The Judgment Seat Of Christ
Every child of God should live with the understanding that one day we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Paul wrote “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 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 ….” (II Cor. 5:9-11).
No unbeliever will experience this judgment, only true believers. The judgment seat of Christ will take place most likely immediately following the rapture (I Thess. 4:13-18). Unbelievers will experience the great white throne judgment at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:11-14).
Paul also wrote about the judgment seat of 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” (I Cor. 3:12-15).
What is the judgment seat of Christ for? It’s the time when every believer will individually stand before Christ, and Christ will make the final determination on what in our life is of Him and what is of ourselves. At this event we will receive or lose eternal blessings. Our justification, our position will not be determined because Christ already took the penalty of our sin on the Cross. It’s our condition, our life that will be judged. The foundation of every true believer is solid; the foundation is Jesus Christ (I Cor. 3:10) and our simple faith in Him, His death, and resurrection (Rom. 10:9-10). What is built on the foundation and how the believer builds is another story.
Paul likened the spiritual material that we build with, and how we build, to gold, silver, and precious stones and wood, hay, and stubble. Gold, silver, and precious stones refer to us living and building with what God has provided us through the death of Christ, and the fact that we lived by faith in His provision. The wood, hay, and stubble refers to us living and building our lives with our own wisdom, understanding, ability, and the fact that we did not trust in Him in areas of our life.
Paul wrote that “fire” of Christ will reveal those areas of our life that were of Him and those areas which were of ourselves. Everything not of Him will be burned, and everything of Him will result in an eternal blessing for us individually.
Ultimately, what will determine blessing—or loss of blessing—is our faithfulness to what God has given to us. Have we been faithful (Matt. 25:23) to the greatest gift God has given us, Jesus Christ? Have we been faithful to His individual calling on our lives? Have we been motivated by His love or our selfishness? (I Cor. 13:1-3; II Cor. 5:14). As we examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith (II Cor. 13:5), we ought to ask ourselves these questions.
Our heart’s desire and prayer should be: Lord, open my eyes to anything in my life that’s not of You. And help me, by faith-filled obedience, appropriate the victory You have given me through the Cross to every area of my life.
As children of God, we ought to take our Christian lives very seriously. If a believer has not been obedient to the calling that God has placed on his life, he will be saved, but he will lose the eternal blessings that God intended for him. This scenario is flipped when a believer is obedient to God’s calling. What are the blessings given at the judgment seat of Christ? Possibly a greater realm of leadership during the millennium, as Jesus said to the faithful servant in Matt. 25:23: “His lord said to him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord.”
If you’re a minister, the message you lead God’s people with and your motivation is going to be judged by Christ Himself. James wrote that ministers will receive a stricter judgment because of the influence the minister has on the people (James 3:1). Paul wrote that he took his life and ministry very seriously knowing that one day he would have to give an account before Christ, whether he was faithful and motivated by love or not. That’s what he meant when he wrote, “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (II Cor. 5:11). We should live with that same kind of godly fear and seriousness.