Answers to Bible Questions
Scriptures are from the KJV of the Bible
(Q) The “Judgment’s” To Come! “The Judgment Seat of Christ” (Bema Seat) or “The Great White Throne Judgment.” Which Judgment will you be in when you stand before the Supreme Judge of all the earth?
(A) This is a very important question for all my readers! Please don’t take it lightly!
Make no mistake about the “Judgments” to come! All that have ever lived from the beginning of the human race will someday be judged by the Almighty God of the universe!
However, we live in a day when the fact of a coming judgment is held in a general disregard and often made light of. Few men tremble at the thought of judgment to come, probably because few churches preach about it. Our churches do not want to offend anyone today.
This site does not purposely want to offend anyone either, but my job is to always teach God’s truth, no matter how it affects anyone reading these articles.
God is, among other things, the great judge of all, and acts in that capacity consistently in the scriptures. So, from the scriptures, let’s find out who the great judge of all really is.
In Genesis 18:25 He is called “the Judge of all the earth,” in Judges 11:27, “the Lord, the Judge” and in Psalm 9:7 we read: “He hath prepared His throne for judgment.” Paul, by inspiration, calls Him, “the Lord, the righteous Judge” and “God, the Judge of all,” II Tim. 4:8; Heb. 12:23. And in this connection he warns that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb. 10:31.
It is not God the Father, however, but God the Son, who will have direct charge of the future judgments of mankind. The Apostle John, by the Spirit, records our Lord’s own words as to this:
“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son,” John 5:22.
“And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man,” John 5:27.
This is reasonable, for as Son of God and Son of man, our Lord has both the right and the qualifications to judge men.
Thus Peter declared to Cornelius and his household that it is Christ who was “ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead,” Acts 10:42. And Paul adds his confirmation to this, declaring that God “hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained,” Acts 17:31. Again in II Timothy 4:1, he refers to “the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead.” Even the judgment at which the service and conduct of believers will be dealt with, he twice calls “the judgment seat of Christ,” Rom. 14:10; II Cor. 5:10.
In the Bible there are various different judgments that are referred to. There is, for example, the judgment of the world at Calvary—God laying the sins of the world upon Christ, John 12:31. There is also the judgment of the believer’s old nature in his death with Christ, Rom. 6:2-3, the believer’s judgment of himself, I Cor. 11:31, etc. Then too, there will be a future judgment on earth of Israel and the living nations, Matt. 24:27-25:46. But beyond all these, there still lies a judgment for sins which will take place after this present life is over, except for those whose sins have already been dealt with by grace through faith in the shed blood of Christ at Calvary.
It is of mankind in general that the Apostle Paul refers to when he says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but AFTER THIS THE JUDGMENT,” Heb. 9:27.
Thus our Lord referred to “the day of judgment” as something beyond His premillennial judgment of the living nations, for “in that day,” He said, it will be more tolerable for the people of the land of Sodom (who had long since died) than for those who rejected Him, Matt. 10:15.
Again, He evidently referred to the same judgment when He said: “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in THE DAY OF JUDGMENT,” Matt. 12:36.
Peter also declares that God will “reserve the unjust unto THE DAY OF JUDGMENT to be punished” and refers further to “THE DAY OF JUDGMENT and perdition of ungodly men,” II Pet. 2:9; 3:7.
The scriptures are clear about the fact that there will be a resurrection of the “unjust” as well as of the “just,” Acts 24:15. Indeed, our Lord distinctly stated that “they that have done evil” will “come forth” in “the resurrection of damnation, or judgment,” John 5:29.
Let no man, therefore, entertain the unfounded hope that he can reject the Savior and yet escape being judged for his sins. If God could save even one soul on the grounds of His compassion alone, apart from the death of Christ, He could save all on the same grounds, and the death of Christ would then prove to have been the greatest blunder, yes, the greatest crime ever committed.
Let self-righteous Christ- rejectors, then, ponder soberly over the words of the Spirit through Paul: “Thinkest thou…that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” Rom. 2:3.
The focus of this article is about the two main judgments that will take place; one for the believers, and one for the unbelievers. The first judgment I am going to talk about is the one for believers, called “The Judgment seat of Christ,” also referred to as the “Bema Seat.” The second judgment we will discuss is for all unbelievers, and is called “The Great White Throne Judgment.”
First: “The Judgment seat of Christ.” This judgment is for all “true Christian believers.”
