What Exactly is the Fire of the Judgment Seat of Christ
The fact is that the sacrifice of the shed blood of Jesus Christ is All-Sufficient, and nothing can be added to His cross-work, for one to gain salvation and every blessing of God. Either Jesus’ shed blood cleanses us of ALL sins… (apart from our works) … or it’s not enough to cleanse us at all. If the blood of Jesus Christ can’t cleanse a soul of sins, what could we as weak fallen souls possibly do in a fictitious ‘purgatory’ to accomplish what Christ failed to do on Calvary? The idea of Purgatory is a heresy of the first order.
While on the point of purgatory, there’s yet another misconception to be cleared up here. Scripture is not saying in 1 Cor. 3:13-15 that a person’s soul passes through a fire at all. No! The Holy Writ says the persons “work” passes through the “fire.” Moreover, it is the “work,” not the soul, that is consumed or burned. Note the words “work” and “burned” here below.
“… if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every 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. 14If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Cor. 3:12-15)
It is plain enough to see that which is “burnt” is the “work” … not the believer or his soul! So, if it’s not purgatory, then what is the “fire” of 1 Cor. 3:13-15? Religious tradition aside, we will let Scripture explain itself. Here are two helpful verses that interpret this passage for us. Whenever we come across puzzling passages, we need to find other verses for further insight. In Revelation 19:12, we read of the Lord Jesus returning at His Second Coming: “His (Christ’s) Eyes Were as A Flame of Fire…” (cf. Rev. 1:14, Heb. 12:29). Jer. 23:29 says: “Is not my ‘word’ (truth) like as a fire? saith the LORD…?” Christ’s “eyes” and His “word” which is “truth” are as “fire.”
We need to note that “God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29, Deut. 4:24, 9:23 also). I have the sense that when we stand before Him at “the judgment seat of Christ,” soon after the Rapture, our soul’s erroneous thoughts and words to explain our ‘works of the flesh’ will simply melt away being cleansed at His presence.
But, how will the “fire” of Christ’s “eyes” and “word of truth” “save” the Christian (1Cor 3:15)? Once again, it is important that we present more clarifications before we delve back into this verse. “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but He Himself Shall Be Saved; Yet So As By Fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). We need to note that word “save” in the Bible doesn’t always mean soul salvation from sins and hell. The “saved; yet so as by fire” is not salvation to gain Heaven; “fire” does not save us from our sins... only the Cross of Christ saves us.
These verses speak of the “fire” of Christ’s “eyes” that will purify our souls, delivering us from the pollution of doctrinal error that we embraced… purging all the corruption that has infiltrated our soul’s understanding. In Heb. 12:29 that God “is a consuming of fire.” Only then will we have a fully renewed minds, having been “saved (purged); yet so as by fire.” (cf. 1Pet. 1:7).
The fact is that every Christian’s soul contains some “wood, hay, and stubble,” needing to be purged of false doctrine and understandings … before we can “co-reign” in the heavenly kingdom. In order to function for God’s glory in heaven, any doctrinal misunderstanding that corrupts truth must be removed from the soul. So, the point of “the Judgment Seat of Christ” is Internal Doctrinal Purity, not soul salvation.
Again, this is not cleansing from sin, as the Roman Catholics claim. Christ’s shed blood already washed all of the believer’s sins away, if there were even one sin remaining on our account, we could never enter Heaven! Our soul’s salvation from eternal death flows from “the cross” as a “free gift” of God’s grace, NOT from works done in purgatory. Only Jesus’ shed blood purges our sins and cleanses our conscience.
“For By Grace Are Ye Saved Through Faith; and that Not Of Yourselves: it is the Gift Of God: 9 Not Of Works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)
“Much more then, being NOW justified by his blood…” (Romans 5:9) “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7)
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil (defiled) conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
Every believer has received “Christ,” His eternal resurrection life and His nature, not by working, but rather…. by trusting what Jesus did for them at Calvary’s Cross! So, the idea of a purgatory doesn’t fit Bible truth or Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God.” Purgatory is a Satanic idea that was promoted by a denomination attempting to insert ideas into the Bible, which do damage to God’s written Word.
