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Judgment of Christians




The judgment of Christians, a clear teaching of Scripture that will take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ in the near future, has proven to be a highly unpopular doctrine throughout Christendom for centuries.  Although it is often avoided by the pulpits of the land, when it is discussed, it is most often misrepresented and therefore misunderstood.


Although this paper is not meant to be anything but a compilation of various passages of Scripture relative to the title-topic, it is highly advisable that the reader examine an exhaustive work regarding it.  Such may be found on the homepage of this website ( entitled the Judgment Seat of Christ by Arlen L. Chitwood, from which the following foreword is taken:


The judgment seat of Christ will be operable in one realm aloneman’s actions, following his salvation.  That which will come under review in that day will be “works” emanating out of either faithfulness or unfaithfulness — works comparable to “gold, silver, precious stones,” or works comparable to “wood, hay, straw” (1 Corinthians 3:12, 13).


Nothing pertaining to man’s eternal salvation (based entirely upon that which Christ has done) can come into view at this judgment, for God has already judged sin in the person of His Son at Calvary.  And God is satisfied with His Sons finished work.


In this respect, all judgment relative to eternal salvation is past and can never again be brought up as an issue.  “He who believes in Him [Christ] is not condemned [Greek: krino; lit., ‘is not judged,’ i.e., the one who has believed on Christ can never be brought into judgment at any future time (for judgment has already occurred in past time)] . . . .” (John 3:18a).


And this is what bothers some Christians about thoughts surrounding the judgment seat of Christ.  Scriptures such as John 3:18 clearly state that no Christian can ever be brought into judgment.  Yet, Scriptures such as 2 Corintians 5:10 — “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ . . . .” — also clearly state that judgment awaits all Christians.


This can become quite confusing unless one recognizes that two entirely different matters are being dealt with.  One has to do with God’s judgment upon sin, based upon His Son’s finished work at Calvary, with eternal salvation in view.  And the other has to do with God’s subsequent judgment upon His household servants relative to their faithfulness or unfaithfulness as servants in the Lord’s house, with the Messianic Era in view.


The former judgment — a past judgment upon sin, based on the Son’s finished work at Calvary — in actuality, has to do not only with saved man but with unsaved man as well.


Note the complete verse in John 3:18:


He who believes in Him is not condemned [is not judged]:  but he who does not believe is condemned already [has already been judged (a perfect tense in the Greek text, referring to a judgment that occurred in past time — a judgment no longer occurring during present time, for the matter has been finished)], because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”


Judgment for the sin question (sin brought into existence by and through Adam’s fall in Genesis chapter three) has already occurred.  It occurred in past time for both the saved and the unsaved — for the saved, with respect to belief; for the unsaved, with respect to unbelief.


For the former (the saved), they have been judged in past time, through a Substitute.

They have believed, and a Substitute (Christ) has paid sin’s penalty (death) on their behalf.


For the latter (the unsaved), they have been judged in past time as well, but apart from a Substitute.  They have not believed, and there, consequently, is no Substitute to pay sin’s penalty (death) on their behalf.  They will have to pay the penalty themselves.  Judgment itself has already occurred, but the payment for sin’s penalty awaits.


And, at any future judgment — whether a judgment of the saved or a judgment of the unsaved (all are to be judged at times in the future, in separate judgments) — the issue of the sin question and eternal salvation or eternal damnation can never resurface.  Once an individual moves beyond this life — beyond the point where he can either believe or not believe, whether he is saved or unsaved — it is a finished matter; his eternal salvation is sealed; he has already been judged in this respect, for it is all inseparably connected with Christ’s past finished work on the cross and God’s past judgment relative to this finished work.


This is the reason that any future judgment of man, whether saved or unsaved, is always seen to be on the basis of the works of the individual being judged — works emanating out of faithfulness (one class of the saved), out of unfaithfulness (another class of the saved), or out of no faith (the unsaved).


