2 Corinthians 5:10 Romans 14
The Judgment Seat of Christ
FOR WE MUST ALL APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST: tous gar pantas hemas phanerothenai (APN) dei (3SPAI) emprosthen tou bematos tou Christou: (Genesis 18:25; 1Samuel 2:3,10; Psalms 7:6, 7, 8; 9:7,8; 50:3, 4, 5, 6; 96:10, 11, 12, 13; 98:9; Eccl 11:9; 12:14; Ezekiel 18:30; Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 14:10, 11, 12; 1Peter 4:5; Jude 1:14,15; Revelation 20:11, 12, 14, 15, 15)
The certainty of the Bema Seat of Christ occurring at a specific point in time in eternity in the life of each individual believer, should serve as a strong motivator, causing us to forget what lies behind and like the runner determined to win the race and receive the coveted prize, to press on toward the goal, lunging toward the finish line, laying aside every encumbrance, coming out from the world, not even touching what is unclean, abstaining from even things with the “form” of evil , living in holy conduct and godliness, and all the more as we see the day drawing near.
WHEN DOES THE BEMA JUDGMENT TAKE PLACE?
The question of when the Bema Judgment take place is difficult to answer with any degree of “dogmatism”. The majority of evangelical scholars favor this event taking place after the Rapture but before the return of Jesus to set up His Millennial Kingdom. The highly respected scholar Dwight Pentecost has the following explanation on the timing of of bema…
The time of the bema of Christ. The event herein described takes place immediately following the translation of the church out of this earth’s sphere. There are several considerations that support this.
(1) In the first place, according to Lk 14:14, reward is associated with the resurrection. Since, according to 1Th 4:13-17, the resurrection is an integral part of the translation, reward must be a part of that program.
(2) When the Lord returns to the earth with His bride to reign, the bride is seen to be already rewarded. This is observed in Rev 19:7, where it must be observed that the “righteousness of the saints” is plural and cannot refer to the imparted righteousness of Christ, which is the believer’s portion, but the righteousnesses which have survived examination and have become the basis of reward.
(3) In 1Cor 4:5; 2Ti 4:8; and Rev 22:12 the reward is associated with “that day,” that is, the day in which He comes for His own. Thus it must be observed that the rewarding of the church must take place between the rapture and the revelation of Christ to the earth.’ (From Things to Come, 1958)
One other Scripture that points to the Bema occurring during the Tribulation period is Revelation 11:18where John writes…
And the nations were enraged, and Thy wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged (this is the Great White Throne Judgment – see comments beginning at Rev 20:11. ), and the time to give their reward to Thy bond-servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Thy name, the small and the great (this could refer to the Judgment Seat of Christ), and to destroy those who destroy the earth.
If one reads the Revelation literally (which results in a chronological order for the successive unfolding of the seven sealed scroll, the seven trumpets and the seven bowl judgments), Revelation 11:18 seems to coincide with the events of the middle to the seven year period known as the Tribulation.
To reiterate, most conservative evangelical scholars (especially pre-trib, pre-millennial) believe that this judgment will take place after the church is raptured and before the Second Coming of Christ at which time He inaugurates His 1000 year reign on earth from His throne in Jerusalem. For example Master’s Seminary (John MacArthur) takes this view regarding the timing of the Bema Seat in their “Statement of Faith”…
The Rapture of the Church – We teach the personal, bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ before the seven-year tribulation (1Th 4:16; Titus 2:13) to translate His church from this earth (Jn 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1Th 4:15-5:11) and, between this event and His glorious return with His saints, to reward believers according to their works (1Co 3:11, 12, 13, 14, 15; 2Co 5:10).
The Tribulation Period – We teach that immediately following the removal of the church from the earth (Jn 14:1-3; 1Th 4:13-18) the righteous judgments of God will be poured out upon an unbelieving world (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:27; 12:1; 2Th 2:7-12; Re 16:1ff), and that these judgments will be climaxed by the return of Christ in glory to the earth (Mt 24:27-31; 25:31 46; 2Th 2:7-12). At that time the Old Testament and tribulation saints will be raised and the living will be judged (Da 12:2-3; Re 20:4-6). This period includes the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27; Mt 24:15-31; 25:31-46).
The Judgment of the Lost – We teach that following the release of Satan after the thousand year reign of Christ (Re 20:7), Satan will deceive the nations of the earth and gather them to battle against the saints and the beloved city, at which time Satan and his army will be devoured by fire from heaven (Re 20:9). Following this, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone (Mt 25:41; Re 20:10) whereupon Christ, who is the Judge of all men (Jn 5:22, 27), will resurrect and judge the great and small at the Great White Throne judgment (Re 20:11ff). We teach that this resurrection of the unsaved dead to judgment will be a physical resurrection, whereupon receiving their judgment (Jn 5:28,29), they will be committed to an eternal conscious punishment in the lake of fire (Mt 25:41; Re 20:11-15). (TMS – TMS Statement of Faith – Eschatology)