October 11, 2013
II Corinthians 5:10
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In Wednesday’s blog, we saw that Christians will never have to face the great white throne judgment. Thank God and praise His name that this is true! For all those who stand before the Lord at that judgment will be condemned, according to Revelation 20:11 though 15.
But that does not mean we, as Christians, will not face judgment! As it is written in II Corinthians 5:10:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may
receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether
good or bad.
Paul expands on this theme in I Corinthians 3:11 though 15:
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is
Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver,
precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become manifest;
for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire
shall test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has
built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he
will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
The foundation is laid by accepting Jesus into your heart and life – how we then live our lives as Christians will determine our rewards or loss of rewards. The “…gold, silver, precious stones…” are the works following salvation that glorify the Lord and advance His kingdom. The “…wood, hay, straw…” are things in our lives that we do for just ourselves with little thought of Him and His purpose. And it stands to reason that the dedicated follower of Christ will be given more rewards in heaven for his or her sacrificial life than the one who just accepts Jesus as Savior but does not grow up and produce fruit in lives that glorifies Him.
What is the fire that will be the determining factor if our works will be accepted or rejected at this judgment? John saw a vision of Christ in His glorified state in Revelation 1. In verse 14 (NIV) the apostle wrote, “…His eyes were like blazing fire.” All He will have to do at that judgment is look at what we have done with our Christian lives, and He – and we – will know if what is being considered is for His glory or ours!
It is called the Bema Seat judgment. The term bema is found twelve times in the New Testament in the original language. In ancient Rome it was a raised dias, often in a public place, where a judge would sit to hear a legal case and decide its outcome. In Greece – and I saw the ruins of a bema seat in Corinth – it was from such a seat the judges of athletic games would determine winners and awards. So the Greek term was chosen to identify “…the judgment seat of Christ….”
The victors in athletic games were awarded a crown of a laurel wreath. Paul equates that with what the victorious believer will receive in I Corinthians 9:24 through 27:
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the
prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes
for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable
crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with
uncertainly. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my
body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I
myself should become disqualified.
The rewards for living the Christian life for God’s glory are called crowns. Several are named in Scripture:
• Imperishable (or incorruptible) crown – here in I Corinthians 9:25.
• Crown of righteousness – II Timothy 4:8.
• Crown of life – James 1:12; Revelation 2:10.
• Crown of glory – I Peter 5:4.
There are many more rewards for faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and we will not understand them fully until we receive them from the Lord’s hand.
In the meantime, Christian – realize that we will be judged before Jesus Christ. Our lives will be reviewed by Him as to how we have lived out our faith. We will never face the great white throne, but we will stand before Him as He is seated on the bema throne.