(via Bret Mavrich)
Life can be a mystery. But that doesn’t mean there are a shortage of opinions about what to make most important. The Bible teaches that every single person will be evaluated on what they did with their lives, but beyond that there are still many questions: Who will evaluate me? What will the evaluation consist of? What if I’m a Christian—do I get judged too?
Understanding the Judgment Seat of Christ brings a ton of clarity. This weekend, Mike Bickle taught on the judgment seat. He uncovered a number of myths and replaced them with really helpful truths from scripture. Here’s the MikeLite version.
Myth #1 Only unbelievers will be judged.
False. There are several scenes of Judgment in the New Testament, one for believers and another for unbelievers. Only believers stand before the Judgment Seat (JS), Unbelievers do not stand at the judgment seat. They will be evaluated at the Great White Throne (GWT). While both the JS and the GWT are places where people are evaluated, they are very different, and it is important to understand how they are different.
For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ…then each of us shall give account of himself to God. —Romans 14:10-12
Myth #2 The Judgment seat is where people get Sentenced for Punishment
Truth: In the ancient world, the judgment seat was a place for athletes to receive a wreath as a reward for their achievement, something like a gold medal at the Olympics. God has designed the Judgment seat as a place to reward his people. That means the JS is a massive indicator of God’s intent to honor His people for their dedication and faithfulness to Him and His kingdom during their lives. The only punishment would be if a believer arrives at the Judgment Seat and, after being evaluated, receives no rewards. Our goal as believers should be to stand at the JS and have no regret about how we lived our lives before God.
Myth #3 Works don’t matter
Truth: Some Christians confuse the role of good works in the life of faith by pitting works against grace. Though we’re not saved on the basis of our works (it’s a free gift of grace), our position and reward in the age to come is based on our works, which is our response to the free gift of grace. Scripture says we must be judged for what we’ve done, whether good or bad. This is not the same of impact in our personal ministry; we have no control over how big our impact is in ministry. We will be judged according to our capacities—the gifts, talents, and opportunities given to us by God. Jesus will evaluate believers at the JS based on the measure we loved him and followed through in dedication and obedience in our capacities and assignments. We may be willing in our hearts to serve God, but the reward system set up by Jesus is based on works. What matters is not our plans to be diligent or whole heartedness (a good place to start), what matters is the actually doing it.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. — 2 Cor 5:10
Myth #4 There are no rewards besides salvation
Truth: Jesus taught more about rewards than any other person in the Bible. Sometimes people protest saying, “we should serve God out of love without any thought of rewards.” But this protest overlooks the fact that Jesus clearly used rewards to motivate his people. Jesus understands rewards more than anyone else. Rewards in the Kingdom’s economy are not about dominating other people and strutting around in the age to come. They are about proximity to Jesus: greater rewards leads to having more of the glory of God expressed through our life in the age to come. That may be new information, but if we neglect this important truth, we will severely regret how we’ve spent our lives when we stand before the JS. We cannot lose our salvation at the JS, but we can lose out significantly in our destiny.
Myth #5 Every believer will have the same reward
Truth: The New Testament uses stars to illustrate the exact opposite point: just as stars are diverse in their size and brightness, so believers will be rewarded with differing degrees of reward reflected in our bodies, clothing, dwelling places, and authority in the age to come. Some people imagine that it’s humble just to be content with “a little cabin on the edge of glory.” But if on the day we see Jesus at the JS we find out that he actually cares about our response and our eternal destiny in a different way, we probably won’t agree with that idea . If Jesus desires to honor a greater response to his grace with a greater reward of His glory, then we should desire that as well.
There is one glory of the sun…and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. 1 Cor 15:41-42
The Judgment Seat is supposed to inspire believers to go hard after God in their life with bold confidence that God rewards those who abandon themselves to His Kingdom and His ways. Understanding the Judgment Seat causes a profound shift in the way we think about our lives—time, money, and relationships. Instead of asking, how much can I get away with and still be saved, we begin to ask, how far will you let me go, how abandoned will you let me be?
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