Bema Seat Judgement - Biblical Discipleship Ministries

Much of this study is derived from the notes on
this subject of Dr. John Whitcomb
Dr. Jobe Martin
John C. Whitcomb, Th.D.
“As born-again Christians, we truly rejoice at the
thought of God’s wonderful promise and provision,
that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).
But how does this divine provision relate to Christ’s
confrontation with His Church, His Body and Bride,
at the Judgment Throne? Does this mean that 1
John 1:9 eliminates the threat of losing a reward or
a crown on that great day? This is a very
confusing issue for many of God’s people today.”
• The Bema judgment is not to see if someone
is saved. The Bema is to judge believers who
are already saved on the basis of the works
that they have done as a Christian.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15
other foundation can no man lay than that is
laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man build
upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones,
wood, hay, stubble; 13Every 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. 14If
any man’s work abide which he hath built
thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any
man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss:
but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Philippians 1:6
confident of this very thing, that he
which hath begun a good work in you will
perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Romans 5:1-2
being justified by faith, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2By whom also we have access by faith into
this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in
hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:1-2
We have peace with God [and peace with our
past] through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have grace for the present [and that grace is
sufficient for any test, trial or tribulation]
2 Corinthians 12:9-10. 9And he said unto me, My
grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is
made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore
will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the
power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I take pleasure in infirmities, in
reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in
distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am
weak, then am I strong.
We have glory coming in the future! We will
be with our glorified Lord, in our glorified
bodies, in glory!
John 5:24
verily, I say unto you, He that heareth
my word, and believeth on him that sent me,
hath everlasting life, and shall not come into
condemnation; but is passed from death unto
In the present: life everlasting!
In the future: no condemnation!
Scriptures teach that we are secure in our
salvation in Christ Jesus, so the Bema judgment
has nothing to do with keeping or losing
eternal salvation for Believers. It is a judgment
of our works done after we became a believer
in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.
The Purpose of the Judgment Seat
Dr. John Whitcomb:
“One point must be settled immediately – the
issue is the gain or loss of rewards,
not of salvation! Thank God.”
Ephesians 2:8-10
by grace are ye saved through faith; and
that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10For we are his workmanship, created in
Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath
before ordained that we should walk in them.
We are saved by grace, through faith, not by works!
The works which God prepared beforehand for us
to accomplish should come after our salvation. The
works are judged at the Bema throne judgment as
“gold, silver, precious stones, or wood, hay,
Titus 3:3-7
after that the kindness and love of God
our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by
works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy he saved us, by the
washing of regeneration, and renewing of the
Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being
justified by his grace, we should be made
heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:8
is a faithful saying, and these things I will
that thou affirm constantly, that they which have
believed in God might be careful to maintain
good works. These things are good and profitable
unto men.
Believers in God are to “be careful to maintain
good works.”
Good works are to be a result of salvation,
John 10:27-30
sheep hear my voice, and I know them,
and they follow me: 28And I give unto them
eternal life; and they shall never perish,
neither shall any man pluck them out of my
hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is
greater than all; and no man is able to pluck
them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and my
Father are one.
• Rewards for work well done is a great
motivating factor in our lives as humans.
• We are created to respond to the receiving of
gifts and rewards.
• We all desire to hear our Lord someday say
“Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
ye not that they which run in a race
run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run,
that ye may obtain. 25And every man that
striveth for the mastery is temperate in all
things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible
crown; but we an incorruptible.
The motivation to do your very best is The Prize!
Colossians 2:18
no man beguilef you of your reward in a
voluntary humility and worshipping of angels,
intruding into those things which he hath not seen,
vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (f beguile...: or,
judge against you)
We are to be careful that we do not lose our rewards.
2 John 8
to yourselves, that we lose not those
things which we have wroughtb, but that we
receive a full reward. (b wrought: or, gained)
Watch-out that we do not miss-out on our full
Revelation 3 :11
I come quickly: hold that fast which
thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
1 Corinthians 9:25
And every man that striveth for the mastery is
temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a
corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
1 Corinthians 9:25
The “Incorruptible Crown” is for being temperate
in all things (self-control).
You keep your body “in subjection.” v.27
1 Peter 5:2-4
the flock of God which is among you,
taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint,
but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready
mind; 3Neither as being lords over God’s
heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye
shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not
James 1:12
is the man that endureth temptation:
for when he is tried, he shall receive the
crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to
them that love him.
