And After This, the Judgment . .

And After This, the Judgment . .
Vol: 92 Issue: 23 Saturday, May 23, 2009

And After This, the Judgment . .

I received a question by email from a reader concerning the Bema Seat Judgment yesterday. It was an excellent question concerning an article I wrote entitled; “The Blessed Hope — A Mixture of Excitement and Dread”.

“Dear Jack, I read your article about the blessed hope. You mentioned the dread. If the Lord forgives all our sins and doesn”t remember any of them, as is said,he throws them into the deep blue sea, why would he bring everything I’ve done at the Bema Seat to judge me? I know that my works will be judged. But we should not dread seeing our Savior at the judgment. It just does not make sense. Can you help me understand this?”

I’ll try. Judgment is a central theme of Scripture. The entire Old Testament is filled with accounts of Divine judgment.

The judgment on Adam and Eve, the Flood judgment, the judgment against the Unfaithful Generation during the Exodus, Sodom and Gomorrah, the various judgments against Israel, the Ultimate Judgment at Calvary, just to name a few.

Some in this generation will face the 21 judgments outlined in the Book of Revelation during the Tribulation Period.

The writer of Hebrews tells us, “. . .it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

There are five separate judgments identified in Scripture, that differ in five general aspects; the subjects, the time, the place, the basis and the result.

There are two judgments for believers. The subjects of the first judgment are sinners. The time of this judgment was roughly AD 33. The place was Calvary. The basis for the judgment was the finished Work of Christ. And the result was justification for the believer.

This first judgment is in three parts; as a sinner, as a son, and as a servant.

The ‘sin’ question is settled at the Cross. The ‘son’ question is an ongoing series of personal judgments that the Bible calls ‘chastisement’.

When a believer steps outside God’s permissive will, it brings about judgments designed to bring that believer back into line.

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:7-8)

Now we come to the question posed about the Bema Seat. The Bema Seat is where we are judged as servants. The only ones at this judgment are believers. This judgment takes place after the Rapture. The basis for this judgment is not grace, but works.

Now this is critical to understanding the whole scene: what is at stake is not salvation, but rewards.

“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.” (2nd Corinthians 5:10)

The Scriptures say that every one of us will give an account of ourselves before the Lord, either as a sinner before the Great White Throne, or as a servant at the Bema Seat.

When the Scriptures promise that God will forget our sins it isn’t that God develops amnesia. What it really means is that God no longer counts it as sin — it has been covered by the Blood of Christ.

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

The Scripture is clear: one day I will stand before the Lord at the Bema Seat where I will also be called to give account for every idle word spoken. I will not be punished for it but I’ve no doubt I will suffer great shame.

There will be the Lord, with the nail holes in His Hands and Feet, with the spear wound in His side, all five wounds received by Him on my behalf.

And there I will stand, explaining why it was too hard for me. . . yes, there will be great shame. And judgment. But no punishment.

That is the part that the Lord ‘forgets’. The Bema Seat judgment is not for sin, but for service. How well did you serve?

There is no way to determine that outside of the context of one’s life, so by definition, those sins for which were are forgiven must still be presented before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)

We will be judged for EVERY idle word we speak. And for every idle deed. Again, it is not a judgment for sin. It is a judgment of your service.

“Every 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.”

Think about that for a moment! Everything you ever did will be analyzed and scrutinized openly by the Lord Jesus Christ. Every good thing. . . and every bad thing. We’ll be called on to give account of every word, every deed, every thought.

For most believers, the Judgment Seat of Christ will be an excruciating experience. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men . . .” Paul wrote.

But, the result isn’t heaven — that is already assured. The result is reward. That is where a believer’s works come into play. Rewards. Or loss of them.

If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1st Corinthians 3:13-15)

Assessment:

There are five possible rewards a believer can receive at the Bema Seat. The Bible calls them ‘crowns’.

The first is the Crown of Life. This is the Martyr’s Crown. You get this one the hard way; “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

Then is the Crown of Glory. This the the ‘Pastor’s Crown’ given by the Chief Shepherd when He shall appear to those who serve; “willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”

It is important to understand both the distinction and the difference between judgment for salvation and judgment for rewards.

