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Receive What Is Due Him

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is great to be together again as we look into the Word of God.  The title for the lesson is, “Receive what is due him.”  Our text is found in the New Testament, the second Corinthian letter, chapter five, verses nine through 10. Let’s listen to the Word of God.

     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.  In America we observe and remember once again Memorial or Decoration Day, which, in part, began with the tradition of placing flowers at the graves of our war dead in May of 1866 after the terrible, awful carnage of our own Civil War, where by sadly, Americans fought Americans.
Today the most solemn ceremony is the placing of the wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arlington, Virginia National Cemetery. Decoration Day is celebrated for our known and unknown soldiers and sailors to acknowledge and to pay tribute to their courage and sacrifice, even to the grave, for our freedoms as one nation under God.

However, as Christians there is another type of Decoration Day that is also coming yet future for soldiers, for servants of Christ, sons and daughters of God.  But before our Decoration Day will come our deliverance day when mortality shall become immortality, when the unknown shall become the known.  For example, in the Roman letter, chapter eight and verse 19 it is written that the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  Therefore, at the return of Jesus Christ in the air for his Church, we shall also share in Christ’s glory, even our glorification, that is our deliverance from these mortal bodies.

This is accentuated in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and verse 42 where it says so will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable. It is raised imperishable. And then amplified in Philippians chapter three and verse 21 where it says, in part, that he will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. That is deliverance. That is our deliverance day yet to come. And after our glorification and deliverance comes our decoration time, acknowledgment and rewards or lack of rewards that are coming from our Lord to receive what is due him. And all that was unknown shall become known as soldiers, as servants in the Lord’s army, as saints to his glory according to our service done.

Let’s look deeper into our study text, 2 Corinthians chapter five and verses nine and 10 regarding the Christian’s decoration day for our acknowledgment, for our rewards of course beyond salvation, that is, our work, our service, our deeds done for the Lord and for his kingdom.  In this passage we find our motivation, what our attitude, our goal should be, and needs to be where it says so we make it our goal to please him.  That is, to please, bring up or glorify our Lord Jesus Christ, first and foremost.  And when?  Including whether we are at home in the body, that is, in these our mortal, current, physical bodies now, or away from it, that is, away from these bodies, even when we are with the Lord in heaven in our glorified bodies. Yet our main aim and goal is still to please, to glorify our God however and wherever we are.  So now in our mortal bodies, service for our Savior needs to be because he is not only our Savior, but Lord, Lord of our time, Lord of our desires, Lord of our attitudes, Lord of our abilities, Lord of our resources.

In verse 10 it says for we must all, that is all Christians and it is mandatory, not optional, we all will have to give an account of our service for the Lord, our deeds done while in these bodies. In 2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 10 it continues that we appear before the judgment seat of Christ.  This is amplified in other portions of Scripture.  For example in Romans chapter 14 and verse 10 it says in part that we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. And then in Romans chapter 14 and verse 12 we have fixed the content and context of this judgment where it says so then each of us will give an account of himself or herself to God.  Each of us individually will give an accounting of our life’s service to God.  God has delegated all judgment to Jesus Christ the Son of God. And Jesus Christ is God according to Colossians chapter two and verse nine. Jesus Christ is deity in bodily form.  The judgment seat of Christ refers to the seat, the place in time that Christ will judge, will evaluate, will appraise, will review the Christian’s life of service for the purpose of public acknowledgement, for the purpose of eternal reward beyond salvation. It is our coming decoration day, unfulfilled prophecy still yet future. And the term judgment seat is ‘bema’ in the original Greek, which was an elevated platform such as when victorious Greek athletes during the Olympic Games received acknowledgment and their rewards for their athletic accomplishments.

