Judgment Seat of Christ
Arlen L. Chitwood
1. ETERNALLY SAVED, BUT . . .
2. WE MUST ALL APPEAR
3. THAT EVERY ONE MAY RECEIVE
4. TO HIM WHO OVERCOMES
5. THE TREE OF LIFE
6. THE SECOND DEATH
7. THE HIDDEN MANNA, WHITE STONE
8. POWER OVER THE NATIONS
9. CLOTHED IN WHITE RAIMENT
10. A PILLAR, A CITY
11. SEATED ON THE THRONE
12. CROWNED RULERS
13. KINGS OF THE KINGDOM
14. A ROD OF IRON
15. YOU CAN RULE AND REIGN
16. WHEN HE IS APPROVED
The judgment seat of Christ will be operable in one realm alone — man’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 Son’s 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 one’s 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 creation “in 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 person’s faithfulness or unfaithfulness as a servant in the Lord’s house (cf. Luke 12:42-46).