Slide show


The Judgement Seat of Christ

Judgement Seat of Christ

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. [2 Cor 5:10]

The Apostle Paul in this chapter talks of a judgement that was inescapable. Is he contradicting with the verses from John that we read before? Not in any way. We need first to understand whom the Apostle is referring to as ‘we’. Taking it from the first verse of Chapter 5 we see that the Apostle is referring to those who had believed in the Lord. He is in the verses prior to verse 10 revealing what would happen to those who were part of the family of God. Verse 5 reveals this when he says,

“Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” [2 Cor 5:5 NIV]

He is talking of those who have received the Holy Spirit and these are believers that he is talking of. These people do not include the unbelievers.

Secondly the word that was translated ‘judgement seat’, does not in any sense signify judgement in the Greek from which the New Testament was originally written. The word translated ‘judgement seat’ is the Greek word

‘Bema’, pronounced as (bay'-ma) which means; a step, i.e. foot-breath; by implication, a rostrum, platform.

In the Greek it was a place where the awards were given out to the winners in the annual Olympic Games. The Olympic Games were already in existence in the time of the Apostle Paul. History says that the Olympic Games began in 776 BC and were suppressed in 394 AD by Theodosius 1 as part the campaign to impose Christianity as a state religion. When Paul then wrote of the ‘bema’ in our text scripture he had the Olympics in mind. The concept of this ‘bema’ is still what we see in the present day version of the Olympics when the winners receive their medals.

From this understanding there is no issue of judgement and sentencing someone in this verse. The parade before the ‘bema’ is what awaits those who have believed in Christ and have been born again. This is a time of rewards for believers as Christ rewards the believers on what they have done in the faith. It takes a decision to determine one’s eternal destiny but it takes a lifetime after the decision to prepare for rewards. 

The Judgement Seat of Christ

This rewarding does not involve the unbelievers for it will be done when Christ comes to be with His Church. As we saw in the last teaching on the Resurrection of the dead, when Christ comes he will resurrect the people who died in Christ and gather them together with the believers who will be alive at His coming. [2 Thessalonians 4: 13-18]

The book of Revelations reveals that when Christ comes for his Church he will be coming with rewards for the people.
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. [Rev 22:12]

From our opening scripture on this issue of standing on the bema, Paul talks of people receiving rewards according to what they have done whether good or bad. What is it that he is talking about? Is He talking about sin? In Ephesians Paul talks of the responsibility of the five fold ministry as of equipping the saints for work of ministry.[ Eph 4: 11-13] How far with doing this work of ministry and the motives and results is what will be considered on rewards.

This is illustrated when Paul talks of what would happen in terms of rewards to fellow ministers of the Gospel in line with this issue of work of ministry.

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. [1 Cor 3:12-15]

In this case he talks of ministers who would do the work of ministry on the work that he had already laid a foundation. He uses an illustration of the works having to go a test of fire in terms of obedience, motives and success. He then says if the work stands the test then the person will be rewarded but if the work does not stand the test then the person will suffer loss but will not lose salvation. 

This test has nothing to do with sins because Christ dealt with the issue of sin. The negative impact of sin is that it makes the person ineffective and inefficient in doing the work of ministry. Inefficiency will then impact negatively on the rewards. This is what the writer to the book of Hebrews describes saying,

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. [Heb 12:1]

The ‘bema’ is only for the believers and is for rewards having nothing to do with sins. This is a word that every believer has to get and be acquainted with. With this as one’s consciousness a believer will focus on effectiveness in doing the work of ministry. The New creation is the post judgement generation that is supposed to work from a pure conscience with no guilt or condemnation and advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. [2 Tim 4:8]

Rom 14: 7-10, James 1: 12, 2 Tim 2: 3-6, 20; 4: 8