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Will All Christians Experience the Judgment (Bema) Seat of Christ?

In Sunday School and church, we are reminded about the importance of not judging each other. We are asked to consider what another person is experiencing in their life, which may lead to their words and actions. How are we judged as Christians? Will all Christians experience the judgment seat (or the bema seat) of Christ?

Why Is the Judgment Seat Called the Bema Seat?

What is a bema seat? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bema as “the seat of judgment where all are to be tried in the presence of God at the time of the Last Judgment.” The seat’s first reference is in the New Testament.

“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 NIV)

The bema seat refers to the elevated platform speakers used in ancient Athens. Judges sat on these seats to watch athletic events. Being positioned on a raised platform, these judges were able to make sure participants followed the rules.

Jewish synagogues have raised areas where the Torah is read. Perhaps you have attended a worship service where the clergy or speaker stood on a taller platform so they could be seen and heard more easily. In Biblical times, the bema was also used by judges holding court (not unlike today’s judicial systems, where the judge is seated in a raised area).

The bema was originally a raised platform with a podium. Some worship leaders use lecterns today, while others walk freely throughout the congregation while delivering the message.

Which Bible Passages Mention the Judgment Seat of Christ?

As Christians, we know that judgment day is coming. The exact date or time is not known to us, but we rest in knowing God’s plan is at work. Numerous places in the Bible mention the judgment seat of Christ.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36 NIV)

We aim to glorify God in every word and action. Sin will come and we will fall short of God’s plan for us. Even when we fail, believers can go to God, acknowledge the sin, repent, and ask for His forgiveness. Christians know that when judgment day comes, we will face Jesus.

“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 NIV)

Although there are judges on this earth, the ultimate judging will come when we are face to face with Jesus. 

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

The book of Hebrews shares that all people will die once and face judgment. Yet, Christ will appear a second time to bring salvation “to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28). 

We are reminded in Scripture that the judgment seat does not determine our salvation because we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus (John 5:24). Yet, believers will appear before Christ on that day and be held accountable for their actions. As believers, we want to show others the love of Christ and guide them to know Him.

“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV)

In the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks about returning and having the reward with him.

Therefore, believers can look forward to the day that Christ returns and not be fearful. The bema seat is for believers. Another judgment will come for those who are non-believers. That judgment will be given by God. According to Revelation, this judgment doesn’t determine salvation. Referred to as the Great White Throne Judgment, unbelievers will be judged at this time (Revelation 20:12).

What Kind of People Are Judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

Will everyone face the judgment seat? According to Scripture, we are forgiven at the moment of salvation. Does that give us a free pass to break the rules, disobey the law of the land, and do whatever we please? No. Having eternal salvation gives us the ability and opportunity to express the love of God to others.

The goal is to live for Christ, not for ourselves. Placing God first in everything we say and do shows our love and dedication for Him. We will be rewarded for what we have done for Him (Psalm 62:12). The Bible tells us that faith without works is dead.

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26 NIV)

Believers want to please God. Believers want everyone to know the love of God and for each person to have a personal relationship with Him. As we come to the judgment seat, Christ will know how we have shared the good news. Therefore, everything we say and do to lead people to Christ will be acknowledged.

Will People Be Condemned at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

When we meet Jesus, we will be called to be accountable for how we lived on earth. Our actions and works will be recalled. The Bible tells us this is a time for Christians, not unbelievers.

However, as we shall see, this judgment seat of Christ is not about condemnation.

Jesus spoke about this in His parable in Luke. Some people thought Jesus was going to Jerusalem to establish His earthly kingdom. In reality, Jesus was going to Jerusalem to die.

The parable is about a nobleman leaving his home for a foreign country. In that place, the nobleman would be made a king. Before the man left for his journey, he gave 10 minas (about a few months’ wages) to 10 servants. He told the servants to put the money to work until he returned.

However, not all of the men acknowledged the master and did well with what they were given. When he returned, everyone had to tell how they had used the money. One servant’s mina had earned ten more. In Scripture, this is where we learn the statement, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:21 NIV). This person was rewarded with being in charge of five cities.

Another servant gave excuses about how they hid the money because of fear. The king called that man a “wicked servant.”

Scripture tells us the judgment seat of Christ does not determine our salvation. As believers, we are saved through Christ and our faith in Him (John 3:16). Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins. We will not be condemned at the judgment seat of Christ. However, this will be a time of reward (Revelation 22:12), where Jesus brings His reward according to what each person has done.

As believers, we want to be ready to stand before Christ. The book of Revelation states that Jesus is coming soon. Therefore, we want to live a life that shares His love and glory.

What Can Christians Learn from the Judgment Seat of Christ?

Knowing that the Bible gives us specific instructions on living for Christ can bring peace and rest in a tumultuous world. Christians do not “act” just to be rewarded. Christians have faith in the promises of God and are comforted by salvation through Jesus.

God equips each person with the needed qualities to bring others to Him. We can use those gifts in every moment. Spiritual gifts are given to every believer when they are saved (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

Although the number of gifts God gives has been debated, there is something to be gleaned from each. Some gifts include wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning spirit, and administration.

Accepting these gifts and using them to glorify Him can deepen our relationship with God. Humbling ourselves and being alert to His promptings in most effectively using what He gives is vital to honoring Him.

Father, thank You for the gifts You give to believers. We pray that in every situation, we shine Your love and glory so everyone will come to know the love You have for all creation. Amen.

In His Name,

Melissa Henderson

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/icestylecg

Melissa HendersonAward-winning author Melissa Henderson writes inspirational messages sometimes laced with a bit of humor. With stories in books, magazines, devotionals, and more, Melissa hopes to encourage readers. 

Melissa is the author of Licky the Lizard and Grumpy the Gator. Her passions are helping in the community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon, and Stephen Minister. 

Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and at

This article is part of our larger End Times Resource Library. Learn more about the rapture, the anti-christ, bible prophecy and the tribulation with articles that explain Biblical truths. You do not need to fear or worry about the future!

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