The Study of Last Things


"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."  2 Corinthians 5:10

Will Christians Undergo a Future Judgment?

The Judgment Seat of Christ

By WordExplain


A.            Will Christians undergo a future judgment?

1.               The answer is clearly, “Yes.”

a.               Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

b.               He also states in Romans 14:10, “... For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”

2.               In both cases the phrase “judgment seat” is a translation of the Greek word bema.  In Matt. 27:19 and John 19:13, bema refers to the judgment bench on which Pilate sat when trying Jesus. 

3.               Other examples of bema as used in the New Testament include the following:

a.               King Herod sat on a bema when he gave a speech to the people of Tyre and Sidon (Acts 12:20-21). 

b.               The Jews hauled Paul before the bema of Gallio, proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12).  

c.                Gallio drove the Jews away from the bema (Acts 18:16).  In retaliatory expression of anti-Semitism, the Greeks began to beat Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue in front of the bema, but Gallio ignored the beating (Acts 18:17). 

d.               Governor Festus heard the case of the Jewish leaders against Paul while seated on the bema in Caesarea (Acts 25:6, 17). 

e.               When Paul knew he could not receive a fair trial from Festus, he appealed to Emperor Caesar’s bema (Acts 25:10). 

f.                 The only other occurrence of bema is in Acts 7:5, where it is used of a place on which to seat one’s foot. 

4.               Conclusion:  Clearly, in every case in the New Testament where an official is seated, bema is used in the context of an official or judicial pronouncement or verdict.  All Christians will be judged by Jesus, to whom all judicial authority has been granted by God (John 5:22, 27).

B.            What is the nature of the judgment which Christians can expect?

1.               The evidence in Scripture seems clear that believers in Jesus in this present Church Age will not experience a judgment of condemnation.

a.               Jesus revealed that all judgment (krisis) has been given to the Son (John 5:22, 27).  Yet in the same context He said that the one hearing His word and believing Him who sent Him presently has eternal life and would not enter into judgment (krisis), but has passed from “the death” into “the life” (John 5:24).  Paul said there is no condemnation (katakrima – note the similarity between krisis and krima) for those who are in Messiah Jesus (Rom. 8:1).  Katakrima  (from kata – down, and krima – judgment) is “a legal technical term for the result of judging, including both the sentence and its execution” (Friberg Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament). Katakrima is used only three times in the NT, and in the NASB is always translated condemnation (Rom. 5:16, 18; 8:1).

b.               And yet Paul said that all Christians would appear before the bema of Christ / God (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10).

c.                How can we resolve what might appear to be a contradiction?

2.               The solution is that the judgment at which non-Christians appear, the “Great White Throne” judgment, is a judgment of condemnation and eternal punishment (Rev. 20:11-15), while the judgment at which Christians appear amounts to a rewarding / refining process. 

a.               Christians will be evaluated for the works they have performed “in their bodies” during their lifetime here on earth (2 Cor. 5:10).  Their salvation is not at stake; their service is.  In regard to their position in Christ, believers in Him possess eternal life, and they are eternally secure (John 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; 10:27-29; 20:30-31; Rom. 8:1, 15, 23, 26-39; 1 John 5:10-13).  In regard to their works, there is no guaranteed eternal security.  That which they have truly done for Christ (1 Cor. 15:58; Col. 3:17) will survive the intensity of His blazing gaze (Rev. 1:14; 2:18; 19:12).  That which they have not done for Christ will not.

b.               The clearest illustration of what will happen at the Judgment Seat of Christ is laid out for us in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15:

9For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. 10According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. 14If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1)               Paul reminded the Corinthian believers that he had laid the foundation of Jesus Christ among them, and now someone else was building on that foundation (1 Cor. 3:9-11).

2)               Each person must be careful how he builds upon the foundation of Christ (1 Cor. 3:10).

3)               There are different kinds of material that one may use in building on that foundation (1 Cor. 3:12).  As the context indicates, the most basic distinction lies between combustible and non-combustible materials.  Gold, silver, and precious stones will survive a fire; wood, hay and stubble will not.  Of course there is also a distinction between the relative values of the non-combustible materials that will survive the fire.

4)               “The day” will come when the quality of each Christian’s work will be revealed by the fire of Christ’s judgment (1 Cor. 3:13).

