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Bible Questions with Michael Pearl
Episode 080: What is the Judgment Seat of Christ?

By Michael Pearl

This Weeks Bible Question:

What does 2 Corinthians 5:10 mean? As a Christian, I thought I wasn't going to be judged.

Episode Transcription


Michael Pearl: Well, it’s Bible Time with Michael Pearl, that’s me. Jared is behind the camera, and we’re here to try to answer your Bible questions. Jared has received emails from some of you guys, and so, he’s going to read the questions, and I am going to try to come up with the answers. What are the questions today Jared?

Jared: What does 2nd Corinthians 5:10 mean? As a Christian, I thought I wasn’t going to be judged.

Michael: 2nd Corinthians five verse 10. You might want to turn to Romans chapter 14 at the same time. We will be going to both of those. 2nd Corinthians chapter 5: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or whether it be bad. Therefore, knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men,” and so forth. So, it says, “we’ll all,” speaking of Christians, “appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”

Now in Romans chapter 14 verse 10 he says this: “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” There’s that term again. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess. So every one of us” — us, Paul writing, Christians — “shall give account of himself to God. Let no man therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”

So, the judgment seat of Christ! That word “judgment seat,” “bema,” the Greek word there, was the word used by the Romans commonly whenever they had a race, like an Olympic race. The winner would come up to the judgment seat, which is where all the dignitaries were doing the judging sat, and he would stand before them, and receive his olive wreath, which I don’t think is worth much, not like the gold they give today. But that was the judgment seat. There were no losers in the judgment seat. There were no second place winners. These were only the ones who won the games, the contests, and they came to receive their reward.

Now the judgment seat of Christ will not have unsaved people in it. It will not have lost people. Revelation chapter 20 describes the Great White Throne Judgment. The Great White Throne Judgment is the place where the sinners are judged according to their works.

Now all of us, saved and sinner alike, will be judged according to our works. The difference is, the sinner judged according to his works, the works determine the degree of damnation.

The saint judged according to his works, the works determine the degree of reward. If we took the time, we would go through the Bible and show you that there is at least five crowns mentioned in the Bible.

Those crowns are given as reward. The Bible speaks of reward and says, “If you give a cup of cold water to a prophet in the name of a prophet, you receive a prophet’s reward.” It also warns us that let no man take your reward from you.

It says, “If you do this you will in no wise lose your reward.” So, clearly Christians will be awarded different positions. He said those of you who followed me in the regeneration, you will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. He said, some will rule over 10 cities, some five, some one. So there will be different levels of individuals in Heaven.

Let’s draw the judgment seat of Christ here. This is where Christ sits on the throne, and this is the judgment seat of Christ.

“Every one of us will stand,” he said, “before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be bad.” He talks about, in another place in Corinthians, he said, “Our works will be tried by fire of what sort they are: gold, silver, precious stones,” that’s three sayings, “wood, hay, or stubble.” He said, “For the day will declare it.” In other words, God will put all of our works in to a pile here.

Those works are things like, stopping to help someone with a flat tire; going down to help someone who just had a tornado wipe their house out, or their house burned down; going over to help a neighbor cut the grass whose lawn mower doesn’t work; giving your money to missionaries to help them, giving out Gospel tracts, preaching the Gospel in rescue missions, going to old folks homes and stuff like that — that’s works. Going to church is not a work! Putting money in the church offering plate is not a work!

Works are things that you do that enrich other peoples’ lives and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Religious activity you do for your own gratification is not a work. Religious duty performed is not a work. A work is a righteous deed done in the power and the grace of God.

So, He said, He is going to put the flame to our work to see what sort it is. It will be burned; and after it’s burned, whatever is left is gold, silver, and precious stones.

I am afraid some of us will just have a little pile and look like not much. Others may have more. But wood, hay, and stubble — that’s those self-generated works, those religious activities, that pretense and hypocrisy, and ineffectual spinning of your religious wheels — all that will be burned up.

What will be left is just the pureness of heart and soul, the obedience to God. We will receive our rewards, five crowns — there may be more than that, there’s just five that the Bible mentions — [we’ll] receive five different crowns and different positions of ruling and reigning over the new earth, different status.

Now those who are unsaved, they will not be in this. He said, “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5). There will be no sinners in the judgment seat of Christ. That’s not to determine whether or not you’re saved, it’s to determine a reward.

But there is another judgment, and that’s the Great White Throne Judgment. The Bible said, “Before Him will be gathered all nations, and the nations will come before Him,” and the Bible said, “He will judge them according to their works, what they have done, and they will be cast in to the lake of fire and brimstone. There will be weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” So this judgment is where the beast and the false prophet are, it’s where the antichrist is, it’s a judgment of sinners.

I tell the guys in prison, it’s like this. Right now, the unsaved souls are down in the Bottomless Pit, not the Lake of Fire. They will be there until the end of the millennium, at which time, they will be raised to stand before the Great White Throne Judgment. This bottomless pit is the jailhouse. They will have their day in court, and then be cast in to Hell, and that’s the State Penitentiary.

Sinners, it’s already been determined when you die whether you are saved or lost, before you ever go to any judgment. He said, “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” So, one is already condemned in this life, right now. You don’t need to go to judgment to determine that. But the judgment will determine the degree of Hell or the degree in Heaven.

Voiceover: If you would like to ask a Bible question, email us at [email protected] or call at 931‑805‑4820.


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2 comments on “What is the Judgment Seat of Christ?”

  1. True genius level answer Mr. Pearl! (I believe true genius is found in making the complex simple.)
    We watched with our older children before they went off to bed. I really appreciated the simple and effective drawings that imprinted the truth behind your exposition of the Scripture. Keep it coming elder brother!

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