Imagine that you have been called to the US Capitol Building to testify before a congressional committee because you are directly involved in an important investigation. You are under oath and subject to a polygraph so there is complete assurance of full disclosure of the matter. Videos are played, recordings are heard, and transcripts are read as each detail of the matter is exposed to daylight. Every congressional member has their eyes focussed on you and will render a judgment based on their findings.
When the hearing comes to an end and Congress gives their recommendations, will you receive honor and be rewarded for what was revealed inside the congressional chambers or will you feel remorse and suffer the loss of rewards, reputation, or standing in society?
There is a day coming when every Christian will stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ. On that day we will see our Lord face to face and He will give us our rewards or we will suffer loss based on what we do for His kingdom in this life. With that sobering thought in mind, we need to examine our hearts and motives to be intentional about Judgment (Bema) Seat living. 1 Corinthians 3:15
Bema is the Greek translation for judgment seat. In the days of the early church, you would go into a town and find a raised platform and a judgment (bema) seat. Before we continue, let’s differentiate between the two key judgments mentioned in the New Testament regarding the end time scenario.
There is the Great White Throne Judgement. This is where all of those who did not repent and rejected God’s gift of salvation through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross for their sins will be judged guilty. No Old Testament era saint or Christian will be at this judgment because it is for the unrepentant. Revelation 20:12
The Bema Seat is where all Christians must all appear so that each one may receive what is due for what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:9
Now that we see the difference between these two distinct times of judgment, let’s examine why we should prepare for the Bema Seat.
I used the subcommittee scenario to shed light on the seriousness of the matter, but no imagery from this world comes close to the reality of standing as an individual before the piercing eyes of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:12 is the benchmark for our work, deeds, or labor for the kingdom.
Jesus should be the foundation of our work. All work that is placed upon the foundation is tried by fire. If our work is gold, silver, or precious stones, it will be evident at the Bema Seat. If the work is wood, hay, or straw, it will be consumed. The Judgment Seat of Christ matters now, therefore, the quality of the work we perform on earth matters greatly.
In the daily life of a self-identifying disciple of Jesus, the quality, and authenticity of our work depends on one word: motives. Luke 21:1-4
Is it possible for a born-again believer to get caught up in the fast pace business of fellowship, programs, activities, small group, and serving only to lose perspective and work with the wrong motives? The answer is yes because it’s easy to start off doing any good work with the motive of bringing Glory to God but what happens over the years if the joy of our salvation turns into apathy? We take our eyes off of the reason we live, move, and have our being. We must examine our heart and ask the Lord to give us a renewed desire to glorify Him. He needs to be the reason we are doing the kingdom work we do.
If we volunteer to serve, help, give, and work for any other motive but God’s glory, we are not engaged in Bema seat living. If I’m seeking to bolster my standing in the local church by being seen in all the right places, doing all the right work, in front of all the right people, then I receive the glory and already have my reward.
Along the lines of God’s glory and our motives, we need to remember the church is no place for bravado driven self-congratulatory applause from other believers for good works and service. We come together for one reason and it’s to exalt Jesus, not ourselves. Jesus gives a perfect and practical example of heart motive in Matthew 6:1
What would happen to your walk with the Lord if you live each day with the Bema Seat as the starting point and not look at it as something that will occur way off in the distant future? If we really begin to comprehend the amazing rewards and joys Christ has planned for us at His judgment seat, we would be increasingly focussed on what brings Him glory and not settle for an apathetic Christian walk.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
At the Bema Seat, we will stand before the Lord and give an account. Will He comfort us with His nail-pierced hands as we place our crowns at His feet? It’s only wonderful conjecture now, but one day we will all stand before Jesus, the one who has given us eternal life.
Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.
All for Him,