We continue our meditations on the topic of eternity and our preparation for that event in time. In my forty-four years of studying the Bible, I have concluded there are three judgments in the Scriptures. Upon departure from this world, the first judgment occurs: “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). This judgment concerns what a person has done with the free offer of pardon for their sin. The believer in Christ will not be judged according to his sins. He is secure in what Jesus accomplished at the cross. At death, those who are believers go to be with the Lord and will return with Jesus at the Second Coming of Christ: "For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him" (1 Thessalonians 4:14). When a person believes and trusts Christ, something happens deep within their soul—they pass from a condition of death and slavery to Satan to having eternal life imparted to them:
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24 Emphasis mine).
When believers die, they are separated from their fleshly bodies but are very much alive and with Christ. When Jesus comes, and the Resurrection takes place, those who have placed their trust in Christ receive a new body, a glorified body no longer dominated by the sin nature inherited from Adam. We will look at the topic of the Resurrection Body, i.e., what it is like, in a later study (It’s also online here).
The second judgment happens at the return of Christ and is a judgment as to rewards given to the believer. This appearance before God is called the Bema Seat Judgment. The third judgment is called the Great White Throne judgment and concerns those who reject God's offer of a free pardon when all those who have refused the gift of God’s salvation are consigned to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:13-15). We will focus our meditation today and tomorrow on preparing ourselves as Christians for the Bema Seat judgment seat of Christ.
The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ
At the Second Coming of Christ and after putting down all rebellion upon Earth, Jesus will then sit and judge at the place of the Bema Seat Judgment.
Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done (Matthew 16:27).
9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
This judgment concerns the believer's rewards for how they have invested their time, energy, gifts, talents, and money. The Greek word bēmatos, is translated into English as "judgment seat." The judgment seat was a place in the common Greek language of the New Testament for a rewards platform in sporting contests. In a secular legal context, the word bēma means "to set (his foot) on.” It denotes a raised place or platform at the site of assembly. This appearance before God is where we as Christians are judged for two different things. 1) How much of the fruit of the Spirit is in our lives, i.e., our Christ-likeness or character. 2) How we have used our resources, such as our time, energy, skills, and money. My prayer for you today is that you would invest your life into the things that will last into eternity. Keith Thomas
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Taken from the series Insights into Eternity. Click on the study Preparing for Death.