The Judgment Seat of Christ
Judging, judgment and the idea of a judge have more than a negative vibe for most of us. We are told not to judge one another, but something within tell us this is not the whole truth. Our daily lives─driving to work is one example─demands of us hundreds of decisions or judgments some of which we take special note of and most are unconscious. Certainly this is not what the command is about!
The Old Testament
Let’s talk about judging, judgment (types of judgment) and the judges referenced in the Old Testament.
The idea of a judge goes all the way back to Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve with God Himself the first judge. Moses was considered one of the first judges over Israel and The Book of Judges details a whole chronology of judges provided for Israel in the early days of the nation.
Judgment and judging is an integral pattern in the fabric of the Old Testament and it reaches a high level in the Psalms with David often pleading, expecting and prophesying judgment from God to those (including nations) who do evil to others and to David himself. This is the most human expression in Scripture of the call for, desire and request for needed judgment upon those who have caused hurt and injured without cause. A crescendo is attained in the Major and Minor Prophets with the judgment directed at nations and especially God’s own Israel for its many sins, hard hearts, injustice and violence to the poor, the laws of God and their neglect of their personal and corporate duties to their covenant God.
<Regarding Josiah King of Israel, this being addressed to his son Jehoahaz> Does it make you a better king if you build houses of cedar, finer than those of others? Your father enjoyed a full life. He was always just and fair, and he prospered in everything he did. He gave the poor a fair trial, and all went well with him. That is what it means to know the Lord. (Jer 22:15-16)
The New Testament
Of course God the Father is the ultimate judge mentioned in the four Gospels with an occasional signpost─especially described in the parables─to the judgment assigned to Christ at the end of days.
Wrong Kind of Judging
(James 4:1-2, 11-12) Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?
(Romans 2:1-3, 16) Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done. You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? And so, according to the Good News I preach, this is how it will be on that Day when God through Jesus Christ will judge the secret thoughts of all.
Good Kind of Judging
(1 Cor 2:15) Whoever has the Spirit, however, is able to judge the value of everything, but no one is able to judge him.
(1 Cor 6:15) Shame on you! Surely there is at least one wise person in your fellowship who can settle a dispute between fellow Christians.
(1 Peter 1:17) And if ye call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judges according to each man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning in fear.
(Act 10:42) And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be the Judge of the quick and dead.
The Five Separate Future Judgments: Outline and some text from Lehman Strauss
Not all men or angels will be judged at the same time and place. There are five future judgments.
1. The Judgment Seat of Christ. The first of these will be the judgment of the believer’s works, called “The Judgment Seat of Christ.” It is this judgment to which we shall give great consideration in this chapter. But first, we shall outline the four future judgments that will follow the judgment of the believer’s works.
2. The Judgment of Regathered Israel. In Daniel 12:1 this judgment is called “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” This will be the punishment of the Jews for their failure to obey God and their rejection of Jesus Christ. During the Great Tribulation, Israel will pay for her sins. There also will be tremendous reward for those who believed through this period or come to receive their true Messiah as their only hope.
3. The Judgment of the Living Nations. Then the nations of the earth will be judged. This judgment will not be against individuals but against nations for their treatment of the Jewish people. “For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 3:1-2).
4. The Judgment of Fallen Angels. This is the final judgment against Satan and other fallen angels who will be judged with him. Immediately after the one thousand years of the Kingdom Age, Satan and his hosts will meet their end. “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).
5. The Judgment of the Unbelieving Dead. This is called the Great White Throne Judgment. After the casting of Satan into Hell, the wicked dead will be raised to receive the final sentence of condemnation (Revelation 20:12-15). No believer will be judged at that day as the final judgment is reserved for all who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ on earth.
When We are Judged
(1 Cor. 3:12-15) Some will use gold or silver or precious stones in building on the foundation; others will use wood or grass or straw.13 And the quality of each person’s work will be seen when the Day of Christ exposes it. For on that Day fire will reveal everyone’s work; the fire will test it and show its real quality.14 If what was built on the foundation survives the fire, the builder will receive a reward.15 But if your work is burnt up, then you will lose it; but you yourself will be saved, as if you had escaped through the fire.
This passage is regarding working in the fields of the Lord to do your part to bring in the harvest. Many times we go through the motions of being a Christian, going to work, putting up with our family; but God has higher standards. Are we striving to have every area of our lives bathed in His will and oversight? Is our first or at least second thought for the Holy Spirit to give us power in a situation or the words to say or the right reaction/attitude to have in a given situation? Or do we find ourselves coasting? What is even worse is when we are involved in what might be termed ministry of any sort, yet we are so preoccupied with the task, busyness or spotlight, that we seldom ask God to help us or empower. In these times of service, are we reverting to the flesh and our selfish attitudes and putting our ideas/plans first or are we humbly submitting it all to Him, willing to take some abuse, misunderstanding and being unacknowledged or appreciated?
To suffer loss, is to a legal term meaning to be “fined”, that is to suffer detriment. The foundation is sound, but your building materials are garbage or worse. What could be worse?
The judgment seat of Christ “Bama” is used in the ancient Olympic Games, where medals or awards are meted out. Skin of our teeth is not anything to aim for. The lose may continue throughout all eternity as we reckon with the lack. Only the gold, silver and precious jewels will make it and be rewarded. So what is the difference in the product? He has given each of us a generous talent to be used, spent and He expects a big return. What do we have to give back to His generous hands in thanksgiving?
The Judgment Seat of Christ will be a Day of Crowns for those who will receive rewards for their works. There are five such “crowns” to be given.
1. The Incorruptible Crown. “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.” (1 Corinthians 9:24,25). 26-27I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.!
2. The Crown of Rejoicing. 1 Thess 2:19-20 Who is our hope or joy or crown of happiness? It is you, when you stand before our Lord Jesus Christ when He comes again. 20 You are our pride and joy.
3. The Crown of Righteousness. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto them also that love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). Hold fast to the fact of the Lord’s return; believe and hope in it. God has prepped a special crown for those waiting for the blessed hope and who love His appearing.
4. The Crown of Life. “Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him” (James 1:12). “Fear none of those things which thou shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). The Crown of Life is carefully reserved for those who have given their very lives. We will not all receive this crown, but will gladly rejoice with those who have counted the cost and declared by Jesus worthy of this eternal honor
5. The Crown of Glory. 2 Be good shepherds of the flock God has put in your care. Do not care for the flock as if you were made to. Do not care for the flock for money, but do it because you want to. 3 Do not be bosses over the people you lead. Live as you would like to have them live. 4 When the Head Shepherd comes again, you will get the crown of shining-greatness that will not come to an end. (1 Peter 5:2-4).
“… Cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:10-11)
(Rev 20:11-15) And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.