The Judgment Seat of Christ

Question: “What is the Judgment Seat of Christ?”
Answer: Romans 14:10-12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat…so then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Second Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In the context, it is clear that both scriptures are referring to Christians, not unbelievers.

The judgment seat of Christ, therefore, involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ. The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2) and our faith in Him (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). All of our sins are forgiven, and we will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1).

We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives; “We must all have our lives laid open before the tribunal of Christ.” 2 Cor 5:10. Yes, as the Bible says, we will have to give an account of ourselves.
At the judgment seat of Christ, believers are rewarded based on how faithfully they served Christ (Rom 14:10; 1 Cor 3:11-15).

Some of the things we might be judged on are how well we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), how victorious we were over sin (Romans 6:1-4), and how well we controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9). The various crowns are described in 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10.

James 1:12 is a good summary of how we should think about the judgment seat of Christ: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

What is the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ?

The purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ is an exhaustive evaluation of our lives. First Corinthians 4:5 says the Lord will come and “bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”

That passage reveals Paul’s emphasis on the judgment seat of Christ. Notice that Paul says each man’s praise will come to him from God. God gives rewards to the victors; He does not whip the losers. We know that He won’t condemn us for our sins at that point, because Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Thus, the purpose of the judgment seat of Christ is to examine a Christian’s total life. We will be recompensed for the deeds we have done, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10). The term used there refers to a summing up and estimation of the total pattern of a believer’s life. This overall focus should keep us from worrying over every stupid thing we’ve ever done, or thoughtless sin we have committed. It’s a time of reward, not punishment.

At the same time, while we won’t be condemned for our sins, our present lives do affect what will happen at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Here’s how:

  1. Sin and indifference in this life rob us of our present desire for serving the Lord. That in turn means a loss of rewards, because we will not have used our time to His glory. That is why Paul exhorts us to “be careful how [we] walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of [our] time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16, NASB).
  2. Sin and indifference result in a loss of power in our lives because sin grieves the Holy Spirit. ©John

What if I am a housewife and spend most of my life with my children? Then your faith in Christ will be seen and understood by them as you teach by example. Your kindness to neighbors, clerks, and strangers will become normal behavior to your children, thus guiding them in Christian behavior and deeds. We are not all called to be evangelists or street witnesses. Most of us will be influencing people we see in everyday situations. The smallest kindness can change a person’s day.

True story: “I was feeling grumpy when I left for work and as we met in the parking lot you waved, smiled and said, ‘Hello, hope you have a great day.’ That changed my attitude and day. Suddenly I felt good. And, as I drove to work, I realized I never waved or spoke to any of my neighbors. From that day forward, I made it a point to wave and greet all my neighbors. Now I know several and we actually spend time chatting as we come and go.” The person who waved and spoke is a Christian, doing something kind to a neighbor.


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