren’t familiar with this one, I’d be surprised because I run it as a banner-passage in my heading every week: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Let’s look at the verses 5-6 that follow the ones above: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”
I think we have time for one more. Follow me to Hebrews 2:9: But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death (for who) for everyone.
Remember, earlier in this letter our Apostle stated quite clearly the lost will perish because the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ – and be saved (4:4).
The lost is a rather vague term for all those who deny these statements from Paul, his apostolic authority, the deity of Christ Jesus, or all the above. The lost do not agree with Scripture, i.e. with God when it clearly says by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God because they are descendants of Adam (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). They think by not believing in Adam, this Bible, and in God this all goes away… they say there are no absolutes. Enter the theory of relativism which believes concepts such as right and wrong, goodness and badness, or truth and falsehood are not absolute but change from culture to culture and situation to situation. Since there is no God, and no sin, there will be no judgment day.
The saved are aware who’s deceiving the masses, however, the lost are oblivious; Paul’s gospel is veiled to those who are perishing (4:3).
Please pray for the lost.
These verses are worthy of our time, so I’ll not hurry through them, for your sake.
We’ll bookmark this spot and pick it up here when next we meet. I pray you have a great week; be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:29-32) and full of faith (1 Peter 4:19).
(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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