Believers will escape judgment for their sins, because their sins have already been dealt with on the Cross and they now stand before God “justified from all things,” (Acts 13:39), “accepted in the Beloved,” (Eph. 1:6), and are “complete in Him,” (Col. 2:10), “justified freely by His grace,” (Rom. 3:24), “forgiveness of sins through His blood,” (Eph. 1:7), “saved by believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ,” (1 Cor. 15:1-4), “saved by grace alone without any works,” (Eph. 2:8-9).
This is the judgment you will want to be part of!
Believers will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ for their works and service done for the glory of God, after salvation, (Eph. 2:10).
Clearly the believer is forgiven in Christ of all sins: past, present, and future. As the apostle says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). We are beyond the reach of God’s judgment as far as condemnation is concerned. With this in mind, if there is to be a fair and impartial hearing it will be necessary for our indiscretions to be brought to light. In other words, the Lord is going to set the record straight, without forgetting we are His children.
Take for example the pastor who embezzles the savings of a godly widow under the pretext that she’s helping the work of the ministry. He may think he’s gotten away with it, but at that day his evil deed will be exposed. Although the widow was deceived, she will be richly rewarded since she gave the gift out of concern for lost souls. Her intentions were as pure as the wind-driven snow! The pastor, on the other hand, will suffer shame and great loss for his actions. Paul warns all those who minister in the things of the Lord in this manner, “some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after” (I Tim. 5:24).
Those who are guilty of spreading lies and slandering others will have much to answer for when they stand before the Lord. Remember these words and remember them well: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17). Those who have had their reputation ruined at the hands of carnal believers have this promise: God will right all wrongs.
In this connection the question is often asked, will there be tears in heaven? As sure as the sun rises in the morning, you can count on it! These will be tears of regret and remorse over what could have been if we had only remained faithful to Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. The emotion at times is going to be overwhelming. But the greatest regret of all will be when we see the sorrow on our Savior’s face for how we mistreated one another as members of the Body of Christ. Thankfully these tears will be wiped away at the close of this judgment-there will be no more sorrow or crying. “Then shall every man have praise of God,” (1 Cor. 4:5).
The Greek word for “Judgment Seat” is “Bema.” In biblical times it was a raised platform, with ascending steps, where rulers handed down decisions, see Acts 18:12-16. It was also the place where the judges presided over the Greek games. From this vantage point they could see the entire field of events. To be summoned to the “Bema” meant one of two things; either the participant was disqualified for disobeying the rules or rewarded with a garland for winning a particular event.
The Apostle Paul says that those who participated in these Greek games “do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible crown.” What we do for Christ now, which is likened to a race, will echo throughout eternity. The apostle’s great fear was that when he preached to others he would fail to bring himself into subjection to the things of the Lord, and consequently be disqualified at that day. In a nutshell, he didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Remember that salvation is not the issue at the Bema seat!
A SOLEMN OCCASION COMING FOR ALL BELIEVERS
The Apostle Paul says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” II Cor. 5:10.
“For we must all appear.” Every believer in Christ has an appointment with the Lord-pastors and members of their congregation, Bible teachers and students, evangelists and converts, faithful and unfaithful, etc. Little wonder the Scriptures warn both leaders and those who sit under their ministries accordingly: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
While Paul makes frequent references to the Judgment Seat of Christ in both his early and latter epistles, he deals extensively with the subject in the Corinthian letters. This isn’t without rhyme or reason; the apostle wanted the Corinthians to understand the gravity of their ungodly conduct. They seemed to be oblivious to the fact that someday they were going to stand before the Lord and give an account of their actions. Some may have even denied this based on the assumption that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Although this is true positionally, the practical outworking of the matter is determined by our present conduct. The Corinthians would one day have to answer for the turmoil they caused in the local assembly, due to their envy, strife, divisions, carnality and immoral lifestyles.
Paul also tells us the following: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth there-on. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ, I Cor. 3:10-11
In I Cor. 3:12-15, Paul continues about building on this foundation: 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 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. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
In verse 13 above it says, “and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” Fire is a symbol of the Word of God, (Our Bibles). All believers today are part of the “Body of Christ,” and our marching orders are found in the writings of our Apostle Paul, (Romans through Philemon). We are going to be judged by the Word of God in light of the revelation of the “Mystery” given only to Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, Romans 11:13: 13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office. God, through Paul says in Romans 2:16, we are going to be judged by the gospel given to Paul: 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Remember this, and remember it well: As believers, our works will be brought under the scrutiny of God’s Word, and there are going to be two searching questions at that day: First, did we acknowledge Paul’s apostleship and message to the Gentiles? Second, were we obedient to the commands of Christ taught in his writings? Of course, the Lord will judge the members of His Body on the basis of their faithfulness to the light they had in regard to the revelation of the “Mystery” given to Paul as stated in Ephesians 3:1-21.
