Biblical/Doctrinal Studies: The Judgment Seat of Christ: More Than Words in a Creed
by Ed Vasicek
The "judgment seat of Christ" is an often ignored or
side-stepped doctrine. But the New Testament is filled with information on
this subject. It is presented as very important, not trivial, as is the
related subject of rewards.
There are three common reasons that result in the avoidance of
The first is confusion between the Great White Throne Judgment
and the Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ.
The Great White Throne Judgment is mainly for the LOST and
determines the degree of punishment for them
and occurs after the Millennial Kingdom
The Judgment Seat of Christ is for Believers only, and the issue
is degree of reward
Corinthians 3:14-15, 2
not heaven or hell. (We are not discussing here the judgment between the sheep and goats of Matthew
The second reason is the subject is avoided is because it does
not fit in a neat "Scofield/Ryrie" package. For some reason the
top trend setters in our literal (dispensational) way of understanding the
Bible have downplayed the judgment seat and transformed it into a mere
awards ceremony, and peer pressure is hard to resist. When people we respect
hold these views, we tend to assume our questions are not valid, and the
obvious Scripture is maybe not so obvious.
The third reason is that of reconciling what appears to be two
conflicting views: When we are saved, our sins (past, present, and future)
are forgiven. How, then, can we say God will bring every work into judgment,
since many of our works either sinful or contaminated by sinful motives?
My answer is this: everything we've done will be evaluated based on the act
itself and its motive, not as "sins," per se. The Judgment Seat of
Christ is not a scolding for sin, but a review of EVERYTHING (no
exceptions). It is a total disclosure so that the rationale for our rewards
cannot be disputed. Indeed, Christians today no longer fear God partly
because they have lost a sense of accountability.
MAIN THOUGHT: THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST IS AN IMPORTANT BELIEF
BECAUSE IT PERTAINS TO EVERY BELIEVER!
Let me answer some questions about this significant truth. The answers will
come from Scripture, not a preconceived theology.
Question: Will our sins before conversion, or the sins we've confessed
as Christians, be evaluated? Vash view: Yes. Everything we've done will be
appraised, but not as sins to determine heaven or hell, but from a
"good" or "worthless" perspective. Confessing our sins may
reduce our loss of reward or increase our rewards, but every act/deed/motive
will be reviewed.
Our sins are forgiven as SINS, and remembered no more as SINS. But so much of
what we do or WHY we do even good things can be and often are tainted by sin,
and this is what will be evaluated.
How Will We Be Rewarded
The issue here is not heaven or hell. Believers are saved by GRACE through
FAITH, not works. And unbelievers, though they perform many good works, are
But works and attitudes do affect the degree of reward saved (heaven bound)
people will be given and also the degree of condemnation lost people are
given. All saved people will be in heaven, all lost people in the Lake of
Fire. But beyond that, the similarity ends.
the hard reality of realizing a wasted life
knowing that all of the above could have been yours!
Some Scriptures relating to the judgment seat of Christ...there's lots
Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is
hidden, whether it is good or evil.
Matthew 12:36 And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall
speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment.
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His
Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his
Romans 14:10,12 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or again, why do
you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the
judgment seat of God...So then each one of us shall give account of himself to
I Corinthians 3:13-15 ...each man's work will become evident; for the day will
show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test
the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it
remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall
suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire...
I Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but
wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in
the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's
praise will come to him from God.
2 Corinthians 5:10-11a ...we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what
he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we
Galatians 6:7b ...for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap...
Ephesians 6:8-9 ...knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he
will receive back from the Lord whether slave or free...And masters, do the
same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that both their Master and
yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
James 2:12-13 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the
law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no
James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing
that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment...
James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you may
not be judged...the Judge is standing right at the door.