For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
Your first thought is probably, “And, good morning to you too.” This passage is a bit of a rude awakening until you realize when and why believers will be judged.
Years ago I read a Chick tract on judgment day (that’s the actual name of the Christian publisher – you can’t make this stuff up). This miniature, not-so-funny comic book showed everyone standing before the judgment seat while movies of their lives were shown for all to see. Immediately I was confused by two things.
First of all, the church that I grew up in taught that going to movies was a sin. If there were movies in Heaven, and there is no sin in Heaven, then maybe movies weren’t so bad. The answer from my folks was still “No.”
Secondly, if God has forgiven all of our sin and doesn’t remember it any more, then what would there be to show? If our sins are as far as the east is from the west, then the tales of our sordid pasts would be erased (Psalm 103:12). It should be nothing but blank film. Maybe the lesson here is getting our theology from the Bible rather than from cartoons.
The Bible speaks of two judgments: the Great White Throne and the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Great White Throne is a judgment based on whether their names were written in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:11-12). If you have trusted in Christ for your salvation (Romans 10:9-10), then your name is written in the Book of Life (Hebrews 12:23; Luke 10:20). Believers don’t need to worry about the Great White Throne judgment.
The Judgment Seat of Christ mentioned in today’s passage is a test of the believer’s actions on earth. Non-believers aren’t judged based on their works. They are only judged on their names being in the Book of Life. So, for the folks who are working hard at good works in order to make it into Heaven, unfortunately, they are studying for the wrong test. God will consider our commitment to Christ before He looks at any of our good deeds.
For believers, judgment is not to determine whether we’re good enough for Heaven. We’re not, but our names are written in the Book. The Judgment Seat of Christ is expressly for rewarding us for our good deeds. The prize is to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
Which test do you need to prepare for? Have you committed your heart and life to Christ? If not, then all you need to do is ask: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).
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