Preparing for Death 2 (Scroll down for Part 1)

In my forty years of studying the Bible in-depth, I have come to the conclusion that there are three judgments we are told about in the Word of God. The first one, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27), happens at the point of departure from this world. This judgment concerns what a person has done with the free offer of a pardon as to his or her sin. The believer in Christ will not be judged according to his sins. He is secure in what Jesus has done for him at the cross. At death, those who have placed their trust in the Savior’s finished work on the cross, their spirit goes to be with the Lord and will return with Jesus at the Second Coming of Christ: “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). When they believed and trusted Christ, something happened deep within their soul—they passed from a state of death and slavery to Satan to having eternal life imparted to them:

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24 Emphasis mine).

When a believer dies, he or she is separated from their fleshly body, but is very much alive and with Christ. When Jesus comes and the Rapture and resurrection take place, the believer is given a new body, a glorified body no longer dominated by the sin nature inherited from Adam. We will look at the topic of the Resurrection Body, i.e. what it is like, in a later study.

The second judgment happens at the return of Christ and is a judgment as to rewards given to the believer. This is called the Bema Seat Judgment. The third judgment concerns those who have rejected God’s offer of a free pardon. This judgment is called the Great White Throne judgment when all those who have served self and Satan will be consigned to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:13-15). We will focus our meditation today and tomorrow on preparing ourselves as Christians for the judgment seat of Christ.

 The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ

At the Second Coming of Christ, after putting down all rebellion upon Earth, Jesus will then take His seat at the place of the Bema Seat Judgment, where the Lord Himself will sit and judge.

Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done (Matthew 16:27).

9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For 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 (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).

This judgment concerns the believer’s rewards for how he or she has invested their time, energy, gifts, talents, and money. The Greek word, bēmatos, is translated into English with the words, “judgment seat.” The judgment seat was a place in the common Greek language of the New Testament for a rewards platform in sporting contests. In secular legal context, the word bēma, literally means, “to set (his foot) on.” It denotes a raised place or platform, where was the place of assembly. This is where we as Christians will be judged, I believe, as to two different things. 1) How much of the fruit of the Spirit is in our lives, i.e. our Christ-likeness or character. 2) How we have used our resources, such as our time, energy, skills and money. My prayer for you today is that you would invest your life into those things rather than the things of this world.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study Preparing for Death. Keith Thomas