5)               If a Christian’s work survives the fire of Christ’s evaluation, it will remain for all eternity, and he himself will be rewarded for his efforts (1 Cor. 3:14).

6)               If a Christian’s work does not survive the fire, he will suffer loss.  Some have believed that there are no tears in heaven because there will be no grief.  But God’s wiping away of all tears comes after judgment, after the creation of New Heaven and New Earth (Rev. 21:1-4).  Suffering loss is a painful experience, and I anticipate many tears in heaven at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

7)               Even here at this judgment, the eternal security of the believer is maintained.  Though his work may be burned up, the believer himself will be saved,” but if is work is all burned up, it will be as though he had to run through a fire, escaping with his life while even his clothes were burned off of him (1 Cor. 3:15).  That is a loss I do not wish to undergo, although I am certain I will shed tears of regret for work I have not performed for Jesus.

C.            What is the time frame of the Judgment Seat of Christ?

1.               Clearly Christians do not appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ in this life, but in the next one.  Jesus’ purpose is that He might “present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:27).  Consequently that refining process cannot be completed until the entire Church has been raptured and is in the presence of Christ (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

2.               The outer limit of this judgment is the return of Christ with His purified bride, the Church, to the earth.  Jesus will return to earth after the Rapture, and after the Tribulation.

a.               In Rev. 19:5-6, John the Apostle heard something like a great multitude, rushing waters, and peals of thunder pronouncing, “Hallelujah!  For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.  Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”  The impeccable clothing of the bride is identified as being “the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8).  The angel speaking to John instructed him to write down, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9).  The Bride of Christ is the Church.  It is clear that by this time, just prior to Christ’s return to earth to reign, the Church has been completely purified and prepared.  By this time the Judgment Seat of Christ has already taken place.  The Church has been prepared to return to earth with Jesus the Messiah and to participate in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, which will take place on Earth during Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.

b.               It is to be observed from Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins that the redeemed among Israel are among those who successfully enter the marriage feast at the coming of the Bridegroom (Matt. 25:1-13).  Elsewhere He indicated that just being Jewish would not qualify one to participate in that feast.  Only people who exercise faith in Jesus, amongst both Jews and Gentiles, would be able to participate (Matt. 8:5-13).  This “wedding feast” identified by Jesus in Matt. 25:10 is the same event as the “marriage supper of the Lamb” identified by John in Rev. 19:9.

c.                Isaiah had revealed that God would prepare a lavish banquet for all [redeemed] peoples and nations on Mount Zion (Isa. 25:6-8).  Again, this banquet predicted by Isaiah (Isa. 25:6) is the same event as the “wedding feast” identified by Jesus in Matt. 25:10 and the “marriage supper of the Lamb” identified by John in Rev. 19:9.

d.               When does this feast take place?  It begins after the Tribulation, when Jesus returns in power to set up His Millennial Kingdom from Mount Zion in Jerusalem.  But it actually continues into eternity, when, for the redeemed who inhabit New Earth and behold God and Jesus on Mount Zion in New Jerusalem, God will remove the pall of death and wipe away every tear from every eye (Isa. 25:6-8; Rev. 21:1-4).  (It should be pointed out that the reason New Jerusalem is so high (Rev. 21:16) is precisely that heavenly Mount Zion is contained therein!)

e.               The point to be made is that in this present age Jesus is at work purifying His Bride the Church.  That process will not be complete until after each person in the church has personally met Christ (1 John 3:2-3).  That will not have taken place for the entire church until the Rapture occurs (John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:50-55; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).  So our best guess is that the Judgment Seat of Christ takes place up in heaven while the Tribulation is in process down on the earth below.  By the time Christ returns to earth to set up His kingdom, the Judgment Seat of Christ will have been completed for all church-age believers.

