Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Great White Throne Judgment vs. the Bema Seat

THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT

If a person is not saved and dies in their sin, they will be judged at the "Great White Throne judgment" following the Millennium.

"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who 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, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-14)

Since all of us are sinners, if a person has not turned their life over to Jesus and accepted Him as their personal Savior and the Lord of their life, they will remain unforgiven, and will spend the rest of eternity paying a sin debt that they can never pay off (because a sinner cannot pay for sin, any more than a poor man can pay a steep fine). If a person does not have Jesus as their Defense Attorney, they will be found guilty and will be cast into Hell. No person stained with sin can enter Heaven; only those with pure white robes of righteousness, which can only come from Jesus Christ, can enter Heaven.

THE BEMA SEAT JUDGMENT

The "Bema seat" was an elevated seat located in Corinth. At this seat in the square, Roman magistrates would sit and administer justice. Athletes may also have appeared here and received rewards for having distinguished themselves.

In other words, the king sat in the Bema Seat at the stadium in Corinth to present the winning athletes their crowns, judging them victorious. So it is with the judgment of Christians. It’s more like an awards ceremony for the Christian. Since we aren’t saved by our works, but by our faith, this judgment is not related to salvation, but to the things the Christian has done since becoming saved that have furthered the work of the Kingdom. The “race we’ve run,” so to speak. Those things done solely out of gratitude for the free gift of salvation that the Christian has received, with no thought for personal gain, will earn the Christian various crowns. Those things the Christian has done for earthly credit or recognition or in an attempt to earn points with God, will be disqualified. In effect, 1 Cor. 3:15 states that even if all our earthly work for the Lord is disqualified for improper motives, we’ll still be saved and welcomed into the Kingdom.

"If his work is burned up, he will suffer loss. However, he himself will be saved, but it will be like going through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:15)

Some Christians may tend to think that, since they are saved, they can live as they please. However, via the Bema Seat judgment, there are rewards for the believer that can be lost if the believer is not living for Jesus.

At this Bema Seat judgment, the Christians must give an account of their life and what they did or did not do for the Lord. The believer's service to God will be reviewed and rewarded. For his lack of service or doing certain things, he will suffer loss. The Christian will be held responsible for how well they lived for Jesus. Every hidden thing will be made known. Every secret thing the Christian said will be proclaimed; nothing will be hid. All believers must appear before this Bema Seat judgment.

Many Christians today seem to think that doing this or that worldly thing is more important than spending time in God's Word, in prayer, in witnessing to others, and in dying to self and helping those (either physically or financially) who are more needy than you. At this judgment (the Bema Seat), we should indeed see how unimportant so many things we did really were. All of the time spent watching mindless TV programs or other pointless entertainment may cause us to lose rewards for eternity, because we squandered our time in non-productive or worldly activities, instead of spending our time accomplishing things that had eternal value. All of the extra time that we wasted and spent doing so many meaningless things, such as running after money, pleasures, cares of this life (those things that were not of Jesus), could have instead been spent storing up riches in Heaven. The Bema Seat judgment is a judgment of receiving rewards and suffering loss of rewards. A Christian's true desire should be to hear the words "WELL DONE, THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT" (Matt. 25:21). Paul said, "...I COUNT ALL THINGS BUT LOSS FOR THE EXCELLENCY OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST JESUS MY LORD: FOR WHOM I HAVE SUFFERED THE LOSS OF ALL THINGS, AND DO COUNT THEM BUT DUNG, THAT I MAY WIN CHRIST" (Phil. 3:8). No matter how important some worldly things or pleasures seem to the Christian now, how worthless they will be at the Bema Seat judgment. As a Christian, we need to live to please Jesus and not ourselves. We need to ask ourselves concerning whatever we do, "What fruit for Jesus is in it? Is what I am doing pleasing to the Lord? Does this have eternal value?"

6 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

'Russ,

My mom has a slight cough that is almost gone; other than that, she seems fine. Thank you.

I was busy over the weekend (Christmas concert on Sat. and out of town Sun. for a photo shoot), so today I was catching up on my many (over 100) Requests, Invitations and Notifications, plus Facebook games.

Man, you're actually going outside in the evening when its that cold? I would be sitting next to a fireplace!

It is 70 degrees here in Florida. I am SO glad that I don't live where it snows.'

It was cold and yet refreshing. I even mentioned you in prayer. It rarely snows here.

'Since all of us are sinners, if a person has not turned their life over to Jesus and accepted Him as their personal Savior and the Lord of their life, they will remain unforgiven, and will spend the rest of eternity paying a sin debt that they can never pay off (because a sinner cannot pay for sin, any more than a poor man can pay a steep fine). '

Good point. Yes, a regenerated person only can turn from sin and avoid hell.

'In effect, 1 Cor. 3:15 states that even if all our earthly work for the Lord is disqualified for improper motives, we’ll still be saved and welcomed into the Kingdom.

"If his work is burned up, he will suffer loss. However, he himself will be saved, but it will be like going through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:15)'

Yes, a good verse to use for those that insist we must have works to be saved, as opposed to the idea that works should result because of salvation as in Ephesians 2.

2 Corinthians 5: 10: Dr. Radmacher one of my theology profs. at TWU called the judgment for Christians as the judgment seat of Christ.

I see you have left a comment on thekingpin68, thanks.

I will also have a new comical (I hope) satire and theology post soon.

Russ:)

Jeff said...

Thanks for your prayers, Russ!

Dr. Radmacher one of my theology profs. at TWU called the judgment for Christians as the judgment seat of Christ.

Yes, I understand that another term that is used for the "Bema Seat" is the "Judgment Seat of Christ." But I prefer "Bema Seat," since for me at least, "Judgment Seat of Christ" is too easily confused with "Great White Throne Judgment."

I see you have left a comment on thekingpin68, thanks.

Yes, and I just left another one, even though its way past my bedtime. My yard man is coming in the morning, so I need to get up early.

Nitewrit said...

Jeff,

A very nice and concise explanation. I agree with the use of Bema Seat to reduce confusion.

Larry E.

Jeff said...

Nitewrit,

A very nice and concise explanation. I agree with the use of Bema Seat to reduce confusion.

Thanks, Larry!
And thank you for leaving a comment!
Much appreciated.

Kevin said...

They found the Ark of the Covenant where Moses placed the 10 Commandments, in a cave under Golgotha.

http://arkofthecovenant2.blogspot.com/

Jeff said...

Thanks, Kevin, for leaving a comment and the link.
Interesting.