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The Judgment Seat of Christ: More Than Words in a Creed
by Ed Vasicek


The "judgment seat of Christ" is an often ignored or side-stepped doctrine. But the New Testament is filled with information on this subject. It is presented as very important, not trivial, as is the related subject of rewards.

There are three common reasons that result in the avoidance of this subject.

  1. The first is confusion between the Great White Throne Judgment and the Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ.

    The Great White Throne Judgment is mainly for the LOST and determines the degree of punishment for them (Luke 12:47-48) and occurs after the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20:11ff).

    The Judgment Seat of Christ is for Believers only, and the issue is degree of reward (I Corinthians 3:14-152 Corinthians 5:10), not heaven or hell. (We are not discussing here the judgment between the sheep and goats of Matthew 24-25).


  2. The second reason is the subject is avoided is because it does not fit in a neat "Scofield/Ryrie" package. For some reason the top trend setters in our literal (dispensational) way of understanding the Bible have downplayed the judgment seat and transformed it into a mere awards ceremony, and peer pressure is hard to resist. When people we respect hold these views, we tend to assume our questions are not valid, and the obvious Scripture is maybe not so obvious.

  3. The third reason is that of reconciling what appears to be two conflicting views: When we are saved, our sins (past, present, and future) are forgiven. How, then, can we say God will bring every work into judgment, since many of our works either sinful or contaminated by sinful motives?  My answer is this: everything we've done will be evaluated based on the act itself and its motive, not as "sins," per se. The Judgment Seat of Christ is not a scolding for sin, but a review of EVERYTHING (no exceptions). It is a total disclosure so that the rationale for our rewards cannot be disputed. Indeed, Christians today no longer fear God partly because they have lost a sense of accountability.


Let me answer some questions about this significant truth. The answers will come from Scripture, not a preconceived theology.


I. When Will The Judgment Seat of Christ Take Place


  1. When the Lord comes (2 Timothy 4:8I Corinthians 4:5)

  2. It is not until the eternal state, after the Millennium, that "...He shall wipe away every tear..." Revelation 21:4


II. Who Will Appear There?

  1. Only believers—those saved, even if by fire (I Corinthian 3:10-15)  "We must all appear" was written to believers, not mankind

  2. What Are the Purposes of the Judgment Seat Experience? (2 Corinthian 5:10)


  • A "reporting in and evaluation" of the Christian; we are held accountable for the use of our life and gifts; this includes motives (a "warm feeling"/ego boost or the glory of God?)

  • A measuring out of reward



III.  What Will Be Evaluated?—EVERYTHING ABOUT US!

Question: Will our sins before conversion, or the sins we've confessed as Christians, be evaluated?
Vash view: Yes. Everything we've done will be appraised, but not as sins to determine heaven or hell, but from a "good" or "worthless" perspective. Confessing our sins may reduce our loss of reward or increase our rewards, but every act/deed/motive will be reviewed.

Our sins are forgiven as SINS, and remembered no more as SINS. But so much of what we do or WHY we do even good things can be and often are tainted by sin, and this is what will be evaluated.


  1. Every act/deed (Ecclesiastes 12:13-142 Corinthians 5:10)

  2. Every word we speak (Matthew 12:36-37)

  3. Every disagreement/conflict with fellow believers (Romans 14:10-12James 5:9)

  4. All our hypocrisy (James 2:12-13I Corinthians 9:26-27)

  5. Every good thing (Ephesians 6:8)

  6. Every unkind thing (Ephesians 6:9)

  7. Every shameful act (I Corinthians 4:5)

  8. The motives of all we do (I Corinthians 4:5)

  9. Spiritual leadership: use of (James 3:1Hebrews 13:17)

  10. The Quality of our ministries (I Corinthians 3:10-15)

  11. What we "asked for" (sowed) (Galatians 6:7)

  12. How Will We Be Rewarded

    The issue here is not heaven or hell. Believers are saved by GRACE through FAITH, not works. And unbelievers, though they perform many good works, are nonetheless lost.

    But works and attitudes do affect the degree of reward saved (heaven bound) people will be given and also the degree of condemnation lost people are given. All saved people will be in heaven, all lost people in the Lake of Fire. But beyond that, the similarity ends.

    1. We will be rewarded according to our deeds (Matthew 16:27Revelation 22:12)

    2. What we reap is based on what we sow (Galatians 6:7)

    3. Believers experience BOTH gain and loss (I Corinthians 3:14-15) so that this is a FEARFUL EXPERIENCE! (2 Corinthians 5:11); it is with difficulty that the righteous are saved (I Peter 4:17-18); Believers should aim to make an ABUNDANT entrance into heaven (2 Peter 1:11)

Some "Gains"

  1. some or all of the "5 Crowns/Garlands" (1 Corinthians 9:251 Thessalonians 2:19James 1:122 Timothy 4:81 Peter 5:4)

  2. administrative positions in the kingdom (Matthew 25:2123Revelation 20:4Luke 19:11ffMatthew 19:27-30)

  3. more intimate fellowship with Christ (Revelation 2:17Revelation 3:12).  As on earth, Christ had the 70, the 12, and the inner 3, it may be similar in heaven...

  4. verbal affirmation from the Lord, "well done" (Matthew 25:21)

  5. treasures in heaven accumulated! (Matthew 6:20)

My view: Even in the spiritual realm, socialism doesn't work!

Some "Losses"

  1. shame at His appearing (I John 2:28)

  2. saved "so as by fire" (1 Corinthians 3:15)

  3. the hard reality of realizing a wasted life (I Corinthians 3:15) knowing that all of the above could have been yours!

Some Scriptures relating to the judgment seat of Christ...there's lots more!

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

Matthew 12:36 And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment.

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.

Romans 14:10,12 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God...So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God...

I Corinthians 3:13-15 ...each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire...

I Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.

2 Corinthians 5:10-11a ...we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men...

Galatians 6:7b ...for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap...

Ephesians 6:8-9 ...knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord whether slave or free...And masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

James 2:12-13 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy...

James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment...

James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged...the Judge is standing right at the door.

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