Foundations of the Faith: The Judgement Seat of Christ

November 3, 2020
Carl Knott

“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So, then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12

Believers will not face the judgment of condemnation for their sin at the Great White Throne. Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). But we will be judged by the Lord, at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This should tell us how seriously He takes the way we live. Our lives are not our own. We have been bought at a great price, the blood of Christ, and we should live to please Him, not ourselves (1 Cor. 6:19-20). This in a nutshell establishes the criteria for the judgment of Christians.

All church-age believers will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ for our character and life is important to Him. Romans 14:11 quotes Isaiah 45:23 and applies it to Christians, “every knee shall bow to me.” We will stand before the bema, bowing and verbally acknowledging His Lordship. As our Lord He has the right to judge our lives, and we should live to please Him, not ourselves.

Today the world emphasizes individual rights and personal freedom. Like in the days of the Judges, each one does what is right in his own eyes, and often believers do the same. Who among us would not admit that the assemblies have changed in the last fifty years? And the same applies to marriages and families. Often these changes have not resulted from a careful study of Scripture with a keen desire to please the Lord. Instead they are a declaration of independence and do not acknowledge His Lordship.

Verse 12 says, “So, then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” This indicates that the Lord Jesus Christ is God. He is Lord of the Church and each individual believer will stand before Him and give an account of themselves. This should make us think about how we’re living. What did the Lord say to Peter when he asked what John was going to do? “What is that to thee? Follow thou me” (John 21:22). Do we please ourselves, or the Lord? Do we seek the approval of men, or of God? (Gal. 1:10). Are we contemporary, or biblical?

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:3-4). He was aware of the Lord’s judgment, and lived to please Him. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, it won’t matter what others thought of us. The standard for judgment is God’s Word. Have we done all things according to the pattern given us?

1. Our words: Matthew 12:36-37 warns us that we will give account of every idle word. The Lord hears everything, and remembers it all. James 3 is an entire chapter dedicated to the tongue.

2. Our works: We were created in Christ Jesus unto good works (Eph. 2:10). “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

3. Christian service: 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 highlights the importance of doing Christian work in a scriptural way. Wood, hay and stubble are easy to find and work with, but will not survive the fire. Gold, silver and precious stones are harder to find and work with, but will endure judgment. There are fast and easy, worldly methods of church growth, but gospel preaching, sound doctrine, and holiness of life produces lasting results. 

4. Biblical preaching: 1 Peter 4:11 makes it clear that the only way to preach is “as the oracles of God,” according to the ability that God gives, so that God is glorified. The Lord will judge preachers and teachers by whether or not they followed Scripture and glorified Him.

5. Stewardship: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God, the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). To Caesar belongs very little: taxes, honor and obedience to laws. Everything else belongs to God: our bodies, capacities, abilities, and very lives. Our time is a gift from Him as well as our money? Are we laying up treasures on earth in spite of the fact that He forbade it? (Matt. 6:19-20). “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). We are stewards of everything we have, both time and resources are from the Lord and to be used for Him.

6. Marriage and family: Marriage is a divine institution and instruction for husbands and wives is clearly taught in Scripture. The Lord gives children and teaches how to raise them. Yet today divorce is widely practiced. Role reversal is common in marriage due to the pervasive values of feminism and the undervaluing of the Word of God. “Disobedient to parents” (Rom. 1:30), is in the same category as fornication and murder. Scripture teaches a different version of child raising from that of society. The Lord will have the final word?

7. Our affections: The last days are marked by self-love, avarice and pleasure seeking even in the churches, those with a form of godliness (2 Tim. 3:1-5) “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15). Better to heed this exhortation now than to have to face it before the Lord on judgment day. The psalmist said, “O, how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97). Is it so with us?

8. Our friendships:The Spanish have a saying: “Better to be alone than in bad company.” 2 Timothy 2:22 teaches young people to “follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” The psalmist said, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts” (Ps. 119:63) Are our friendships according to Scripture?

9. The church: In Revelation 2 and 3 there are seven letters from the Lord to seven different churches. He judges the good and bad in each church, and five of the seven are told to repent, or else…What will He say to assemblies today that are so different from the apostolic assemblies? 

10. Elders:These men are the exception to the rule that each one will give account of himself. They also will give account of themselves, but additionally, Hebrews 13:17 says that they will give account to God for the assembly and their pastoral care of the Lord’s flock. Are they following the divine pattern (Heb. 8:5), or being negligent or even tolerant of sin in their household or the assembly? Are their decisions biblical?

Christ’s judgment seat is not only a warning to wayward Christians. It is a tremendous motivation and encouragement to the faithful saint who lives as a pilgrim in this world, seeking to please the Lord. The Lord knows the life and service of each one. How wonderful it will be to hear the Lord say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21).

But the wayward, worldly and wavering believer needs to apply Jeremiah’s words to themselves: “Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16). Prepare now to give account at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

By Carl Knott