The way that we live our lives now will determine whether you will receive rewards at the judgment seat of Christ. Now, the Bible speaks of two specific judgments. The first is the judgment seat of Christ which we will look at tonight in detail. The other is the Great White Throne Judgment. This is the judgment where all unbelievers will be cast forever into the lake of fire. This will take after the millennial reign of Christ and Satan and unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire. We are going to study the doctrine of the judgment seat of Christ, or the doctrine of rewards.
Definition: Judgment seat of Christ: The event where all believers and only believers will be judged by Christ to determine the worth or worthlessness of the works they did while on earth and to reward them accordingly.
This doctrine is often misunderstood, because of the word judgment. Let me say that Scripture says that this is a time for rewards to be given out, not judgment to be given. It is not a place for punishment. It is not a time for the Lord to bring up many sins and punish the child of God for them. Rather, it is more of a time for rewards to be given out to the children of God. This would be inconsistent with what Christ did on the cross of Christ. He paid for our sins! He bore our sins so that we can be made righteous. He took our sins and gave us His righteousness!
Let’s look at some brief thoughts about the judgment seat of Christ:
I. All Christians will appear before the judgment seat of Christ- Romans 14:10-13
The book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians at Rome. The early church faced much of the hypocrisy that we face today in church life. Today we tend to judge one another easily. I feel like I am a better Christian because I… This is exactly what the early church faced and Paul was addressing this issue. He says, do not judge or be at ought with a brother or sister, because you yourself are going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Why do I need to judge another brother when I myself have sin in my life? It is like the Scripture in Matthew 7, why are you concerned about the dust in someone’s eye, when you have a massive beam in your own eye? We are so quick to point other people’s problems out, but what Paul is saying is that we should be more concerned with picking our own problems out and trying to improve them before fixing others! Why is that? Because we all will stand at the judgment seat and the Father is not going to keep me accountable based upon anyone else but me!
The judgment seat of Christ is that place where Christians will have their works judged by the Lord.
The word for “judgment seat” in the Greek is bema. This means the place where the judges stood at the athletic games. At the end of the contests, the judges gave out the rewards.
The bema seat is the judgment seat that contestants stood before at the end of an ancient Olympic race to receive rewards for running well.”
II. Christ will judge all Christians on the basis of their works
II Corinthians 5:10 tells us that we will give an account for what we have done.
The Father, the only perfect judge will determine whether our works have been good or bad.
Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.”
Psalms 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect…”
His judgments will be based upon the law of God, the Word of God. He will judge each believer’s works according to how their life lived up to the Word of God.
Why is Christ judging our works?
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
God’s purpose for a believer is to have them do good works! We are not saved by our works, but if you are saved, you will work! Why? Because the Gospel. The Gospel should be so flowing through our lives that the only thing that I can do is do good works. Why? Because the Gospel will flow out. It is that powerful! He expects us to do good works. Therefore, every time that we do not do good works, we are disobeying Him, because this is a command from God.
By the way, God knows your ultimate motive. If you are doing a good work to be seen of men, or to gain a reward, God sees the heart.
Matthew 6, when Jesus is speaking and says that the hypocrites pray in the streets to be seen of men, they have their reward. It is the not the rewards that we are speaking of in Heaven. Their rewards are earthly. They are worthless.
III. Christians stand before the judgment seat of Christ to determine what rewards they receive
I Corinthians 3:9-15. Here, Paul gives a word picture of a building. He says, the foundation is Jesus Christ. Then, it is our responsibility and duty to build on that foundation works and doctrines that provide gold, silver, and precious stones. These are permanent, beautiful, valuable, and very hard to obtain. Then, he says, some will build wood, hay, and stubble. These represent passing, temporary, ordinary, ugly, cheap, and very easy to obtain items.
Paul made it clear that the judgment seat of Christ is not a place of punishment, but a place of reward. Sure, there will be some who are sitting there with no rewards, and some with many!
The challenge you are presented with today is to live in such a way that your life is characterized more by good works and honorable motives than worthless actions and selfish motives. The judgment seat is coming. Are you ready?