In the last post on this subject I wrote about what the Bema is—a place where Christians will be judged according to their works. In this post I will continue with this discussion, focusing on the time, the place, and the subjects of the Bema.
THE TIME OF THE BEMA
Most agree that the time of the Bema will be immediately after the Rapture and will occur at the same instant that we see Him and are transformed. This is substantiated in the following verses:
In 1 Corinthians 4:5, the term “until the Lord comes,” indicates when the Bema will be—at His coming.
In 2 Timothy 4:8, we see that the Bema will be “on that day.”
In 1 Peter 5:4, the term is, “when the chief Shepherd [Christ] appears.”
Besides the above references, there is also proof of the aforementioned time in Revelation 4:4. Here we see in John’s vision, twenty-four elders sitting around the throne of God, all sitting on thrones with crowns on their heads. Since we believe that these elders represent the church, and since the crowns and the thrones represent their rewards, we may assume that at this time, which is during the Tribulation period, the church has already gone through the Bema and has received their rewards.
Now we must keep in mind that in heaven time will be different than on earth. A year on earth may seem like a minute in heaven. If the judgment were to happen on earth for each believer before God, imagine how long it would take—thousands of years. But since time is different in heaven, the process of the Bema for each and every person could very easily happen instantly at the rapture; and yet, we would still have the full experience of it.
THE PLACE OF THE BEMA
Since the Bema follows our translation, and our translation takes place in the heavenlies, we know that the Bema must also be in the heavenlies, which is in the place of the Lord’s presence. This supports what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8, that if we are absent from this earthly body [translated] we are present with the Lord.
THE SUBJECTS OF THE BEMA
It is generally understood from Scripture that the Bema is specific to the church (1 Cor. 3:10-17; 2 Cor. 5:6-10). However, both the Old Testament saints and the Tribulation saints will also be judged and rewarded in the time and place of God’s choosing, which will probably be at His Second Coming, just before the Millennial Kingdom. Daniel 12:1-3 speaks of the judgment of Old Testament believers, and Revelation 20:4-6 speaks of the judgment of the Tribulation saints.
The reason why they will not all be judged together at one time and place is because God deals with each group differently. Old Testament believers had specific requirements from God, and Tribulation saints had other requirements from God. Each group being of a separate dispensation will be judged and rewarded on a separate basis according to their own requirements—so that all are judged fairly.2