Welcome to the Mountjoy Ministries Blog

This blog was authored by Bryan W. Sheldon, author and Bible teacher. His books are listed below. The studies in the blog are offered in the desire that they may be helpful in directing readers to the truths contained in the Bible.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Discipleship Considered (Continued)


The time in which we live is sometimes characterised as a ‘throw-away’ age. Some commodities are designed not to last. They are expected to have a limited life and then be thrown away. You buy an umbrella and use it until it develops a fault, then it is disposed of and another is bought. They are not usually designed to be repaired. But the service of a disciple of the Lord should be in contrast to the ‘throw-away’ spirit of the age. Everything should be done in the Name of the Lord, and bear the mark of quality. Not only should the results of the service last but the worth to the servant and His Master should be of eternal value.

Previously we considered the rewards for service - the ‘well done’ from the Master, the position of honour in His household. But rewards will only be given to those whose service will survive the severest examination. They will be tested to the toughest standards and measured to the strictest tolerances. Only that of the best workmanship and the highest quality will be worthy of the Saviour, and only that which will survive the most stringent examination will survive. There is an assessment made of our service and it is described in much detail in the Scriptures.


We will ask a few questions to illuminate the subject:

(a) Who will make the appraisal?

(b) When will it take place?

(c) Where will it take place?

(d) Who is to be appraised?

(e) Why should it take place?

(f) What will be assessed?


The one to conduct the examination is the Saviour Himself. We are informed that “the Father … has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). What a relief this is! The One to conduct the assessment is described as full of grace and mercy, which is such a comfort to those who will have their actions and motives examined by Him. Moreover, He is the only One qualified to sit in judgement in this fashion. He knows all about our feelings, emotions, and desires, having been here and experienced life first hand. We are told He was tempted in all points in the same way as us, so we may have confidence in His sympathy, even empathy in some areas.

The greatest ability that He possesses to do this task is, of course, His omniscience. He knows all things. By being a member of the Godhead, He is equipped to know all things, even the hidden things of the heart. When the assessment takes place there will be nothing He will not know; nothing He will not understand; nothing He will not be able to weigh; nothing He will not be able to appraise; nothing He will not be able to judge.


When is this examination to take place? The Bible speaks of several future judgements that will occur after the return of Christ. Since all judgement has been committed to the Son this timetable was to be expected. The programme outlined in the Bible suggests that the assessment of the service of Christians will take place soon after Christ has returned for them.

When Jesus returns, all those ‘in Christ’ will be called to be with Him. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:16-17). It is after this majestic event that the evaluation of Christian service takes place. Paul hints of it: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

The timing is, no doubt, dictated by the desire of the Lord to keep short accounts. By that, I suggest, that He will not move on to the next phase of our eternal salvation until all loose ends have been tied off. Our place in His future plans will be dictated by the results of the assessment of our service on earth. As Billy Graham said, ‘this life is just a dressing room for the next’.

There is another word that needs to be said at this point. All Christians are asked to live in the light of the near return of the Lord. Paul wrote: “The Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5). James wrote: “Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (Jas. 5:9). Let us always be prepared for the ‘trump of God’. Our assessment could be soon!

The first answer to the question, ‘where is the work of a disciple to be tested?’ is - ‘in heaven’. Since the Church has been taken up to be with the Lord, then heaven must be the location for such a wide-ranging assessment. Indeed, since it is to be of all those ‘in Christ’ who have ever lived, heaven is the only place that could accommodate such a vast company with such a variety of needs. Where else could it take place?

The second answer to the question ‘where will it take place?’ is - ‘the judgement seat of Christ’. This could be considered more important. Mentioned in Rom.14:10, “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” and 2 Cor. 5:10 “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ”, it indicates that it is a separate appraisal from that examination that will take place at the “throne of his glory” where those living at the time of His return (both Jews and Gentiles) will be judged. It is also separated, in Scripture, from the great white throne judgement where the non-Christian dead of all generations will be assessed.

The word used for Christ’s seat of judgement is ‘Bema’. This is the official seat of a judge. The Saviour Himself stood before such a judgement seat before his execution. When Pilate was ready to pronounce his final judgement at the trial of Jesus he sat down on a Bema seat. It was from there he issued an official declaration of the innocence of Jesus. Alas, it was overturned when he succumbed to the pressure brought by the Jewish leadership. Nevertheless, official judgements are normally issued from a Bema seat, and it is on a Bema seat that Christ will sit to judge the Christian community.


Paul writing to the Church at Rome said, “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10) . This was also communicated to the Church at Corinth. “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 Cor. 5:10). In the light of these texts I take it to mean, all Christians will have to face Christ at this assessment. All those that have enjoyed deliverance from eternal death, and entered into the benefits of salvation will have to give account of themselves to Him. In addition, the texts suggest that we will be treated as individuals during the assessment. The New Revised Standard Version brings it out clearly. “So each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). “Each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” (1 Cor. 3:13). This is not a corporate assessment of the Church but individual assessment of saints.


The Bible suggests that to each Christian has been given certain gifts and abilities, distributed by the Spirit of God, and dictated by the wisdom of God. These should have been used to the glory of God and for the improvement of the Church, so that she (the Church) might be gloriously ready to be the bride of Christ. Among other things, it seems right that as stewards we should give account of our stewardship.

(i) It will be a judgement of works. “Every-one’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-one’s work of what sort it is. If any-one’s work abide which they have built thereupon, they shall receive a reward. If any-one’s work shall be burned, they shall suffer loss: but they themself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

Note the searching nature of the judgment. “Everyone’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try everyone’s work of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3:13). Manifest means plainly recognised or known: Declare means to make known what was before unknown: Revealed means to recognise as genuine after examination; the examination is the testing of its purity by fire, even as gold is tested.

(ii) A Judgement of words. Not only an account given by word but an account given of words. “In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7-8). “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:37).

(iii) A Judgment of our motives. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (1 Cor. 4:1-5).

(iv) The special Judgement of workers and elders. “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:1). “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account” (Heb. 13:17).

Please note: The assessment is in respect of service, not salvation.


We have already partially considered some of the rewards that will be presented following the appraisal, but we will list some of them again.

The Master’s “well done”. (Matt. 25:21)

The joy of a soul winner. (1 Thes. 2:19)

Sharing in the joy of the Lord. (Matt. 25:21)

Praise from God. (1 Cor. 4:5)

A crown from the Master (1 Cor. 9:25; 1 Pet.5:4; 2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12)

The Scripture encourages us to make sure that there will be no diminishing of our rewards when we are appraised. We must always heed the warning contained in the parable of the pounds. “For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him” (Luke 19:26). John wrote: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (2 John 8).

It appears that there might be some who will be less than prepared when He returns. “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28).


There has probably been no worker quite like the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul, though weak in body and beset with several ailments, laboured for many years in the most difficult of circumstances. Often beaten, once stoned, imprisoned several times and finally martyred, he is the one servant of Christ that you would say had no need to be concerned about the appraisal that Christ would make of his service. But he was …. He wrote: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Paul asks that we be faithful in the ministry in which we have been commissioned, even as he was expected to be faithful. “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

So let us serve the Lord with gladness.

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