Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

While in the Body

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By Dennis Pollock

The apostle Paul, in describing the life review we will face, wrote these words:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Practically from the first time I read those words in Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians, I knew that they were highly significant, and never forgot them. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” In the old days, before Christianity turned so warm and fuzzy, pastors used to use this verse to try to scare their congregations into moral and upright living. Nowadays, with such an overwhelming emphasis upon grace, hardly any Christians think we have anything to worry about. Whatever this judgment seat is, it cannot be too serious.

I would agree that the judgment seat of Christ should not be a reason for fear and trepidation for believers. Christ’s blood has forgiven us, and there is no Biblical case to be made for the idea of purgatory, a supposed place where Christians must endure long years, decades, or even centuries of suffering and punishment in order to be made fit for heaven. Through His death on the cross, Jesus has already fit us for heaven, and faith in Him is our guarantee of a place reserved for us there. However, this does not dismiss the gravity of the judgment seat of Christ. This is clearly a “big deal.” We shall all stand before Jesus and have our life reviewed. We shall be rewarded for the service we have rendered to Christ and to His people, and those rewards will have eternal, everlasting consequences. Since there is no purgatory, no place of suffering in the afterlife for believers in Jesus, this judgment seat must therefore be a time of sorting out the rewards we will be given for our service. As Paul puts it, we will receive rewards for the things done “in the body.”

Rewarded for Our Works

Although salvation is a free gift of the grace of God through Jesus Christ, and could never be earned, there are rewards promised to believers that are connected with our works. It almost sounds opposed to grace, but the truth is that, according to Jesus, the more we do for Him and His people, the more rewards we will accumulate and enjoy in heaven. One of the last things Jesus tells us in the Scriptures is that He will return quickly and that His reward will be with Him. In the gospels He declares that if we love our enemies and treat them well, our reward will be great. In another place He states that if we give a party, we should not invite our rich neighbors, since they will return the favor and there will be no reward for us. He tells us rather: “when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:13-14).

Jesus clearly wants us to know that there are heavenly rewards given to His faithful followers. If we really grasp this, we will be stimulated to a life of good deeds and ministry to others in His name. Our “work for Christ” will always involve people. Jesus is in heaven and has no needs that are unfulfilled, but people on this earth have all kinds of needs. They need healing, they need comfort, they need encouragement, they need money, they need a shoulder to cry on, and they need guidance. People are needy, and Jesus, because He loves people, loves to meet those needs. The primary way He does this is to minister to people through His people, His anointed, gifted, Holy Spirit-filled servants. As we minister to others in His name, He is pleased, and He keeps a very precise record of our ministry. It is this record which will be reviewed on that day the Bible calls the judgment seat of Christ.

Jesus told of three servants who were given different amounts of money: five talents, two talents, and one talent. A talent was no insignificant amount of money, equaling about $15,000 U. S. dollars today. The average Israelite would never see that amount of money in their lives. The three men in the parable were expected to invest their money and make a profit for their master. After the allotted time, the master returned to find that two of his servants had done well. The man given five talents had doubled his money and had ten talents to return to the master. The man given two talents had likewise doubled his money. The master was pleased and invited them, “Enter into the joy of your lord.” But the man with the one talent had decided that the safest course was to simply bury the money and return it to his master upon request. The master was not at all pleased. Calling him a wicked, lazy servant, he ordered the unwise servant to be cast into “the outer darkness."

The talents Jesus wants us to use are not money talents, but “talent talents.” We are expected to use any gifts, any talents, any aptitudes we may possess for the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom and for the good of our fellow men and women. Once we are born again and have become children of God through faith in Jesus, we are to do an inventory of our lives and attempt to discover what gifts, what abilities, what talents we may possess, and begin to use them in Christ’s service. It may take a while. Sometimes we possess “hidden talents” which are not readily apparent, and sometimes we may have a talent which we feel is huge, but experience may prove that it is not nearly so impressive as we hoped it was. But God is the giver of all good gifts, and we may be sure that whatever talents we have or do not have, and whatever the measure of those talents, God’s gifts are perfect. We are endowed with precisely what we need to glorify Him and bless His people as we abide in Jesus and exercise the gifts and opportunities we have.

