“The Judgment Seat Of Christ”

Romans 14.10-12 & Second Corinthians 5.9-10



1.   Consequences is a big word. But consequences is also an important word.  Webster’s really big dictionary defines consequence as “the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier.”[1]

2.   God is truly a God of consequences.  In the Garden of Eden, He spoke to Adam of consequences:  “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[2]

3.   You know the story.  Adam disobeyed God.  Did Adam suffer the consequences of his actions?  Did he pay the price of disobedience?  Yes.  He died spiritually, was then ejected from the Garden of Eden, sired the first child to commit murder and then sired the first child to be commit murdered, and eventually suffered physical death. 

4.   Say what you want about the implied meaning of God clothing Adam and Eve in coats of skins, Adam’s name never appears again in scripture as a recipient of commendation or as a beneficiary of God’s grace.  He suffered consequences for his disobedience, as have we all.

5.   There are consequences.  There are always consequences.  The most familiar statement of the linkage between a person’s behavior and the later consequences deriving from that behavior is found in Galatians 6.7, what we call the law of sowing and reaping:  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

6.   Though most mothers and fathers these days try to shield their children from the consequences of their wicked behavior and their foolishness, my understanding of scripture convinces me that parents are supposed to train their children to understand that there are always consequences.  Parents are seriously mistaken who think they do any child a favor by shielding the child from the consequences of his behavior.  My friends, God is a God of consequences.  He is the One who created and Who ultimately enforces consequences.

7.   Churchgoing people are quite well informed about the consequences of a sinner’s behavior.  The Bible is very clear that “the wages of sin is death.”[3]  And who but an infidel would deny that the obvious consequence of living and dying in your sins is an eternity of Hellfire?  This is as it should be, because God is holy and men are sinful, and justice demands Hell as the natural and proper consequence of sinning against God.

8.   But what happens in the case of a person who is joined to Jesus Christ by faith in His shed blood?  What happens when the Lord Jesus Christ suffers the eternal consequences for a man’s sins and that man becomes a new creature in Christ?  Are there no longer consequences for his behavior?  Once forgiven, can a Christian then do anything he wants?

9.   My friend, God does not stop being a God of consequences just because a fellow becomes a Christian.  Though the miracle of the new birth may forever alter your nature, it does not at all alter God’s nature.  He has always been a God of consequences, and He will always be a God of consequences.

10. This morning I want to speak to you Christians about the eternal consequences of your behavior as believers in Jesus Christ, the consequences that come about in the afterlife.  My texts for this morning are two, Romans 14.10-12 and Second Corinthians 5.9-10.  Please take a moment to locate both passages before standing for the reading of both texts:

10     But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11     For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

12     So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.


9      Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

10     For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.


11. Please take your seats, keeping both passages at hand to refer to as we proceed.

12. Four simple thoughts to set before you this morning, by way of reminding you that God is a God of consequences; even for His own children, especially for His own children.



1B.    Of all people, Christians should be the most committed to truth, to reality, to the naked facts.  It is only we who are Christians who have nothing to fear from the facts, and we should have no dread of the truth.  Therefore, keep it in your mind that sometime after this span of natural life the Lord Jesus Christ will judge you.  Both texts clearly and plainly assert the truth of Christ’s future judgment.

2B.    In both Romans 14.10 and Second Corinthians 5.10, the apostle Paul makes use of a common Greek word, bhma.  The word originally referred to the movement a person makes by raising a step.  Then the word came to refer to the platform that a person would step up on.[4]  In our two texts the word refers to the platform upon which a tribunal is located, where official decisions are given.[5]

3B.    It was on just such a raised platform that Pontius Pilate sat when he asked the Jews whether they wanted him to release the Lord Jesus Christ or the criminal named Barabbas.  Matthew 27.19:  “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.”

4B.    So, there can be no denying that the Bible clearly teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ will sit upon a seat of judgment.  We understand that the judgment seat of Christ is still in the future, since there is no indication in the Bible that it has yet occurred.  And from our understanding of the very nature of God as a God of consequences, the notion of a future judgment seat of Christ should be no surprise.



