The Judgment Seat of Christ
Dr. Joe Temple

Five Specific Judgments

Open your Bibles, please, to Paul's Second Corinthian Letter, chapter 5. We are beginning a study of the judgments which are related to God's prophetic program. We are not talking about judgment in a general sense; we are talking about specific judgments that are scheduled for the future.

Now, many folk dismiss the whole matter and say, “We believe in a general judgment.” If we make that statement, we would be ignoring a great body of prophetic truth included in the Word of God. Therefore, I would like for us to begin a consideration of five judgments which are in God's prophetic program. I am going to list them for you, so that you will have somewhat of a survey of what we will be considering, and then we will begin individual studies of them. The five judgments in the order in which they will occur are: (1) the Judgment Seat of Christ (or the judgment of believer's works) (2) the Judgment of the Nation of Israel (3) the Judgment of Gentile Nations (4) the Judgment of Fallen Angels (5) the Great White Throne Judgment.

Outline Pattern of Study

Some confusion exists in our day about these judgments. To clear this up, we will be following the same outline in all five studies: the people involved, the period for which judgment is set, the place where the judgment will occur, the principles involved in the judgment, and the pronouncement which will be forthcoming. Note that these all begin with the same letter. We have found that alliteration is an aid to memory: people, period, place, principle, and pronouncement.

Judgment Seat of Christ

The first judgment to which I want to call your attention is the Judgment Seat of Christ, or the judgment of believer's works. It is described in II Corinthians, chapter 5, as well as in other Scriptures: Follow with me, please, as we read from verse 1:

II Corinthians 5

1For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
9Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
0[Notice this verse particularly] 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.

People Involved

As we consider the Judgment Seat of Christ, let us fix in our minds the first word of the outline we gave you–the people who are involved in this judgment. Who are they? If you were very observant as we read the first ten verses of II Corinthians, chapter 5, you may have noticed that the pronoun “we” was used thirteen times in these ten verses. Now, “we” would have to include the Apostle Paul; and the Apostle Paul, of course, was such a Christian that he could safely say something that I would be afraid to say: “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” I would be afraid to say that because what he meant was, “If you follow me, it will be the same as following Christ.” I repeat, I am afraid to say that. I emphasize that Paul was included in the group that is going to stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ. His “we” included others also. Who are they? When you have time, read what are referred to as the salutations of the Corinthian letters and you will discover that they are addressed to the saints at Corinth and to all the saints in Achaia and everywhere–those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. So I think we can safely say that the people who are at the Judgment Seat of Christ are as that phrase indicates–believers. They are all born-again. Unsaved people–unbelievers–have no part in this judgment. This is for believers and for believers alone. So if you consider yourself a Christian, you should be vitally interested in what is said about this judgment.

Specific Period of Time

Let us look at the second word I gave you, the word “period”–the period in which the judgment will occur. We suggested at the beginning of our message that it will be in the future, because these judgments are related to God's prophetic program.

Let us be more definite than that and suggest to you that the Judgment Seat of Christ occurs after the Rapture of the Church and before the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Now, these are terms with which not all of us may be familiar unless we have had time to study God's prophetic Word. So let me suggest to you that the word “Rapture” describes that event when the Lord Jesus Christ will come for His Church, and the “Revelation” of the Lord Jesus Christ describes that event when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to the earth with His saints. Sometime in between those two events the Judgment Seat of Christ occurs. It could begin immediately upon the Rapture of the Church and continue for nearly seven years to the end of the Tribulation, just before the Revelation of Jesus Christ. We do not like to make statements without clarifying them, so keep a marker in II Corinthians, chapter 5, and turn with me, please, to the Gospel of Luke. Notice something which the Lord Jesus Christ says in chapter 14 that pinpoints this judgment as well as emphasizes its importance.