2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 10 continues saying that each one may receive what is due him. Again, it is an individual not corporate rewarding.  But an individual, each one receiving recognition and reward to you and to me personally as individual Christians in the Lord’s Church.  Receive what is due him or her for faithful service for the Lord, for his kingdom, for the Church and giving the glory and honor to the Lord. Eternal life, of course, salvation, is strictly by the grace of God through faith according to Ephesians chapter two verses eight and nine that tells us therefore, born again, baptized believers will not be judged for our sins in Christ. Through faith our Savior has already freed us, taken that judgment away from us according to Romans chapter eight and verses one and two, because there is no condemnation for sin for those that are in Christ Jesus. However, as believers we still have this judgment, the judgment seat of Christ not for our sin, but this judgment is for our service for the Lord with a right attitude. So salvation does not free us from faithful service and obedience.

In 2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 10 it continues this is for things done while in the body. Notice, again the emphasis on done, deeds done, that is, deeds accomplished, followed through with actions, not just good intentions, not just what I should or could have done, but what we, you and I in Christ actually did while in our current bodies, while in the body of Christ that is his church.  Work for him, the King, and for his kingdom, for the Lord and for his glory, because works do count. They count also regarding our rewards beyond salvation, because after our deliverance comes our Decoration Day.

In Matthew chapter 16 and verse 27 we have this amplified where it says, in part, the Son of man, that is Christ, is going to come in his Father’s glory. Then he will reward each person according to what he has done. And, again, in Revelation chapter 22 and verse 12 it says he will give to every one according to what he has done. And so the rewards beyond salvation are for the works and deeds we did in this life.  It is what Jesus did on the cross, the Savior of the world having died for us, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world by his blood that offers salvation to all who would come to him in repentance and faith.

2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 10 says whether good or bad.  What does that mean exactly here in this context?  Well, the Greek language does not refer to moral good or bad, because matters regarding sin and the Christian have been completely dealt with at the cross and through faith in the Savior and his atoning work. That is a done deal. So it is not referring to moral, ethical issues or our sin. Good or bad here refers to Christ’s comparing or judging, appraising worthwhile, useful deeds versus unworthy, useless deeds as servants, as soldiers for Christ. And this is illustrated by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter three and verse 12 and following. The apostle Paul used this illustration to explain, to describe our service using building materials.

He wrote, saying that if any many builds on this foundation, which is Jesus Christ, using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work, that is his service, his deeds, will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. What day?  The decoration day at the judgment seat of Christ.  And so the imagery here dealing with gold, silver and costly stones equals good things done while in the body versus, in contrast to wood, hay and straw, which equals the bad that are done.  Why?  In 1 Corinthians chapter three and verse 13 it continues  hat it will be revealed, that is publicly, with fire.  Fire here is accountability, judgment, evaluation. And the fire will test the quality of each individual man or woman’s work, because obviously gold, silver and costly stones are not going to burn up in fire like wood, hay and straw that would burn up readily, easily, quickly.  And so there is the illustration, the contrast.

How is this exactly brought to our minds as to what is good or bad regarding our deeds done for the Lord and to his glory? The answer is in 1 Corinthians chapter four and verse five where it says, in part when the Lord comes he will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  And so the quality of our deeds done is also most important. What was our motivation? What was our attitude? As the Scripture says, if we are seeking self glory and honor now in this life from our peers, from our colleagues, from other church members, from people of the world or however way we are seeking self glory, self gratification, then we have already received our reward now on earth.  And that is the kind of attitude which represents wood, hay and straw. Those are things that are bad done while in the body. They are not going to receive the reward that is like gold, silver and costly stones whereby we do it not for ourselves, not for self glory, not for self gratification, but for the glory of God.  It is about our attitude. It is about our motivation.  It is about our humility, seeking God’s will, God’s work, to his glory first and foremost.


Are you aware that the most decorated United States soldier of World War II was Audy Murphy?  He received the Medal of Honor. He received 23 other US decorations, three French decorations and one from Belgium, for a total of 28 decorations, rewards for his good duty done, his valor and courage on the battle field. And he, Audy Murphy, was a soldier that had a very unlikely outward appearance.  He was young, he was short of stature, he was baby faced, but inwardly Audy Murphy had a great heart.  And so it will be for us on our decoration day. We need to have a great heart for the Lord on the battle field of his kingdom as we seek to honor him with our deeds, as we give him the glory, as the spotlight is on the Lord, not on us, as we give it all up for the Lord.


David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

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Philippians 4:13