Why talk about the Judgement seat of Christ? We really don’t hear about it much, but it is a reality for our future. Paul tells the Corinthians in his second letter to them, “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 judgement seat of Christ is also known as the bema seat. This is not to be confused with the Great White Throne judgement. The Great White Throne is for all those who rejected Christ and did not believe his message. Because of Christ we have escaped that judgement. We are saved from the penalty of our sin. However, we will appear before Christ for the deeds done while living out our faith on the earth.
What should our attitude be toward this judgement? Fear? Joy? Glad anticipation? To answer that question, we must look at what else Paul had to say about this judgment. “But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of fire.” (I Corinthians 3:12-15 NLT) Paul writes that our work will be evaluated based on its value or worth. What else does he say? “…For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.” (I Corinthians 4:5 NLT)
I love Paul added that God will give us the praise that is due for our works. He emphasized praise not reproofs were given. Otherwise, we could read that verse and think, “Jesus is going to reveal all my deepest darkest ugliest secrets for everyone to see. I will be so ashamed.” I don’t believe that is the case. Jesus will bring it to light, but for the purpose of commending us.
Paul does mention those whose works didn’t prove valuable will miss out on rewards and suffer loss. This loss is not a punishment. Wilmington’s Bible’s Handbook tells us, “Nor will it in any way mete out punishment for sins committed either before or after salvation; though “loss” and “a wall of flames” (3:15) might seem to suggest punishment, such punishment of believers is without scriptural basis.”
I picture it like more of an awards ceremony, where the faithful ones receive rewards and praises from Christ. Those who weren’t faithful, for whatever reason, won’t be pointed out for praises or rebukes. Not being praised or rewarded on that day is not something any of us want. I don’t know about you, but I want to hear my Lord and Savior say, “well done my good and faithful servant.” So being fearful that I will be punished or embarrassed is not appropriate, but fear of not hearing those word is great motivation.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary says this about 2 Corinthians 5:10, “The day of judgment is when Christ will judge the quality of His servants’ work (2 Corinthians 5:10). It is not a question of salvation which is a gift (Romans 6:23), or a matter of individual deeds (Ephesians 2:8–9), but of service which is judged on the basis of quality not quantity. The idea of quality versus quantity wasn’t something I had thought about. I love this view because as I have mentioned before, I can get caught up in feeling like I’m not doing enough for God. This is an old lie that I still battle, but knowing God is more interested in quality not quantity helps me fight against it.
We would be wise to stop and examine ourselves when we serve. Are we investing our time in something that has eternal value? Are we too busy serving God to spend time with him because we’ve forgotten that it’s quality God is after?
What is our motivation? Do we serve because we want to feel good about ourselves? I just heard an interview with a famous female athlete. She was asked why she stood up for certain issues and her reply was, “It makes me feel good about myself when I can help others.” I think Jesus is searching for a different incentive when he evaluates our reason to serve. Doing all for the glory of God or Christ is what the word says should be our only motivation. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31 NLT) Anything other reason falls short.
- Willmington, H. L. (1997). Willmington’s Bible handbook (p. 680). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
- Lowery, D. K. (1985). 1 Corinthians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 512). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books