Salvation is a gift of grace through faith, and that not of yourselves. Crowns, on the other hand, well, them you have to work for.

“And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1st Peter 2-4)

I’m working to earn this particular crown. It is a spiritual goal of mine.

The Crown of Rejoicing is the one I am working to help YOU earn.

This is the soul-winners crown. Those whom we’ve led to Christ WILL be our Crown of Rejoicing. The OL exists to provide you with answers to the hard questions from skeptics that their skepticism may turn to faith.

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” (1st Thessalonians 2:19)

The Crown of Righteousness is reserved for those of us of every generation who wait patiently for His return, the watchmen on the wall who give the warning of the soon appearance of the Lord.

“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 all them also that love His appearing.” (2nd Timothy 4:8)

The Incorruptible Crown is a tough one to earn. This is the “Victor’s” Crown, which is set aside for those who master temperance in this lifetime.

Those who don’t yield to the lusts of the flesh, saturate themselves with alcohol and drugs, and keep themselves separate from the world can expect to be rewarded with the Incorruptible Crown.

There are, altogether, five judgments outlined by Scripture. The first two are believer’s judgments; the judgment at the Cross and the Bema Seat Judgment.

The third judgment is reserved for the Jews. We call it the Tribulation Period. The Prophet Jeremiah calls it “the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.”

“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:7) The basis for this judgment is Israel’s continued rejection of the Messiah, and the end result is the national redemption of Israel.

The fourth Divine judgment also takes place during the Tribulation. The subjects are the Gentile nations. The place is the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The basis for this judgment will be their treatment of the Jews.

“And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:32)

The nations will be divided into the “Sheep nations” and the “Goat nations”. The result is the Sheep nations will be permitted to enter into the Millennial Kingdom. The “Goat nations” will be destroyed.

This judgment takes place at the conclusion of the Tribulation Period. The fifth and final judgment takes place at the Great White Throne. It will take place at the close of the Millennium a 1000 years after the judgment of the Nations, and before the “Great White Throne.”

This is the judgment for sin. All the righteous (saved) dead arose at the First Resurrection, or the Rapture. But what about the Tribulation saints?

The words; “Whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life” imply there will be some saved who will be present at the Great White Throne. There will be some whose names will be found in the Book of Life, but they are post-Church Age believers.

Those who are saved and die between the First Resurrection and the Second Resurrection, (like the Tribulation Saints), will rise with the wicked at the Second Resurrection.

The Bible identifies five judgments and five crowns. The judgments are as I’ve outlined them, by those who are subject to them, when, where, why, and how.

I’ve supplied chapter and verse. Go back and review it all. It’s the only outline there is. And for it to work, the Church must be Raptured before the Tribulation begins.

If not, we have the Church on the earth during the judgment of Israel. Some argue that the Rapture takes place at the end, during the judgment of the sheep and goat nations.

Jesus sets up His Millennial Kingdom at the close of the Tribulation Period. Before that comes four of the five judgments, all of which He presides over as the Righteous Judge.

When the judgments of the Tribulation are over, all that remain are the sheep nations and the Jews. Who is there left to Rapture?

The Rapture is the First Resurrection that predicates the Judgment Seat of Christ. As the Church is judged at the Bema Seat, the twenty-one Tribulation judgments are executed on the world.

They are different judgments, as to subject, basis, place and result, but within the same general frame of time called the Day of the Lord or the Day of Christ.

Bible prophecy is deep and complex. Everything about the outline of Bible prophecy is systematic; all things are done decently and in order.

Move something out of order and everything else has to shift to fill the gap, at which time the entire outline collapses.

Which is why the Rapture has to come first. And after this the judgment. Maranatha!

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About Pete Garcia

Christian, father, husband, veteran, pilot, and sinner saved by grace. I am a firm believer in, and follower of Jesus Christ. I am Pre-Trib, Dispensational, and Non-Denominational (but I lean Southern Baptist).

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