The Judgment Seat of Christ - The Judgment of Believers
By Leonard Ravenhill
"For we shall all stand before the judgment
seat of Christ." -Romans 14:10 KJV
I want to tell you a story about when I was a young boy going to school. You
know, I didn't mind school too much, but in those days I was very envious of
the school Captain.
His name was Renton, and he sat just across the aisle from me.
He was the best soccer player in the school and that's what I wanted to be.
He was the best at cricket, and I liked cricket. He was the best runner we had,
and I liked running.
He was not only an excellent athlete, but a very good artist as well. And on
top of all that, he was the smartest guy in the whole school.
If I could ever save up my stomachaches, I'd save them until the day before
the final exam. But my mother was smart. She knew I was saving them up. I don't
know how she
knew, but she always did. I'd get up that morning and say, "Oh mother,
I don't feel good at all. I think I should stay home today."
But she'd always say, "You can stay home *tomorrow* - but not today."
But staying home tomorrow wouldn't do me any good because *today* was the day
of the final exam. *Today* was the day of judgment!
I know Renton never felt like that because whenever we had a test, as soon
as the questions were put down on the board, he would get his paper and dash
through them. He was through the first two or three subjects before I'd even
He and another fellow used to say, "Oh boy, exams! They knew they'd be
first and second in the class when the grades came out, and so they were excited
about taking the test. Final exams didn't scare them. These boys were always
at the top. They were not afraid of the Day of Judgment. They were not afraid
- because they were *prepared for it.*
QUALITY NOT QUANTITY
(I Cor. 3:9-13 ) "For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field,
God's building. "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as
a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it.
But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. "For no man can lay
a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if
any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood,
hay, straw, "Each man's work will become evident; for the
day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself
will test the
quality of each man's work.")
The above scripture is talking about the day all believers will stand before
the Lord. When every follower of Jesus will account for his life and his deeds
before all of heaven
itself. Notice what it says very carefully, "...the fire itself will test
the *quality* of each man's work." Not *how much work,* but rather *what
kind of work.* Not the quantity
but the quality.
This scripture is speaking of your whole life's work. In other words, your life's
work can be wood or hay or straw or it can be silver, gold, or costly stones.
And on that
day, the fire will put it to the final test. What fire? The Bible tells that
God is love, but it also tells us that He is a consuming fire as well. (Heb.
Paul continues by saying,
(I Cor. 3:14-15) "If any man's work which he had built upon it remains,
he shall receive a reward. "If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer
loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. "
This illustration would be extremely significant to the people of Corinth that
Paul was speaking to, because not too long before this was written, their whole
devastated by fire. They all knew firsthand what damage fire could do.
When the fire swept through Corinth, every house that was built out of wood,
hay, or straw, was devastated and left in ashes. But the more wealthy people
there had houses built with beautiful pillars of granite, and some even had
houses built totally out of marble. These houses made of costly stones were
still standing after the fire swept through, though they were obviously very
YOUR LIFE INVESTMENT
Let's visualize it another way. One man is given $10,000 and he invests it
in wood - maybe some lovely mahogany. So this man's entire life work is made
out of wood. It's very beautiful, but when the fire goes through it, what do
you have? All you have is ashes, maybe up to your ankles, and that's all there
is left. The next man is given $10,000 and he invests it in hay. Another man
given the same amount invests all of it in
straw. Does that sound foolish? Well, people do it everyday. Why? Because if
you put $10,000 into hay or straw, it looks like you are getting a lot for your
money. You could
probably buy half the straw in Texas for $10,000, but, boy, you're going to
have a mess when the fire gets to it.Instead of ashes to your ankles, or ashes
to your knees, it'll be up to your nose maybe. But that's what some lives are
going to be like: wood, hay, stubble - then ashes.
Now let's look at a few people who made much wiser investments. There's a man
over here who has $10,000, and he invests it in gold. (He won't get much at
$400 an ounce,
will he?) The next man invests $10,000 in silver, and another man invests the
same amount in costly stones. Each of the six men I've just spoken of had the
same amount of
money, but they all chose different things to invest it in. Now, we are talking
about your life's work. Do you get the picture? Our whole life, from the very
moment we begin to
witness for Christ, including all of our service and our labor for Him, is going
to be tested by fire. We must be very careful to make wise investments, or in
the end, all
that will be left is ashes.
