The Torch Test

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  3 : 11-15
Subject: Bema Seat Judgment; Judgment of Christians; Judgment

The Torch Test

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Tonight we are going to look at The Torch Test. This message concerns the judgment of Christians, which we know from the Bible will take place one day in the future. One day every born-again Christian will stand before the Lord in a judgment. This judgment will not be to determine our eternal destiny, since once a Christian is redeemed, he or she is eternally sercure and that will not be in question when the believer comes before the torch test. The question in the judgment I’m discussing tonight will be about your reward as a Christian. In effect we can say that works do not lead you to heaven, they follow you to heaven. That is what the Bible clearly states in Revelation. It says, “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth, for they shall rest from their labors and their works do follow them.”

So we begin by understanding that we will face a judgment as believers. You can be sure that God is going to test our works one day in the future and He is going to do that for a reason. Our message tonight will help us understand some things regarding the reasons for and results expected in God’s torch test of our Christian lives.

In order to study this subject, let’s look at three thoughts taken from 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.

I. The Foundation Laid

We begin by noting that Paul spoke of the foundation of our salvation, and to be sure Jesus is that Foundation. Our works, deeds and Christian living after we are saved cannot be and is not in any way the foundation of our salvation. Dear friends, we must always be reminded that we have not and cannot earn our way to heaven.

Even further, we can say that our church itself is not built on the works of those who first established it, though we appreciate all the efforts, gifts and sacrifices made by people who came before us in order for us to have this local church in which to worship. No, WE do not establish THE CHURCH – Jesus is the builder and the foundation of the Church!

Look at Matthew 16:18 and note what Jesus said about the Church: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Yes, Jesus built the Church and the world, the devil and death cannot prevail against it. The local church requires human hands and human effort, but the Church is made up of all the people who trust Jesus as Lord and Savior and therefore teh Church cannot be defeated.

So, the Church is made up of people who repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ as risen Lord and redeeming Savior. No other foundation can ever be laid than that which Jesus provides.

So, we know that the judgment for believers cannot involve separating a Christian from Christ. We are fixed on Jesus and Jesus is the Rock that doesn’t Roll!

Let me share just a couple of quick ways to think of the foundation upon which we rest our eternity.

A. A Single Foundation

No other Foundation can be laid than that which is laid (1 Corinthians 3:11). There are not many ways, several ways or even two ways to heaven – there is a single foundation upon which you must rest your hope and that foundation is Jesus.

Note also that our foundation is…

B. A Sure Foundation

The Bible clearly teaches us that Jesus is the Chief Corner Stone (Matthew 21:42), and that makes Him the precious Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7), along with Him being the Stone upon which we can rest without any fear of being disappointed (Romans 9:33). He is the sure foundation for the soul.

The songwriter penned:

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!

What more can He say than to you He hath said,

To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”

And the last stanza of that great hymn reads:

“That soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,

I will not, I will not desert to His foes;

That soul, thought all hell should endeavor to shake,

I will never, no, never, no, never forsake.”

This Foundation is a solid Rock:

“Our hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus blood and righteousness.”

He is the Solid Rock.

C. A Saving Foundation

Now, this means, at its depth, that Jesus is our salvation. We are resting on Christ and on nothing more (since there is nothing more) and on nothing else (for there is nothing else upon which to rest the human soul).

But, there is something we ought to consider regarding our meeting with Jesus in a judgment mentioned in our test. Note …

II. The Fire Applied

The time will come when all those resting on the Foundation of Jesus Christ will come to stand before Him. We will face a judgment known as the Bema Seat Judgment, which is judgment specifically arraigned for Christians and Christians only. This is not the White Throne Judgment, wherein the lost shall face the terrible and final judgment. So exactly what will happen at this Bema Seat Judgment for Christians?

The Bible reveals that a “torch” will be applied to the lives we have lived as believers in Christ. Our Christian life will be examined and the fire of God's perfect eyes will be applied to it. This is not a fire applied to you or me, but a fire applied to the deeds, words, thoughts and actions that took place after we were saved.

Note what the Lord will be testing.

