So according to 1 Corinthians 3 and host of other scriptures, God will judge (1) our works, (2) our words, (3) every secret thing, and (4) the heart. The question now to consider is HOW God will judge? In what manner will this judgment seat of Christ be carried out?
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by FIRE; and the FIRE shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be BURNED, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by FIRE.
It is obvious from the passage that our works will be tried by – FIRE.
Now, I am a Bible literalist. I believe that unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, what we read in the word of God is to be taken literally. Which means I have no reason to believe that the fire of 1 Corinthians 3 – the judgment seat of Christ fire – is not a literal, burning fire.
No explanation is given as the source of the fire, the size of the fire, the location of the fire, how our works pass through the fire, etc. But there are some very interesting cross references that connect fire and judgment to a couple different things.
A. HIS EYES
· In describing Jesus Christ, Revelation 1:14 says, and his eyes were as a flame of fire.
· Same book, same person, same description – Revelation 2:18-19 ...These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire…I know thy works…
· One more time, Revelation 19:12, His eyes were as a flame of fire…
So 1 Corinthians 3 says that the fire shall try every man’s works. And three times the book of Revelation likens the eyes of Jesus Christ to a flame of fire. What else does the Bible say about the eyes of the Lord?
Psalm 11:4 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
Psalm 90:8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
It’s almost as if the fire that tries our works is kindled in the eyes of Jesus Christ. It’s almost as if He simply looks upon our works, and as judgment is made, His very gaze becomes a refiner’s fire, purging away all impurity and bringing forth that which is good.
See if that doesn’t match Proverbs 20:8, A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
We’ve touched on it before, and we’ll touch on it again. It is a sad thought that our works will be burned up at the judgment seat of Christ. But it is also a happy thought that our works will be burned up at the judgment seat of Christ. Because it means everything we’ve done that hasn’t glorified the Lord will be completely gone forever!
The purpose of this judgment isn’t only to rewards believers individually, it is also to sanctify and cleanse the body of Christ corporately; to prepare the bride of Christ for the marriage ceremony of Revelation 19 (more on that in a later lesson.)
B. THE WORD OF GOD
This too is interesting. Not only are the eyes of the Lord likened unto fire, but so is His word.
Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
What makes this reference more interesting, in light of 1 Corinthians 3, are verses like Hebrews 4:12, which says that the word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (cf. James 1:23).
And a passage like John 12:48-49, where Jesus says, the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
So what is that fire of 1 Corinthians 3, exactly? Well, it’s a fire. But where does it come from? How does it work? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, what we all can do is subject our lives to the scrutiny of God’s word, and pray some prayers like David and Job:
Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Job 6:24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.