Last month, we talked extensively about the Judgment Seat of Christ—what it is and what will happen there. This month, we want to continue our discussion and explore what will be the results of the Judgment Seat.
“The Terror of the Lord”
The Judgment Seat of Christ is often referred to as invoking “the Fear of the Lord” or “the Terror of the Lord.” And rightly so. It will be a fearful thing to stand before the Lord as He scrutinizes our lives. James 2:13 tells us that if mercy does not mark our dealings with others here on earth, mercy will probably not mark our own personal judgment there either.
Maybe now we can understand a little more clearly why Paul was apprehensive about this judgment and why he said: “For 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, where it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror [#5401, phobos] of the Lord, we persuade men...” (2 Corinthians 5:10–11). And also why he said: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Hebrews 10:31).
Having been declared righteous and justified at our new birth so that we might escape the wrath of God does not exempt us from being chastised on judgment day. God will pronounce some very harsh judgments on the unfaithful Christian who has allowed the cares of the world, the temptations of the flesh, and the wiles of the devil to overtake him and lead him into carnality. Just as an unfruitful branch is cut off from the tree, so these Christians will suffer the loss of rewards and the casting out from fellowship. This is why Paul exhorted us to judge ourselves now, so that we will not have to be judged then (1 Corinthians 11:31). An honest, daily self-judgment is necessary in order to avoid the penalties of this coming judgment.
Sadly, many of us have lost that fear of the Lord. This does not mean we are to be fearful of Him (because He might punish us). It simply means we should have reverence, respect, and awe toward Him in everything we do, knowing He is watching, knowing He is taking detailed notes, and knowing He will be talking to us about our each and every move.
Rewards for Works Done in the Spirit
God is not only a loving God, He is also a just God and His justice demands a review of the lives of all of His children (Psalm 89:14; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Romans 2:5–6). That justice will be administered according to the quality of our works (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 2:23). And a prize or a reward will be given for faithful service and for work well done (Mat-thew 5:12). The dictionary defines a reward as “something given or received in return for service, merit, or hardship.” Rewards are often called “our inheritance,” as in Colossians 3:24, “the reward of inheritance.” “Christ shall reward every man according to his work” (Matthew 16:27).
These rewards, however, will only apply to those works that “abide” and that are “acceptable to Him.” “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a re-ward” (Ephesians 5:9–10; 1 Corinthians 3:15). The “work” that this Scripture is referring to means “that which is done through Christ and by the power of His Spirit.”
These are not works that we do by our own motives, our own efforts, or in our own abilities! These are works performed under the leadership and direction of the Holy Spirit, and that will result in the praise and honor and glory of God; whereas works performed under the leadership and direction of a man will result in the praise and glory of that man. And, unfortunately, that’s all the reward that man will ever receive.
Thus, our exaltation in the age to come will be in the inverse ratio to the lowliness of service (meaning “servant hood”) we have accomplished in this present age. For example, Luke 6:35 tells us that if we “love our enemies and do good to them that have abused us” our reward shall be great. And Mark 10:43 says, “whomever will be great among you, shall be your servant” and “the first shall be last and the last first.”
In other words, our reward will depend upon our likeness in character and conduct to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Everything must be done in His Name and for His glory, be-cause Scripture tells us that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). There needs to be a constant dependence upon Him.
Different Facets of God’s Rewards
Consequently, there will be varying degrees and different facets of God’s rewards in proportion to our works that have “stood the test of fire.”
Charles Stanley, in his wonderful book Eternal Security, said, “Some believers will be entrusted with certain privileges; others will not. Some will reign with Christ; others will not (see 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 3:21). Some will be rich in the kingdom of God; others will be poor (see Luke 12:21, 33). Some will be given true riches; others will not. Some will be given heavenly treasures of their own; others will not. Stanley ends by saying, “Privilege in the kingdom of God is determined by one’s faithfulness in this life . . . It is true that there will be equality in terms of our inclusion in the kingdom of God but not in our rank and privilege.”
Scripture tells us that some believers will receive:
• An entrance to the Wedding Ceremony (Matthew 25:10) and the Marriage Feast (Matthew 22:1-14)
• The ability to co-reign with Christ (Revelation 3:21)
• Treasure in heaven (Proverbs 8:21)
• Praise from Christ (1 Peter 1:7)
• A place of honor (Mark 10:40)
Still others will receive:
• Positions of stewardship (Matthew 25:23)
• Spheres of influence (Revelation 2:26)
• Positions of authority (Luke 19:17)
• Different crowns (1 Corinthians 9:25; James 1:12)
Erwin Lutzer had much to say about rewards and crowns in his book, Your Eternal Reward: “The assumption that rewards are nothing more than crowns is false in my opinion. Rewards have more to do with levels of responsibility that will be given to us.” So the “crowns” that Scripture speaks about are not necessarily literal crowns, but symbols of rank, seals of inheritance, or achieved distinction. All sovereigns in the kingdom will receive crowns. If we lose our crown, it will simply mean we will have lost our rank.”
“Behold, I come quickly; hold fast that which you have; that no man take your crown” (Revelation 3:11).
A crown (Strong’s #4735, stephanos) is a symbol or a badge of victory. It’s a prize that is won in public games, a reward for loyalty. (This crown should not be confused with a diadema [Strong’s #1238], which means “a kingly crown or a crown of royalty.”)
The crowns we are speaking of here are conditional and are dependent upon approved service.
There are at least five crowns are mentioned in Scripture:
1) The Incorruptible Crown––also called the Victor’s Crown––is awarded for self-control and having victory over the flesh (1 Corinthians 9:24–25).
2) The Crown of Rejoicing—is awarded for fruitful labor for the Lord in the lives of others (1 Thessalonians 2:19). This is the soul winner’s crown, the winning of the saved to the kingdom.
3) The Crown of Life—is for those who have persevered, endured trials, and even faced death, and yet still remain faithful (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).
4) The Crown of Glory—is for those who have shepherded and tended the flock and yearned to see them grow (1 Peter 5:4). These have the heart of Christ.
5) The Crown of Righteousness—is for those who radiate Christ’s Life in all they do (2 Timothy 4:8). They live His Life, do His will, and love His appearing.
As believers, we are to strive to obtain all of these crowns, not just one. These are God’s tangible expressions of His approval. Consequently, our sole ambition should be to labor, strive, and make it our aim to be well pleasing to God. Every seed we sow, every word we speak, and every deed we do is “banked” with God and will one day spring up in a wonderful harvest of good works. As we said earlier, every act of the present is registered.
Only those who live faithful and obedient lives here will enjoy a special fellowship with the Lord there. These are the overcomers who have not only washed their robes in the Blood of Christ, but who have also walked according to His Spirit, and persevered through the trials.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Re-joice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:22–23).
To be continued: “The Wedding Ceremony.” This article has been excerpted, in part, from Chuck and Nan’s new book The Kingdom, Power and Glory.