by Paul Benson
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, whether it be good or bad. 2Corinthians 5:10
We hear much mention of ‘the Judgment (Bema) Seat of Christ’ in the preaching and teaching of the Christian Church. And most of that preaching (particularly from the Dispensational / Pre-trib crowd) portrays this event as somewhere off in the future much later than the day we are caught-away to meet our Lord Jesus.
But searching the Word of God I cannot find any clear description of a Judgment of the believers taking place in Heaven, or even any hint of a later timing, that would indicate this to be an event that takes place years after what many like to call ‘the Rapture’. So where are they getting all these facts on this topic they are claiming that: ‘the Bible says!’? Out of a hat?
To me this ‘down the road’ judging of the believers seems to be quite askew from what the Bible actually does have to say about the judgment and reward of the followers of Christ. Let’s take a closer look at this matter.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1Corinthians 1:10
How many times have you heard some rendition of ‘You believe what you want and I will believe what I want; and if our beliefs differ we will just agree to disagree!’? This popular mindset (that somehow magically transforms a lack of accord into a supposed agreement) is indicative of how far the modern Church has strayed from the standard of unity in doctrine set forth by the Apostles of our Lord.
But having our beliefs truly in sync with the truth of God’s Word, and also with each other, is a lot more crucial than the Burger King (Have it your way!) walk of faith the Western Church is promoting and exporting in this generation would seem to suggest.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17
Whereas receiving into our hearts and minds the truth of God’s Word brings to us faith and edification (inward strength), any perversion of that truth is a serious detriment to our walk.
A perversion of beliefs lends to a perversion of Christianity!
And I don’t know about you, but I am looking for the genuine article! I have come to the point where I am quite fed up with being bombarded with ‘Bible Truth’ that truly has no Bible behind it. How about you?
Wayward beliefs do not edify us with the Spirit of Christ, but instead they bring along a different spirit. A religious spirit that imitates the divine. This is the reason a Jehovah Witness or a Mormon is so full of religiosity but so devoid of the life of Christ and the Spirit of Truth. It is because of the corruption of God’s Word that they have received and believe to be true. They have been satanically steered aside by a corrupting of the truth; and the consequences of such are tragic beyond description.
We need to understand this satanic influence is not just something that manifests in the cults, but is at daily work among the Body of Christ also to try and corrupt our beliefs in whatever manner it is given opportunity. My exhortation that we need to ‘Get it Right!’ is not mere hyperbole. I understand the vital nature of having our beliefs in line with the truth, and the harmful effects of embracing notions that are not.
In recent years the Lord has given me a clearer understanding of this issue of the Judgment Seat of Christ; particularly concerning just where and when this judgment takes place for the believer. I have come to the realization that much of what is currently taught and believed about this event is a by-product of the error imposed upon the Church by the Dispensational / Pre-trib theology that has come to such great popularity in these last days.
I believe that returning to a proper biblical understanding of this matter of when the believers will come before the Judgment Seat will not only edify us, and thus strengthen our faith, but will also help bring our eschatological beliefs in line with the truth. It will help expose the pre-trib fable for the hoax it is, and also safeguard us from that deception.
The idea of a Judgment Seat event that transpires at a later time, and at a different location, rather than at a pre-trib catching-away of the Church was actually concocted as support for the pre-trib teaching itself!
Let me explain why this ‘later judgment theory’ was a necessary construct in order for pre-trib doctrine to be accepted. It was fabricated as an alternative interpretation for passages that clearly depict a post-tribulation catching-away of the Church. It was designed to explain away passages that dismantle the pre-trib fable!
Immediately after the tribulation of those days… …he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:29-31
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. :5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. Psalms 50:3-5
These (and other) pesky passages that give a post-tribulation timing to the resurrection/catching-away of the believer had to be explained away in some fashion. Somewhere along the line somebody (I’m not yet sure who) had a deceiving spirit whisper in their ear: ‘That’s not the resurrection and catching-away of the Church in those passages. That’s the believers being gathered together again later in order to be judged for their rewards and crowns!’ And thus the concept of a later Judgment event in Heaven was birthed.
And we have been hearing it preached ever *since; even to the extent that even many who doubt the validity of the pre-trib doctrine still have this erroneous concept clouding their understanding of end-times matters.
*RED FLAG! We should see it as quite telling that this notion of the Judgment of the believers taking place in Heaven several years after their resurrection is not found in the commentaries and preaching of the theologians and teachers of the Body of Christ prior to the introduction of the pre-trib theory in the 19th century. The idea appears to be completely of modern origin – as is the pre-trib theory itself!
We WILL Be Rewarded – But When?
So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth. Psalms 58:11
As followers of Christ our blessed hope is not only in the promise of salvation from our sins and eternal life in the presence of our God, but also in the promise of reward for our good deeds and our laboring along side Christ in the promotion of his Gospel.
But does this notion of a later Judgment and reward that transpires years after the resurrection and catching-away hold any water when examined in light of the Scriptures? Absolutely not! If fact it is quite contrary to what the Bible really does teach about the judgment and reward of the believer!
Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. Isaiah 62:11
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Revelation 22:12
Something the Dispensationalists, and all others preaching the pre-trib narrative, seem to willingly ignore is that Jesus promised not only to return for the Church but also to bring our reward with him! But some might (foolishly) counter: ‘Yes he has our reward! He just doesn’t give it out until after we stand before his Judgment Seat which is after the Marriage Supper which doesn’t take place until after the Rapture has taken us to Heaven! We don’t get our reward until years AFTER the Rapture!’
