Last Days Prophecy
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# 3 of the Eight ‘Last-Days’ Judgments
<><><>3. THE JUDGMENT SEAT (BEMA) OF CHRIST. 2 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (KJV)
The Greek word for “judgment seat” is bema. It actually means to “step up” to an elevated platform where a judge could render a verdict in a legal dispute. Or an official could give a speech, or a sports official could give an award to an athlete. Bema is used in two different ways in the New Testament, so it’s helpful to determine which one comes into play here. On the Legal Bema, Pilate was seated on a bema when Jesus was brought before him in Jerusalem right before the Crucifixion (John 19:13). Pilate wanted to vindicate Jesus (vv. 4, 12) . . . but the local Judeans refused (v. 15). The Apostle Paul was brought before a judgment seat in Achaia, where he had been preaching and teaching God’s Word for 1 ½ years. Some local Jewish leaders were troubled by Paul’s work, so they began an action against him which the Roman proconsul, Gallio, heard with some annoyance and instantly dismissed (Acts 18:12–16). When a local official was seated on the judgment seat, he was considered as speaking with Caesar’s authority.
The Laudatory Bema there was another type of bema, but for a different reason. It was where judges in ancient athletic contests (like the Olympics, Pythian, or Isthmian Games) would sit and decide the achievements of competitors.
Since we are looking at the “last days” judgments [eschatological judgments], there are at least eight of these events, including the one that happened 2000 years ago and seven more that are still in the future. These judgments are often overlooked when believers study prophecy . . . and that is sad because they are a vital part of God’s Plan for the end times. In fact, nearly every future, prophetic event is connected, either directly or indirectly, with one or more of these divine judgments.
2 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (KJV) . . . The second bema is the type of judgment seat Paul had in mind here.
We ALL are SPIRITUALLY dead until we accept Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. The moment we truly believe and accept Him, we are born again spiritually into God's family, and are forgiven of ALL our sins (John 1:12-13; Jn.3:3; Jn.3:15-18; Jn.5:24). IF you are born again spiritually into God's family, when you die, you go immediately into the Lord's Presence! ANYONE who refuses to believe God (1 Jn.5:10), and REJECTS His one and only Way of salvation (Jesus), are ETERNALLY dead and will have as their eternal home the agony of HELL. The decision is in YOUR hands. I pray you make the right one, for IF you make the wrong decision, there is NO second chance, NO reprieve, NO purgatory, NO reincarnation, NO more mercy and NO exit doors! Once you pass through the door of death into Hades (the temporary Hell), you can NEVER pick up your belongings and leave because you do not like it there! THERE ARE NO EXIT DOORS! Once you die, it is over for you. Once you die, you can make NO more decisions. So, make sure you choose wisely!
These last days judgments are so often overlooked when believers study prophecy . . . and that is sad because these judgments are an important part of God’s Plan for the last days. Nearly every future, prophetic event is linked, either directly or indirectly, with one or more of these Divine Judgments.
In the New Testament, Paul is fond of using illustrations from the world of sports to make a point. He mentions competitions like running (1 Cor. 9:24) and boxing (v. 26), for instance. He compares the Christian life to a race in which the contestants must discipline themselves, and keep their eyes on the goal, to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24–27; cp. Phil. 3:12–15; 1 Tim. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:5; 4:6–8). So, Paul’s teaching about the Judgment Seat of Christ draws on ancient athletic, instead of judicial imagery. Competitors in ancient Greece did not come to the bema to be condemned or criticized, but instead to be recognized and rewarded. Let’s think of the Judgment Seat of Christ as a sort of personal examination . . . an assessment of your life to see how you did and reward you accordingly.
One Judgment or Several? Not everyone agrees about the Bema Judgment being for believers only. As we noted before, most amillennialists and postmillennialists blend the various judgments (including this one in 2 Cor. 5:10) into just ONE judgment for all people. To them, the Bema Judgment is just another name for this coming judgment of both believers and unbelievers at the end of the age . . . but that is NOT correct. There is NOT just ONE single, general judgment for everyone at the end of the age. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, only saved people, only Christians have the right to stand before the Judge of the Universe.