A. Our Accomplishments

The very works of every Christian will be judged and each believer will give an account for the things done in his body, whether good or bad. We will have our works put to the torch test – put to the righteous fire of God’s eyes. Works don't lead you to Heaven, but they do follow you to heaven. Listen to Revelation 14:13, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” Your works will follow you – good and bad works shall follow you. That is exactly what we are considering tonight.

Note also …

B. Our Attitude

We must have an attitude in this life that regards the reason for our actions – in words – our motivations matter. Look 1 Corinthians 9:16 and see how Paul spoke of peaching willingly and not under obligation so he might receive a worthy reward.

Why do we serve Christ? Our service must maintain an attitude of love and a motivation to honor Him in love and obedience. We desire to appear before Him with an honorable life lived in faith specifically for His glory.

Now, there is another important issue here. Note …

C. Our Abilities

You remember the Lord praised of a woman who gave two mites in the offering at Jerusalem. She did what she could with what she had. She was not expected to give thousands or millions, for she did not have riches. She was to use what she had and not to be compared to others. Yet, note that she gave ALL she had. The Lord will judge us at the Bema Seat for what we did with what we had – or with what He gave us.

I will not be judged in comparison to you or you to me. We shall be judged with the eyes of the One who made us and saved us. The question is whether we are using the abilities and spiritual gifts we have been given in a proper manner. I don’t know if you are doing that or not, and you don’t know if I am doing that with my Christian life – but Christ knows and He is the One who will place the torch of judgment on our works.

Under the heading of the fire applied, let me mention one more thing …

D. Our Aspirations

You remember, I am sure, that King David wanted to build a temple for the Lord. Look at 1 Kings 8:17 and you will read how Solomon spoke of his father David and said that Davod had desired to build a Temple for the Lord. God said that it was well that David had it in his heart to do it but it was not God’s will for him to do so. You and I will not be judged for the things we wanted to do, but things which God did not have planned for us to accomplish. I will be judged for that which God gifted me to do and called me to do, and even for aspirations I had in my heart which pleased the Lord even if He did not plan for me to complete them.

We have considered the Foundation and the Fire at the Bema Seat Judgment, now let’s look at …

III. The Facts Revealed

A. Some will Rejoice

Some will see with great joy the full results of their humble and faithful service to Christ. You see, we cannot imagine what God is doing through our faithfulness to Him. We serve Him by faith. So, you tithe and give to the Lord faithfully, but you don’t know where all that money goes our what it does, but God knows. He sees each path every penny follows. He knows how your gifts help to build churches, feed the hunger, comfort the hurting, save the lost and teach the saved. He keeps a record and will not forget your service. Some people who have everything and you know that they don’t give to the Lord. They seem to be doing well and you wonder if your giving really matters. Trust me, it matters to God and it will matter to you when the fire is applied to your Christian life at the Bema Judgment.

You work when others stay at home. You witness when others are silent. You pray while some tap away on their digital devices on frivilous wesbites. God sees what you are doing and to be sure some are going to rejoice that they did not idle away their days when they at last stand before Christ .

But, I can also tell you that …

B. Some will Regret

Look at 1 John 2:28 reads, “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” Some will be ashamed when Jesus comes! We read 2 John 1:8, “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.” In essence, we are told by John to be careful not to lose our reward.

The songwriter penned,

“Must I go and empty handed,
Must I meet my Savior so,
Without one soul to greet Him,
Must I empty handed go.”

Let me close. Listen carefully. The Scripture says that those whose works are burned up shall suffer loss at the Bema Seat Judgment. Think of having all your loved ones, all your money, and all your goods burned up in a fire. Would you say, “Well, thank God, I am so happy today. All is lost. All my family perished. All my goods were burned up. But I survived. This is a great day.” No, friend, at the Judgment Seat of Christ many will suffer loss. It will be, in many ways, a sad day for those who wasted their lives after being saved. Time is running out. Only a few days left to serve the Lord. We must get busy for Him. Let us rededicate our lives this evening to serving Him faithfully and fully till He comes again.

And, if there is someone here who has never trusted Jesus, now is the time to respond. He saves and He keeps, and He promises us that He will never let us go. But, you must receive Him by faith. Do so now.