The Judgments of Believers

This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series Spiritual Realms

The Judgments of Believers

The first question one would ask when discussing the “judgment” of saints is, “for what?”  Clearly scripture teaches that believers are not judged for their sin[1].  Christ alone received the judgment for sin on the cross.  Yet, scripture teaches that believers will undergo judgment.  The purpose of judgment for believers will be demonstrated in this section to be a judgment for reward rather than a judgment for punishment.

 

The Judgment Seat of Christ

The Judgment Seat of Christ is the judgment for the church.  It does not include the Old Testament Saints nor the Tribulation Saints.

The texts:

Romans 14:10-12 (NIV)
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (NIV)
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV)
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

1 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)
5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

Ephesians 6:8 (NIV)
8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

2 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)
8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Revelation 22:12 (NIV)
12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.Matthew 12:36 (NIV)
36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

 
The results of this judgment

·         This judgment results in reward rather than punishment

o   1 Corinthians 3: 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.

o   1 Corinthians 4:5 At that time each will receive his praise from God.

o   Ephesians 6:8 the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does

o   2 Timothy 4:8 the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day

o   Revelation 22:12 My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

·         Failures are judged, but require an accounting and return a lack of reward rather than the presence of discipline

o   Matthew 12:36 men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

o   1 Corinthians 3:13-15 It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

o   1 Corinthians 4:5 He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

o   2 Corinthians 5:10 that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

§  This is the most ambiguous of the texts, but the other two indicate clearly that discipline is not the purpose of the judgment

The timing of this judgment

·         The timing of this judgment is when Jesus “comes”

o    1 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)
5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

o    Revelation 22:12 (NIV)
12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

 

Note:  The coming of Christ can be derived to mean his coming to rule (the “second coming”) or his coming to rapture.

Speaking of the events of the Great Tribulation, Luke warns:

Luke 21:35-36 (NIV)
35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

In this text, the results of the rapture are that “you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

More clearly, Luke 14

Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)
12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

 

Clearly, the “repayment,” or “reward” for this act of righteousness is paid “at the resurrection of the righteous.”  This resurrection, then, for these followers of Jesus who would become “the church”, is when Jesus “comes” for the rapture, and the church is resurrected.

The Rewards
Authority

Matthew 5:19 (NIV)
19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Mark 10:35-40 (NIV)
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

The Crowns

1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV) [for soul winning?]
19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV) [for self discipline?]
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV) [for enduring?]
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

James 1:12 (NIV) [for suffering?]
12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Revelation 2:10 (NIV) [same as in James above - for suffering, or for martyrdom?]
10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

1 Peter 5:2-4 (NIV) [for pastoring?]
2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Unspecified rewards for specific actions (incomplete list)

Matthew 10:41 (NIV)
41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.

Matthew 10:42 (NIV)
42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

Luke 6:35 (NIV)
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Ephesians 6:8 (NIV)
8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

 

Other Judgments of the Righteous:

Of the judgments of the Old Testament saints and tribulation saints, not much is said in scripture other than the references to the facts that they have judgments. 

The Judgment of the Old Testament Saints

 

The timing:  at their resurrection

Daniel 12:13 (NIV)
13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”

 

The substance

Psalm 62:12 (NIV)
12 and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)
17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Jeremiah 17:10 (NIV)
10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

Jeremiah 32:19 (NIV)
19 great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve.

 

The Judgment of the Tribulation Saints

Revelation 20:4-6 (NIV)
4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

The Timing:

V4 begins “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.”

This indicates that the judging of these tribulational saints is the context of that which follows, and that their judgment occurs, once again, in conjunction with their resurrections.

The Substance:

V6 states “they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”

While the text does not clearly indicate the results of this judgment, it infers it via two categories of service, each of which are hierarchical in nature:

            Priests:  the priesthood in the Old Testament is a hierarchical structure through and through.  This indicates that the judgment would likely decide their positions within that structure.

            Reign with him:  It appears the tribulation saints will participate in both the priestly and kingly functions of Messiah’s reign.  Governing, too, is a hierarchical structure.  Thus, it also appears that the judgment may determine their position within the government of the kingdom.

[1] John 3:18; 5:24, Romans 8:1

 


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