I suppose the question that should be asked is “Which judgment?”

1B.    Most of you are familiar with the judgment which is referred to in John’s Revelation.  Revelation 20.11-15:

11     And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12     And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13     And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14     And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15     And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.


1C.   This judgment is the judgment of the unsaved dead, which will take place not less than 1,007 years in the future, after the Rapture, after the seven years of tribulation, and after the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.

2C.   But this judgment will be reserved for those whose names are not written in the book of life.  This is the judgment of those who died without Christ.  Their end will be the lake of fire.

2B.    The judgment seat of Christ is not the Great White Throne judgment we have just read about.  The judgment seat of Christ is the judgment of Christians, not unsaved people.

1C.   You will notice, in Romans 14.10, that Paul writes, “for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ,” including himself.  The “we” includes those who judge their brothers in Christ.  And in verse 12 he writes concerning the judgment seat of Christ, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”  Quite an assertion of Christ’s deity.  Amen?

2C.   In Second Corinthians 5.10, the matter is even clearer.  He is writing to the Christians in the Corinthian congregation.  Again, he uses the inclusive word “we.”  The conclusion can only be that the judgment seat of Christ is a judgment of Christians, and that no non-Christian people are included in this judgment.  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”

3C.   Now, if you are a thinking Christian your mind may raise a question at this point.  Was not the Christian’s sin judged on the cross?  Yes.  When God punished His Son on Calvary’s cross He punished Christian’s sins in the body of His Son.  Are sins, then, to be judged twice, once by God the Father when His Son was crucified, and later on by the Lord Jesus Christ at His judgment seat?  No.  “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,” Hebrews 9.28.

4C.   God remembers the Christian’s sins no more.  Hebrews 8.12 declares, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”  Hebrews 10.17 reaffirms, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

5C.   Thus, it is as the psalmist, David, wrote, in Psalm 103.12:  “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

6C.   And why, pray tell, does God remember my sins no more?  And how is it that even the sins I have committed since coming to Christ are far removed from me?  How can God remember my sins no more?  First John 1.7, where we read these words:  “. . . the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, my sins are gone.



1B.    Romans 14.10-12 is very clear that the judgment seat of Christ will be an occasion of accounting. 

1C.   Verse 12, again:  “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”  So, you see, Christian, coming to Christ is not a free pass to heaven.  Though sins are forgiven by Christ and washed away by His precious blood, there will still be some kind of accountability.  Grace is not lawless.  And those who are saved by grace do not live lives that are unaccounted for.

2C.   Albert Barnes comments on Paul’s statement of a future accounting to Christ:  “That is, of his character and conduct; his words and actions; his plans and purposes.  In the fearful arraignment of that day, every work and purpose shall be brought forth, and tried by the unerring standard of justice.  As we shall be called to so fearful an account with God, we should not be engaged in condemning our brethren, but should examine whether we are prepared to give up our account with joy, and not with grief.”[6]

2B.    Second Corinthians 5.10 provides even more insight into this future accounting:  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

1C.   According to this verse, the criteria of a Christian’s judgment at the judgment seat of Christ will be that Christian’s deeds, “according as he hath done.”

2C.   Turn to First Corinthians 3.11-15, where we will read a passage that is universally recognized as having to do with the judgment seat of Christ:

11     For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12     Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

13     Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

14     If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

15     If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.


3C.   A careful consideration of this passage reveals that, like Second Corinthians 5.10, the criteria that judgment will be based on are the Christian’s deeds.  Several months ago I presented a detailed explanation of this passage and context, showing that the judgment spoken of here would be a judgment of a Christian’s works and service in and through his church congregation.

4C.   I will not retrace that ground again, except to remind you that the judgment seat of Christ will be an occasion where the Lord Jesus Christ will hold you accountable for your involvement and participation in the congregation you have been placed in.

5C.   So, what does God require of you, church member?  First Corinthians 4.2 reads, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”  Different Christians have different gifts, different opportunities, and different measures of grace.  But each one of us is expected to be faithful.  I am convinced that the basis of future judgment will your faithfulness in your church.



