What kind of rewards will believers receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ? Will they be rewards to be enjoyed eternally? Is it improper for Christians to be motivated by the promise of rewards?
Each mid-July our ministry sponsors a Bible conference that is held in the Dallas, Texas area. In 2017, our conference’s theme was “Living with Hope in the End Times.” One of the powerful presentations made at that conference concerned what the Bible has to say about the rewards Jesus will hand out when we stand before His judgment seat. The presentation was made by Glenn Meredith, the pastor of the Brookhaven Church in McKinney, Texas. An excerpt of Pastor Meredith’s eye-opening teaching on heavenly rewards is presented below, or watch it on our television program, Christ in Prophecy.
The Promise of Heavenly Rewards
Glenn Meredith: I’ve got to be honest with you. From the early part of my life, I wasn’t really excited about the return of Jesus.
I remember sitting in a revival meeting one time when I was a teenager. The evangelist actually stood up and said that when Jesus comes He’s going to catch away His Bride, and we are going to stand there before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Then your whole life will be flashed onto a giant movie screen and all the sins that you have ever committed will be projected up there on the screen for all to see. And so, I’ve got to tell you, I certainly wasn’t looking forward to that.
There are an awful lot of believers who think that’s what is coming to them when they get to Heaven. But, I’ve got great news for you, that is not at all what the Bible teaches.
Let’s first look at 2 Corinthians 5. I’d like to look at this familiar passage concerning the promise of heavenly rewards. Understand that we have an awful lot to look forward to, for the whole gist of the message can be summed up as this:
What you do now in your life for Jesus is going to have a dramatic impact on your eternity. How you live your life for Christ matters. How you served other people in the name of Christ matters. How seriously you take the Kingdom of Christ and move it forward by sharing the Gospel and supporting ministry matters. Everything that you do for Christ will have a profound impact on your eternity.What you do now in your life for #Jesus is going to have a dramatic impact on your #eternity. Click To Tweet
In 2 Corinthians 5:10, the Apostle Paul says, “For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ,” the Bema Seat, “so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
All my earlier life I saw that passage and I would think, “Okay, I’m going to stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat, and He is going to talk to me about all the good things that I’ve done, but also all the bad or sinful things that I have done.” I thought the Judgment Seat of Christ was going to be a time when I would have to give an account for my sins.
But, I’ve got great news for you! That is not what this passage teaches. There are several words for “bad” in the original language of the New Testament that can be translated as “evil, morally bad, sinful, wicked, iniquity.” But, the word for “bad” that is used in this passage is a different word. The primary meaning of the word translated as “bad” in this passage is something that doesn’t mean morally evil, rather, it means worthless.
It would be like if we said, “That piece of fruit that I bought is bad.” What do we mean by that? We don’t mean the fruit is morally evil. We don’t mean that it is sinful. No, we mean that the fruit was no good. It has no value, and so it’s worthless. We don’t want it, so it’s time to get rid of it.
What the Apostle Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 5 is that believers in Christ are going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, which is going to happen just after the Rapture of the Church. We’re going to stand before Jesus at the Bema Judgment to be judged not for our sins, but rather, we will be judged for our works that we have done for Christ. These works we performed ever since we gave our lives to Jesus Christ. The works we perform in Christ here on this earth are of value to the Lord, and so will be recognized.
Conversely, those works that we have done that are worthless, and so have no genuine eternal value, will be burned up. They will be lost. We are only rewarded for those works that are of value to the Lord.
In the second segment of this series on heavenly rewards, Pastor Meredith will explain why, when we get to Heaven, we don’t have to pay for our sins.
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But, the bible also says we will give an account of every idle word we have uttered and also that we may be saved as if by fire if we do not meet standards. I have uttered many idle words and see myself running down the road with my hair smoldering and my shirt tail on fire. It is troubling. I know I am saved. But, it still worries me from time to time.
“Knowing the terror of God” was a legitimate motivator even for the apostle Paul. It is important to remember, though, that it is our *works* that are to be judged (or “critically evaluated”) at that time — judgement in the sense of punishment was dealt with by Jesus Christ on his cross. An illustrative parallel might be that in the old testament times a false prophet was to be publiclyexecuted as a matter of justice and retribution, but in the new testament it is a prophet’s words that are to weighed, evaluated & examined.
Tommie, Jesus has forgiven our sins- that includes idle words. Psalm 103:11-12 is a great reminder what Jesus has done with our sins:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Don’t allow your mind be filled with worry- let it be filled with thankfulness for His forgiveness.
Hi Guys, I have quite often wondered who will be the Guests at the Wedding Feast?
Powerful teaching amen BUT I take exception to his saying “Christians” are ‘the bride’ of Jesus when all through Scripture God married Israel. “Christians” are ‘the body of Christ’ as is taught by Paul. Be blessed. Shalom
Smoldering hair and your shirt tail on fire as you enter heaven is better than being cast into hell where the fire that never shall be quenched and the worm dieth not.
There are some good points in this article, but there are also some glaring problems.