For a judgment of the saved with respect to works, refer to 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; for a judgment of the unsaved with respect to works, refer to Revelation. 20:11-15.


each ones work will become clear . . . .” (1 Corinthians 3:13a)


. . . And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (Revelation 20:12b)


But, calling attention to things surrounding the saved alone throughout the remainder of this foreword, the difference between past and future judgments could be compared to the distance between the east and the west.  It is only because of the former (God’s past judgment relative to the sin question, based entirely on Christ’s finished work) that the latter can occur (judgment on the basis of works emanating out of faithfulness or unfaithfulness); and the latter can have nothing to do with the former in the sense of nullifying, adding to, taking from, etc.


The two are completely separate in this respect.  Once a person has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ — has passed “from death to life” — that individual comes into a relationship with God that heretofore did not exist in his life.  He becomes a new creationin Christ,” part of the family of God; and he then finds himself among household servants who are being dealt with accordingly.


Following an individual believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, God deals with that individual on an entirely different plane — as a household servant, with a view to the Messianic Era lying out ahead.  The individual is never again dealt with (during present or future time, or at a future judgment) on the basis of that which is past — Christ’s finished work, effecting his eternal salvation.


Everything having to do with God’s judgment in this respect is past.  The person has already been judged (via God’s judgment upon a Substitute, upon His Son at Calvary, who paid the penalty for sin on the person’s behalf).


And this fact alone should put to rest any thought that saved man could ever one day become unsaved, lost again.  How could he?  Such would be impossible, for God never deals with saved man on this basis (and this would be aside from the fact that man’s salvation is not based on anything that he has done to begin with, but on that which Christ alone has done).


But that which numerous Christians fail to recognize is the fact that they are directly responsible, as household servants, to the One who sent His Son to die in their stead.  And, as household servants, they will one day stand before their Savior (to whom God has committed all judgment) to give an account relative to faithfulness or unfaithfulness in the Lord’s house.


The judgment seat of Christ will be operable in this realm alone, and decisions and determinations emanating from findings at the judgment seat will result in two things:


1)  Reward on the one hand.


2)  Loss on the other hand.


And both will have to do with the Messianic Era, not with eternal life.


And within both there will be a just reward [KJV: recompense] (Hebrews 2:2; 11:26) — receiving exactly what an individual deserves, receiving wages exactly commensurate with the persons faithfulness or unfaithfulness as a servant in the Lords house (cf. Luke 12:42-46).


The following is a list of passages from Scripture (all taken from the NKJV) that should be considered as one examines this topic.


Section One

The Lord Will Judge All Christians


Deuteronomy 32:35, 36


Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.


For the LORD will judge His people and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone, and there is no one remaining, bond or free.


Psalm 50:4


He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people.


Psalm 135:14


For the LORD will judge His people, and He will have compassion on His servants.


Psalm 62:12


Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; for You render to each one according to his work.


Psalm 135:14


For the LORD will judge His people, and He will have compassion on His servants.


Proverb 24:12


If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?


Jeremiah 17:10


I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.


Jeremiah 32:19


You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.


Matthew 10:28


And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.


Matthew 16:24-27


Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.


For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.


For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?


For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”


Acts 10:42


And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.


Romans 2:1-11


Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.


But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.


And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?


Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?


But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,


whowill render to each one according to his deeds”:


eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;


but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousnessindignation and wrath,


tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;


but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.


For there is no partiality with God.


Romans 14:10-12


But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.


For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”


So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.


1 Corinthians 3:8-15


Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.


For we are Gods fellow workers; you are Gods field, you are Gods building.


According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.


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


Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,


each ones work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each ones work, of what sort it is.


If anyones work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.


If anyones work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.


1 Corinthians 10:1-12 (cf. Hebrews 3:5-19; 4:4-13)


Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,


all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,


all ate the same spiritual food,


and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.


But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.


Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.


And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”


Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;


nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;


nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.


Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.


Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.


1 Corinthians 11:32


But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.


2 Corinthians 5:10, 11


For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.


Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.


Galatians 6:7, 8


Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.


For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.


Ephesians 6:8


knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.


Colossians 3:25


But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.


2 Timothy 4:1


I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom.


Hebrews 2:1-3


Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.


For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward (KJV: a just recompense [repayment] of reward),


how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.



Hebrews 9:27


And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.



Hebrews 10:26-31


For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,


but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.


Anyone who has rejected Moseslaw dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.


Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?


For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”


It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


Hebrews 12:5-11


And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;


for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”


If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?


But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.


Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?


For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.


Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


1 Peter 1:17


And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.


1 Peter 4:5


They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.


Revelation 2:23


I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.


Revelation 22:12


And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.


Section Two

The Lord Knows the True Motives of Christians


1 Samuel 16:7


But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”


1 Kings 8:39


Then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men).


1 Chronicles 28:9


As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.




1 Chronicles 29:17


I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You.


Psalm 7:9


Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just; for the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.


Psalm 139:2


You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.


Proverb 17:3


The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the hearts.


Jeremiah 11:20


But, O LORD of hosts, You who judge righteously, testing the mind and the heart, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have revealed my cause.


Jeremiah 17:10


I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.


Jeremiah 20:12


But, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, and see the mind and heart, let me see Your vengeance on them; for I have pleaded my cause before You.


Matthew 9:4


But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”


Matthew 12:25


But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”


Luke 5:22


But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?”


Luke 6:8


But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.And he arose and stood.


Luke 9:47


And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him.


Luke 11:17


But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.”


John 2:25


And had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.


Acts 1:24


And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen.


Acts 15:8


So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us.


Romans 8:27


Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.


Hebrews 4:12, 13


For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.


Revelation 2:23


I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.


Although other passages may be added to the above list (and anyone reading this paper is encouraged to submit any recommendations to the editor at, it is hoped that the above will add significantly to the examination of the topic.


Furthermore, comments from readers (to the editor as per above) are encouraged, such as the one below that was submitted on November 20, 2011:


Hi Charles.....


Just some thoughts on the Judgment Seat of Christ:


When I think about the judgment seat of Christ, several Scriptures and attendant thoughts come to mind.  First of all, it is all about believing the Word of God, who is a Person, (John 1:1, 14; Revelation 19:13b).


Next, I have had to explain to BELIEVERS, the definitions of such words as “wicked,” “sinners,” “unrighteous.”  Somehow, even believers seem to equate those words with unbelievers.


Another thought is that we are not born spiritual adults.  So many believers think that the new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) is automatically a good creature, completely without sin (I never did understand that one!).


Next, I really am a believer in the garbage dump of the Millennium, the place called Gehenna, which will undoubtedly again be outside the southern wall of the old city of Jerusalem, on earth.  There will be no need for a place like that on the new earth, and so I believe Jesus warning, “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna (Matthew 10:28).


Jesus would not have given us that warning if He didn’t want us to think about it. As believers, we have Jesus’ life; now He will judge us for how we lived His/our life. Our lifestyles mainly consist of the things that we practice. We always do the things we keep thinking about; we do what we believe. So what we believe, and the things that we think about become very important, in light of the judgment seat of Christ, since He knows our thoughts.  We are to study to show ourselves approved before God, correctly, accurately handling the Word of Truth, (2 Timothy 2:15).  This is done in order that we fully possess for ourselves, the mind of Christ, which we have in writing (1 Corinthians 2:16b), so that Christ can be formed in us (Galatians 4:19).


Some people think that all that will be done at the judgment seat is the handing out of rewards; no punishment, because it is a bema seat, used for the giving of rewards to the Olympians who ran their races and won.  I tell them that Pilate sat on a bema seat and sentenced Jesus to death.  I don't know how any of us figure we will escape if that’s the path we choose to take.  


The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).


I will look to see if I have more Scriptures that I could add, and will send them tomorrow or later tonight. I LOVE to talk about all this! JoAnn.