Revelation 2:10
none of those things which thou shalt
suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you
into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall
have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful
unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my
course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth
there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me
only, but unto all them also that love his
The word, “STEPHANOS”, translated means crown
and occurs 18 times in the N.T.
“The four and twenty elders fall down before him
that sat on the throne and worship him that liveth
forever and ever, and cast their crowns (stephanos)
before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord,
to receive glory and honor and power, for thou hast
created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and
were created.”
Revelation 4:10,11
Matthew 27:29 “And when they had plaited a crown
of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in
his right hand: and they bowed the knee before
him, and mocked him, saying, Hail King of the
Revelation 14:14 “And I looked, and behold a white
cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the son
of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in
his hand a sharp sickle.”
The Incorruptible Crown
The Crown of Rejoicing
The Crown of Righteousness
The Crown of Life
The Crown of Glory
Incorruptible Crown = Paul
Crown of Rejoicing = Paul
Crown of Righteousness = Paul
Crown of Life = James and John
Crown of Glory = Peter
Crowns are rewarded at the judgment
seat of Christ.
Bema Seat Judgment of Believers:
2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before
the judgment seat [Bema] 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.”
Crowns are rewarded based on the
“works before ordained” that we as
Christians should walk in them. Thus
the works in no way achieve or
guarantee our salvation, but follow our
salvation in service to our Lord.
What does this mean?
This means that there is nothing that I can do
before I receive Lord Jesus as my Savior to help to
earn my eternal salvation. Salvation is a gift, it is
not earned!
– Attending church regularly won’t help,
– Giving money to the church won’t help,
– Giving money to charities won’t help,
– Helping the poor and orphans and widows won’t
– Attending Bible studies or fasting won’t help,
– Donating my time to charities won’t help, etc., etc…
Go back to slide #12 again: Ephesians 2:8-10!
As true Christians we should be doing all the things,
and more, listed on the previous slide in the power
of our Lord Jesus and for His glory.
We will be given the various crowns for the good
deeds done as Christians.
There are no crowns and there is no salvation even
for deeds of righteousness which we have done
before receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our
righteousnesses are as filthy rags.
Isaiah 64:6a
The Bottom Line Regarding Crowns:
• At the Judgment of Believers (this is not the Great
White Throne Judgment which is the unbeliever’s
judgment; see: The Judgments at ) the Lord Jesus will
give crowns for service done by His bride, the true
church of Believers, in His power, within the
framework of His Word and for His glory. Even so
come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Dr. John Whitcomb says:
“But someone might ask: Why do I even need a
reward or a crown? Isn’t it enough
to be assured of heaven with the Lord Jesus
forever? Even if most Christians would not
actually say this, they often act as if a reward
provides no vital motivation for more
faithful Christian living and service.”
“The answer to such questions seems clear: the
crown a believer might receive will be for His
[Lord Jesus] honor, for we will “cast [our] crowns
before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O
Lord, to receive glory and honor . . . ’” (Rev. 4:1011). Presumably, then, we will be ashamed to
have nothing to cast down before Him! Even the
Lord Jesus was motivated by the anticipation of a
reward, for we are told that He, “for the joy that
was set before Him endured the cross, despising
the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of
the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).”
2 Corinthians 5:10-11
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.
11Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we
persuade men; but we are made manifest
unto God; and I trust also are made manifest
in your consciences.
To the church at Rome, Paul wrote: “we shall all
stand before the judgment seat (béma) of Christ
. . . So then each of us shall give account of
himself to God”
(Romans 14:10-12).
1 Peter 4:17-18
Listen to the words of the apostle Peter:
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at
the house of God; and if it begins with us first,
what will be the end of those who do not
obey the Gospel of God? If the righteous one
is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and
the sinner appear?”
1 John 2:28
The apostle John warned his disciples: “And now,
little children, abide in him; that, when he shall
appear, we may have confidence, and not be
ashamed before him at his coming.”
The passive voice coupled with the expression
autou suggests that a believer withdraws in shame.
It suggests a shrinking back from Christ, perhaps
from a sense of guilt, with the believer producing
the action [rather than Christ putting the believer
to shame].”