3.               There is at least a possibility that those Christians who have died and gone to be with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8; 1 Thess. 4:13) will be judged by the Lord as soon as, or almost as soon as they meet Him (1 Cor. 13:10-12; 1 John 3:2-3).  Paul stated, in 1 Cor. 13:12, that when we see Jesus face to face we will “know fully,” just as we “have been fully known.”   Did Paul thus imply that it would be revealed to us the true nature of our work and service for Christ, even to the extent that He knows it?  Possibly so.  The Apostle John stated that meeting Jesus Christ face to face would be a transforming experience.  When Jesus is revealed to us, we believers will become like Him, for we shall see Him as He is in all His resplendent glory, purity, and holiness (1 John 3:2).  That may well be a purifying event, because the believer who clearly understands the significance of that event will begin the purifying process himself in his own life right now (1 John 3:3)!  So it would not surprise me to find out that each believer of the Church Age has his own evaluating audience with Jesus at some point following his arrival in heaven after he dies.  But there will be an enormous number of Church Age believers who will not undergo that evaluation until they themselves appear in heaven following the Rapture of the Church (1 Cor. 15:50-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

D.            What rewards will Christians be given at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

1.               As a child, I was taught to believe that we will be granted crowns in heaven for having served Jesus.  As I grew older and studied the subject for myself, I came to understand the matter of crowns in a little different light.  It is true that the Bible speaks of crowns, but crowns of what? 

a.               The only crowns of metal that I know of that mere humans will wear are crowns of gold, and these crowns are only said to be worn by the twenty-four elders who surround the throne (Rev. 4:4, 10).  The word for crown used in both instances is the Greek word stephanos. 

b.               Now it is true that the believers in the church of Philadelphia were told, “...hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Rev. 3:11).  Presumably believers other than the steadfast Philadelphians may also wear that crown.  Precisely what that crown is made of, however, we are not told, so we must suspend our judgment until we know for certain.

c.                In 1 Cor. 9:25, Paul referred to the crown (stephanos) for which athletes in the Grecian games competed in his day.  He acknowledged that the athletic crown was made merely of leaves, for he identified it as being perishable.  By contrast, however, we Christians compete for an imperishable crown.  Again, the composition of the crown is not stated, but we know that it can never fade away or decay.

2.               There are several references to crowns in the New Testament in which the composition of the crowns is stated.  As we shall see, however, the composition of these crowns is generally intangible, not tangible.

a.               In 1 Thess. 2:19-20, Paul asked, “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?  For you are our glory and joy.”  Here Paul revealed that other Christians, whom we have brought to the Lord, for whom we have labored and whom we have built up in the Lord, these constitute our crown of boasting (in a good sense).  So other Christians whom we have helped will constitute our crown (stephanos) or grounds for justifiable pride.  This does not appear to be a literal crown that one wears on his head, but rather a figurative crown, a grounds or justification for our exuberance.

b.               Paul wrote in 2 Tim. 4:7-8 that he had “fought the good fight,” “finished the course,” and “kept the faith.”  Consequently, he concluded, “there is laid up for me the crown (stephanos) of righteousness.”  Jesus, “the righteous Judge,” would award it to him “on that day.”  Not only so, but all those “who have loved His appearing” will be granted a crown of righteousness.  Again, this is not a literal crown of metal to be worn but an intangible (but real) reward for faithfulness.  Perfect and complete righteousness is a reward for faithful service.  Paul stated that faithful and dedication in service for Christ constituted “loving His appearing.”  The “crown of righteousness” here can be defined as complete purity in mind and spirit, and in body and deed.  Complete righteousness is a prerequisite for living with God and Jesus in eternity in New Jerusalem.  Only transformed hearts and transformed bodies characterized by goodness and holiness can exist for eternity.  Jesus identified a few people in the city of Sardis who had not soiled their garments.  They would walk with Him in white, for they were worthy (Rev. 3:4).  In fact, anyone who conquered would be clothed in white garments, would need not fear having his name erased from the book of life, and would have his name confessed before the Father (Rev. 3:5). Elsewhere we are told that “fine linen, bright and clean” constitutes “the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:8).  We are not speaking here of a “works salvation,” but an outworking of the truth that those who are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8-9) have been destined for good works (Eph. 2:10).