If you don’t think Paul’s writings are important, then look at 1 Corinthians 14:37-38: 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
Before I continue, remember that we are discussing the judgment of believers right now, and not the judgment of unbelievers.
Moving on now, Gold, silver, and precious stones represent our good works and faithful service. On the other hand, the wood, hay, and stubble represent those things that are done in the flesh, which are temporary in nature, and will be burned up. There will not be any reward for our good works done to impress other people. Only our good works done for, and to the glory of God will bring rewards.
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest.” God is going to bring forth every man’s work for a complete and thorough review. The apostle here is speaking of the body of a man’s work that he produced over the course of his Christian life. We often say concerning someone who devoted his entire life to a particular cause, “this was his life’s work.” In other words, it was the sum total of all he accomplished. The same will be true of the believer, for “the day shall declare it.” What day? The day of Christ when we must all appear before the “Bema Seat.”
The apostle says in Colossians 2, “In Him (CHRIST) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” As God, He knows our innermost thoughts and motives and the intent of the heart. On the other hand, He took upon Himself the form of a human servant and dwelt among us. No one will be able to stand before Him at that day and say, “Lord you just don’t understand!” Oh, but He does, my dear friend. Christ suffered in all points as we, yet without sin. As the prophet said, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” Isa. 53:3.
The themes of redemption and judgment are woven throughout the Scriptures. So it is important to rightly divide the Word of truth to ascertain which judgment pertains to us. The Judgment Seat of Christ is a dispensational phrase solely found in Paul’s epistles. It is referred to in his revelation as “the day,” “that day,” and “the day of Christ.” This particular judgment will be a review of the believer’s conduct and service which takes place at the Rapture of the Church. According to I Thessalonians this is a planned meeting that was kept secret since the world began (Rom. 16:25; I Thess. 4:17).
We will not be condemned, but our actions and deeds on earth prior to the Rapture will determine what we will gain or lose from our judgment. That is why we must: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves,” (2 Corinthians 13:5) Everything we do is going to be examined at the judgment. The Bible is not trying to tell you to work yourself to death for the sake of rewards. It is the grace of God and His free gift of salvation that gives us the response to do good deeds. We do not do good things to get saved and reap heavenly rewards; we do it in response to our salvation. More faithful Christians will receive more honor, rewards, joy and blessings, while less faithful Christians will receive less, based on their lifestyle and attitudes. How much of your life and time do you devote to Christ? Are you too busy? Do you study your Bible or do you spend hours in front of television? Would you live the way you do presently if Christ was there in person? All these things we should consider when living for God in these last days before the Rapture.
SECOND: THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT. THIS JUDGMENT WILL BE FOR ALL UNBELIEVERS
This is the judgment you will not want to be part of, because it is a judgment to the lake of fire for all eternity!
Rev.20:11-15. “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”
This judgment, which we have already referred to, stands between the passing of the present heaven and earth and the appearance of the new heaven and earth. It is the judgment at which all the remaining dead, all the unsaved dead, will stand before God the Son to answer for their sins.
Terrible as it is to contemplate, it is the final judgment of the ages. It is “the last word of a holy God judging sin and all unrighteousness.”
NOT A GENERAL JUDGMENT OF ALL
Those who believe that the judgment at the great white throne is to be a “general judgment” of all men have confused it with the judgment of the living nations described by our Lord in Matthew 25:31-46. But these two judgments cannot possibly be the same. In our Lord’s description of the judgment of the living nations, sheep, goats and brethren are referred to, the judgment is held on earth and treatment of the Jew is the issue, while, by comparison, the judgment at the great white throne concerns only the unsaved, the earth will have fled away, and all sinful works will be dealt with. Further, there could be no resurrection at the judgment of the living nations, while men are raised from the dead to stand before the great white throne.
Nor does the idea of a general resurrection and judgment stand the Berean test any better in the light of other related Scriptures.
It is true that we read in Daniel 12:2 that “some” shall awake “to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt,” and in Acts 24:15 that “there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust,” but neither of these passages say that the resurrection and judgment of the saved and of the unsaved will occur at the same time. They merely state that both will be raised and judged.
