One of the most important, if not the most important event in the future of every believer is an event referred to in the Bible as “the judgment seat of Christ.” The actual phrase is used only twice in scripture (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). A detailed description of the event is found in 1 Corinthians 3. And as we will see as we study this topic in a series of posts throughout the coming weeks, there are many passages that deal with the various aspects of this final judgment for believers.
Before we jump into the scripture in search of truth regarding the day when our works as Christians will be judged by the Lord, it is necessary to lay some groundwork.
A. The lost will stand at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). There the books will be opened, and they will be judged according to their works. Those not found written in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire.
note: since all men must be judged, it seems plausible that individuals, both saved and lost, from the old testament, the tribulation, and the millennial reign of christ will also be judged at this time.
B. The saved will stand at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). There the believers’ works will be judged to determine their reward.
II. THREE JUDGMENTS IN THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVER
note: this outline is adapted from similar lessons by clarence larkin and ci scofield.
· One happened in the past.
· The other happens in the present.
· The last will happen in the future.
A. PAST – The believers’ sins were judged at Calvary.
· Isaiah 53:6 – The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
· 1 Peter 3:16 – Christ once suffered for sins.
· 1 Peter 2:24 – He bare our sins in His body on the tree.
· 2 Corinthians 5:21 – He became sin for us who knew no sin.
· Isaiah 53:10 – The offering made by Jesus Christ satisfied the wrath of God on sin.
· 1 John 2:2 – There He made propitiation for the sins of the whole world.
· 1 John 1:7 – His blood is sufficient for the cleansing of every sin.
· Hebrews 9:26 – Because of the offering made by Jesus Christ at Calvary, our sins can be “put away.”
· Hebrews 10:8-18 – We are sanctified through this offering. Because it was one sacrifice for sins forever, we who have been sanctified through this offering are forever perfected.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He paid the penalty for all the sin of all mankind from Adam to eternity. Because of this, when a sinner places his faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of his soul, all of his sins are forgiven (Ephesians 2:18; Romans 4:7-8; 1 John 1:9); removed (Psalm 103:10-12; Micah 7:19); cleansed (1 John 1:7); put away (Hebrews 9:26); etc. This includes those sins committed up to the moment of salvation AND those committed from the moment of salvation to the end of this life in the flesh, either by death or the rapture. (When Jesus died 2,000 years ago, ALL of my sins were still in the future.)
A misunderstanding of these truths has led many to the mistaken notions that salvation forgiveness covers only those sins committed up to that point and that sins committed after the moment of salvation put the believer in jeopardy of either (a) losing his salvation and ending up in hell, or (b) being punished at the judgment seat of Christ and/or during the millennial kingdom.
As a believer, I am completely saved from the eternal penalty of my sin because my sins were judged at Calvary. I can never again be separated from God (Romans 8:37). I can never again be under God’s wrath (Romans 8:1). I do not have to spend one moment’s worry over spending a second in the hell I deserve because judicially speaking, my sins are gone! They have been stricken from God’s eternal record. In the words of the famous hymn, “The old account was settled long ago.” Hallelujah!
B. PRESENT – Believers are chastened for their disobedience.
· Galatians 6:7-8 – The believer is saved from the eternal penalty of sin, but this does not nullify the laws of sowing and reaping. The believer is in no way exempt from dealing with the temporal consequences of the sins he commits.
· 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 – As believers, we have a choice. We can judge our own sins, or we can let God judge our sins.
· Hebrews 12:4-11 – God does not punish me for my sin (in eternity), but as a loving Father, He does chasten me for my sin (in time). This is an important difference. Punishment looks backward with a view to penalizing the offender. Chastening looks forward with a view to bettering the offender.
· 1 John 1:7-9 – The believer’s sins are cleansed by the blood of Christ (v. 7). This is his standing, his eternal position before God. But as touching his state, he stands in need of forgiveness (v. 9) because the sins he commits affect his fellowship with his Father.
· 2 Samuel 12:13-14 – God put away David’s sin, but David still had to deal with the consequences of his actions.
These truths answer the errant thinking of those who would turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 1:4). God forbid that a grace so abundant as to cover all sin be used as a reason or excuse to continue in sin that such grace may abound (Romans 5:20-6:2). These passages also make it very clear where and when believers are “judged” for the sins they commit, both before and after salvation – in this life, on the earth!
C. FUTURE – Believers’ works will be tried at the judgment seat of Christ to determine their reward.
The passages cited above, and many others, will be studied in greater detail in the following lessons. For now suffice it to say that the two outcomes of this judgment, according to 1 Corinthians 3:14-15, are “they shall receive a reward” or “they shall suffer loss.” That’s it. Reward, or no reward. Not heaven or hell; reward, or no reward. Not millennial glory of millennial purgatory; reward, or no reward. Period.
In the coming weeks, look for outlined lessons on various topics centered on the theme of the judgment seat of Christ. Please feel free to make use of these lessons for any type of personal or group Bible study. In the meantime, let us all busy ourselves in building our lives on that most solid foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).