Luke 14

12Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
13But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
14[Notice this verse particularly] And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

Rewards to Be Given

We will receive our reward at the resurrection of the just. Rewards are vitally related to the Judgment Seat of Christ. Turn with me, please, to a more familiar passage of Scripture along this line, Paul's First Thessalonian Letter, chapter 4, and recognize a reference to the Rapture of the Church:

I Thessalonians 4

13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Notice that statement, “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” That is a reference to the resurrection of all the just. All of those who have died in the Lord Jesus Christ, all who have died with a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are the “dead in Him.” They will be raised at the resurrection of the just. Turn, please, to the last book in the Bible with me–the book of the Revelation–and notice chapter 22. We read the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in verse 12:

Revelation 22

12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Do you see? When the Lord Jesus Christ comes, He is coming for the purpose of rewarding His own. The period in which believers' works are judged, I repeat, is after the Rapture of the Church and before the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Turn back a few pages to chapter 19 of the book of Revelation and you will find, beginning with verse 11, a description of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. His coming in I Thessalonians, chapter 4, will be in the air to catch His people up to Him. Likewise, Revelation, chapter 22, is a picture of the same coming in the air. But in Revelation, chapter 19, He comes all the way back to the earth and He does not come alone. In verse 14 we read:

Revelation 19

14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Now, in this same chapter, in verse 8, we discover that the army which is to accompany the Lord Jesus Christ is made up of born-again believers, and we notice also in verse 8 that the fine linen which they wear is the righteousness of the saints. At other times the word “righteousness” is in the plural, so it is really the righteousnesses or the righteous acts or the righteous works of the saints of God. By this time the Judgment Seat of Christ will have occurred.

Place of Judgment

As for the place of this judgment, let us say, as we turn back to II Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 10, that it will occur at a judgment throne upon which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will sit. We will not turn again to I Thessalonians, I Corinthians, and Revelation, but if you read those passages of Scripture again you will find that the Judgment Seat of Christ is not on the earth, but in Heaven. The Bible speaks not of seven heavens as Hollywood has it, but only of three heavens: the heavens right above the earth called the atmospheric heavens, the second heaven above which we call outer space, and the third Heaven where God's throne is. The third Heaven is where this judgment will occur.

I want you to fix these things in your mind because as we examine these other judgments we will find that the people involved are not always the same, the place is not always the same, and the period is not always the same.

Not a General Judgment

Now, notice with me next the fourth word, the word “principle.” What is the principle involved in this judgment? Well, if you believe, or if you have been taught to believe that there is one general judgment, then the only thing that could be involved in this judgment is whether you are going to get to Heaven or not.

Of course, we have heard many stories about Heaven. All of them tell of somebody's knocking on a so-called “pearly gate” and a so-called “keeper of the gate” named Peter comes to the door, opens it, gives you the once over, and says, “in,” or “out.” That is not the way the Bible teaches it, Beloved. When you stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, you will already be in Heaven and you will already have your glorified body. We learned that in the paragraph that we read from II Corinthians, chapter 5. Do you remember?

II Corinthians 5

1For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

I want you to fix in your minds that the Judgment Seat of Christ is not designed to determine whether you are going to Heaven or to Hell. That will already have been settled by the time you get to the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Not a Time of Punishment

I want to remind you of something else: The Judgment Seat of Christ is not a time when you will be punished for your unconfessed or you secret sins. Some people have that idea; they quote you a passage of Scripture out of context and say, “Every idle word will be brought into judgment,” and you think about that dirty joke you told. You confessed it to the Lord, but it is still reverberating around in the atmosphere. Do not worry about it at the Judgment Seat of Christ; it is not going to be brought up there. That is already settled; that is under the blood. Do not be worried at the Judgment Seat of Christ if someone has told you that every secret thing is going to be brought to light and you have been hiding some things that you would not like for other people to know about. You may have been told that when you stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ the Lord is going to say, “I'm going to tell on you now. I am going to tell what you have had hidden in that closet all these years.” And you stand there trembling and say, “You know, folks thought pretty good of me. I wonder what they will think now? They are not going to think very well of me when they find out what I have been hiding and He is going to tell.” That is not the Judgment Seat of Christ, Beloved, and I will tell you why. Romans, chapter 8, verse 1 is the answer:

Romans 8

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Someone may ask, “Well, now, aren't you contradicting yourself? In Romans, chapter 8, verse 1, it says that there is no judgment, and yet you have told us there are to be five judgments. You are telling us about one at which we must all appear. How can it be?”

