Judgment Seat of Christ
What the Bible Says About... | The Judgment 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 Corinthians 5:10).
The Scriptures tell us that all Christians will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of their works and of the deeds they have done, whether good or bad (this judgment is different from God's Great White Throne judgment; see Revelation 20:11-15). Paul wrote to the church at Rome, "For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10b-12).
Though no believers will be condemned or punished, this judgment by Christ of His Church will be a solemn and serious occasion.
(1) Our work and labor will be tested by fire. Paul wrote to his first epistle to the Corinthians, "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 shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1 Corinthians 3:13-14; see also 2 John 8).
(2) We may be ashamed at His coming. The apostle John writes, "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming." (1 John 2:28).
(3) Everything will be made manifest. The word "manifest" means to "make evident, make known, made apparent, or to plainly recognize." The word "appear" in 2 Corinthians 5:10 is translated from the Greek word "phaneroo", and means "expose to view, make manifest, show one's self, to be plainly recognized, to make actual or visible." Thus, Christ will openly reveal and examine our works and deeds before all. He will examine: (a) our secret acts (Mark 4:22; Romans 2:16); (b) our character and integrity (Romans 2:5-11); (c) our words (Matthew 12:36-37); (d) our good works (Ephesians 6:8); (e) our attitudes (Matthew 5:22); (f) our motives (1 Corinthians 4:5); (g) our lack of love (Colossians 3:18-4:1); (h) our works (1 Corinthians 3:13); and (i) our faithfulness and stewardship (Matthew 25:21; 1 Corinthians 4:2,5). The Christian will also be judged based upon the degree of his spiritual understanding and knowledge (Luke 12:47-48).
(4) Good and bads deeds will be rewarded. Paul wrote to the Colossians, "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is not respect of persons." (Colossians 3:24-25; see also 1 Corinthians 3:15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Likewise, God sees and knows our labors, and will not forget the good works that we do in His name (see Hebrews 6:10; Ephesians 6:8).
As each believer is judged, the result will be a gain or loss of joy as his works and faithfulness are tested and examined. The believer will be given tasks, authority and position within the kingdom (Matthew 25:14-30; 5:19); will receive praise, honor and glory (1 Peter 1:3-7); will receive rewards (1 Corinthians 3:7-8,13-15; Revelation 22:12); and will receive a crown (2 Timothy 4:8).
While there are many scriptures which speak of events which must occur before Christ's Second Coming at the end of the seven-year tribulation period, there are no events which must happen before the Rapture, and it could happen at any moment. It is this possibility of His return at an unknown time which, the Bible teaches, should influence our daily lives and behavior. It also gives us assurance that our labors for Christ, no matter how seemingly insignificant, are not in vain.
The apostle John writes, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3; see also 2 Peter 3:11-13; Titus 2:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).