1 Cor. 3:12-15 concerns “the Judgment Seat of Christ” in heaven and what Christians have learned, trusted in, and done to serve Him… while on earth; it has nothing to do with justifying people so they go to Heaven!
Considering what has been presented concerning “the Judgment Seat of Christ,” we can summarize as follows.
Jesus Christ will take “the Word of God,” especially the eternally applicable truths of the Paul’s 13 epistles (Romans through Philemon), and, with His “eyes of ire,” He will look into the believer’s soul. The Lord will compare our soul’s content with the standard of “sound doctrine” of the Pauline revelation for the heavenly “body of Christ,” and all of the Bible as considered in light of Pauline revelation. Christ will place a value by determining of the “sort” or quality of our “works,” based upon on the ‘truth’ that He sees established in our soul. He views all things. The higher the value established in our soul, the more qualified we are to serve and “reign with Him” in “the heavenly places” … for His glory.
No believer should be intimidated by this. Every Christian will inherit and share in Christ’s authority in “the heavenly places.” But, the specific role we play, the position or rank we have, is contingent upon our experiential familiarity and reliance upon the eternal truths of Paul’s epistles. Those truths are already in our spirit, but they must fill our soul’s heart… to be proclaimed and lived by in the heavenly kingdom.
Everything that fails to align with Paul’s revelation, such as church tradition, non-rightly divided Scripture (Israel’s earthly verses), opinions, superstitions, etc. are not profitable and will be consumed by His flaming eyes of “fire.” Such false information does not glorify Jesus Christ in “the heavenly places,” so it will be removed from our soul by the “fire” of His eyes of truth at “the Judgement Seat of Christ.”
So yes, every believer’s soul is already redeemed from sin because of faith in Christ alone, but our souls need to be purified of defiling corrupt understandings that don’t fit heaven. Upon exiting “the Judgment Seat of Christ,” the Christian’s soul will be free of all erroneous information and all worthless “education.” The Christian will then be installed into his or her heavenly governmental office, as a grown child in the family of God, ready to serve the Lord Jesus Christ “in the heavenly places” throughout the endless ages to come!
In this world of spiritual darkness that has largely permeated the church at large, God’s Word rightly divided provides us great light. In this world of increasing obscurity, we can be blessed with great understanding from God’s words dispensationally understood. For us English-speaking people, the rightly divided KJV Bible is a beacon in these times of uncertainty, mass confusion, and widespread ignorance in the church.
Today, the Holy Spirit will teaches us using the Holy Bible, provided that we pay special attention to His words spoken through the Apostle Paul to the members of "the body of Christ."
“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, BUT which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (1Cor. 2:13)
“Consider what I (Paul) say; and the Lord (will) give thee understanding in all things.” (2 Tim. 2:7)
“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)
As we let God’s grace teach us, we are, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;…” (Titus 2:13). The earthly life we have in Christ now will continue into eternity future, in the heavenly places… with the pure mind of Christ operating in and through us.
It is only while on earth that we need to “Study” and work at the renewal of our minds. Always wanting a piece of the credit, some today might say “But I believe our minds still need to be renewed to His mind, and this throughout all eternity.” But it’s only while we are on earth that we need to “Study to show (ourselves) approved” (2Tim. 2:15),” working at the renewal of our minds. Paul says even today while on earth, already, “we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor. 2:16), but our minds still have the residue of being cluttered with wrong ideas and understandings. Only in eternity, after “the judgment seat of Christ,” will our mind purely express “the mind of Christ,” uncluttered of erroneous past thinking; then being equipped for co-reining with Him by His mind operating through us.
Being then free of the pollution of our souls, we will carry with us only the Pauline eternal truths… needed for eternity.
As adapted from Shawn Brasseaux