The Battle for Grace . . . WHY is it so important to separate believers and unbelievers in respect to the judgments? One reason is to think we can earn God’s acceptance by doing good deeds rather than by simply placing our faith in His Son. It’s the all-important difference between (a) insisting that we can pay our own way (and earn a place in Heaven) or (b) admitting our complete inadequacy and casting ourselves entirely on God’s mercy and grace. The idea that weighing our good deeds versus our bad deeds on Judgment Day is nothing new, but it is absolutely WRONG. Multitudes believe that If their good outweighs their bad, they have earned their place in Heaven. GOD DOES NOT SAY THIS ANYWHERE IN HIS HOLY WORD!!
The Bible DOES tell us that salvation CANNOT be earned by human effort: Titus 3:5-7 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (KJV)
When unbelievers stand before God, He will NOT ask them how well they lived. Dear one, the one and only condition will be: Is their name in the Book of Life?
When an unbeliever stands to be judged at the Great White Throne, the main question will NOT be how well he lived, but rather: “Is your name written in the Book of Life” (Rev. 20:12, 15). SO . . . HOW does one get his name recorded in the Book of Life? This happens by becoming an “overcomer.” HOW do we become an overcomer?
1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (KJV)
We overcome by faith, NOT by works or human effort. Are our works not important? Works are very important, AFTER you believe God and accept what Jesus did on the cross for you! 1 John 5:10-12 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (KJV)
Salvation produces good works . . . good works do NOT produce salvation! Works-oriented religions fight to promote various legal systems of salvation. They are offended by ideas like free, undeserved grace, and human weakness and dependence. The battle for GRACE continues to be fiercely fought. Liberal Christianity misrepresents grace and promotes the FALSE “tipping scales” model of salvation. People stubbornly insist that they can perform well enough to earn a place in Heaven. They simply ignore what God tells us in His Holy Word:
Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (KJV)
Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (KJV)
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (KJV)
This is why it is so important to separate between believers and unbelievers when it comes to God’s Judgment. The Bema Judgment [Judgment Seat of Christ] is ONLY for BELIEVERS. That is where our lives will be audited by the Great Judge of the Universe, Jesus the Christ [Messiah], and we will be rewarded according to our earthly works.
1 Cor. 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 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. (KJV)
Believers will be judged on:
#1. Doctrines (Rom.2:14-16; Rom.ch.14)
#2. Conduct to others (Mat. ch.18; Rom.ch.14)
#3. Carnal traits (Col.ch.3; Rom.ch.1-2; Rom.8:1-13; 14:1-23
#4. Words (Mat.12:32-37; Rom.14)
#5. Things that affect others: slander, quarrels, idle words, foolishness (folly), dishonesty, broken promises, wrong dealings, etc. (Rom.1:29-32; 1 Cor.6:9-11; Gal.5:19-21; Col.ch.3; Eph.4:1-32; 5:1-33; 12:1-21; 14:1-23)
#6. Things that affect themselves: neglected opportunities, talents wasted, loose living, lack of holiness, etc. (Rom.2:14-16; Heb.2:1-4; Gal.5:1-26; 6:1-10; Col.ch.3)
#7. Things that affect God: refusal to walk in the light, disobedience, rejection, failure to cooperate and yield to the Spirit, etc. (1 Cor.12; Rom.12; Eph.ch.4-5)
See end of chapter 3 for more on the Judgment Seat of Christ, and what He shall judge. https://godcannotlie.org/1_cor_ch3.htm
A Judgment for Believers? Some people object to the idea of ‘believers’ facing a future judgment. Didn’t God cast our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12), and we are thankful for that! So, WHY, they say, should we have to face more judgment? It is certainly true that our justification was secured at the Cross long ago, 2000 years ago! It was a legal transaction in which our sins were imputed to the Lord and, in return, His righteousness was imputed to us (Rom. 4:23–25); known in theology as “the great exchange” (2 Cor. 5:21). The only role we played in this transaction was believing in Him and accepting His gift of salvation by faith.
But, when God forgives our sins, the earthly consequences of those sins do not disappear.
Believers’ earthly works will be thoroughly examined at the Bema Judgment . . . NOT for salvation (justification), but for rewards (based on qualities like faithfulness and soul-winning).
