WHAT IS THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST?
JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
The day is coming when every blood-bought believer must stand before a Holy God for a scrutinizing investigation (Romans 14:10, 11). The English term “judgment seat” has a Greek origin, bema seat. The runners’ track in Athens, Greece, contained thousands of seats. However, there was one seat differing from the rest in that it was elevated. The judge of the contest, who sat there, had no obstructions to mar his view. He could see every movement clearly. This pictures the God of holiness elevated upon His throne watching the Christian’s race of life (1 Corinthians 9:24-25; Hebrews 4:13). God is keeping records for the day when we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done (2 Corinthians 5:10). We cannot live for the flesh and self and hear Christ say in that day, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?’ There must be a battle fought and won. Rewards must be earned and scars must be traded for crowns. Paul, who bore in his body the marks [scars] of the Lord Jesus (Galatians 6:17) was pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Salvation was already his as a gift, but only works of self-denial, hardship, suffering, and perhaps death could bring him the prize or crown to lay at Jesus’ feet (Revelation 4:10,11).
God will also investigate the motives behind one’s works. If there is an iota of self-glorification behind any act of service, the rewards will be sparse . . . if any (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-19; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 4:5).
Scriptural facts concerning the Bema Seat:
- This judgment is only for the people of God . . . those who have erected service or works upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- All of God’s people present some form of “works” to Christ at the Bema Seat.
- Though all worked to some degree, a difference in quantity and quality is observed … gold, silver, and precious stones versus wood, hay, and stubble.
- The difference is tested by purging fires.
- The disintegrated ashes of wood, hay, and stubble bring sorrow and loss (1 Corinthians 3:15). While eternal life is freely bestowed upon all who believe as a gift apart from works (Romans 6:23) and cannot be forfeited, rewards and crowns can be earned and lost, accumulated and liquidated. A day of addition and subtraction is coming at the Rapture.
- Quality works, performed for the glory of God to win the souls of men — gold, silver, precious stones —will earn crowns for all eternity. These crowns will then be placed at the feet of Christ as an eternal memorial of one’s lifetime of service (Revelation 4:10, 11).
Some will be ashamed before Him at His coming (1 John 2:28; 2 Peter 1:11). They will have nothing but ashes to lay at Christ’s feet. Thank God one can confess failure, rededicate his life, and make a new start immediately. Then such will hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”