The Judgement Seat of Christ (Bema)
1 Cor. 3:10-15
My message today would be an event that would happen in the end times. Most people not only
Christians would like to know what is going to happen in the future. With all the wickedness,
perverseness, wars, rumours of war, famines, earthquakes, violent weathers, murders of the unborn
and helpless babies, pestilence, rise of false Christs and false prophets, alcoholism and drug
addiction, etc., what is going to happen next? The Word of God have already given us what exactly is
going to happen in the future. A true or real believer in Christ have nothing to fear.
When the Lord Jesus Christ returns for His Church in the event called the Rapture, the left behind
will experience what we call the Great Tribulation which would last for seven years. While this is
happening on earth, one very important event would take place in heaven. It is called the Judgement
Seat of Christ (also called Bema). Our text today together with 2 Cor. 5:10, and Romans 14:10-12
speaks about the Judgment Seat of Christ. I’m preaching this now so that you may be ready when
that day comes.
In verse 10, the church is likened to a building which is under construction. Paul calls himself a wise
master builder who has laid the foundation on which others build. Christ is the foundation (1 Cor.
3:11). Jesus Christ is the only Saviour (Jn. 14:6). There is no other name under heaven given
whereby men must be saved (Acts 4:12). Any person who builds his life upon any other spiritual
foundation will suffer eternal punishment. It also tells us that Jesus Christ is the sole foundation of
the church. Acts 4:11-12; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6 plainly teaches this. Any church that builds upon a
foundation other than the Jesus Christ of the Bible is a false church.
Illustration 1: A Reward for Results
After a preacher died and went to heaven, he noticed that a New York cabdriver had been given a
higher place than he had. “I don’t understand,” he complained to St. Peter. “I devoted my entire life
to my congregation.” “Our policy is to reward results,” explained St. Peter. “Now, what happened,
Reverend, whenever you gave a sermon?” The minister admitted that some in the congregation fell
asleep. “Exactly,” said St. Peter. “And when people rode in this man’s taxi, they not only stayed
awake, they prayed.” Ray Heit, in Reader’s Digest
I. Spiritual Foundation (1 Cor. 3:12)
A. Jesus Christ is the foundation and we must build our life of faith in Him. Failure to do
so will result in everlasting punishment.
B. How do we build our faith in Christ? After salvation, we are “in Christ”. You start a
new life, a life that brings honor and glory to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords by
how you live and how you serve. We are saved to serve.
C. Verse 12 mentions materials built upon by any man on the foundation which is
Christ. These materials will describe the quality of what we did for Christ.
D. The building materials are classified as:
1. Fireproof – gold, silver, and precious stones. Symbolically they represent:
a. Righteous life – Walking daily with Christ, in prayer and in reading, studying,
and meditating the Word of God.
b. Being zealous in the work for the Lord, soul winning, church attendance,
serving the Lord and God’s people in the church and in the community.
c. Living honestly, humbly, separate from worldly things like drinking, smoking,
drugs, pornography, and other works of the flesh.
d. Being a Godly husband or wife, raising the children to serve the Lord.
e. Peaceful living
2. Combustible – wood, hay and stubble.
a. Good things done with wrong motives or intention just to get attention, be
famous and well known.
b. Walking in the flesh instead of walking in the Spirit. Remember the works of
the flesh in Gal. 5: 19-21.
c. All forms of sin and wickedness
d. Pride and hypocrisy
E. What kind of material are you building in Christ?
Illustration 2: Wrote Exit Visas Against Orders
When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Jewish refugees poured into Lithuania. A large group went
to the Japanese Consulate, where they found a sympathetic diplomat named Chiune Sugihara.
Against his government’s orders, Sugihara issued exit visas for an estimated 6,000 Jews, writing
them by hand almost nonstop for a month until the Soviets closed the embassy. His “reward” was
eighteen months in a Soviet prison camp with his family after the war, and dismissal from his post
when he returned to Japan. For years he lived in obscurity, feeling disgraced. But in 1985, Sugihara
was honoured by the Israeli government for his heroic efforts.
Today in the Word, September, 1997, p. 33
Illustration 3: A Life Once Spent Is Irrevocable
A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity.…The same may
be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it
will exhibit forever.…Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our
everlasting destiny.…How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness…! It is too late
to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to
send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us
reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked.