Even though our sins (with respect to our salvation) were judged on the cross, our earthly works, both good and bad, will be carefully examined at the Judgment Seat to decide our “reward” or “loss.” Each and every person’s work will become clear; because Judge Jesus will state it, for it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what kind it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it stands up under it, he/she will receive a reward . . . but if anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss of any rewards; but he/she himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:13–15, above).
At the Bema Judgment, the result can be positive [“reward”] or negative [“loss”]. Some believers will be rewarded for their faithful service, while others will “suffer loss” because of their inconsistency, lust or other failures. Some believers will learn too late that their priorities (and their hearts) were in the wrong place during their lifetime . . . but, even the believer who receives no reward at all will still have a place in Heaven . . . saved by the skin of his teeth (“yet so as through fire”). The Bema Judgment is for TRUE Christians only and eems to take place immediately after the translation of the Church into Heaven. This Judgment is NOT to decide salvation or eternal destiny but to regulate rewards.
1 John 3:11-17 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. 13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (KJV)
Only those who have the correct spiritual foundation upon which to construct a life will be able to appear at the Bema . . . and that Foundation is Christ. Once the foundation has been laid, believers build on it throughout the years. That building may consist of the valuable and lasting . . . gold, silver, precious stone OR the worthless and fleeting . . . wood, hay, stubble. On the day of Christ Jesus’ Return, ALL works will be declared and “revealed by fire.” This “revealed by fire” expression undoubtedly refers to the penetrating, purging and discerning gaze of Judge Jesus at the Bema Judgment (Rev. 1:14; 2:18).
All the Christian works which are of permanent value abide and become the basis for reward (v. 14). Any works which are worthless in themselves or that were improperly inspired are destroyed in the fire of Christ’s stare . . . so, reward may be limited, but the person himself is saved (v. 15). SO, dear one, it is quite clear, that there is a connection between faith and works. Saving faith is a faith that works! https://www.godcannotlie.org/saving_faith.htm
Also see: https://www.godcannotlie.org/true_children_of_god.htm
WHAT does the Judgment Seat teach us? We learn that all TRUE believers have been saved, NOT for a life of lack of purpose or unimportance, but to live to serve the Lord. The universal doctrine of the judgment of believers supports the moral seriousness of God. The sure view of the Judgment Seat reminds the Corinthians, and all believers, that while they are righteous in Christ by faith alone, the faith that justifies is to be expressed by love and obedience. Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (KJV)
When we place our faith in Christ Jesus to save us, it makes NO difference whatsoever to God the Father if we are circumcised or not circumcised. It makes NO difference whether we are Jew or Gentile, or red, yellow, black or white! (Gal.3:26-29). What is important to God is for us to show our faith in love and by a desire to please Him. James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (KJV)
CONSIDER the following:
(1). Only believers will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. At this Throne, Jesus will decide a believer’s faithfulness to Him and reward each person correctly (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
(2). This does NOT determine a person’s eternal destiny . . . that is decided the moment a person believes in Christ.
(3). The Word of God do not specify WHEN this will happen. It is clearly when all Christians are gathered in Heaven.
(4). Some commentators consider the “crowns” mentioned in the New Testament as the rewards (1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 2:10). These will in due time be placed before the Throne of God (Rev. 4:10).
(5). Others point to the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-27) and think that the prospects of serving and ruling in eternity as being directly secured to our faithfulness on Earth.
We do not know what the “new heavens and new earth” or “the kingdom of God” will be like. But the Word of God do seem to imply that eternity will involve serving and reigning.
Matthew 25:21-23 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (KJV)
Rev. 22:3-5 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (KJV)
Just to know that in the future we shall stand before Christ Jesus and face a full review of our lives should encourage us to live righteously and faithfully in this world. Let us walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor.5:7) and have a yearning for Heaven (5:8) and make it our main desire in life to please the Lord (5:9). Let us always keep the Judgment Seat of Christ in mind!
We Are Living in the Last Days.
Here Are Eight Judgments that Shall Take Place
Last Days Judgments to Come
Preparing for Last Days Judgments
Last Days Judgments, Number One
Last days Judgments Number Two
Last Days Judgments Number Three
Last Days Judgments Number Four
Last Days Judgments Number Five
Last Days Judgment Number Six
Last Days Judgment Number Seven
Last Days Judgments Number Eight
Last Days Millennial Views
Last Days Judgments on World's Worst Dictators