There is coming a day of judgment, a day of reckoning, when each individual will individually stand before the Lord to be judged. As you rightly divide the word of truth you will find two main judgments that fit this bill. One is The Judgment Seat of Christ, and the other is The Great White Judgment. Which judgment is for you? Find out what you can do now to improve things when you stand to be judged.
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After This the Judgment
Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”. The Bible is very clear that one day, “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) There is coming a day of judgment, a day of reckoning, when each individual will individually stand before the Lord to be judged.
As you rightly divide the word of truth you will find two main judgments that fit this bill. One is The Judgment Seat of Christ, and the other is The Great White Throne Judgment. This lesson will deal with those two judgments.
I. The Judgment Seat of Christ
The Judgment Seat of Christ is for the Christian. No lost people will be judged here, only saved people. This judgment will not determine whether the Christian goes to heaven or hell; that was determined when he got saved. Everyone that is judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ will go to heaven. What then, is the purpose of this judgment? Paul put it this way, “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.” (II Corinthians 5:10)
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, we who are saved will present our Christian lives be-fore the Lord. According to our loving service or lack thereof, we will either receive rewards or suffer loss. (Not the loss of salvation, but of rewards.) “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” (II John 1:8)
When dealing with the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Lord seems to always bring up the rewards first. See, for example, II Cor. 5:10 above, and note that the “good” is mentioned first. This is because the primary purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ is to reward the Christian for his faithful service. God wants you to get rewards! (Heb. 6:10) In I Cor. 3, the Lord also brings up the rewards before the loss.
These rewards are gained by one’s own individual effort as a Christian. I Cor. 3:8 informs us that “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” However, God is interested in more than just what you did; He is also interested in why you did it. Was it motivated by your love for Him and your interest in obeying His word? (See II Cor. 5:14-15; I Thess. 1:3.) I Cor 3:13 tells us that the Lord will “try every man’s work of what sort it is.” God only rewards if the mo-tives and methods were proper. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. (II Tim. 2:5)
The most descriptive passage about what takes place at the Judgment Seat of Christ is in I Cor. 3:11-15. Jesus is the foundation of our salvation. Every moment of our lives we are building on that foundation, but I Cor. 3:10 warns us to take heed as to how we are building upon it. According to I Cor. 3:12 there are six things we might build. Three are good (gold, silver, precious stones) and three are bad (wood, hay, stubble). You will note once again, that the good things are mentioned first. Any Christian might build any or all of these things on the foundation in various ratios and quantities. When the child of God is judged, these works are tried by fire (I Cor. 3:12). Any of the good works will abide the fire, while the dead works are burned. Wood, hay and stubble are all dead things, as in things our old nature follows after. You will be left with rewards, ashes, or both.
It is important to note again, that even if you suffer some loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ, you will still be saved (I Cor. 3:15). Some Christians, though saved, will find them-selves ashamed when they stand before their Lord. See Mark 8:38 & I John 2:28.
The rewards that the Christian receives are often referred to as crowns, in the Bible. Following is a brief description of the crowns that may be obtained:
1. The Incorruptible Crown – I Cor. 9:25 Given for self-discipline in Christian matters.
2. The Crown of Rejoicing – I Thess. 2:19 Given for winning souls and witnessing.
3. The Crown of Righteousness – II Tim. 4:7-8 Given for loving the Lord’s appearing; and living and serving Him so as you indeed will be glad to see Him when He comes.
4. The Crown of Life – James 1:12
Given for enduring temptation. This is also a crown given to those who are martyred. (Rev. 2:10) In the first case it is dying to yourself as in Rom. 6:11; in the second case it is literally dying for the Lord.
5. The Crown of Glory – I Peter 5:1-4
Given to faithful preachers who feed and love the flock, and lead by example; however, this crown is not just limited to preachers. It is also available to anyone who obtains the wisdom of God and embraces its practices. (Prov. 4:7-9) The Judgment seat of Christ is not something to be taken lightly. (See II Cor. 5:10-11.) As Jesus addressed the church of Laodicea in Rev. 3:17-19, He admonished them to buy of Him “gold tried in the fire” that they might “be rich”. These are the “true riches” and the “treasures in heaven” He spoke of in Luke 16:11 & Matt. 6:20. These are the eternal rewards that the Christian can pursue, if only he will. They will be handed out at the Judgment Seat of Christ. If you fail to earn any, because of your lack of love and effort, and devotion to the Lord, you will expe-rience real disappointment and loss. It will bother you when others are rewarded and you are not. If that’s the way you’re headed you still have the chance to turn it around. Why not endeavor to live, so that when you stand before the Lord, you will be able to hear Him say these words to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”. (Matt. 25:21)
II. The Great White Throne Judgment
Those who are not saved face the pros-pect of judgment at the Great White Throne Judgment. The most descriptive passage about the Great White Throne Judgment is in Rev. 20:11-15. This is the lost man’s chance to have his “day in court”. Unfortunately for him, it will be too late to change the outcome of his sentence. This judgment will not determine where the lost person spends eternity. That was determined when he died without Jesus Christ as his Saviour. What will happen at this judgment is that the lost person will face off one on one with God. To this end we warn the unsaved as God warned Israel, in Amos 4:12, “prepare to meet thy God”.
Of that day, Jesus said, “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36) Jesus said further in Luke 12:2, For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. At the Great White Throne Judg-ment, everything that was ever done in a per-son’s life will be brought out into the open for judgment. Ecclesiastes 12:14 states emphatic-ally, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” There will be no place to run and no place to hide. Job 34:22 says “There is no darkness, nor shad-ow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.”
It will be too late to repent and get things right with God. That’s why God says “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6:2)
The dead small and great will stand before God; the judgment will be set and the books will be opened (Rev. 20:12). Among the books that will be opened will be the 66 Books of the Bible. Jesus said in John 12:48, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” The lost man will be judged according to his works (Rev. 20:12b-13) and since his works can’t save him (Titus 3:5), he hasn’t got a prayer. The time to think about your eternal destination is NOW, before it is eternally too late!
Christians will be present at this judg-ment, not to be judged, but to assist God in the judgment. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (I Corinthians 6:2)
Christians are to be witnesses for Jesus down here and will be called as witnesses up there at the judgment. The implication is that as a lost man claims he had no opportunity, the witness will be called to testify of the time when gave him opportunity because of his witness. After the judgment the unsaved person will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15).
1. Memorize II Corinthians 5:10.
2. What is the primary purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ?
3. Name and explain at least three crowns the Christian can earn.
4. Where is the most descriptive passage about the Judgment Seat of Christ?
5. Where is the most descriptive passage about the Great White Throne Judgment?