The Greek word for “judgment seat” is bema. The “judgment seat of Christ” and the “bema seat of Christ” are one and the same.
Our Lord stood before the judgment (bema) seat of Herod. Paul stood before the judgment seats of various cities in the Roman Empire and eventually Rome itself. Peter stood before the judgment seat of Rome, as did many others.
In the United States of America, those accused by the law of the land stand before the earthly judge at the judgment seat to state their case and receive a verdict.
Judgment seats are commonly used to state ones case and have an opinion declared. Maybe that is why some Christians fear the judgment (or bema) seat of Christ. From what I gather in listening to those Christians who fear Christ’ judgment seat, the concern seems to center on two gut-wrenching worries; (1) “Is Jesus going to declare me unfit for Heaven and send me to hell?” and (2) “Is Jesus going to expose all my Sins
to everyone else, even my sins no one else knows about?
I suppose it is easy to see why some Christians would have this concern since we are talking about a “judgment” seat. It is natural to think, “I’m going to be judged, and that is never a good thing.” We do usually think of being judged on this level as being in the predicament of an accused in court and facing prison or worse. So the next step is to think, “If Jesus finds me guilty, then I’m going to hell (prison) and everyone is going to know what a rotten person I am.
Stop the train right here! Think about this folks! Think about what you are saying! The judgment seat of Christ is for Christians (the Church, the bride of Christ, the believers) ONLY. It is to judge the quality of our works to determine our rewards ONLY.
Can I be sent to hell at the judgment seat of Christ?
The answer to this question is an emphatic NO! If you are a believer, you are child of Almighty God. You were saved by grace through faith because you complied with the will of the Father which is,
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40)
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Jesus will judge the Church at the judgment seat. No unbeliever will be there. All who are at the judgment seat of Christ will be with Him in Heaven and always be with Him for eternity.
The judgment seat of Christ is not to determine who is going to Heaven or hell. Actually, only our works will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ. Our sins are not mentioned, and that brings us to the next question.
Will all my sins be made known at the judgment seat of Christ?
The answer to this question is also an emphatic NO! All of our sins were judged at the cross. Jesus was judged, at the cross, for every sin we committed during our entire lifetime. Do you really think that the blood of Jesus was not good enough to do the job?
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)
The Greek word for “all” in verse 13 is pas. It means; each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything.
“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:12-14)
The Greek word for “perfect” in verse 14 is teleioo. It means; to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end.
Yes my friends, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you will be at the judgment seat of Christ. Yes, you are guaranteed to be with the Lord forever throughout eternity. Hell will not be an issue. Jesus settled that at the cross on our behalf when we put our trust in Him.
Also, your sins will never be mentioned, and I am so grateful that mine will not be mentioned either. That too, was settled at the cross on our behalf when we put our trust in Him.
So, what is the purpose of the judgment seat of Christ? At the judgment seat of Christ, He will reward us for the life we lived for Him from the time we were saved. Now, we are getting down to the nitty-gritty. How faithful have we been to Him since we were saved?
In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 we find that the quality of our WORKS will be judged at that time. Not US, but our WORKS. The quality of our works will be revealed with fire. If our works are as wood, hay or straw, they will burn up. If they are as gold, silver or costly stones, they will not, and we will receive a reward.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
In the following Scripture passages we are told of crowns we may receive: 2 Timothy 2:5; 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4 and Revelation 2:10
Maybe we should ask ourselves once more, “How faithfully have I served Christ?” Many Christians are going to smell like smoke when leaving the judgment seat of Christ because the quality of their works will be like wood, hay and straw. Their place in Heaven is assured, but will there be any rewards?
Will the quality of our works, any of them, be like gold, silver and costly stones? Maybe we need to work on that. Otherwise, we will have no rewards.
I realize that most all of us, especially those of us who are older, can look back on our lives and regret the time we have wasted; the time we have not used wisely for Christ.
When I am at the judgment seat of Christ I know my salvation is secure, and I cannot thank Him enough that my sins will never be brought up, but am I going to be ashamed of the life I have wasted, when I could have been serving Him? I say this on my behalf and all of you who may have the same concern.
I believe that most Christians today don’t lose much sleep over the question; how faithfully have I served Christ? If that is true, it is most unfortunate, because there will be a lot of “red faces” when we stand before Christ with empty hands. It doesn’t have to be that way, if we just wake up now and get serious about serving Him.
What constitutes “serving Christ?” I would say that whatever I do that honors His name, not mine, but His name, and glorifies Him would be included; such as unashamedly telling others about Him, studying His Word to know Him, prayer to fellowship with Him, being a Christian witness to others that honors Him, and obeying Him as per His Word. That would be a start.
Before we get too depressed, know this; the judgment seat of Christ will be a time of joy not a time of despair. It will be a much greater time of joy though if we have a crown that we can lay at His feet. Let us get serious about serving Him and not be ashamed.
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