The answer lies in the word in the original text which is translated by our English word “judgment.” In Romans, chapter 8, verse 1, the word is katakrima , and it speaks of God's judging in the light of that which He fully, by His Word, revealed and your response to it. If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ as your sacrifice for your sins, then the katakrima has been paid in full. God will not hold it against you.

Now, the word which is translated “judgment” in II Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 10 is the Greek word, bema .

II Corinthians 5

10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…

The word bema originally meant a raised platform upon which various judges congregated at the Olympic Games so that they could judge the race and properly award the victor.

Related to Works of Believers

The Judgment Seat of Christ, you will recall from Revelation 22:12, will be related to the works of believers. The Apostle Paul said that the Lord Jesus Christ was going to return to this earth “to give to every man according as his work shall be, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10).

Someone may say, “Well, I don't want to think about my bad works. They are nasty.” Well, get them under the blood, Beloved. The blood of God's Son, Jesus Christ, cleanseth us from all sin.

Works Judged On Worth

Let me remind you that there are three words in Greek that are translated by our one English word “bad.” The Holy Spirit was very well pleased to use the word kakos for the word “bad” in II Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 10. God is going to judge your works whether they be good or bad, whether they be good or kakos . Kakos speaks of worthlessness. So we see that works are going to be judged on the basis of worth. Our works are going to be judged as to whether they have any value in the sight of God. The works which you perform as a Christian, the effort you put forth with you hands, your feet, and your body, those things are going to be judged upon the basis of their worth. Will they be worth anything at all?

Now, if it were left for me to judge, I could make a very grave mistake; I would have to judge after the sight of my eyes, and I am very easily “snowed.” Someone could make me believe he is doing a great deal when really he is not. Or, because I judge after the sight of my eyes and my sense of values may not be the same as yours, I may think you are not doing anything much at all. If I were judging what you did, I might say, “Well, what he is doing is not worth a thing.” But you see, thank God, He has not left me to do the judging. He will do the judging and He sees so much more than I can see.

Faithfulness In Service

Turn, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 1, for another suggestion relating to the Judgment Seat of Christ:

I Corinthians 4

1Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found [famous] .

If you are reading from the same translation I am, you see that the verse does not say “famous.” It says, “faithful,” doesn't it? It is required in a man, in a steward, a servant of God, that he be found faithful. One of the principles of the Judgment Seat of Christ is your faithfulness in the discharge of the duties which God lays on your doorstep. Have you been faithful? Notice verse 4:

I Corinthians 4

4For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
5Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, [here we have the period when this judgment will occur] who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: [and then everybody will want to run and hide under the rocks] and then shall every man have praise of God.

Is that the way the verse reads? No it is not. When God brings to light the hidden things of darkness and when He makes manifest the counsels of the hearts, “then shall every man have praise of God.” Thank God for that! To bring things to light, the hidden things of darkness, to make manifest the counsels of the heart, that is the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ.

II Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 10, says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” Notice the word “appear,” and the word “manifest.” They are a translation of the same Greek word phaneroo , which means “to make manifest.” What is the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ? To make us manifest, to show us up and out as we really are, not as people think we are, not as we think we are, but as we really are. The Judgment Seat of Christ will be a judgment of the worth of our works.

Evaluating Our Works

What will the pronouncement be? As I meditate with you on these passages of Scripture, I hope you are thinking; I hope you are not wasting your time; I hope you have not tuned me out. If you are thinking, are you saying, “I wonder how I will stand at the judgment Seat of Christ? Will my works be worth something or will they be worth nothing? How will I stand?”