c.                James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown (stephanos) of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him (James 1:12).  Literally, James spoke of “the crown of the life.”  Again, we can observe that this crown does not consist of some sort of metal, but of an intangible element, life.  “The life” can be none other than eternal life, that which all who believe in Jesus are promised (John 3:15-16, 36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 10:28; 17:2-3; 20:30-31; Acts 13:48; Rom. 6:23; 1 Tim. 1:16; Tit. 1:1-2; 1 John 5:10-13).  There is not a contradiction between the unconditional promise of eternal life in these passages just mentioned and other passages (such as James 1:12) which indicate that only those who are “approved” by “persevering under trial” will be rewarded with the crown of life.  There is, for example, a promise made in Rev. 3:5 to the one overcoming, or conquering. This is not a threat to a believer's eternal security. Eternal life (John 3:16) is by definition that which endures into the ages. Overcoming is, by God-inspired statement, a trait of those who are born of God by believing that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5). Those who are genuinely believers (not merely those who profess to believe but do not) will persevere in their faith (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:28-30).  Rev. 3:5 is an encouragement to Christians to keep conquering sin and fleshliness in their Christian lives.  There are many “warning” passages to believers in the Scriptures (e.g., Phil. 2:12; Heb. 6:4-8; Heb. 10:26-31).  The underlying assumption is, however, that genuine believers, as opposed to those who are merely professing believers (Matt. 7:15-23; 25:1-12), will respond to the warnings and go on with Christ, maturing in Him (Phil. 2:13; Heb. 6:1, 9-12; 10:32-39).

d.               In 1 Peter 5:1-4 the Apostle Peter exhorted fellow elders who were among his readers to be diligent in their task of shepherding the flock of believers under their care.  As far as their attitude, they were to shepherd the flock of God willingly, not out of compulsion (1 Pet. 5:2).  As far as their motive, they were not to serve for pay, but eagerly (1 Pet. 5:2).  As far as their style, they were not to be domineering, but exemplary (1 Pet. 5:3).  When the Chief Shepherd, Jesus appeared, they would receive an unfading crown (stephanos) of glory (1 Peter 5:4)!   Again, this crown would not be made of metal, and it does not appear that it would be a tangible object placed on one’s head.  Rather, the elders would be granted honor and glory in the life hereafter as a reward for their faithful service in this life.  It is possible that their glory will be observable, much as Christ’s glory is observable (Matt. 17:1-6; Rev. 1:7, 13-17; 19:12), but the term crown stands not for a metal object worn on one’s head, but for honor and glory bestowed.

e.               The Apostle John was instructed by Jesus Christ to write to the messenger of the church in Smyrna.  Jesus knew of the tribulation they were undergoing (Rev. 2:9), but they were not to be fearful.  Some of them would be cast into prison, they would be tested, and they would undergo “tribulation for ten days.”  They were to be “faithful until death,” and Jesus would grant them “the crown (stephanos) of life” (Rev. 2:10).  The same comments that were made in connection with the crown of life in James 1:12 can be repeated here.  The reward for faithfulness and loyalty to Jesus even under great duress is not a crown of metal, but the gift of eternal life.

3.               There are other passages in the New Testament which indicate that faithful service for Christ in this life will warrant expanded service and authority in the next life.

a.               Jesus told a parable of a man who was to go on a long journey (Matt. 25:14-30).  The man in this story represented Jesus Himself and His impending departure for heaven.  In his absence he entrusted three different slaves wealth commensurate with their abilities – five talents, two talents, and one talent (Matt. 24:14-15).  This was no small amount of money.  A talent then was worth fifteen years’ worth of labor (Matt. 18:24 footnote a).  As of July 24, 2008, the federal minimum wage in the U.S. was $6.55 per hour.  A year’s wages based on a forty-hour work week would amount to US $13,624.  Fifteen years’ wages would amount to $204,360.  The three slaves were given, respectively, $1,021,800, $408,720, and $204,360.  Then the man left.  So it is with us.  Jesus gives each of His followers abilities with which to serve Him in His absence.  The two faithful slaves each doubled their master’s earnings.  Their efforts represent what faithful believers will do for Christ during their lives here on earth.  Faithful believers will serve Christ as best they can in this life, commensurate with the abilities He has given them.  When the man returned, he called his slaves for an accounting.  The first two slaves he commended as being faithful.  Since they had been “faithful in a few things,” he would put them “in charge of many things” (Matt. 25:19-23).  It should be made clear that the evaluation by Jesus under consideration here (Matt. 25:19) is not the Judgment Seat of Christ.  This is the judgment of Jewish people who have survived the Tribulation.  But I have cited this parable here because faithfulness in serving Jesus is the criterion at stake in this judgment.  So it is with us believers in the Church era.  When we are evaluated by Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ, He will reward faithful service during our lives here on earth with greater and more important responsibilities during His Kingdom.  This means that Christians faithful in serving Jesus in this life will be granted greater responsibility and authority with which to serve Him in His Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6) and in His Eternal Co-Regency with the Father in New Jerusalem in connection with New Earth (Rev. 22:3-5).

