Question: The Judgement Seat of Christ
What is the difference between the judgement seat of Christ and the Great White Throne?
Most people have some idea of what Judgement Day will look like. The Bible describes it as the final judgement where every unsaved person, individually, will stand before the One who knows everything about them. There will be no appeal or leniency as justice will be meted out and everyone will know that the judgement was just and righteous. Man will stand before His creator and find that he has nowhere to hide. The earth and the present creation will have been removed, the books containing all his deeds and words will be opened and he won’t be able to deny any of it.
“And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are both the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for the ages of ages. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled, and place was not found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is that of life. And the dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged each according to their works: and death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any one was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20v10-15).
The devil will be thrown into the ‘Lake of Fire’, where the ‘Beast’ and ‘Anti-Christ’ are already suffering. Anyone whose names are not in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire with them. Everyone will have been convicted twice; first by the record of their works in the books and secondly by the absence of their name in the book of life meaning they did not take the way of salvation offered to them in Jesus Christ.
The Judgement Seat of Christ
There are a number of references to the judgment seat of Christ.
“For if, being enemies, we have been reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much rather, having been reconciled, we shall be saved in the power of his life” (Romans 5:10).
“But thou, why judgest thou thy brother? or again, thou, why dost thou make little of thy brother? for we shall all be placed before the judgment-seat of God” (Romans 14:10).
“For we must all be manifested before the judgment-seat of the Christ, that each may receive the things done in the body, according to those he has done, whether it be good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5v10).
For other foundation can no man lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, the work of each shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire shall try the work of each what it is. If the work of any one which he has built upon the foundation shall abide, he shall receive a reward. If the work of any one shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss, but he shall be saved, but so as through the fire” (1 Corinthians 3v11-15).
The Lord has been given all judgement. This is both on the Great White Throne and at the Judgement Seat of Christ. The difference between the two is that at the Judgement Seat of Christ there is no mention of people being cast into eternal judgement. In fact, the reference in 1 Corinthians 3 actually show that it is the works of each that shall be tested and even if someone’s work is all consumed as being worthless the person themselves is still saved.
The people who will stand before the Judgment Seat are Christians. It is only mentioned in scriptures that are addressed to Christians and there is no mention of the world in general as being there. It seems to be that their works will be tried.
Why won’t Christians appear before the Great White Throne?
“There is then now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8v1).
“See that there be no one who shall lead you away as a prey through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the teaching of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and authority, in whom also ye have been circumcised with circumcision not done by hand, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of the Christ; buried with him in baptism, in which ye have been also raised with him through faith of the working of God who raised him from among the dead. And you, being dead in offences and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has quickened together with him, having forgiven us all the offences; having effaced the handwriting in ordinances which stood out against us, which was contrary to us, he has taken it also out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2v8-14).
“This is the covenant which I will establish towards them after those days, saith the Lord: Giving my laws into their hearts, I will write them also in their understandings; and their sins and their lawlessnesses I will never remember any more” (Hebrews 10v16-17).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life” (John 5v22-29). This goes on to speak of the two distinct resurrections, one to life (for believers) and the other to damnation (for unbelievers).
“Therefore having been justified on the principle of faith, we have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5v1).
“Him who knew not sin he has made sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in him” (2 Corinthians 5v2).
“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work, and the love which ye have shewn to his name, having ministered to the saints, and still ministering” (Hebrews 6v1 God won’t forget the works we have done for Him in ministering to the saints.
Christ will be the judge at the Great White Throne (see John5v22 and Acts 17v31, etc). He won’t therefore be an advocate then as he is now for the believers (1 John 2v1-2). Our judgment was fully met by our Lord Jesus, we have passed from death to life (Romans 8v1 and John 4v24). We are acceptable to God as priests (1 Peter 2v5). If we are acceptable in life, why should we be judged in resurrection? Besides, God says he won’t remember our sins any more (Hebrews 10v17)! It is impossible that there should be any books containing all our sins remaining as the Lord Jesus has removed them all.
There are two resurrections (see John 5v29 and Revelation 20v5-6). The first resurrection will happen at least 1000 years before the second. The first will be a resurrection to life and the second will be a resurrection to judgement. We as belonging to the Church/Assembly will be in the first resurrection (see 1 Thessalonians 4) and the living who remain will be caught up together with them! Our bodies will be changed (1 Corinthians 15v52 and Philippians 3v21). Will we therefore be judged for our sins at the Great White Throne while in our glorious bodies like Christ’s? No … especially as our sins have been dealt with. Christ’s work was perfect!!!! Will we go through 1000 years of reigning with Christ waiting for judgement? It’s not possible.
But the Bible says we must all give an account of ourselves before Christ (see Romans 14v10)! We must face Christ as judge, but the one we shall meet as judge is the one who was prepared to die for us (see Romans 5v8)!!! He, Himself has taken away our sin!
What will the Judgement Seat of Christ entail?
“For other foundation can no man lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, the work of each shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire shall try the work of each what it is. If the work of any one which he has built upon the foundation shall abide, he shall receive a reward. If the work of any one shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss, but he shall be saved, but so as through the fire” (1 Corinthians 3v11-15).
We can’t be judged for sin! So, all our works that we have done for the Lord will be tested. We shall be rewarded – what shall the reward be, only Christ knows, but won’t it be reward enough to know that some of our actions brought Christ some pleasure when we so often cause Him hurt through our failures?
Gold often represents God’s glory and righteousness (the Ark of the Tabernacle and the Holy of Holies in the Temple was covered in it –see Exodus 25v10-11 and 1 Kings 6v19-22). Silver often represents redemption and precious stones were put on the breast plate of the High Priest (see Exodus 28v15-30). Perhaps all our worthless thoughts and ideals (grass and stubble) will be lost in that fire, and we shall be left with the things worthwhile – our impressions of God’s glory, His redemption and the privileges He has given us as priests (see 1 Peter 2v5 and Hebrews 9v11 – Christ our High priest always in the Holy of Holies). We shall enter into the presence of one who loves us and shall be corrected on every matter and detail of their lives so that we shall be of the same mind as our Lord Jesus. The Great White Throne is where those who have not trusted in Christ will be thrown into the Lake of Fire because they have to take the responsibility for their own sins. We have put the responsibility on Jesus and He has dealt with them.
Therefore we are looking for his coming to take us to be with Him, knowing that the tribulation of the 70th week of Daniel 9 is not going to be ours to suffer, but also knowing that there are many who need to be saved and that time is running out for them. Let us be ready like the 5 virgins were ready for the bridegroom (see Matthew 25) and serve Him, knowing that all our works will be tested by fire to see their worth at the Judgement Seat of Christ. We don’t want to have nothing worthwhile to show for the time we have spent on earth.