Will our life's work stand the test of the fire when we come before the Lord?
Will it have lasting eternal value or will it end up in ashes? There's an interesting
difference between wood, hay, straw - and gold, silver, and costly stones. Wood,
hay, and stubble are found above the ground. They catch the eye, just like many
people's ministries do. They are quite plentiful and easy to find. On the other
hand, silver, gold, and precious stones are found below the ground. Nobody sees
them - again, like many people's ministries. They're not just lying around in
a field somewhere for anyone to pick up. They are much harder to come by; in
fact, it takes a lot of hard work to get them. That's why they are so expensive.
They are of much higher quality than many other things, and much more rare too.
Again, it's the *quality,* not the quantity that sets their value.
Many things are difficult in the Christian life, but we should desire to acquire
those things which will hold their value, not only on earth, but in heaven as
MINISTRY AND MONEY
Every person's life, including all of his ministry, is going to pass through
the fire. There's a lot of public ministry that's going to go down in flames
on that day, my brothers. The fire is going to take the big showy life of every
man and burn it until only a bunch of ashes is left. I'm tired of seeing these
fellows begging for money on television. I believe every dime that comes into
any ministry will need to be answered for before the Judgment Seat of Christ
one day. Jesus talked about these men who'd go and take widows' houses. (Luke
Well, that's what many are doing now. And they're not satisfied that you give
while you're living, they ask you to hand over your house and all the rest to
them in your will.
They're going to give an account to God in that day, but I believe we're also
going to give an account.
A brother was telling me this week that when he got baptized and went down into
the water, he suddenly realized that he had his wallet in his pocket. Not many
baptized! We kind of say, "Lord, You look after my sins. I'll look after
the rest." You'll give an account to God for every penny you've earned
since you became the property of
Jesus Christ. He doesn't just take your sins - He takes all of you.
Oh yes, many may want to get filled with the Holy Ghost and get a bank balance,
but how many of you are big enough to say, "Lord, in this crucial hour
in human history, let me fill up with the sufferings of Christ"? Can He
share His sorrow with you?
Are you prepared to challenge demon power and say, "Listen, I've moved
into the place where the Apostle Paul was when he said, I glory in tribulations
Watch out though, because if you're going to get mature in God, all the dwarfs
around you will criticize you and sneer at you and say, "Trying to be holier
than the rest of us,
huh? So you don't have time for basketball or going to see a baseball game?"
No, maybe you don't, but that's nobody's business but yours and God's.
Do you get so near to the heart of God that you share His grief over the world
and over the backslidden church that we have today?
One of the most famous preachers in the country recently called at nearly midnight
and said, "I've come to this conclusion: God Almighty has already taken
His hand off America - for the simple reason that we've had so much light and
we've rejected it! It's not only true that we live in a world of bankrupt politics,
we live in a world (this is the most tragic part of all) of a bankrupt church.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified.
From all that dims Thy Calvary
Oh Lamb of God deliver me!
-Amy Wilson Carmichael
WILL CHRISTIANS BE JUDGED?
I heard a woman say not long ago, "Well, praise the Lord. I'm glad I don't
have to account for anything when I go to heaven. There is no condemnation for
those who are in Christ Jesus."
Wait a minute, you can never isolate a scripture by itself. There's no condemnation
for our past sins, and I'm sure we are all mighty glad of that. But God was
always saying to Israel, "Remember when thou wast a bondsman in Egypt...remember
your sin. ..remember your iniquity."
You might say, "It doesn't say the Christians are going to be judged out
of the books."
Yes, I think it does. Where? In Malachi (Mal. 3:16). It says that God has a
Book of Remembrance, and I think it would do you good before you go to bed every
night this week to ask God, "What did You put in Your book today for my
life?" It doesn't have to be some outward act. You can worship God on a
tractor. It may not be the best way, but
you can do it.
