Series on II Corinthians I Paul's Dedication to Ministry E Supportive, 1 Seat of Judgement, Text:5:1-10 Title:Motive for Action


We are talking about Paul's dedication to ministry through this entire first section of II Corinthians up through chapter 7.  As we come to chapter 5 today we're looking at the Apostle's support for the ministry.  He is explaining the basis of his action and motivating God's people - us. There are two sections to this chapter and consequently two motives which are set before us. The first is found in v.11, Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men, and the second in verse 14, For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. We are looking today, however, at the first part of the chapter, verses 1-10. It is somewhat unusual but all that Paul has to say in verses 1-10 is actually recapitulated in the first verse of the second part of the chapter in v.11. We understand that this is not a slavish fear.  It is not an abject terror.  It is not fear of failure or a fear that paralyzes or strangles us.  But, it is a perfectly legitimate motive for action.  No one can read Paul's words here, and deny that fear plays a part in motivating Christians to serve the Lord.  Today we shall examine Paul's teaching and understand how he uses this concept.  What the fear is and what it is not is our subject.  We consider this under two headings. The certainty of judgment and the completeness of our salvation.

I The Certainty of Judgement

Paul's statement in v.11 is a conclusion. This conclusion results from verses 9,10, We make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. We know that those who believe in Jesus have passed from death to life and do not come into condemnation. As Paul says in Romans 8, There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and he reinforces this by reminding us that no one in heaven or earth can bring any charge against those for whom Christ died. We have the righteousness of Christ which we receive by faith. We do not go about trying to establish our own righteousness, because the righteousness of Christ is ours. It is perfect. It is abundant and it is sufficient.  Notwithstanding all of that, Paul says we must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. This judgment cannot result in the loss of our salvation. It does not diminish our hope in Christ, but it is real. Paul explains this judgment rather fully in I Corinthians 3:10-15,  By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. You can readily see that this judgment is unto salvation. No one is lost-but everyone must give account as Paul says here.  When i was a child and went to school, I feared doing wrong.  I knew it would be reported to my parents.  I didn't think they would cut me off or cast me out, but i was afraid to displease them. That is Paul's point here, namely, pleasing the Lord.  Please don't be taken in by those who assert that the only motivation to serve God is love. They have an unbiblical and unrealistic view of human nature.  As a child I was foolish. I needed to know that there was a standard of behavior, and that I would have to account for my conduct.  The true and humble believer knows that he is a sinner and that he is naturally foolish.  I need that sense of giving account just as much now as I did when I was a child in my parent's care.  David says in Psalm 119:63, I am a companion of all them that fear thee and of them that keep thy precepts.

II The Completeness of Our Salvation

Now Paul tells us about this judgement only after he has carefully assured us of the certainty of our salvation. He does this by reminding us of our condition and of our confidence.

A Condition

Our condition is that we are at home now in a body which is like a tent.  It is temporary and we long for a permanent dwelling, a house in heaven, built by God, which is the resurrection body that we will receive when Christ comes again.  Verses 1-4 state, Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. If we die before Christ comes we will be naked although we will be with the Lord as verse 6 says, Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, we will still be unclothed and incomplete. Our salvation is not finished until Christ comes again and there is a physical, material resurrection of the body. Our condition is then, that whether we are still alive and trusting in Christ or we have died and our spirits have gone to be with Christ, we are all eagerly awaiting that great day. The essence of Paul's point is, that it doesn't make any difference whether we are awake or sleep in Christ, we are still waiting.  We are incomplete. We may prefer to depart and be with Christ because we realize that in some sense while we are here we are away from the Lord and we must walk by faith rather than sight.  Oftentimes we may think how good it would be to simply depart, but Paul is saying even though we must for a time remain in the body we are still confident.

B Confidence

Verse 5 provides the source of this confidence. You did not make yourself a Christian. You might have thought that you did. Surely you repented of your sin and believed in Jesus but God made you a believer just as surely as he created man in the beginning by his mighty power.  Christians are not self made.  Secondly when God made you, he made you with a purpose nothing less than the resurrection of your body and you are to spend eternity with him in a familiar condition, body and spirit united as they are now. The guarantee of this purpose is that we have the Holy Spirit.  He is a deposit-or down payment.  Unlike men, when God makes a down-payment he also pays in full.  If you have been born again, and if there is evidence of the Spirit's working in your life: and if you were blind but now you see: if there is a change in you: and if there is some fruit from the spirit's working, then you know beyond any shadow of doubt that what God has begun he will finish. Therefore Paul says we are always confident.  Even here below in our temporary homes. Even here below while we long for our full redemption. Even here below where we walk by faith rather than sight we are confident.


So the apostle concludes in verses 9 and 10, So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Let us go back to the beginning. Fear is a legitimate motive for action. Just as we are sure we will be glorified, so we are sure that we will stand before Christ and answer for the deeds done while we are here on earth. This does not contradict our hope of salvation. Our hope of salvation is what guarantees the judgment seat of Christ. When I was a child I was a member of my family  This is what guaranteed that I would have to answer to my parents.  The love they had for me is what produced the fear in me. Their love made me accountable.  So the love of Christ makes his people accountable and v.11 is the result, Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.