Isaiah 61:2-3 contains a prediction concerning “the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God” in one sentence, but by closing the book after reading only the former phrase, in Nazareth’s synagogue, our Lord made it abundantly clear that these were not to occur simultaneously. The former phrase concerned the day in which He spoke, but the latter concerned a future day. Indeed, we now know that “the day of vengeance” did not even follow immediately after “the acceptable year of the Lord.” So it is with the two passages above referred to. They merely say that both the just and the unjust will be raised and judged, but other Scriptures must be consulted for further light as to details of time, etc.
Our Lord’s words in John 5:28-29 already indicate that only “they that have done evil” will arise in “the resurrection of damnation” and that this is thus to be distinguished from “the resurrection of life.”
Should it be objected that our Lord spoke of an “hour” in this connection Ver. 28 we reply that in Verse 25 He also spoke of an “hour” both coming and then present—an hour which has already lasted around two thousand years.
Furthermore, how could there be a general resurrection and judgment when I Corinthians 15:22-24 gives us a definite order of successive resurrections, when I Thessalonians 4:16-18 speaks of a resurrection in which only “the dead in Christ” shall have part, and when Revelation 20:5 speaks of a “first (former) resurrection” to take place before the millennium and states that “the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”?
THE FINAL JUDGMENT OF THE UNSAVED DEAD
The great white throne is clearly the final judgment of the unsaved dead. Its purpose, however, is not to determine the guilt of those who stand before it—this was established long before—but rather to manifest sin and deal with it finally, for the fire of the lake of fire has already been kindled in hades. Thus the rich man in hades spoke of being “tormented in this flame” and sought to save his brothers from “this place of torment.” This also explains in what sense “death and (hades)” will be cast into the lake of fire.
Indeed, while “gehenna” is spoken of as synonymous with the lake of fire, our Lord frequently speaks as though His hearers will, if rebellious, be cast into its flames at death—this, simply because the fire has already been kindled. Hence His warnings regarding “gehenna,” Matt. 5:29-30; 10:28, “everlasting fire” Matt. 25:41, and “the fire that never shall be quenched,” Mark 9:43-49.
THE SCENE DESCRIBED
What could be more terrible to contemplate than the final judgment of the ungodly, where the Son of God, who loved men enough to die in shame and disgrace for their sins, must deal righteously with those who have refused to call upon His name; where sinners will be made to appear before the majesty of Him who occupies the great white throne where their long-hidden sins will be exposed to the white light of His holiness!
THE THRONE, ITS OCCUPANT AND THOSE WHO STAND BEFORE IT
The throne is called “great” evidently because of the vastness of its jurisdiction. There the billions of earths unsaved will be gathered, from every age of history and every nation of the world.
It is called a “white” throne because its dazzling brilliance will not, like human courts, be sullied by partiality, dishonesty or cruelty. It will be a throne of perfect and absolute justice.
But if the throne is great and dazzling, more so it’s Occupant. He is not described. He cannot be, for He appears in the infinite glory of His eternal Godhead and, from His face, the earth and heaven flee away and no place is found for them. If only the multitudes before Him could also flee away, but they cannot. He holds the central place and claims the undivided attention of all. Here, at last, sinners will find themselves exposed to the searching gaze of Him who is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” and who “canst not look on iniquity.” Here, finally, their sins will be manifested in their true light as utterly accursed and worthy only of the most dreadful retribution. At first it may appear that there are no witnesses. But the Great Witness is on the throne. A second is in every man’s heart, a third in every neighbor’s face, and all the evidence is in the “books.”
The throne of Revelation 4:2-6 and its Occupant are surrounded by a rainbow of promise, but not so here, for here there will no longer be any hope—only condemnation and doom.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God” Rev.20:12
There they stand, the highest, who once presumed that their riches or learning or worldly prestige placed them in a position of special privilege—and the lowest, who confused sin with misfortune and supposed that God would not hold such as them accountable. There they stand the small and the great, now all on the same level, to answer to Him who is no respecter of persons.
THE BOOKS AND THE BOOK
“And the books were opened… and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works,” Rev.20: 12.
