The judgment seat of Christ - 2 Corinthians 5:10
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.
Romans 14:10 says: For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
So each of us will have to answer to God.
The letter to the Romans and to the Corinthians is written to Christians, not to unbelievers. The Judgment Seat of Christ therefore has to do with believers who have given their lives to Christ and they must respond to the Lord Jesus Christ what they have done or failed to do in their lives.
What means to appear/become public before the judgment seat of Christ?
It is important to note that it does not say, "We all have to be judged before the judgment seat of Christ." This would contradict that Jesus died for the sins of the Christian. The Apostle Paul says, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ", that is, everything we have done here on earth will be made public there in Heaven, and we will be rewarded or lose according as we have done, whether good or evil.
Before the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers are rewarded based on how faithfully they have served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5).
We will probably be judged:
- To what extent have we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), which is the preaching of the gospel. 2 Timothy 4:1-2 "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching."
- To what extent we have overcome our sins (Romans 6:1-4) and have not given in to the temptations of Satan. Romans 6:1-4 reminds us of the following: "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."
- How well we have controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9). James 3:7-11 says: "For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish?"
- Whether the fruits of the Spirit have manifested in our lives. Galatians 5:22-23 says: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. "
- How faithful and steadfast we have been in prayer and intercession.
- How faithful we have been in our daily Bible reading.
- How faithful we have been to apply the Bible in our daily lives (including obedience to the 10 Commandments, what Jesus and the apostles teach us in the N.T.).
- And so on.
The Bible says that believers receive wreaths of honor depending on how faithfully they have served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5). The different laurel wreaths are described in
- 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?
- 2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing.
- James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.
- 1 Peter 5:2, 4 Tend (elders, pastors, etc.) the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, ... And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory.
- Revelation 2:10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. ... Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. We read that the believers who are put to death by persecution AFTER the Rapture of the Church (First Coming of Christ) are resurrected at the beginning of the millennium, so when the Jesus Christ returns to earth with the raptured Church to exercise judgment over the nations and peoples.
James 1:12 gives a good summary of the correct view of the Judgment Seat of Christ: "Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him."
It is important to note that each will receive what he/she has put in the body. That means that no one comes before the judgment seat of Christ as soon as he/she has died, but only after the Rapture into Heaven.
The Right of Jesus Christ
If a person makes something, he has the right to dispose of it; and he will make it so that he/she profits from it.
Thus, although man performs his deeds with his body, it is clear that in reality the mind and soul are most responsible. If the thought of killing someone comes to my heart, my mind and my soul are able not to carry out that thought. They need my body for that. So the sins that a person do, happen through the body. The soul, and perhaps sometimes the spirit, is the source of the desires and the feelings which express themselves through the body. Man is therefore responsible for what he/she has done as a trinity as soul, spirit and body.
God's (God the Father) righteousness is also expressed in the fact that He allows judgment to be exercised by the Lord Jesus as the Son of man. Why the "judgment" to Jesus?
The Judge Jesus Christ Who sits there can answer, "I myself have been on the earth for 33 years. I have been an infant, a little boy, an adolescent, a grown man. I have been in all the circumstances that you could be, yea, in the most terrible circumstances, many temptations from Satan, 40 days and nights of fasting in the wilderness, bitter disappointments of my disciples, betrayed by Judas, rejected by the scribes, but I have always done the will of God. I could say to God, "I always do what pleases You." I was truly Man, born of a woman and I have been as a creature should be.
What is sin?
In 1 John 3:4 we see that it is not a violation of the law. The Greek word means lawlessness. And what lawlessness is is clear to us: to act without acknowledging the authority that is above us. Lawlessness is: not to recognize authority. And that is why it says that sin is lawlessness and lawlessness is sin. Then we can understand that God's Word says that no man does any good until he/she is born again and converted to Jesus.
A lady hires a girl for housekeeping. When she comes, instead of doing housework, she sits down at the piano and starts playing the piano. And she plays wonderfully, all morning long. Do you believe that the lady will say in the afternoon: Oh, I like you very much? I am very satisfied with you! No, she is more likely to say, Yes, you play well, but I did not hire you to play the piano, but for housework. I cannot use you, go home. Is playing the piano wrong in itself? No, but it was not what she was charged.
And so it may be that a believer does something that is good in itself, but if it is not in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ to whom he/she owes obedience, then it is sin.
The Judgment Seat - What is this and when will it take place?
The idea of the judge's seat, called "Bema" in Greek, comes from the ancient Olympics, where a jury or judge sat on the "Bema" seat at the finish line. The judge's goal was to determine the order in which the runners reached the finish line (who was first, who was second, and so on) and then award the corresponding prizes. This is the imagery behind what we now know as the Judgment Seat of Christ.
This seat/judgment-seat is described in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15: "Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."
The gold, silver and precious stones are your works performed for the glory of God, with the right motive and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Wood, hay, and straw are works done in your own strength and not under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Example: These Corinthians have a problem: They quarrel among themselves. One says he is Paul's, another says he is Apollos, and still others say he is Peter's. And then there are also believers who say that they belong to Christ (this last group sets itself apart from the others). So we see a great division in this church, despite the fact that they are believers. There was a fight over who was the most important. And thus there arose divisions among the believers in the Church of Corinth. Paul calls this carnal. The other arises from the earthly man, in which man is central. 1 Corinthians 3:3 For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?
