Most Christians, it seems, have very little concern about whether they will have to give an account for their life or not. They live as if what they do now will have little effect on eternity. But the bible tells us that we will stand before Christ some day at what is called the Bema Seat, and will be judged by Him. In this post we will consider, in the following three points, on what basis we will be judged.
We will not be judged on the basis of sins.
It is true that through Adam, sin entered into the world; and because of that sin, spiritual death was passed on to all men at birth (Romans 5:12). But because of the mercy and grace of God, those who have believed in Him have received redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (Rom. 1:17). Thus, those who believe in Him have eternal life, and do not come into judgment, but are passed out of spiritual death into life (Jn. 5:24).
Therefore, when we face Jesus at the judgment seat, He will not even ask us about sins; for He remembers them no more (Heb. 10:17). However, sins will have an effect on how we live and what kind of deeds we do. Thus, it is always important now to live a pure and blameless life, so that sins do not corrupt the life and keep us from pleasing Him.
We will be judged fairly, thoroughly, and individually.
We have already mentioned that we will all be judged individually. It appears from Scripture that each of us will meet Him face to face, and each one will give an account of his or her life (2 Cor. 5:10). His judgment of us will be thorough because in our new bodies we will have perfect recollection of everything we did; and so, both we and He will know everything we did, and whether it was good or bad. And you know He will be fair; for it is His everlasting character.
We will be judged according to our deeds, whether they are good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10).
Our good deeds (or works) will be judged as valuable for the kingdom and we will be rewarded for a them. And our bad deeds will be judged as having no value for the kingdom and we will receive no reward at all for them.
A good illustration of this is in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Here we (the church) are seen as God’s building. Paul has laid the foundation (of the church), which is Christ; and we, with our works, are the building blocks. In verse 12 are listed six such building blocks: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw. Notice in these examples that the first three are very good quality building blocks that will last for a long time and make for a strong building. But the next three are very poor building blocks that are of useless materials.
Notice that the building materials are not judged until the judgment. At that time the building of God (the church) will be inspected, piece by piece (each of us with our works), to see what kind of building it is. And His fire of judgment will reveal its quality.
I also want to say something else. Though it is the individual works (or deeds) that are judged and not the whole person, by the language in verses 13 through 15, by the use of the singular “work” instead of “works,” we may conclude that one person will tend to have all works that are good, and another will tend to have all works that are bad, or useless. Thus, the singular “work” may represent all of his deeds together. And I think I understand why this may be the case. If a Christian person is committed to Christ, his motives will be good and so all of his works will reflect that. But if a person, though he is a Christian, is not so committed, his motives may not be so good and so all of his works will tend to be bad. Yet, because he is a Christian, as verse 15 says, “…he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
In saying all that, I don’t know if we can be dogmatic about it. A person may have times in his life when he was more committed, and other times when he was not. Nonetheless, we know that Jesus will be fair in His judgment.
Now there is ample biblical references on how our works are judged. We can break it down into three different categories. We will consider this next time.