The Bible says that "we shall *all* stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ"
(Rom. 14:10 KJV). I think that scripture means just what it says.
THE HOLY DEAD A hymn writer says,
"From earth's wide bounds and ocean's farthest coast,
through gates of pearl, stream in a countless host,
singing Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Hallelujah."
All the saints of all the ages are going to be there. There's another old hymn
and probably not very many of you could recite it, but I'll bet most of you
know the chorus:
"Oh, when the saints go marching in."
You know, they dance to that every night down in New Orleans. They shuffle
their feet along Bourbon Street and have a great time, but that song is not
for them, it's for the REDEEMED. It says, "When the *saints* go marching
in." The saints will march into heaven in a multitude which no man can
I can't wait to see all the saints of all the ages. Man, I'll be thrilled to
look at Isaiah and Jeremiah and those major and minor prophets. We'll be looking
around and saying, "Hey, there's Abraham. I didn't think he'd look quite
like that." But he's going to be there, all right. And just think of seeing
Matthew and Mark and Luke and John and everybody in Acts. Won't it be wonderful
to see those men who walked with Jesus!
Let's think about Paul for a moment. He gave his intellect to God. He wrote
about 14 epistles and traveled all over Asia Minor. He was lashed at the post
195 times. He was in
weariness, and fastings, and pain, and tribulation, and distress, and famine,
and nakedness. He was subjected to false brethren and to perils of the deep.
What do you think his reward is going to be for living a life like that?
*GRACE is free, but REWARDS are not free.* You might say, "But you're
talking about works." Sure I am - because *God did. Jesus did!*
Silver, gold, precious stones. What are the precious stones? When I read that,
I think of the breastplate that was on the priests in the Old Testament. It
was divided by four rows of stones - three stones in each row. Each stone was
different. Each stone stood for the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
The priest wore the breastplate over his heart as he went into the Holy Place
to pray for the sins of the people.
How do you handle this? Do you enter the holiest place of all to make intercession
for the sins of the people? Do you enter into intercession at all? This is only
through the blood of Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Intercession is our job now. We don't need to send a priest into the Holy of
Holies. We can go ourselves! The New Testament tells us that we are *all* priests
- that we are a
part of the Royal Priesthood (I Peter 2:9).
Do you wonder why the world is poor and sick outside? Because we really don't
know how to pray, that's why! Because we're satisfied that we've left our lousy
we don't drink or lust or damn ourselves every day. We're Christians now...and
we're so content and so happy and so satisfied.
The silver . .. what is the silver? I guess you can interpret it in different
ways. But I like to think of the scripture in the book of Proverbs that says,
"The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver" (Proverbs 10:20).
I believe that the silver may signify the words that we speak.
I believe that God has an eternal record of every word we have spoken since
we've been saved. That may be embarrassing. Oh, we won't be ashamed of the good
things we've said, but what about our idle words? You know, the gossip, the
slander, the criticism, the prejudice. What about the time when somebody upset
you and instead of being
quiet, you just spilled out everything that was on your heart at that moment?
And can you think of all the awesome words we've preached to thousands of
people over the years? We're going to answer for every word - and the fire is
going to be put to them. Will they be wood, hay, or stubble - or will they abide
What is gold a sign of? I believe it's a sign of our devotion to God. If I could
have a small melting pot here, I'd put your $10,000 worth of gold in it and
melt it down.
What happens when you burn gold? Nothing! It just changes from solid to liquid,
but you don't reduce it.
Can you see all the saints standing in heaven? And there's Leonard Ravenhill
- standing before Christ whose eyes are filled with holiness. The whole place
is breathing holiness.
There in the presence and the majesty of an awesome God, the record of my poor
life is read before all the saints of all the ages. And He puts the fire to
my devotional life. Am
I just a good showman? I sure like to preach because God called me to preach.
don't care how I preach, and I don't care whether you believe me either. I'm
not responsible for that. I preach out of my heart all I believe, and I'd die
for it. But say,
am I just a showman? What's my secret life like?