Sorry all you pre-trib preachers, but you are dead WRONG on this!
And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:14
The Bible clearly states that the believer will be recompensed (rewarded) at the Resurrection! This is one of the many areas the pre-trib fable is at odds with the true teachings of the Bible.
Let’s look at some things the Apostle Paul taught about Resurrection Day.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… 1Corinthians 15:49-51
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Romans 6:5
It is clear from Scripture that the Resurrection will transform our bodies into a glorified state that is just like the resurrected body of our Lord Jesus. But there will be a remarkable difference in this experience from one believer to another that is overlooked by many folks!
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. 1Corinthians 15:40-42
Paul used the example of how the stars vary in intensity to illustrate that in the Resurrection the glory of some believers will be markedly more intense than that of others. Daniel, speaking of the Resurrection, made a very similar parallel in his writings.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. Daniel 12:2-3
Apparently the level of glory we will know in the Resurrection is directly connected to our labors for Christ. And if there has been some sort of determination made as to what level of Christ’s glory will manifest upon each of us in the Resurrection then we have already been judged according to our works. And the level of glory that we will know on that day is the reward for those works! That is what Peter was referring to when he wrote:
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1Peter 1:13
This is why I believe and teach that the Resurrection of the Just and the Judgment Seat of Christ are in fact the very same event. The day Jesus descends into the sky as promised is the day ‘Divine Court will be in session’. We will be judged (according to our works) and rewarded on that day!
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 1Corinthians 3:8
And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:14
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Matthew 16:27
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ… …and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest… Revelation 11:15-18
The pre-trib preachers obnoxiously insist there is a difference between the day of our catching-away to meet Jesus and the day of the Second Coming; but when you factor in what the Scriptures say about the reward of the righteous, and the timing and manner of that reward, the twisted logic of their theory is exposed.
If the Bible plainly says we are rewarded at the Resurrection, and also plainly says that the day we receive our reward is the Second Coming, that can only mean the Resurrection of the Just and the Second Coming happen on the same day! You can argue that point all you want; but you are not arguing with Paul Benson – you are arguing with the Word of God. Not a good idea!
But I Was Taught We Will Be Rewarded In Heaven And Live In A Mansion There Forever!
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 1Peter 1:4
But brother Paul, I was taught that we will be rewarded in Heaven when we get taken there to live there forever. Well… you were (just like I was years ago) taught wrong on this matter!
Yes, the Bible does say we have a reward ‘reserved’ for us in Heaven. But please don’t forget Jesus said he was bringing our reward with him at his Return. And, yes, Jesus did say he went to prepare an abode for us. But nowhere in the Bible does it say we will be ‘in Heaven’ when we receive our reward; nor does it say we will be living in a house in Heaven forever.
We must ask ourselves: ‘Just what is that ‘eternal home’ we are promised and awaiting?’ The Bible describes that home in no uncertain terms!
2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV — For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Taken out of its context, and read separately, that verse may appear to suggest that our eternal residence will be in Heaven. But the idea of a pre-trib rapture taking us off to a home in Heaven is not in line with the true teachings of the Scriptures! That is NOT what the context in which that verse is found is saying! Let’s read it all:
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 2Corinthians 5:1-4
What is our earthly house? *Our body! What is our eternal house? A glorified body! Though many fail to discern that fact, this context is actually teaching on the resurrection of the dead and our transformation that will transpire at that time as detailed in 1Corinthians 15. We are earnestly desiring to move into our home (body) from Heaven at the Resurrection. That is the ‘house’ being spoken of here.
*Peter also referred to his body as his tabernacle: Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 2Peter 1:14
This ‘moving into our new home’ takes place on planet Earth, not in Heaven! (Where was Jesus when he was transformed to his new body? On Earth!)
In this passage above our body is being referred to as our earthly tabernacle (house); and it is speaking of the day this mortal body will be replaced with an eternal one brought to us FROM Heaven! It says ‘from Heaven’ (v.2 above) because it is brought here to Earth by Jesus at the Second Coming. This is the ‘home’ Jesus went to prepare for us (John 14:1-3). He went into Heaven to prepare an eternal abode for us, and he is bringing it with him at the Second Coming!
Do you get that? The glorified body we will receive at the Resurrection is not only our reward (according to our works), it is also our eternal home (tabernacle) that Jesus went to prepare for us!
ARTICLE: Does John 14:1-3 Promise A Home In Heaven?
We will inherit the Earth, and live here in our new ‘home'(a glorified body), just as the Scriptures promise. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. ( Psalms 37:11)
I hope now you can see that the Judgment Seat of Christ is us being brought unto him and rewarded the day he returns to Earth at his Second Coming. There is NO previous rapture before the tribulation; and there is NO later Judgment and Reward event that transpires someday off in Heaven. These concepts are the invention of man. They are not found in the Word of God!
I have had to seriously reconsider what I was taught about these things as a young believer. I hope you would consider prayerfully examining what you have been taught in light of the Scriptures presented here.
Blessings upon all who love our Christ and the truth of his Word;
I welcome your input!
If you have comment or criticism please use the section below. Overly long comments may be edited for length.
Thank you for visiting my site.