Christ’s Qualifications for Judging us
Christ’s Qualifications for Judging Us: One fact
will be agreed upon by all Christians: our Lord
is fully equipped to examine and evaluate the
thoughts, motives, words and deeds of every
member of his Body, the Church! “Our God is
a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29), and He has
“eyes like a flame of fire” (Rev. 2:14; cf. 19:12).
Luke 12:2-3
The Lord Jesus told us that,
“there is nothing covered that will not be
revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have spoken in the
dark will be heard in the light, and what you
have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be
proclaimed on the housetops”
Paul confirmed that “God will judge the
secrets of men by Jesus Christ” (Rom. 2:16).
These “secrets” include the motives behind all
of our thoughts, words, and actions. Our God
is infinitely concerned about the true reasons
why we do and say things!
1 Corinthians 4:4-5
Paul could assure the Corinthian believers that it
was not so much what they thought of him that
“He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge
nothing before the time, until the Lord comes,
who will both bring to light the hidden
things of darkness and reveal the counsels
[motives] of the heart”.
Luke 12:48
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will,
and prepared not himself, neither did
according to his will, shall be beaten with
many stripes. 48But he that knew not, and did
commit things worthy of stripes, shall be
beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever
much is given, of him shall be much required:
and to whom men have committed much, of
him they will ask the more.
We should do everything possible to learn God’s
will by reading and studying and believing what
His Word tells us that His will is for our lives.
Therefore, “the one who did not know it, and
committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will
receive but few.”
Ignorance of God’s Word is No
Excuse for Disobeying It
God only gave us one book to obey
One God to serve
One life to live.
It is that one Book, the Bible, that will
one day judge us!
John 12:48
that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my
words, hath one that judgeth him: the word
that I have spoken, the same shall judge him
in the last day.
Mere human courts and judges, of course,
cannot begin to compare with the absolute
perfection of His examination of people! That is
because “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” (Heb.4:12-13).
Colossains 3:23-25
At the béma our Lord will show no partiality.
“Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord
and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you
will receive the reward of the inheritance; for
you serve the Lord Christ. But he [i.e. the
Christian servant] who does wrong will be repaid
for what he has done, and there is no partiality”
The Father without partiality judges according to
each one’s work and according to His Word!
The Father without partiality judges according to
each one’s work” (1 Pet. 1:17). And the Bible ends
with this word of divine assurance: “Behold, I am
coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give
to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12). To
which the apostle John, and hopefully every
believer, responds: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with
gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
each one’s work will become clear; for the Day
will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire;
and the fire will test each one’s work, of what
sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it
endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s
work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself
will be saved, yet as through fire”
1 Corinthians 3:12-15.
Figuratively speaking, it is a person’s work that
will burn, not the person himself. The focus of
the illustration of 1 Corinthians 3 is the
potential loss of reward for poor service, not
the atonement of sin or the cleansing of souls.
“Everything we have said, done, and even
thought, as true Christians, must be brought to
full light. Could it be any other way? Can our Lord
be deceived by mere outward religious forms
and appearances? If any final recognition or
honor or reward or crown be granted to God’s
servants at that day, must it not be done in loving
perfection? “ Dr. John Whitcomh
Will not all Christians, in that day fully glorified and
thus sinless, agree totally with His final
evaluation of each and every one of us?
• Plainly, it is the unworthy works that will be
burned, not the believers themselves! In fact,
even though a believer’s “work is burned . . .
he himself will be saved” (3:15). But does not
that reduce the béma confrontation to total
insignificance? No, for “he will suffer loss . . .
as through fire.”
But does this mean that some believers will
be in a state of depression forever? “It would
not be heaven if we were to spend eternity in
sadness because of what we did not do.
Undoubtedly there will be regret, but our
overwhelming emotion will be the realization
of the wonderful grace of God that saved us
and brought us to heaven.
There will be rejoicing in heaven instead of
How, then, do we relate all of this to the
forgiveness and cleansing He provides for us
when we confess our sins (cf. 1 John 1:9)?
Does this forgiveness and cleansing cancel out
any potential loss of reward at the béma?
2 Samuel 12
King David had sinned grievously against the
LORD by having one of his faithful generals,
Uriah the Hittite, killed, in order to obtain his
wife Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11)! When David
refused to confess his sin, God sent Nathan
the prophet to get his attention with a tragic
story about a rich man who took a poor man’s
“one little ewe lamb” to prepare it for a guest.