I've said it many times and I'll say it again - no man is greater than his
prayer life. I don't care how big his organization is. Let me live with a man
awhile and share his
prayer life, and I'll tell you how tall I think he is, or
how majestic I think he is in God.
What's your devotional life like right now? Would you like
Gabriel to hand down the book of your devotional life for
the last month so it could be read out loud at church this
Sunday? The gold is going to be tried through our devotional
GREAT MEN OF PRAYER
You'll discover this: The men that have been the most
heroic for God have been the men with the greatest
devotional life. America has produced some of the greatest
prayer warriors in the world. John Hyde was one of them. I
knew someone who had prayed with him, and they said it was
just awesome when this man went into prayer. There's a
little book out on him called "Praying Hyde" that would be
well worth your reading.
Edward Payson, better known as praying Payson of Portland,
was another great prayer warrior. He used to kneel at the
side of his bed and pray, and pray, and pray. When they
washed his body for burial, they found great big pads on his
knees like a camel has.
Tradition says that James had camel's knees, but it's a
living fact that Payson had them. When they were washing
him, somebody said, "What abnormal knees. They're heavy with
callouses." That's because he used to pray at the side ofhis bed with energy
- and he wore two grooves about six or
seven inches long into that hard floor where he used to pray
and make intercession.
One day I was in the Bible School of Wales and there was
dear Mrs. Rees Howells. (Her husband was dead now.) We stood
on the terrace and she turned and said, "Do you see the room
I said, "Yes, I see that room."
"Daddy (meaning her husband) went through that door at six
o'clock in the morning and he stayed there until six o'clock
at night every day for 11 months except the one day that his
Let's preview eternity and look at all the apostles and
all the saints of all the ages. Look, there's Charles Finney
with his amazing revivals. There's William Booth, the
founder of the Salvation Army. There's John Wesley.
Here are all the great heroic figures we've all read
about, and they are all watching while the book is handed
down and somebody's going to read the record. Would you
volunteer and say, "Well, I'll be happy to read my record to
Suppose I say, "Gabriel, hand me the record for the year
of 1724." When I open the book to that year and go to the
"B's," I find the name, David Brainerd.
He was a young American who died at the age of 28. All he
possessed was a cowhide that he wore with a rope tied around
it. He used to ride over the Susquehanna River to follow the
Indians. David had a severe case of tuberculosis and only
weighed about 95 pounds.
I remember reading his diary once. He said,
"I got up this morning and the Indians were still committing
adultery and drinking and beating their tom-toms and shouting like hell
itself. I prayed
from a half hour after sunrise to a half hour before sunset. There was
nowhere to pray in the Indian camp.
I went into the woods and knelt in the snow. It was
up to my chin."
No, he didn't have a heater with him or anything else. He
was just there in the frigid snow, tuberculosis and all. He
"I wrestled in prayer until a half hour before sunset, and I could
only touch the snow with the
tips of my fingers. The heat of my body had melted
What amazing intercessory prayer!
Well, God pity us. We can't even get people into our
churches to pray, and we have velvet cushions on the seats
and nice stuff on the floor so our darling little knees
won't get hurt.
David Brainerd, Praying Payson of Portland, John Hyde, and
Rees Howells - when God puts the fire to their devotional
life, I don't think there will be anything lost. It won't be
wood, it won't be hay, and it won't be stubble.
"...you know, we'll hardly get our feet
out of time into eternity that we'll bow
our heads in shame and humiliation.
We'll gaze on eternity and say, 'Look at
all the riches there were in Jesus Christ,
and I've come to the Judgment Seat
almost a pauper."'
I'm embarrassed to be part of the Church today because I
believe it's an embarrassment to a holy God. Most of our joy
is clapping our hands and having a good time and then
afterwards we talk all the nonsense of the world. We're
overboard on laughter and happiness. There's an old saying
in the world, "Laugh and the world laughs with you." I
change it and say,
"Laugh and the Church laughs with you,
but weep and you weep alone."
Because there isn't enough real joy in the house of God,
we need entertainment. Entertainment is the devil's
substitute for joy. Because there isn't enough power in the
house of God, people are always looking for something to
take its place.