This can mean but one thing: Complete records have been kept of man’s works. How? Of what sort? For one thing, modern science has discovered that nothing in nature is lost, whether sound or light or motion. Throw a stone into a pond and its ripples travel out to the edge and back endlessly, smaller as they go, but also faster, and leaving their impact upon all that with which they come into contact. Light and sound also keep traveling endlessly into space and are woven into the very texture of things. Whether we like it or not, the words we say are recorded and the proper instruments could pick them up. Edison learned this and Joshua was doubtless more scientifically correct than he knew when he said to the children of Israel:
“Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us, for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which He spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God,” Josh. 24:27.
Let mechanical sound and photo recordings perish, but God will still have a journal of every man’s career in the imperishable record of nature, and also a record, of whatever kind, of the hidden thoughts and motives. The sinner’s biography will be exact and complete, with abundant and overwhelming proof of his guilt.
At the great white throne, the vast library will be opened to scrutiny, to memory, to conscience, and the wicked will be judged according to its perfect record.
THE BASIS OF THE JUDGMENT
“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” Rom. 2:16.
How just are the judgments of God!
Referring here, evidently, to the judgment of the unbelieving at the great white throne, the Apostle Paul points out the reasonableness and righteousness of that judgment. Let us consider this passage carefully.
“God shall judge the secrets of men.” In human courts there are frequently miscarriages of justice because all the facts are not brought to light. At the great white throne this will not be so. On the throne will be the One before whom no secret can remain hidden.
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do,” Heb. 4:13.
“God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” This too has been done so that the judgment might by wholly just. Were the Judge God alone, and not also man, it might be objected that such judgment could hardly be fair, but, as it is, men will be judged at the great white throne by One who loved them enough to become one of them that He might understand them, help them, yes, and die for their sins to save them.
“According to my gospel.” But how, it may be asked, can it be just to judge men of bygone ages on the basis of a message which they have never heard? If it is true that Paul’s gospel was “kept secret since the world began” Rom. 16:25 until made known to him by the glorified Lord, how can it be just to judge men of all ages according to his gospel?
The answer is that in the Pauline revelation we have the very “(secret) of the gospel” Eph. 6:19—that is, the secret of all God’s good news down through the ages. It has now been revealed how—on what basis—Abel, Noah, David and other Old Testament saints were saved; that, because Christ was to die, they could be saved by approaching God by faith in the way that He then prescribed. Thus when mere professors of the Mosaic dispensation, for example, appear before the great white throne, they will not be judged for imperfections in the sacrifices they offered, or technicalities in the Mosaic law which they failed to observe. They will be judged because their sacrifices and religious works were not offered to God in faith. The works for which men are to be judged at that great day will merely be the fruit and evidence of their unbelief, whether “good” works or bad works.
Suppose God, at that day, should judge men on the basis of the law of Moses rather than on the basis of the gospel of the grace of God. No one but Christ has ever been able to keep the law of Moses. How then would it be just to hold men accountable for that which they cannot possibly attain to? The only sense in which the law will enter into the judgment of the unsaved who lived from Moses to Christ is that man’s response to the revealed will of God is ever the evidence of his faith or unbelief, obedience or rebellion Rom. 2:11-15.
This is why the judgment of the great white throne will proceed on the basis of the good news proclaimed by Paul, that, because of the death of Christ for sin, salvation is, and always has been, essentially by grace, through faith—that never in any age has salvation been denied to one single person who has taken God at His Word and approached Him in His way.
Among the unsaved, of course, there are still degrees of wickedness. Thus, while the phrase “every man” of Revelation 20:13 indicates that there will be no respect of persons at the great white throne, the phrase “according to his works” indicates that the sentence will not be an arbitrary one; that the penalty will be graded to transgression and responsibility. This would agree with such passages as Matthew 11:20-24 and Luke 12:47-48. Indeed, the books will be opened so that each man may see for himself what he did and acknowledge the judgment to be just.
My hope is that all reading this article will desire to be in and part of “The Judgment Seat of Christ” (Bema Seat). This Judgment is for blessings and rewards; not salvation! You must be a “True Christian Believer” to be at this Judgment. All the sins of the believer were forgiven at the moment they believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. His shed blood paid for the forgiveness of all sin, past, present, and future!
All unbelievers will be at the “Great White Throne Judgment”, and this Judgment will determine the degree of punishment you will receive in the “Lake of Fire” for all eternity. This is serious stuff! Eternity is forever! There will not be any parties in the lake of fire, only punishment and total blackness.
Seek God now while you are still able to do so! Time is getting very short now! Choose wisely!
Have a good day,
Maranatha (Lord Come)