For one, the Greek word for “bad” in 2 Corinthians 5:10 CAN refer to moral evil, as shown in Jesus’ statement in John 3:20: “For everyone who does EVIL hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (NAS).
Here’s another example from John 5:29, also from Christ: “”Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good to a resurrection of life, those who committed the EVIL to a resurrection of judgment” (NAS).
Secondly, the writer doesn’t take into account sins that the believer failed to confess and therefore was NOT forgiven during his/her life on this earth. It’s true that all past sins are forgiven when a person initially comes to the Lord and experiences spiritual rebirth. From that point on, however, believers are obligated to confess their sins in order to receive forgiveness. First John 1:9-10 makes this clear. The believer will be held accountable to sins not forgiven at the Judgment Seat of Christ, penalized accordingly, and forgiven.
For scriptural details on the Judgment Seat of Christ, see this article: http://www.fountainoflifetm.com/articles/judgment-seat-of-christ-the-judgment-of-believers/
Dirk, once we accept Jesus’ salvation, ALL or sins are forgiven – past, present and future (1 Jn. 1:7). Christ’s righteousness becomes imputed onto us once saved. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
“For I [God] will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12) “Yet to all who received him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:12)
Thanks for the reply, Nathan.
RE: “once we accept Jesus’ salvation, ALL or sins are forgiven – past, present and future (1 Jn. 1:7).”
Salvation via Christ is received through “REPENTANCE and faith” (Acts 20:21) so, yes, when someone comes to the LORD, all their sins up to that point are forgiven by God. Future sins, however, are a different matter.
Of course, Christ died for our future sins and therefore forgiveness is available for them, BUT forgiveness of those sins cannot be personally appropriated until AFTER we commit them and humbly ’fess up. After all, how can we repent of something we haven’t even done (yet)? Moreover, how can God forgive something that hasn’t even been committed? This explains why the very passage you cite GOES ON TO SAY: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. IF we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
As you can see, future sins are not forgiven by God until the individual commits them and then humbly confesses (i.e. repents). This explains why Christ held the so-called prophet at the church of Thyatira “Jezebel” accountable for her sins and encouraged her repentance; and not just her, but THE BELIEVERS IN THE CHURCH who were misled by her false teachings. Notice what the Lord says to THE CHURCH of Thyatira:
“Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads MY SERVANTS into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, UNLESS THEY REPENT of her ways” (Revelation 2:20-22).
Although Christ died for the future sins of these believers (which includes the sins they were committing by following this false prophet, e.g. sexual immorality) Jesus wasn’t willing to forgive them – dismiss their offenses – UNTIL they ’fessed up and turned from their sins.
This principle is illustrated in the very verse you cite (1 John 1:7): “But IF WE WALK IN THE LIGHT, AS HE IS IN THE LIGHT, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
You see? There’s a condition to being purified of current/future sins and that’s WALKING IN THE LIGHT, which includes “keeping with repentance” (Matthew & Luke 3:8); that is, appropriating forgiveness for sins by humbly confessing them after we miss it, which is plainly relayed in the next two verses (1 John 1:8-9, quoted above).
This idea that a believer’s future sins are ALREADY FORGIVEN by God before he/she even commits them (and therefore it really isn’t necessary to confess them, i.e. repent) can be traced back to Hal Lindsey’s book “The Liberation of Planet Earth” from 1974 where he espouses this belief in one of the later chapters. I’m sure it goes back further than this. I heard it blatantly taught at a local church a few years ago. It’s the basis for the false hyper-grace doctrine that Dennis Pollock so effectively tore to pieces in your May-June Lamplighter, which can be read here: http://www.fountainoflifetm.com/articles/false-grace-hyper-grace-cotton-candy/
I encourage you to read that article on the Judgment Seat of Christ (link supplied in my previous post) because it goes into more detail on these issues. For instance, James 3:1 says that those who teach the Bible (which obviously refers to BELIEVERS) will be “judged more strictly.” This means that they’ll be held accountable to any false doctrine they teach which misleads people.
Dirk, I disagree, and emphatically at that, if you’re tying repentance for future sins as a necessity to maintain one’s salvation. Doing so creates a works-based salvation and sets an impossible standard for Christians to live by.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)
“God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Timothy 1:9)
NOW THAT IS WHAT I CALL REAL HOPE, BEYOND ANYTHING WE HAVE EXPERIENCED ON EARTH.
We will definitely discuss our wrong doing with the Lord at the Judgment seat. But, God does forgive those who have repented and changed their ways, and uphold his word, he is the Good Shepherd who guides us with wisdom. There are many who are not walking the walk. We are given so many chances because God does not want anyone to perish, but ultimately there is a day of reckoning. I cannot help but see the wickedness in this world, the hurtfulness, the persecution, all of which Christians will suffer as Jesus told us to expect in Matthew 24:9.
Observe, we no longer have a news media, they are all gossip mongers, smut peddlers, and mag pies. I cannot even watch so called news stations anymore. They must fill their 24/7 news channels with material that is harmful, offensive, and hurtful to most people.