We point the finger at the world, but we need to turn to
the Church and say we'd better all get sackcloth and ashes
and humble ourselves and say "Almighty God!"
When I see the Church in the New Testament, they didn't
have stately buildings or paid evangelists or a lot of
money. (They couldn't get on television and beg!) But I'll
tell you what they did -
*they turned the world upside-down!*
Have you ever seen the little plaque that reads, "Only one
life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will
last?" Well, that's not what the poet wrote. The poet wrote
"Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
only what's done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, *how happy I'll be,*
if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee."
Do you think all Christians die happy? Not on your life!
Some of them die as miserable as sinners. Why? Because
they've misused their time and wasted their lives. Many of
you have laid dying on a hospital bed and prayed, "Lord, if
You would only spare me, I'll do this, that, or the other."
Well, have you done it?
I discovered this poem the other day and I want to share
it with you.
<<<His Plan For Me>>>
When I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ
And He shows His plan for me,
The plan of my life as it might have been
Had He had His way - and I see
How I blocked Him here, and checked Him there,
And I would not yield my will,
Will there be grief in my Savior's eyes,
Grief though He loves me still?
Would He have me rich and I stand there poor,
Stripped of all but His grace,
While memory runs like a hunted thing,
Down the paths I cannot retrace.
Lord, of the years that are left to me
I give them to Thy hand
Take me and break me and mold me,
To the pattern that Thou hast planned!
The only thing that will tie me in victory continually,
through the blood of Christ, is that I give Him my adoration
and my tribute every day. It's more than my service. It's
more than giving money. But I need to love Him, magnify Him,
and adore Him. I need to take Him, as it were, by the feet
and worship Him. If we will do this, then we will experience
real joy and lasting happiness.
CROWNS, CROWNS, CROWNS!
I don't believe there will be any envy in heaven, but I
could remind you that there are at least five crowns to be
given in reward.
Paul says the Lord will give him a crown of righteousness,
which he says the Lord will not only give to him, but to all
those who love His appearing (II Tim. 4:8).
There's a crown for the martyrs - those who have died and
those yet to die.
Crowns, crowns, crowns! We won't all be the same in
heaven. There will be great distinctions there.
When you see a political convention, you see people
holding up signs from California or somewhere. Well, maybe
there will be signs in heaven.
"These are the Prayer Warriors."
"These are the Great Sufferers."
"These are the Travailers."
"These are the Missionaries."
"These are the Failures."
All kinds of people are going to be listed in that Great
Day. There will be great distinctions between people in
There was a little woman in Ireland who had two shops. She
paid all the family expenses with what she made from one
shop and she saved all the money that came in from the other
shop for missions. She ended up sending four of her children
to the mission field and she financed each one of them. Man,
she's going to have a reward some day, isn't she? Because
she was doing it as unto Him!
Take a look at the dying thief. Oh, he'll be in heaven all
right because Jesus said he would - but he wasted his life.
Then look at John Wesley for example. He was saved soundly
when he was 35 years of age, and he served the Lord for the
next 53 years.
You couldn't think that the dying thief, a man who got in
at the last tick of the clock, is going to have the same
reward as John Wesley, could you? Wesley made an awful lot
of money. Do you know what he did with it? He built
orphanages and churches. He printed Bibles and hymn books.
There was no time wasted in his life. He was methodical
and systematic. He went to dinner with the greatest man in
English literature and the man said, "Now you've finished
dinner, let's fold our legs under the table and have a nice
time of conversation."
Wesley said, "I'm sorry, I have to go."
"But it's not yet nine o'clock, why are you going?"
Wesley said, "I have an appointment in the morning at four
"At four o'clock tomorrow morning?"
"Every morning of my life," he said.
He disciplined his life. He disciplined his body in
eating. He disciplined his hand in his pocket. He'll standat the Judgment
Seat of Christ...an awesome prospect for any
"We ought to live every day as though
we've come out of another world into
this world - but with the power of that
world still upon us. We should live and
speak and move in that power, and have
our whole being in Jesus Christ!"
THE FRAGRANCE OF WORSHIP
I heard the story for years, about the woman who came to
Jesus with an alabaster box of ointment, before I understood
it - before I realized that she came for one reason only.
