Many Christians think that they will escape judgment in the end times. They are sadly mistaken—the Bible is very clear that Christians will be judged. But how they are judged must be understood.
Here’s what Scripture says about judgment for Christians: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV)
The word translated “judgment seat” in this verse is the word “bema” in Greek. Thus, this judgement of Christians is often referred to as the Bema Seat judgment. All Christians will stand before the Bema Seat of Jesus Christ, and we will give account for what we have done.
This judgment is not to be confused with the Great White Throne judgment where unbelievers will be judged and sentenced to hell. (see Matthew 8:12, 25:41, 46; Luke 13:22-30; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Jude 7; Revelation 20:11-15)
Here are 3 very important things to know about this Bema Seat judgment of Christians:
#1. If we have NOT been faithful, we’ll be ashamed.
The Bema Seat judgment of Christians is a judgment of works, not of salvation. Our salvation is secure when we receive Christ as Savior and Lord.
To learn how to be saved, click HERE!
But at the Bema Seat, the Lord will reveal how we have served him. We will not escape judgment entirely!
If a believer has not been faithful, 1 Corinthians 3:15 says, “… he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (NIV)
Notice that the person is saved, but just barely.
John tells us that some will be ashamed at this Bema Seat judgment: “Now, little children, remain in him, that when he appears, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28 WEB)
Do you want to be “ashamed” and “suffer loss” at the Bema Seat judgement? If not, then the next point should be your focus.
#2. If we have been faithful, we will receive rewards.
Not only was the Greek Bema Seat a place of judgment, it was also the place of awards for winners in the annual Olympic Games. Just as today the winners of Olympic events step up on a platform to receive their gold, silver or bronze medals, in Bible times, they stepped up on a Bema platform to have a wreath placed on their heads.
Likewise, Christians who have been faithful will be rewarded at the Bema Seat judgment.
The Bible tells us about some of the wonderful rewards for faithful believers:
- James 2:5 and Matthew 25:34 both say we’ll inherit God’s Kingdom.
- Matthew 25:23 says we’ll be made rulers over many things.
- Revelation 20:6 says we’ll be made priests.
- Revelation 5:10 says we’ll be made kings.
- 1 Peter 1:3-4 says we’ll be given an incorruptible inheritance.
- Luke 12:33 says we’ll be given treasures in the heavens.
- Revelation 3:21 says we’ll sit with Christ on His throne.
But not all Christians will receive these rewards equally. See the next point to understand how we’re rewarded.
#3. We receive rewards by building the church in the right way.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 tells us how to build the church in order to receive Christ’s reward at the Bema Judgment:
10According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But let each man be careful how he builds on it. 11For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble; 13each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. 14If any man’s work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward. 15If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire.
Notice that verse 12 says we can build with either one of two kinds of materials:
a. Fireproof materials: gold, silver and costly stones
b. Flammable materials: wood, hay and stubble
Verse 13 says that eventually fire will reveal what kinds of materials we have used to build God’s work.
Fire represents God’s judgment.
The flammable materials will burn and become nothing. The fireproof materials will remain.
But what are these two kinds of materials? Here are some biblical examples:
|Examples of gold, silver and precious stones (fireproof materials)||Examples of wood, hay and stubble (flammable materials)|
|Treasures of diligence, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly affection, love, as listed in 2 Peter 1:5-11.||Treasures of wealth, possessions, toys and trinkets as seen in Matthew 6:19-21 and Mark 4:19.|
|The fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23.||Works of the flesh such as are listed in Galatians 5:19-21.|
|The souls of men, women and children who are saved and have therefore become “living stones” in the building of the church, as written of in 1 Peter 2:4-5.||Unbiblical beliefs and teachings, as spoken of in Matthew 7:15, 22-23; Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 2:14-16; 2 Peter 2:1-3; and 1 John 4:1-5.|
a. Building with flammable materials means living for today and by the philosophy: “Let’s eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!”
b. Building with fireproof materials means living for tomorrow and to please the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:9 says that we should make it our goal to “please him.”
The same Greek word translated “please him” is used several other places in the New Testament and each instance helps us to better understand what it means to please the Lord:
- Romans 12:1 says it is pleasing to the Lord when we offer our bodies as living sacrifices.
- Romans 14:18-19 says it is pleasing when we help others and avoid causing them to stumble.
- Ephesians 5:10 says God is pleased when His children separate themselves from evil.
- Philippians 4:18 says God is pleased when His children bring their offerings to Him.
- Hebrews 13:20-21 says God is pleased when his saints permit Jesus to work out His perfect will in their lives.
Here is the bottom line: Will you be ashamed at the Bema Seat judgment, or will you receive a great reward?
I hope you’ll receive a great commendation and reward! May you hear: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21 KJV)
What reward will you receive? Your thoughts are welcome! Please leave your comment below.
Note: For this article, I’m especially indebted to The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible, a fantastic resource.
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