The Judgment Seat of Christ
There are many judgments in the bible but did you know there is a special judgment reserved ONLY for saved Christians?
It hasn’t happened yet. It takes place in Heaven, after the pre-trib rapture, before the wedding of The Lord Jesus Christ to his bride, the church (For a full timeline of biblical events, I highly recommend this VIDEO).
Many saved Christians today are all too happy with “Just being saved.” They don’t know that Heaven isn’t just some joyride. And, whilst their salvation is not at risk, there will be suffering for many Christians at this judgement.
This Judgment is called, in the bible, the Judgment Seat of Christ (Not to be confused with the Great White Throne of Judgment). It is named specifically in Romans 14:10, and 2 Corinthians 5:10, though the judgment itself is mentioned in other verses and books. In this judgment, a Christians WORKS (not their Sins) are judged by fire, before God, both good and bad, and any work that comes up good, will produce a reward. But, any work that comes up bad is fully consumed, like wood, hay and stubble.
Here’s what Paul says about it in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”
Paul explains it more in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.“
Notice the word “terror” in the first quotation and “suffer” in the second. This Judgment is a cleansing process, so to speak. For some it will be easier than for others. There will be suffering. There will be loss. And this all takes place in heaven.
Lets focus on the loss for a minute. What exactly is a Christian losing at this judgment? the Apostle Paul said, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:” (2 Timothy 2:12). The Apostle John said, “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:6). Earlier we mentioned, in 1 Corinthians 3:12, that our works are either going to be Gold, Silver, Precious Stones, Wood, Hay, or Stubble. Wood, hay and stubble, in a fire, would just burn up, leaving you with nothing. But if your work was a good work, it would return either Gold, Silver or Precious Stones. Even today, all three of those things are improved (refined) by fire. But what good would Gold, Silver and Precious Stones be in Heaven, or in the Millennial Kingdom? Well, the two passages by Paul and John, that we quoted above, speak about us being made kings and reigning with him… and what do kings and princes and rulers wear? Crowns… That’s where the Gold, Silver and precious stones come into play. That’s what crowns are made of and without a crown, you can’t rule. Jesus personally warns us of this in Revelation 3:11 when he says, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Note that that passage suggests others can take your crown! This will be explained a little further down. There are 5 crowns that await the Christians at the judgement seat: 1) Crown of Glory. 2) Crown of Life. 3) Crown of Righteousness. 4) Crown of Rejoicing. 5) An Incorruptible Crown. Christ reigns on the earth during the Millennial Kingdom and, under him, we are helping his reign by presiding over certain provinces as Kings and priests. After all, Christ will rule from his throne in Jerusalem and we will have been conformed to his image (Romans 8:29). We will all be of one mind and our glory will be his glory. Just as ” one star differeth from another star in glory.” (1 Corinthians 15:41), some will have more than others in Christ’s rule. The more we do for HIM in this life, the more rewards we will receive in Heaven at the judgment seat and the more rule we’ll be give.
A Parable on Loss:
A fantastic example of loosing the rewards, or crowns, that Jesus has stored for us can be found in Jesus’ parable from Luke 19:11-27. Lets take a minute to go over this line by line, starting at verse 12: 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. **Note that this is the second account of this same parable (Matthew 25:14-30), but it’s told a slightly different way (this, as is everything in your KJB, is purposeful). Unlike the parable from Matthew where Jesus is using “Talents” as the coins, here he uses “Pounds.” “Pounds” is British currency. This is a prophecy. Unlike the parable in Matthew which is directed towards the Jews, this parable is directed at the gentile church. Us. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. **Pretty self explanatory. Jesus told the church to “hold down the fort,” so to speak, while he is gone, but the world hates Jesus and disobeys. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. **Here we go… Christ returns! And now he judges his servants that he told to hold down the fort.
This is the Judgment seat of Christ.
**Note it says “having received the kingdom.” This is the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of heaven…. yet (Matthew is the Kingdom of heaven). 16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
**This is a GREAT Christian being judged here. This Christian has done a lot for Christ. His one pound produced 10 pounds. In return, as a reward, he is given authority over ten cities. This coincides with what we mentioned earlier, how Crowns and REIGNING with Christ are our rewards. If Jesus is ruling from Jerusalem (which he is), then there are many other cities and provinces which need his representatives ruling over for him. That’s us.
18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. **This is a good Christian. He produced 5 pounds out of the initial pound that was given to him. In return, he rules over 5 cities. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. **This is a “bad” Christian. All he did was save the Pound that Jesus initially gave him (Every Christian, at Salvation is granted a crown to rule and reign with Christ, but this particular Christian did nothing with his salvation, so watch what happens to his crown.) 22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? 24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. **This is Jesus’ response to the man who did nothing with his crown, or his pound. He TAKES it and gives it to the man who has 10 cities. Does this seem harsh to you? Keep reading: 25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) 26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. 27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. **Basically, Jesus is saying the crown will be more useful to the servants that did something for him verses the servants that have done nothing for him. But something very interesting happens here that differs from the same parable given in Matthew… Here, the servant that lost the reward is still his servant. The parable in Matthew ends with the SERVANT being tossed into hell (Matthew 25:30), but this parable ends with only Christ’s enemies being slain!
This is an AMAZING difference! That’s because we as Christians have ETERNAL SECURITY! Jews in the tribulation don’t. There are no mistakes in the King James Bible.
Receiving rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ is not about you getting rich or having more, it’s about you being able to SERVE Christ in his reign. And, as quoted above from Paul in 2 Timothy, that reward, to reign with Christ, comes from suffering. Notice the full quote again: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:“ Look at the last part again: “If we deny him, he also will deny us.” What does that mean? It has NOTHING to do with your salvation. It has to do with your reign, with your reward. And the reward is to SERVE him. There is nothing selfish about wanting to receive a reward from the Lord Jesus Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It gives HIM glory for us to serve him. We do it for HIM! But don’t take my word for it. We are commanded by the apostle John, who is a picture of the church, to make sure we don’t lose our rewards: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” (2 John 8:8)
As we saw from the parable above from Luke, in order for us to not lose our rewards we must WORK to give Christ back more than just the salvation he has given us. This commandment from John to not lose our rewards is basically a commandment to work. Again, the works we do for Christ after we are saved have NOTHING to do with our salvation. The moment you are saved you will always be saved. But if we don’t work, we can lose our rewards, and our rewards are to serve Christ when he comes into his earthly kingdom. What a blessing that will be.
James Melton has a great quote in his study of the Judgment Seat of Christ (linked HERE). He says: “The believer’s judgment is threefold. At Calvary I was judged as a SINNER with Jesus taking my place and bearing my punishment. Today I am judged as a SON, being chastened by my heavenly Father when I am disobedient (Heb. 12:4-8; I Cor. 11:30-31). At the Judgment Seat of Christ I will be judged as a SERVANT, giving full account to my Master for my Christian service.”