The Judgment Seat of Christ is an exciting and glorious end time event that every believer should look forward to with great anticipation, however, many Christians fear and dread this event. That’s why it’s important for us to have a proper understanding of what the Judgment Seat of Christ is. To help us get a better understanding we’re going to answer these “5 questions about the Judgment Seat of Christ”: What is it? Who will be judged? When will it happen? What will be judged? What is the out come?
Judgment Seat of Christ – 5 questions answered
What is it?
The judgment seat of Christ is a future event where believers will come before Christ to have their lives examined and be rewarded accordingly. It is described in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15,
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” Paul describes it again in 2Corinthians 5:10, “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.”
The word “judgment” in verse 10 of 2Corinthians 5 is translated from the Greek word “bema”. This refers to the podium where the judges of the ancient Olympics would sit at the finish line for the purpose of judging what position the runners came in and then to reward the runners accordingly. This gives us a great illustration of what the “Judgment Seat of Christ” is all about.
Who Will be Judged?
It is for those who belong to the Church. Only the New Testament believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. It is not for unbelievers or for Old Testament saints – they have a separate time set aside for their rewards.
When Will it Happen?
The Judgment Seat of Christ happens after the rapture of the church in paradise (heaven). (read about the rapture here) It happens while the earth is going through the “great tribulation”. (read about the great tribulation here) It happens before the return of Christ to the earth and the millennial.
What Will be Judged?
First this is not a judgment to determine who will enter heaven and it’s not a judgment for sins. Salvation is a gift from God received by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) Our sins have already been forgiven and been paid for in full by Christ on the cross. “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12).
Therefore, the judgment seat of Christ is not for the punishment of believers, but instead it is to reward believers for how faithfully they have served, obeyed, and followed Christ. Specifically – Did we fulfill our role in the Great Commission? To what degree was the fruit of the Spirit manifested in our lives? How did we respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit? Were are words filled with salt and grace? How faithful were we to our calling as ambassadors for Christ?
What is the Outcome?
At the judgment seat of Christ believers will receive their rewards which will be “crowns”. There is the crown of rejoicing, the incorruptible crown, the crown of glory, crown of life, and in 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul tells of the crown of righteousness, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.”
We will not all receive the same reward. The rewards received will be determined by the degree of faithfulness shown in this life and our motives. The key is our faithfulness to the gifts God has given. We will not be judged or compared to what others have done. “The widow with two mites gave more than anyone else.” (Luke 21:3) And our motive must be “love”. Anything else will be like a clanging symbol and not be counted. (1Corinthians 13:1) So, if something is done with the wrong motive there will be those who suffer loss of reward.
Rewards from Christ
The judgment seat of Christ will be a place and time of glory, love, and celebration and not shame. While we will have to give an account for the things done in life it is not a time of be reminded of our mistakes, sins, and shortcomings. It is a review of our faithfulness to help build the kingdom of God and what we have done for Christ – the good things. When we stand before Christ we will be in awe of how great and merciful God is. The bottom line is that the judgment seat of Christ should be something that motivates and encourage us.