The Judgment Seat of Christ
Living with an eternal perspective
by I Gordon
'He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he
Jim Elliot - Martyred Missionary to Ecuador
Last year, I did a series of messages in my church on Bible prophecy
and end times. And I must say, I really enjoyed it... possibly I was the
only one who did but as long as one person benefits (me) then it has
got to be worth it right? There is something very good for a believer's
soul in spending time focusing on prophecy and end times, because it
gets you to focus on eternity - and that is something we don't do
enough. This may be why the book of Revelation is the only book in the
Bible that pronounces a blessing (which it does twice) for those who
read and adhere to its words.
Now, part of this series got me examining what the Bible calls 'the
judgment seat of Christ' or 'the bema
seat of Christ'. Two studies have evolved from this. This one will
simply look at the fact that we will all stand before the Lord and the
impact that should have in helping us to live with an eternal
perspective right now. The second will look at what we are rewarded
for, in what ways we could lose our rewards and what God's standard for
measurement is. So let's go!
What is your ambition, your purpose in this life?
2 Cor 5:9-10 So we make it our goal to please him,
whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
For 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.
When you read the Bible, you find that the Apostle Paul's purpose, his
goal in this life, was to please the Lord. He really wanted to please
the one who had pleased him so much. And this ambition of Paul's was
very closely tied in with his thoughts of eternity
. So straight after saying that he wants to please the Lord, he says
'for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ.'
What it is, and what is isn't...
The judgment seat of Christ -
Isn't for determining whether someone enters Heaven or not. Only
those who have been saved stand before the Lord at this judgement
seat. The judgement of the unsaved comes later at the Great White
Throne judgement of Rev 20:11. (Don't confuse the Judgement seat of
Christ with the Sheep and the Goats judgement of Matt 25:31 either.
This judgement of the 'nations' is at the end of the tribulation to
determine who will enter into the Millennial Kingdom. It is totally
Isn't for punishment of sins in the believer either before or after
salvation. No child of God will answer for his sins as they are
'remembered no more'! (See Ps 103:10-12, Isa 38:17, Heb 8:12, Heb
Is for God's children to give an account of their lives from the
point of salvation on, as stewards of God. (Rom 14:10-12)
Is for determining the quality and eternal significance of our life
as a Christian (1 Cor 3:10-15)
Is for determining the motives of our heart and to receive praise
from God! (1 Cor 4:5)
So Romans 14:10-12 gives us this soul searching thought...
'We will all stand before God's judgment seat... So then, each of
us will give an account of himself to God.'
Gold and Silver or Hay and Stubble?
1 Cor 3:10-15 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an
expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid,
which is Jesus Christ.
If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones,
wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is,
because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with
fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work
. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is
burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as
one escaping through the flames.
When we stand before the Lord, our lives will be examined by fire the
scriptures tell us. The fire either purifies or destroys and it is the
same when our works are examined. If they have something of the Lord's
life in them then they will stand the fire and come forth of precious
materials, refined in the fire. If they are not based upon faith in the
Lord Jesus and are our own 'dead works' then the fire will consume
them. Note also from the above scripture that even if all a man's works
are burnt up, he will suffer loss (of reward), but he himself will
still be saved. How much better though is it to live our lives now,
with Christ as our foundation, laying up treasures in Heaven?
Desire for rewards... A wrong motive?
Some think that a desire for rewards is a wrong motive for living the
Christian life. Now it would be if we were after earthly rewards! It is
true that love is the best motive for anything that we do in this life,
but it is certainly not wrong to desire heavenly rewards. In fact, it
was that which strengthened and motivated some of the saints of old
recorded Hebrews' 'Hall of faith' chapter.
Abraham - Was able to leave his home and follow God in faith
because he was 'longing for a better country - a heavenly one.' Heb 11:16
'chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather
than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He
regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value
than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
Other Saints -
were tortured and refused to be released,
so that they might gain a better resurrection.
Keeping the eternal perspective
So we see from the 'hall of faith' in Hebrews chapter 11, that it was
the sense of eternity and the longing for 'the things to come' that
enabled the great saints of old to hold fast and walk in faith through
their difficult times down here on earth. If you are honest however,
you will agree that it is not always easy to keep such an eternal
perspective. In fact, at times, it is tremendously difficult.
Thankfully, Asaph comes to our help.
You see, Asaph, in Psalm 73, expresses feelings that we all have and in
doing so gives some great advice on keeping an eternal perspective.
Let's look at different parts of this great psalm.
Vs 1-6 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my
For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by
Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with
This awesome psalm starts off in brutal honesty. As he looks upon the
prosperity of the wicked, at their life of ease, and seemingly
struggle-free existence, Asaph can't help but be jealous. He envies
their life. Can you relate to this? Have you ever looked at others in
this way, at those who seem to have such an easy life, and envied the
'prosperity of the wicked'? If so, you wouldn't be alone. But remember
that as Asaph does this, his foothold in his walk with God loosens and
his feet come close to slipping...
Vs 10-14 Therefore his people turn to them and drink up waters in
They say, 'How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?'
This is what the wicked are like - always carefree, they increase in
Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my
hands in innocence.
All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.
Have you thought that it was in vain that you have lived a godly
Christian life? When you get on this path of envying the wicked, the
next stop is where Asaph finds himself here. It this part of the psalm,
Asaph shows that even God's people are tempted to join the wicked in
their corrupt practices because of the seemingly easy life they live.
So as he ponders this, Asaph is even closer to slipping. There is no
view of eternal things in his mind. Only the here and now... Until -
Vs 16-17 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me.
Until I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final
Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
From an earthly perspective it is all hard to fathom. The wicked
prosper while the righteous struggle. It was too oppressive for Asaph
UNTIL he entered the sanctuary of God. In God's presence we can see
clearly, for we receive an eternal perspective! From this viewpoint,
Asaph wrote, 'then I understood their final destiny. I saw that at any
moment they could slip and there would be no coming back. It is a slip
that will last for eternity and there will be no one to help him back
Vs 19-20 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by
As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise
them as fantasies.
What sobering and terrifying verses! Can you remember your last dream?
I'm sure you can remember the sense of relief and peace that comes when
waking from a scary dream and realising that it's not actually reality...
whew! Or maybe you have experienced the disappointment of having a
really pleasant dream and again waking to find it's not reality. Well,
in these verses, Asaph likens the life of the wicked to a dream. You
see, they too will die and like waking from a dream they will find that
this life on earth wasn't reality. And having mocked or ignored God
they will find that the actual reality is a lot worse! Their sense of
peace and comfort will be stripped in one day and no money, power or
connections that they had in this life will be able to help them.
Vs 21-25 When my heart was grieved and my spirit
I was senseless and ignorant
; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides
Having come into the presence of God and having seen life from an
eternal perspective, Asaph finally sees things clearly. 'I was an
ignorant beast' he says. 'I was living and acting like this life is all
there is, like an animal would!' Like Asaph, we will not see with an
eternal perspective unless we learn to come into God's presence and let
Him speak to us about the things that actually matter. And, to state
the obvious, it is the things of eternity that matter. The Lord
graciously guides us in this life and then we are taken to be with him
in glory! It is so important to keep the right perspective. Think
carefully about the quote by Jim Elliot that started this study off -
'He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot
lose.' True wisdom is found by keeping an eternal perspective
Psalm 90:12 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a
heart of wisdom.
One of the last things Jesus told us in the Bible was -
'Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to
everyone according to what he has done.'
May we learn to live in the present with this thought in mind, so that
our faith 'may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and
honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.' (1 Pet 1:7)