She came to worship Jesus. How do I know? Because she
brought the most sacrificial gift she had and because she
never said a word while she was there.
How do I know? Because she didn't wash His feet with
water, but with her tears. She didn't dry His feet with a
towel, but she dried His feet with the hair of her head. And
she poured out that costly fragrance and then wiped His
So what happened? The fragrance she poured out on Him came
back on her.
Do you wonder why your life isn't more fragrant? It's
because you don't take time to be holy. You don't take time
to be with Jesus. Because you think all the knowledge you
get at Bible school is enough. Oh no, God isn't going to
measure your intellect. He's going to try your life with His
Did you get up this morning and thank God you were pure?
Did you thank Him that He broke that devilish fever you used
to have for sniffing cocaine or something? Are you really
glad you're not a prostitute anymore, but now you're a part
of the Bride of the Lamb instead? Are you glad He removed
your bad temper and all those creepy horrible things that
used to master you?
I think again of a statement A. W. Tozer made to me once.
"Len, you know, we'll hardly get our feet out
of time into eternity that we'll bow our heads
in shame and humiliation. We'll gaze on eternity
and say, 'Look at all the riches there were in
Jesus Christ, and I've come to the Judgment Seat
almost a pauper.'"
For God had not only given us Jesus Christ - He has with Him
freely given us all things (Rom. 8:32).
A DIFFERENT PEOPLE
I remember crossing a square in the city of Bath in the
1940s. I saw two very fine young ladies - well, one was a
young lady and the other was only a girl. They were
beautifully dressed and as they marched across that square I
thought, "There's something different about those girls."
Then I discovered that they were princesses. It was our
present Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth, and her sister,
Margaret. They were part of English royalty, and you know,
there was a dignity about them very different from anybody
else who walked there.
Well, as Christians, we are part of *GOD'S Royal Family,*
and it should be evident to all that we meet that we are a
different type of people. If we can't live as a different
people on this earth, we've no right to live here.
We shouldn't be affected by changing customs or changing
styles or changing opinions, or whether the stock market
goes up or down, or whether the clouds are gathering for
war. Those things don't make any difference.
We ought to live every day as though we've come out of
another world into this world - but with the power of that
world still upon us. We should live and speak and move in
that power, and have our whole being in Jesus Christ!
BAPTISM OF OBEDIENCE
That final day is going to be awesome. Have you figured
how you'll get on when you stand there? You and I will stand
there alone on that day and be judged for every aspect of
our lives - for our praying, our giving, our talking, and
I still believe in the majesty of that eternal court, with
the King of kings and the Lord of lords and the Judge of
judges. You see, there's no possibility of any rehearsal,
and what's more, there's no possibility of any repetition.
Because, again, this is the Final Judgment, and to some God
will say, "Come, ye blessed," but to others He'll say,
"Depart from Me." No, it's not so simple to be a Christian
after all. It's a majestic thing.
We ought to live our lives conscious of eternity - ready
to be cut off at any moment. If you were to stand before the
Lord at this very moment, would you like your life story
read by all the millions in eternity?
None of the outcasts of hell are going to be there. Won't
it be wonderful - or will it? Or do you think you might
shrink a bit when you hear now God used David Brainerd or
John Wesley or some little washerwoman that had a life of
There's no burden too heavy, or no situation too hard for
the one that you love. If we are love-controlled, love-motivated, and love-
energized, it will be all right when we
stand up there, because if there's anything about love -
We need to become a people who are baptized with
obedience. We need to be submissive to the total will of
God, not concerned about human opinion, and not asking for
more to spend on ourselves. We need to say, "Oh God, I want
this life of mine to glorify You, so that when I stand in
Your awesome presence, as John says, I shall not be ashamed
at Your appearing" (I John 2:28).
[Except where otherwise noted, all Scriptures are quoted
from the New American Standard Bible, The Lockman
Foundation 1977. Scripture quotations marked KJV are from
the King James Version.]
"Copyright (C)1995 by Leonard Ravenhill, Lindale,