1B.    Let me repeat what I said a moment ago:  There is only one punishment for sin.  For the lost man it will be the lake of fire for ever and ever.  For the child of God, sin’s penalty was paid on Calvary’s cross, never to be paid for again, because the blood of Jesus Christ was sufficient and satisfactory payment for the sins of the elect, and its efficacy continues.

2B.    What, then, will be the result of the judgment seat of Christ?  In a word, rewards.  Read again with me First Corinthians 3.13-15:

13     Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

14     If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

15     If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.


3B.    The fire of Christ’s judgment will ascertain the quality and durability of each Christian’s service, not for the purpose of punishing sin (sin has already been punished for the child of God), but for the purpose of determining the reward to be given.

4B.    If the Christian has faithfully labored according to God’s will, he will receive commensurate rewards.  If the Christian has not labored according to God’s will, he shall suffer appropriate loss, the loss of rewards he might have received had he faithfully and obediently served his Master.



1.   To recap:  Salvation is all of grace.  “For by grace are ye saved.”  The life and service of each and every Christian is also all of grace.  Paul wrote, in First Corinthians 15.10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

2.   What does this mean?  It means, if you are a Christian you are a Christian because of God’s glorious grace, and you can take credit for nothing having to do with becoming a Christian, “. . . lest any man should boast.”

3.   But beyond that, I mentioned at the beginning of this sermon that there are consequences.  God is a God of consequences, and there will be consequences for the kind of life you live and the kind of service you render following your conversion, for which there will be an accounting someday at the judgment seat of Christ.

4.   I would have you turn to one last passage in closing, Revelation chapter 4.  The scene is heaven.  There are seated around the throne four and twenty elders, representative of Christians like you and me, only this is in the future.

5.   Notice, in Revelation 4.4, that the elders each wear a crown.  The judgment seat of Christ has already taken place in this scene, with each one wearing his reward from the Savior, a crown.  What will we do with the rewards given to us by our Lord and Savior?  We will do what the four and twenty elders do, verses 8-11:

8      And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

9      And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

10     The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11     Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.


6.   You see, since your salvation and your service are the result of God’s grace, it is only fitting that the rewards given by the Savior be then given back to the God of all glory and grace, an acknowledgment to Him of our eternal gratitude for His grace that brought about our salvation, that made possible our service, that gave to us our Savior.

BEHOLD the glories of the Lamb

  Amidst His Father’s throne!

Prepare new honours for His name,

  And songs before unknown.


Let elders worship at His feet,

  The Church adore around,

With vials full of odours sweet,

  And harps of sweeter sound.


Those are the prayers of the saints,

  And these the hymns they raise;

Jesus is kind to our complaints,

  He loves to hear our praise.


Eternal Father, who shall look

  Into Thy secret will?

Who but the Son should take that book,

  And open every seal?


He shall fulfil Thy great decrees:

  The Son deserves it well;

Lo, in His hand the sov’reign keys

  Of heaven and death and hell!


Now to the Lamb, that once was slain,

  Be endless blessings paid;

Salvation, glory, joy, remain

  For ever on Thy head.


Thou hast redeemed our souls with blood,

  Hast set the prisoners free,

Hast made us kings and priests to God,

  And we shall reign with Thee.


The worlds of nature and of grace

  Are put beneath Thy power;

Then shorten these delaying days,

  And bring the promised hour.[7]


7.   At the judgment seat of Christ will be those consequences I spoke of earlier.  But the judgment seat of Christ will be the place of consequence for grace, God’s grace.  Are you a product of God’s grace?  Have you been saved by grace?  If so you will live by grace, serve faithfully by grace, and someday be rewarded by grace.

[1] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 433.

[2] Genesis 2.16-17

[3] Romans 6.23

[4] Bauer, page 175.

[5] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 467.

[6] Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ NT Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com

[7] “BEHOLD THE GLORIES OF THE LAMB!” by Isaac Watts, see “Christ in Song: Hymns of Immanuel Selected from all Ages,” compiled by Philip Schaff, (Vestavia Hills, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2003), page 271.

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