b.               Jesus told another parable which even more graphically demonstrated that faithful service to Christ in this life will be rewarded by even greater responsibility and service in the next life.  It is the parable of the Ten Slaves and Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27).  Jesus told this parable just before His “Triumphal Entry” that marked the beginning of what we today call “Passion Week.” It is instructive to note why Jesus told this illustrative story the way He did at this time.  It was (1) because He was near Jerusalem and (2) because His disciples thought that “the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11).  Jesus knew, contrary to their beliefs, (1) that He would be killed in Jerusalem, not made a King, and (2) that His Kingdom here on earth would be delayed by a long period of time, now reaching nearly two millennia.

1)               Jesus began (Luke 19:12).  He clearly here identified the main character of the story as being a nobleman, meaning a man of royal blood, as the story unfolded.  Literally, he was “well-born” (eugenes, the word from which the Eugenics movement in America and Europe derived its sinister name).  It is clear that Jesus is that man of noble birth – he was born a descendant of David.  This nobleman left for a far country (heaven).  It was there he was to receive his Kingdom (Psalm 2:6-9; 110:1-2, 5-6; Dan. 7:13-14, 18, 27) and then return to rule (Zech. 14:3-4, 9; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31; 26:64; Luke 1:11; 2 Thess. 1:6-10; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-20:3).

2)               He called ten of his slaves to his side and gave each of them a mina, asking each to invest the money in his absence (Luke 19:13).  A mina in that day was equal to 100 days’ wages.  In the minimum wages of today (July, 2008) based on an eight-hour day, that would amount to US $5,240.  We will find that there is no particular significance in the number ten, as only three of the slaves come into play at the master’s return.

3)               Immediately the story turns tragic.  His citizens hated him (Luke 19:14).  This can be none other than the nation of Israel.  Before he returned, they sent a delegation after him, “We do not want this man to reign over us.”  By and large, that is the position of the Jewish people to this very day.

4)               When the newly authorized king returned, having received his kingdom, he called his slaves to give an accounting of their investments on his behalf (Luke 19:15).

a)               The first slave had increased his investment tenfold.  “Well done good slave,” complimented his master.  Since he had been faithful in a small matter, this slave would be granted authority in his master’s kingdom to govern a ten-city region. (Luke 19:16-17).

b)               The second slave had a five-fold increase, and was granted authority to rule over five cities in his master’s kingdom (Luke 19:18-19).

c)                The third slave had not invested the mina given him.  He was afraid of his master because he was an exacting man, reaping crops he had not sown (Luke 19:20-21).  His master judged him by his own words, calling him a worthless slave.  He should at least have put the money in the bank, where it would have earned interest (Luke 19:22-23).

d)               The mina was taken from the worthless slave and given to the first slave, who had ten minas (Luke 19:24-25).  The master justified his action, saying, “To everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does shall be taken away” (Luke 19:26).

5)               The king then issued a devastating, but just decree: “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence” (Luke 19:27)!

6)               Several observations are in order:

a)               The nobleman refers to Jesus Christ, the slaves to those few Jewish people who serve Him, the citizens who hated Him to the nation of Israel as a whole.

b)               Jesus is presently in heaven, waiting to receive His kingdom.  But He has left His slaves on earth below with equal opportunity to invest their lives on His behalf.

c)                When Jesus returns He will require an accounting of His slaves.  At issue is faithfulness in service.

d)               Jesus’ slaves will be granted ruling authority in Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom here on earth commensurate with their faithfulness in serving Him in His absence.  Also, I believe, they will be granted eternal authority to rule in the Eternal Kingdom headquartered in New Jerusalem in connection with New Earth (Rev. 22:3-5).

