In Romans 14:10, Is. 45:23, and II Cor. 5:10 the judgement seat is mentioned. All will stand before the judgement seat of Christ and everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God. How and for what will the believer be held responsible? What does standing before the judgement seat of Christ mean for the believer? It sounds like a very fearful occasion.
It only sounds like a fearful occasion because of the negative implications we attach to the word judgment. The phrase judgment seat comes from an idea Paul borrowed from the ancient Olympics that’s still in use in the sports world today. It was called the Bema Seat and it was where the officials determined the quality of each athlete’s performance and awarded crowns accordingly.
Today the judges evaluate performances from the judges stand and award medals instead of crowns but it’s the same idea.
1 Cor. 3:10-15 is the Bible’s clearest description of what will happen at the Bema Seat. The judgment will concern the good works we do as believers while on Earth. Some of our works will be judged as having value to the Kingdom (gold, silver, precious jewels) and deserving of reward. Others will not (wood, hay, and straw) and will receive no reward. 1 Cor. 3:15 tells us that even those who will have nothing deserving of reward will still be saved.
In 1 Cor. 4:5 we’re warned against judging any other believer’s works because only the Lord can know the hidden motives behind them. That means we’ll be rewarded based on the motive that inspired our works. In John 15:5 Jesus said apart from Him we can do nothing. Only the things done at His bidding and in His strength will have value at the judgment. Things we do on our own initiative and in our own strength have no value to Him.
2 Cor. 5:10 says, “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.” From the above we know that good refers to things done at the Lord’s bidding and in His strength, while bad means things we do on our own initiative in our own strength. Isaiah 45:23 and Romans 14:10 convey the same idea.
Remember, our salvation is based on what we believe, not on how we behave. Since we believe Jesus paid the full penalty for all our sins, we have nothing to fear when we stand before Him.