''As By Fire''
In Defense of the Faith
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor
many ministries and church denominations that either
ignore Bible prophecy as being useful to the Church or
argue that all Bible prophecy has already been
In many churches, those members who study Bible prophecy
are relegated to the 'lunatic fringe' -- politely -- and
sometimes not so politely -- dismissed out-of-hand for
wasting their time trying to divine the future.
says that there are rewards for those who dedicate
themselves to Christ in a number of different
Christians must all appear before the Judgment Seat of
Christ that we might receive a reward for the deeds done
in the body, whether they be good or whether they be
The Judgment Seat of Christ is not related to the
revelation of some secret sin, in that the Judgment seat
of Christ is not related to the revelation of some
hidden fault, but rather, the Judgment Seat of Christ is
related to the manifestation of all of the deeds that
individuals have done after they have become Christians,
whether they be good or whether they be bad.
Let me emphasize that the word "bad" refers not to sin,
but to deeds that are worthless according to His
purpose. The evaluation, therefore, is based upon
whether the works that have been done are worthwhile or
whether they are worthless.
The Greek word translated as the 'judgment seat' of
Christ is the word 'bema'. During the Greek Olympics of
Paul's day, the judge would sit on the 'Bema Seat'
situated along the finish line. His judgment was to
determine who won the gold, who won the silver, who won
the bronze, who came in fourth, fifth, etc. Note that
the only ones judged at the Bema Seat are those who
cross the finish line.
The Bema Seat is reserved for believers -- those who
successfully completed the 'race' and specifically to
determine their running order and to award their prizes.
Scripture teaches that after these works are judged,
rewards will be given if the works are worthy. There
will be no rewards if the works were unworthy, but ; "If
any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss:
but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire." (1st
If you get to the Bema Seat, you will make it into
heaven. And you get to the Bema Seat by accepting the
judgment for sin borne by Jesus Christ on the Cross as a
substitute for your own failures -- nobody gets there
based on whether or not they are sinners.
It is based on whether or not you trust that Jesus
Christ made full payment for your sins, as He promised
He would. While we will stand before the Judge as
judicially 'righteous' -- that righteousness is Christ's
freely offered to whosoever will accept it.
Once we stand before the Bema Seat, our rewards are
determined -- not our punishment. Our punishment,
although richly deserved, has already been borne by our
Savior. Now, we are judged according to our works on
behalf of the kingdom.
There are those who argue, "You know, I don't think we
ought to talk about our rewards. We ought to serve the
Lord just because we love Him."
I agree. We ought to serve Him because we love Him, but
we have every right and reason in the world to talk
about our rewards. We have every reason to seek the very
best reward that we can when we stand at the Judgment
Seat of Christ.
There is nothing selfish about that; it is thoroughly
There is the 'incorruptible crown' -- what one might
term a crown of self-denial. 1st Corinthians 9:24-27
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but
one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And
every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in
all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible
crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not
as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the
air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into
subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached
to others, I myself should be a castaway."
Not everybody will receive the crown of self-denial.
Each of us is gifted with certain strengths according to
some predetermined purpose of God. In other words, some
things are harder for some than they are for others --
according to God's purposes -- not our own. We are
judged according to how hard we try.
"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same
Spirit. And there are differences of administrations,
but the same Lord. And there are diversities of
operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in
all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to
every man to profit withal." (1st Corinthians 12:4-7)
There is also the Crown of Rejoicing -- the 'Soul
Philippians 4:1: "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved
and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the
Lord." Note that Paul is addressing people as a 'crown'.
He is saying to those whom Paul has led to Christ, "You
are my joy now and you will be my crown by and by."
"For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?
Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ
at His coming?" Translated literally, it reads, "are not
even you, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ when
we stand before Him?"
"One of these days," the Apostle says, "we are all going
to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and when we
stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, you
Philippians, you Thessalonians, are going to be my
It is difficult for us to think of people in terms of a
crown, but Paul emphasizes that the Philippians and the
Thessalonians, among others, are the crown which he
expects as an award to him at the Judgment Seat of
James 1:12 identifies the 'Crown of Life': "Blessed is
the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried,
he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath
promised to them that love Him."
Notice the word "temptation." That is a broad word.
Sometimes it means a solicitation to evil--that is, you
are tempted to commit murder, or you are tempted to
commit adultery. It is a solicitation to evil. Sometimes
it is a reference to a test that God permits you to go
through as a kind of 'refinement by fire'.
The 'Crown of Life" might also be called the 'Crown of
Endurance." The Lord Himself also speaks of the Crown of
Life reward, promising: "be thou faithful unto death,
and I will give thee a crown of life."
'Faithful unto death' is not a condition of salvation --
salvation comes by grace through faith in the efficacy
of Jesus' sacrifice for sin at the Cross. The Crown of
Endurance won't be given to every believer -- the
Scriptures say of even those who receive NO crowns, as
previously noted, "he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF
SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire."
There is the Crown of Glory -- the crown of the 'undershepherd'
or the 'pastor's crown'.
"The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an
elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and
also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the
oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not
for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being
lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the
flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye
shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
(1st Peter 5:1-4)
Not every pastor or undershepherd will receive this
crown, either. There are those who will fail the test of
willing service (not for filthy lucre) or those who set
themselves up as 'lords over God's heritage' instead of
being examples to their flocks, or those who fail to
feed their charges with God's Word.
Finally, there is the Crown of Righteousness.
"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge,
shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto
all them also that love His appearing." (2nd Timothy
Those who study prophecy, those who dedicate themselves
as watchmen on the wall, ready to give the warning of
His soon appearing, will receive the Crown of
Righteousness from the Righteous Judge at the Bema Seat.
Literally, the Crown of Righteousness means 'a crown for
doing right.' Paul is saying, "I have loved the
appearing of the Lord. Because I have loved the
appearing of the Lord, I have fought a good fight; I
have finished the course; I have kept the faith."
Note what Paul did NOT say. He did NOT say, "If you keep
the faith, you will receive the Crown of Righteousness."
Instead, he says, "If you love His appearing, you will."
Personally, I am not certain that I will receive the
crown of self denial. I am not too sure that I keep my
body under control enough to deserve this reward. I am
not too sure I will win the soulwinner's crown, although
it is one I really, really hope to receive.
I am not sure that I will get the Crown of Glory -- as
an undershepherd, I have many shortcomings. One example
of my failure to properly shepherd my charge is the
uproar in the member's forum, an uproar I addressed this
morning under the subject heading, "What is happening
I pray for the Crown of Life for enduring life's trials
-- but I am not certain that I have endured them with
the long-suffering love of Christ as I should. So I am
not sure about that one, either.
But I am hopeful of the Crown of Righteousness -- it is
the easiest one to get. My righteousness is not my own,
but that of Christ's, and my love of His soon appearing
is an all-consuming passion.
The point to it all is this: We will all one day stand
before the Bema Seat -- but the Bema Seat is where we
are judged for our rewards. Whether or not I receive all
-- or any -- of the rewards that are available to me as
a believer, I have the certain assurance that, even if I
suffer loss, I will still enter heaven, even if it is
'as if by fire'.
And so will all those who have trusted Jesus for their
Maranatha! For those of you I don't get to meet in this
life, I look forward to seeing you at the Bema Seat. Do
me a favor, though.
Plug your ears when it gets to my turn.