David, of course, was enraged: “As the LORD
lives, the man who has done this shall surely
die!” (12:5). “Then Nathan said to David: ‘You
are the man! . . . Now, therefore, the sword
shall never depart from your house, because
you have despised Me, and have taken the
wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife’”
That did it! David immediately saw the
magnitude of his own sin, and cried out: “I
have sinned against the LORD!” (vs. 13).
Psalm 51 is a profound expression of David’s
deep repentance to God. Did this genuine
confession change anything? Yes! Nathan
replied immediately: “The LORD also has put
away your sin; you shall not die.” Then was
everything wonderful again?
No! “However, because by this deed you have
given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to
blaspheme, the child who is born to you shall
surely die” (vs. 14). Furthermore, “the sword
shall never depart from your house . . . I will
raise up adversity against you from your own
house . . .” (vv. 10-11). Among the disasters
that followed were the sins and rebellions of
his sons Absalom, Amnon, and Adonijah.
“Question: Did the LORD truly forgive David?
Question: Were the full consequences of his sin
totally wiped out? NO. That is the ultimate
issue. When we truly confess our sins, God
graciously forgives us and restores fellowship
with us. But the full consequences of our sins
must still be brought to light and dealt with by
the LORD. That will be the function of the
béma judgment.”
Dr. John Whitcomb
The Public Testimony of Believers
What concerns our loving LORD is not only His
daily relationship with us, but also the longterm influence and impact of our Christian
lives and ministries upon others. For example,
if a pastor commits a serious public sin, his
position of leadership in the church is (with
possible rare exceptions) finished, even
though he might genuinely confess his sin to
As Paul wrote to Timothy, “a bishop [overseer]
must be blameless . . . he must have a good
testimony among those who are outside” (1 Tim.
3 :2, 7); and, “in purity, show yourself an example
of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:12). And to the
church at Ephesus: “do not let immorality or any
impurity or greed even be named among you, as
is proper among saints” (Eph 5:3). And to Titus,
“Appoint elders in every city . . . if a man be
blameless, the husband of one wife . . .” (Titus
To be even more specific, “Let marriage be
held in honor among all, and let the marriage
bed be undefiled; for fornicators and
adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Finally,
James, the pastor of the great church at
Jerusalem, said: “Let not many of you become
teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such
we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James
The public doesn’t know or even care about
whether he has made a personal confession to
his God. What they do care about – and will
probably never forget – is his public sin. This
deeply hurts and grieves our LORD, and will
surely be a major factor in determining the
gain or loss of a reward or crown at the béma.
Thus, God intends the béma confrontation to
motivate each and every believer – not just
church leaders – to serve Him in spirit and in
truth. It is not designed to be a horrible threat
that produces depression and fear, but, rather,
an encouragement to love and serve and obey
Him from the heart.
In this light, may we, as Christians, be more
concerned than ever before about our testimony
for the Savior who loves us with infinite love, and
paid the ultimate price for our redemption and
future glorification.
1 John 5:3-5
this is the love of God, that we keep his
commandments: and his commandments are
not grievous. 4For whatsoever is born of God
overcometh the world: and this is the victory
that overcometh the world, even our faith.
5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he
that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
How does the Great White Throne
Judgment fit into all of this?
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. 12And 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.
Revelation 20:11-12
The Great White Throne Judgment
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. 14And death and hell
were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second
death. 15And whosoever was not found written in
the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
• Revelation 20:13-15
1 Corinthians 15:20-23
now is Christ risen from the dead, and
become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21For
since by man came death, by man came also
the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam
all die, even so in Christ shall all be made
alive. 23But every man in his own order: Christ
the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s
at his coming.
1 Corinthians 15:24-26
Then cometh the end, when he shall have
delivered up the kingdom to God, even the
Father; when he shall have put down all rule
and all authority and power. 25For he must
reign, till he hath put all enemies under his
feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed
is death.
The Last Enemy
• The last enemy that our Savior, the righteous
Judge, destroys is “death.”
• The first enemy that came upon mankind as a
result of Adam’s sin was “death.”
• Death and Hell are cast into the Lake of Fire at
the last judgment, The Great White Throne
• When there is no more death we who have
believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as our
personal Savior will live forever in
righteousness and holiness in the New
Heavens and New Earth in our “glorified”
bodies which are eternal.
Even so come quickly,
Lord Jesus!
Amen and Amen!
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