Two Judgments, Pt. 2 :: by Grant Phillips

We closed the last time talking about the Great White Throne Judgment. This time we will discuss a happier subject, the Judgment Seat of Christ, which is also called the Bema Seat of Christ.

Judgment Seat of Christ

The Apostle Paul takes this from the Isthmian games where contestants would be judged on how they compete for a prize. If they complied with the rules, they were led to the platform called the Bema. There they were given a laurel wreath which was placed on their head as a symbol of victory.

“Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5 NIV)

As I said earlier, the Judgment Seat of Christ is only for the Church; those saved during the Church age; i.e. from Pentecost to the Rapture. It has nothing to do with salvation, but is for rewards.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is not a time of punishment. No child of God (true Christian) will be judged for their sins. That was resolved at the cross when we put our faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

So … every true Christian, listen up. We will never be judged for our sins, because Jesus paid for every last filthy one. He … paid … for … us. All He wants now is to reward us for how we have lived for Him.

“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NIV)

“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NIV)

This is what every true Christian alive today needs to zero in on in their respective lives. The only possible negative about the Judgment Seat of Christ is we may suffer embarrassment because we did not build properly on the foundation. If we have more wood, hay or straw to offer than gold, silver and costly stones we may wish we had lived more faithfully. We’re still saved. Remember, that is not the issue. That was resolved when we put our faith in Jesus.

How about some more good news? Jesus loves us dearly, and even with the weakest of His children, He will find something to reward us for. All will be rewarded.

“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV)

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. (Ephesians 6:7-8 NIV)

“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.” (2 Timothy 4:8 NIV)

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” (Revelation 22:12 NIV)

Jesus often talked about bearing fruit. Every true Christian will bear fruit. Some may produce quite a bit, while others may not have so much, but all will produce. Why? The reason is obvious. The Holy Spirit resides in each of us, and He cannot and will not fail in His mission.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:13-15 NIV)

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:14-17 NIV)

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 NIV)

Some may think it is wrong or even un-Christian to work for rewards, but the Apostle Paul didn’t think so.

“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 NIV)

As Christians, our goal should be to receive the rewards so we can lay them at the feet of the One who really deserves them.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13 NLT)

Grant Phillips


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