But who are saved as through fire? The carnal Christians? Or do the carnal Christians stay behind at the first Coming of Christ (the Rapture of the Church) Matthew 24:41-42, Matthew 25 and go through the Great Tribulation? God knows. Will they rise from the dead before the 1000-year Kingdom of Christ and then the judgment seat of Christ will be for them? But then who are those who follow Satan at the end of this Kingdom? Only God knows, the Bible does not tell us.
During this event, Jesus Christ will expose (it will be revealed to the believer) every deed - good or bad - of every believer since his conversion. Every Christian will be rewarded according to his words, deeds and faithfulness.
A believer was studying neurology and she told, she had been there when a famous professor performed brain surgery. What surprised her most was that when the professor pressed a certain part of the brain, the patient began to tell what she had done when she was 19 years old. And when he touched another part, she told about her life as a 17-year-old girl. A third place had expressed what she had done when she was 14 years old.
Everything that man has done is recorded in the brain. Science now knows that. God has always known. He made the brain that way. And besides, God has recorded it in His books and everything will then be revealed.
It happens after the believers are clothed, and thus will be in Heaven. At the wedding of the Lamb, the bride (consisting of all believers who belong to the raptured Church) is given a wedding garment. The fabric is made of the righteous deeds of the saints. At that moment the believers have already received a correct view of our works. From this we can deduce that our revelation before the judgment seat will take place after the Rapture of the Church and thus in Heaven and before the wedding of the Lamb.
Your goal is reward?
Do you live your life in gratitude for what Christ has done for you? Our motivation to serve Christ is not the reward in heaven, but rather a grateful and loving heart willing to give back to God. Serve God with all your heart, as a result of your love for Christ and appreciation for His death in your place, and you will be rewarded when you stand before the Judgment Seat. May the apostle Paul's words in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 be true of all of us! "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing."
And instead of having to wait to appear before the judgment seat to know whether we have a claim to Heaven or not, we should always give thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us to partake of the inheritance of the saints in the light (Col. 11-12). But, one may ask, does not this confidence make us carefree in our walk down here? Far from it! Where Christ has suffered so much in our behalf, that he might give us the glory of Heaven, this will urge us to endeavor to please Him, whether indwelling or dwelling away (verse 9). And as if this motive were not enough in itself, it is added: "we" all must be revealed before the judgment seat of Christ's. Everything there comes to light: if we have lived for ourselves, we shall be at a loss; but, if we have tried by the grace of God to live for Christ, we shall receive the reward.
Become public or receive judgment?
It is extremely important that we do not confuse the Judgment Seat with the Great White Throne Judgment, Revelation 20:11-15.
The Judgment Seat is for believers whose salvation has already been secured through their faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). The Judgment Seat of Christ, we should not view as judgment for our sins, but rather God's reward for our lives. Yes, we will undoubtedly have to answer for our lives. Romans 14:10-12 explains this: "Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." So each of us shall give account of himself to God." This assessment will include an account of the sins we have committed. But at the same time, the judgment is not the center of gravity of the Judgment Seat.
This brings us to the question: What does 'become public' mean for the judgment seat of Christ? Here Ephesians 5:14 comes to our aid for a better understanding: For it is the light that makes all things manifest. In Divine light all things appear as they are in their true nature. Nothing can be obscured, nothing is exaggerated, everything is divinely judged perfectly. To be revealed before God, therefore, means that all things of life must be judged by God. The question is often asked whether other believers are present at this solemn scene. This thought is foreign to the present verse. We may hold that it will be, so to speak, a gathering “under four eyes” when we appear before the judgment seat of God.
In Romans 14:10, the mention of the judgment seat is related to the fact that each person must answer to God individually. Mutual contempt and judgments are not to be found among believers. On the contrary, brothers and sisters whose faith differs in strength should live in their convictions "before the Lord", without scorning or judging one another. For, continues the apostle, we shall all be brought before the judgment seat of God… So (then) each of us will render an account to God for himself. Then let us no longer judge one another; but rather come to this judgment, that you put no stumbling block for your brother or cause for falling (Romans 14:8-13)
Revelation 20:11-15 There they stand before the great white throne and then the books are opened. Yes, God has a book of accounts and each one has a sheet in it. God has recorded everything a person has done in his/her life. And every unbeliever will see it, just as we as believers saw it when we stood before the judgment seat of Christ. But we were allowed to see that the Lord Jesus bore the penalty for all our sins. But the disbelievers are judged by their works.
And if anyone should still say that he has done good things, God will say, 'Here is the book in which is written all that you have done, show Me one word that you have spoken in obedience to Me. Show Me one deed that you did out of love for Me (Matthew 25:31-45). Show Me one of your thoughts, which would have been in accordance with My will! And they will have to recognize it: "God is just. We have lived only for ourselves and did not consider the rights God had over us".