e)               When Jesus returns to earth, He will put to death all the Jewish people who did not want Him to be their king.  By way of application from other passages, He will also put to death all Gentiles who did not wish Jesus to be their king (Matt. 13:36-42, 47-50; 25:40-46).

f)                By way of application, all of Jesus’ slaves, whether Jewish or Gentile, will be granted authority to rule underneath Him in the next life based on how well they have served Him in this life.

g)               One final application.  Serving Jesus in this life involves risk.  Those who claim to be followers of Christ but who do nothing with their responsibility to invest on His behalf will earn His scorn of being a worthless slave.  It is clear that the two slaves took a greater financial risk than merely investing the funds given them in a bank.  In our society today, placing money in a CD in a bank will not even keep up with inflation.  The two slaves who earned the king’s approval were far more aggressive in their risk-taking than that.  So we today must take risks to invest our lives for Jesus if we expect His approval at His return.

c.                By way of summary, a great part of the reward that we Christians can expect for faithfully serving Jesus in this life is an enhanced opportunity and sphere of authority to serve Him in the next life.  He who is faithful to Jesus in small areas will be deemed trustworthy enough to be granted greater responsibility in larger areas in Jesus’ future kingdom.  Faithfulness will be rewarded.

E.             What other applications to their lives can Christians make in view of the Judgment Seat of Christ?

1.               We Christians need to lead disciplined, Godly lives.

a.               Paul exhorted the Corinthians they should “run the race of life” in such a way that they may win” (1 Cor. 9:24).  If we are “running the race” for Jesus, we must exercise “self-control in all things” (1 Cor. 9:25).  Like Paul, we ought to “discipline” our bodies and make our bodies our “slaves” (1 Cor. 9:27).  Paul did this to avoid the possibility of being disqualified from the race of serving Jesus (1 Cor. 9:27).  This does not mean disqualification from eternal life, but disqualification from ministry.

b.               In his second letter to Timothy Paul echoed the same theme:   “Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5).

2.               As we run this life-long marathon of serving Jesus, we Christians need to run it with endurance (Heb. 12:1).  We must focus our eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2).  In anticipation of His great reward, Jesus patiently endured “hostility by sinners,” and so should we (Heb. 12:2-3).  We should “not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:3).

3.               Since each of us Christians will face the Judgment Seat of Christ, we should refrain from judging our Christian brothers (Rom. 14:10).  We should not regard another brother with contempt (Rom. 14:10) for being “weak in faith” (Rom. 14:1-9).  “Each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12), so it is not our task to stand in judgment upon one another.

4.               We Christians, “knowing the fear of the Lord,” must persuade unbelievers to trust in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:11), and beg them to become “reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

F.             What will be the end result of the Judgment Seat of Christ?

1.               The end result of the Judgment Seat of Christ will be that the Church will have been gloriously prepared to serve as the Bride of Christ throughout the rest of eternity.  Jesus will have sanctified and cleansed her (Eph. 5:26).  He will be able to present her to Himself in all her glory, having never a spot, wrinkle or blemish of any sort (Eph. 5:27).  This will be a cause for great joy and rejoicing (Rev. 19:7) because the Bride, the Church, is now ready for the marriage of the Lamb.  Those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb to view the unique relationship between Christ and His Church will be truly blessed (Rev. 19:9).

2.               The Church, the Bride of Christ, will find her eternal home in New Jerusalem, a residence of unimaginable glory (Rev. 21:9-10).  Even though New Jerusalem will be the capital city of redeemed Israel (Rev. 21:12), this city will be so identified with the Church that it is described as “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:9-10).  We will reign with Christ and God for eternity (Rev. 22:1-5)!  What a glorious future awaits every believer in Christ!

The Judgment of Church Age Believers - The Judgment Seat of Christ

Prepared by James T. Bartsch
May, 2009, Updated February 13, 2022

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This study is based on, and the upcoming links will reference the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE , Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. (

Back to Eschatology (The Study of Last Things) Index Page

ChurchAge ChurchRapture ChurchPurified
SecondComing SurvivorsJudged
1000YearReign FinalRevolt
UniverseDestroyed GreatWhiteThrone BookOfLife HellLakeOfFire
HeavenOfGod NewHeaven,Earth NewJerusalem IntroDispensation

(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB 1995.  Used by Permission.)

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Updated February 13, 2022