Adoniram Judson, in E. Judson, The Life of Adoniram Judson
II. Important information regarding the Judgement Seat of Christ
A. It is not a judgment for the unsaved but for believers (1 Cor. 3:11-12). It is for those
that have built their lives and ministries upon the Lord Jesus Christ, that one and
only true Foundation of eternal life.
B. The judgment seat of Christ is not for salvation. The issue about salvation is settled
here in this life at the time of our conversion, the time you receive
C. The believer will be judged for his works. He will be examined by the Lord how he
used the gifts and abilities that was given to him
D. Sins committed before conversion will not be judged. “Hebrews 10:17 And their sins
and iniquities will I remember no more”.
E. The believer’s sins committed and confessed after conversion will not be judged. 1
F. What then would be judged?
1. Our works will be judged. 1 Corinthians 3:13 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. Eccl. 12:14.
a. How did we make use of our time? (Eph. 5:16, Col. 4:5)
b. How did me make use of our money? (Mal. 3;8-10, 2 Cor. 9:6-7)
c. What did we do for the opportunities given to us for service in the ministry?
d. How you treat others. (Heb. 6:10, Mat. 10: 41-42)
e. How we exercise authority over others. (Heb. 13:17, Jas. 3:1)
f. How we react to temptation (Jas. 1:2-3)
g. How much we suffer for the Lord. (Mat. 5:11-12, 2 Cor.4:17)
2. Our words. Matthew 12:36-37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men
shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy
words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
3. Our thoughts. Matthew 15:19-20 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,
murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are
the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a
4. Our secrets. Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by
Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
5. Our motives:
a. Correct – Constrained by His love, 1 Cor. 5:14
b. Wrong – self-glory, 1 Cor. 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men.
G. The judgment seat of Christ is not for punishment but for rewards or loss of rewards.
H. How will God judge at the Bema?
1. The test will be by fire. 1 Corinthians 3:13 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.
2. The fire will be God’s discerning judgment. (Job 23:10, Zech. 13:9, 1 Pet. 1:17, 18,
3. This will be a fair and impartial trial. No one will be able to say that God showed
favouritism. (Gal. 6:7, 8)
I. What are the results of the Bema?
1. For the works that remain and did not burn up, there will be rewards. The Bible
lists at least 5 crowns.
a. Incorruptible Crown – 1 Cor. 9:25, 2 Cor. 5:10
b. Crown of life – Jas. 1:12
c. Crown of Rejoicing – 1 Thess. 2:19
d. Crown of Righteousness – 2 Tim. 4:8
e. Crown of Glory – 1 Pet. 5:4
f. We need to know that every deed done in the name of Christ will be blessed
and rewarded. Men may never see or appreciate what you are doing but the
Lord knows it and He will reward you fairly for your sacrifice for Him. (Mk.
9:41, Matt. 25: 34-40)
2. For that which is burned, the believer will suffer loss, but he himself shall be
saved; yet so as by fire (1 Cor. 3:15)
3. The Bible does not tell what that loss will be. If the reward is a crown, the loss of
a crown will bring shame, for we will not have a crown to lay at the feet of Jesus
J. How can we prepare to meet the Lord in the Judgment Seat or Bema?
1. By constant communion with the Lord Jesus Christ
2. By much prayer and meditation on the Word of God
3. By constant confession of our sins, living righteously, avoiding sin.
Illustration 4: All Labor and Trials Will Cease
Do not be worn out by the labors which you have undertaken for My sake, and do not let tribulations
ever cast you down. Instead, let My promise strengthen and comfort you under every circumstance. I
am well able to reward you above all measure and degree. You shall not toil here long nor always be
oppressed with griefs. A time will come when all labor and trouble will cease. Labor faithfully in My
vineyard; I will be thy recompense. Life everlasting is worth all these conflicts, and greater than these.
Are not all plentiful labors to be endured for the sake of life eternal? Lift your face therefore to heaven;
behold I and all My saints with me—who in this world had great conflicts—are now comforted, now
rejoicing, now secure, now at rest, and shall remain with Me everlastingly in the kingdom of My father.
Thomas a Kempis
Sooner or later, we will all be standing in front of Christ to give account on how we lived
and served Him for His glory at His Judgement Seat. Will you receive rewards or not? What
are you going to do about it? Just remember the words “Only one life to live, it would
soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last”. Are you prepared to meet to meet