Focus on Strengths

It is better to focus on our gifts and strengths rather than spend too much time attempting to enhance our weaknesses. Life is short, and if we waste precious years, or even decades, attempting to be something we obviously are not, or to excel in some area in which our gifts are meager or non-existent, we act most foolishly.

I pastored two churches over a total of ten years while in my twenties and thirties. But I could never seem to achieve much growth. Both churches had an average Sunday morning attendance of less than one hundred. I tried all sorts of activities and events, hoping to help the churches to take off, but neither ever did. When I began my pastoring experience, I assumed I would eventually pastor a huge congregation. It never happened. Today, in hindsight, I realize that I never possessed the gift of pastoring. Had I worked and worked and worked at it, perhaps I could have grown a church to a couple of hundred members, but that would probably have been about it.

Many people who have excelled in their chosen fields have written books outlining “the seven secrets of success” in selling or pastoring or starting a business or managing an office or real estate or leadership or any number of other things. The principles they give are usually very good; they clearly have worked for them. But the problem is that, while they can give you success principles, they cannot transfer to you the particular gift which they possess, which will take you far higher and give you far more success than you will ever be able to achieve by reading their book and memorizing their principles.

My Best “Preaching”

The Bible tells us that we will be rewarded for what we have done “while in the body,” and what we must do is make efficient use of the gifts God has placed within us. This means finding out what those gifts are, and then using them like crazy for His glory and the good of others. I have discovered that I am a far better writer than a speaker. And as I gained this insight, I began to see that I needed to write more and preach less. These days most of the “preaching” I do involves short talks while in front of a camera, which are posted on YouTube. People seem to really appreciate these devotional talks. These short little five or six minute devotionals don’t sound much like preaching. I don’t wave my arms around, I don’t raise my voice, and I don’t pace across a stage in dramatic fashion. But for me this works, and God has shown me that His pleasure is on this type of ministry, and that this is how I can best minister to people, with my particular gifts and skills. I get better feedback, touch more lives, and reach out across the world in a way that I never have been able to do through normal preaching. But this is exactly what we all have to do, while “in the body.” We must carefully evaluate where and how we best function in honoring Christ, drop all the efforts that don’t work, or work poorly, and focus on those ways and means that God is pleased to anoint and use.

This investment of our time, our energy, and our gifts in serving Christ and blessing others, is the greatest of all investments. It will determine the nature of our heavenly experience which will last forever. We will be enjoying rewards a billion years from now for things we have done over our puny little seventy or eighty years we spent on this earth, in serving Jesus and making the most efficient use of our gifts. This is really staggering to think about. Our little time on earth, the time between the date of our birth and the date of our death, is the time for investing and, to use the words of Jesus, “laying up treasures in heaven.” Once we die that time will end. There will be no more opportunity to lay up treasures in heaven; we will already be there.

Foolishness of Lost Opportunities

How foolish is the person who squanders his time on earth with trivial and selfish pleasures, and makes little attempt to serve the Lord! If only people really believed the truth about the nature of our brief time while “in the body!” And how terribly foolish are those who never receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. To totally waste their short few decades on selfish, me-first living, and ignore the claims of Christ could hardly be more insane.

Imagine you were given a test on your twentieth birthday, and your score on that test would determine the salary you made for the rest of your life. For those who lived to be eighty years old, that one test would determine their poverty or comfort for the next sixty years. Get a high score, and you’ll receive a salary of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Get a low score, and for the next sixty years you’ll receive a salary so low, you’ll barely be able to live in the smallest, cheapest, dirtiest apartment you can find. If you knew that this test would determine your comfort and prosperity for the next sixty years, would you not study night and day? Would you not make getting a high score on that test your top priority in the preceding year?

This is essentially what the “Day of Jesus Christ” is all about. We will be rewarded for all we have done in our short little time on earth. And the rewards we will receive will be ours forever. Is it not worth loving Jesus, following Him closely, and following His call with all of our heart and soul, knowing that the day will come when we will be so glad we did – so very, very glad that we did the will of our Father and gave ourselves entirely to serve Him “while in the body.”



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