Turn, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 3. Before the pronouncement can be made, works must be evaluated. In I Corinthians, chapter 3, a picture of the superstructure of a building under construction is presented. Notice verse 11:

I Corinthians 3

11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13Every 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.
14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Notice the repetitions of the word “work.” “Every man's work shall be made manifest.” It will be manifested according to its worth. How will your works stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ? Did you notice that the people whose works are worth something are building and also the people whose works are worth nothing are building? That is where the emphasis should lie. It is not a question of whether you are doing or not doing, it is a question of what you are doing. Will you remember that? Some folk sit around saying, “I don't do anything for the Lord. Someone else is doing so much.” That is not the issue. The issue is, “What are you doing?” When you stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, the word will not be, “You did not do anything for Me,” but it may be, “What you did was not worth anything.” That is a solemn thought, Beloved.

Are you a Christian? Are you a believer? Have you placed your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ? Then you need this. Someday you are going to stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and your works are going to be made manifest and it will then be determined whether it is worth anything. You may say, “Oh, I have been doing an awful lot.” Fine, but is what you are doing worth anything?

The illustration given in the Word is “wood, hay, and stubble, gold, silver, and precious stones.” One could preach a whole week on the symbolic significance of wood, hay, and stubble, gold, silver, and precious stones, but I want to sum it all up in one simple statement: Gold, silver, and precious stones, endure; wood, hay, and stubble don't endure. Will what you are doing endure the test of fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ? You may say, “Well, frankly, I don't know.”

Let me give you one or two suggestions, still in terms of wood, hay and stubble, gold, silver, and precious stones. Which is the easiest to get? Wood, hay, and stubble are pretty easy to get, aren't they? You do not have to dig for them. You do not have to sweat for them; you do not have to stay awake for them. But gold, silver, and precious stones do not “come easy.” You might examine what you are doing for the Lord. If it is not costing you anything (and I do not mean money) then you might begin to wonder if it is going to be worth anything when it is examined at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Let me give you another suggestion. The Apostle Paul said that the rule for every Christian life is “whatsoever you do in word or in deed, do it all for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 10:31). Are your works bringing glory to Him? In Daniel it is recorded that those whose works withstand this judgment “shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, shine as the stars in the brightness of the firmament forever and forever?” (Daniel 12:3). Are your works bringing any glory to God? Oh, you may answer me in the affirmative, and you may show me, by listing all the things which you are doing, that they are all related to the glory of God, and I may have to agree. But notice what I am saying–related to the glory of God. Who is getting the glory, you or God? Who is getting the glory, the church to which you belong, or God? Who is getting the glory, the preacher in whom you are interested, or God? You see, it is possible to be engaged in that which is related to the glory of God and God still not get the glory.

A Warning to Christians

We read a few moments ago the warning of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Pharisee host. It is a good thing to feed people, but this man fed those who would glorify him, so he will not get glory at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Luke 14:11-14). You might think about that. Why do you witness for Christ? Why are you interested in winning men to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? You may say, “Well, it is related to the glory of God.” That is right, but are you winning men to the Lord Jesus Christ because you are concerned about them and are interested in the glory of God, or do you get satisfaction out of it yourself and love to tell about it? You will have to search your own heart in the light of the Judgment Seat of Christ. But when the pronouncement is made, if that which you do is found to be gold, silver and precious stones, God will have a crown for you.

Five crowns are available to you. We will be discussing them in later lessons. When you stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ you will have the opportunity of receiving one or all of these five crowns. If you want them, they are worth working toward.

I say in closing that if perhaps your works do not merit a reward and you do not receive a crown, you will be saved if you have placed your trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. You will be saved, but empty-handed with nothing to show for all the life you have lived since you came to know Christ. That is a solemn thought.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org