The Judgment Seat of Christ
The New Testament teaches that there are four special judgments which have to do with God’s prophetic program: the judgment of sin at the cross (Rom. 8:3), the Judgment Seat of Christ for the Christian (Rom. 14:10), the judgment of the nations just prior to the Millennium (Matt. 25:31-46), and the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).
Judgment is God’s strange work; nevertheless, His righteous character requires it; righteousness demands equity; holiness demands purity.
In the study of the doctrine covering the Judgment Seat of Christ, it is not adverse to holiness to ask when, where, why, and how should there be such a judgment.
Since it is to take place in the Day of Christ, for such are the implications in a number of Scriptures (2 Cor. 1:14. Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16), it must take place after the rapture and before, one would assume, the marriage of the Lamb.
The Greek word parousia that is used in regard to the coming of Christ means the presence of, the presence of a person. It does not intimate an event only but a condition that results from an event. Christ’s return for His Church will be the event that will place her in His presence, His parousia.
The Lord Himself will be the Judge: “To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9). His lordship, therefore His judgeship over man does not end with man’s death (Rom. 7:1). His lordship over His own is not limited to this life only.
Attention has been drawn to the difference between the marginal reading of Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10. In the first we read of the Judgment Seat of God; in the second, of the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is of God in its character; it is of Christ because God has committed all judgment into the hands of His Son. (Jno. 5:22).
This is the judgment of Christians. Each believer must appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ: “We shall all stand before the Judgment Seat” (Rom. 14:10). “Every one shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). “We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10). “We must all be manifested before the Judgment Seat of Christ” (J.N.D.).
That there will be an appraisal of the life of each Christian is clear; this will be before a judgment seat, a bema. The Greek word bema used in this connection was a raised platform, a tribune, for an officiating judge (Acts 18:12-17), for an army commander when he disciplined or addressed his troops. It was also used at Grecian games for the president or umpire when he rewarded the contestants. It would seem that this Judgment Seat will be set up in the air.
There are three major passages that deal with the Judgment Seat of Christ, each with a particular point of emphasis:
Our attitude (Rom. 14:4-13, 1 Cor. 4:3-5): The Lord will make manifest the attitude of one brother toward another.
Our service (1 Cor. 3:12-15): In the early part of First Corinthians Paul deals with the matter of ministry in the local church. First, with the ministry of the gospel (1:17-2:5); second, with a ministry of teaching (2:6-16); now, in chapter three he speaks of the minister himself; it is he who gains or loses a reward at the examination of his ministry. His ministry may be worthy or worthless, indestructible or destructible. According to his service in the church will be his recompense.
Our conduct (2 Cor. 5:9-11): The things done in the body will all be examined by the Lord; our behaviour, pleasing or wrong will be exposed.