The Bema Seat of Christ
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
By Amir Tsarfati
This is a great honor to be here. One of the things that people ask me is: Why is it that you are so passionate about sharing the end times and mostly sharing things that are sort of supernatural, like the rapture? It's not that natural. Hello? I often think about the amazing thing of us being changed, being translated into something completely different, and going somewhere else.
I realize that people who are not that spirit-led, they really, seek only those things which are on earth. They don't want to deal with the things which are above because they look too fantastic and too good to be true. Let's keep our feet on the ground. Let's see what's going on around and deal with the situation. Don't go all the way up there.
Well, the Bible tells us exactly the opposite. The Bible says that in Colossians 3:1-2, "If then you were raised with Christ..." It's not to the physical resurrection. It's the resurrection of our spirit from being dead in our transgressions and trespasses to resurrect as Christ gives us, of course, the Holy Spirit. So, if we were raised with Christ...
If you want to understand what it means to be raised with Christ while we're still alive? Then go back to chapter 2 and he talks about how we were dead in our sins. "So, if we were raised with Christ..." Namely, if we're no longer living that type of life? If we have been born again? If we're spirit-filled? If we're followers of Jesus? "Then seek those things which are above."
What things? The things about us and Jesus, where He is sitting where? At the right hand of God. In other words, not only that it's okay to think about what's going to happen, when I'm going to stand before the Lord. Not here, but up there. It's actually a commandment. It's actually a way for you to prove that, indeed, you have been raised with Christ and if so, then you have to seek those things which are above.
You have to think about the moment you'll be translated into His presence in the air and you will be taken all the way up to be with Him. He is not here; He's at the right hand of the Father. The Bible says, "Set your mind on the things above not on things on the earth." So, it's actually a good thing. It's actually a noble thing.
It's actually, in a way, a token of your spiritual state: To think about it; To talk about it; To study that. It's not an act of a lunatic to study about us being gone from here; About us seeing the Lord in the air; About us standing in His presence; About us standing before His amazing judgment.
What are you talking about, really, standing to be judged by Christ? That's what you want to think about? Absolutely and that's the purpose of this teaching this morning. Looking up is a biblical thing, by the way. It's not making you weird. Think about it.
Philippians says, "I press on toward the goal for the price of the [what?] upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Psalm 121:1 says, "I lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help. [He says]" My help comes from the Lord.” That's why I lift up my head. I look up towards the hills. My help is not coming from an army encamping on the hills. My help comes from the Lord.
I better stop only looking at what's going on all around me, the things on the earth, and I better lookup. The Bible says, also, in Isaiah 40:26, "Lift up your eyes on high and see Who has created these things, who brings out their host by number. He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power.” Not one is missing."
Daniel is writing about Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. He says, "And at the end of the time, I Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven and my understanding returned to me. And I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever for His dominion is an everlasting dominion and His Kingdom is from generation to generation."
John, 11:41, Jesus Himself, God in the flesh, the Son of God who came to save us while He was still on earth, "They took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying and Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me." It's a natural inclination of the spiritual person to look up, to think about the things that are above; to seek those things which are above.
Acts 1:10, the disciples while they were on earth seeing Jesus on earth. The Bible says, "And while they looked steadfastly, towards Heaven, as He went up." Look, Jesus physically taught them how to look up. He went up and as He went up, their eyes were going all the way like that. Now, if you ever from that moment want to think about Jesus, if you want to think about our standing before Him, our presence with Him? Then you better lift up your heads and look up. And they were standing, those angels right there, next to them.
Hebrews 9 is telling us something very interesting. Hebrews 9 is telling us that there are things that are... inevitable. First of all, all of you were born. Hello? That's why you're here. Not all of you may be born again, but all of you were born. Any person that is sitting here, right now, has been born and a living creature has an expiration date.
Unfortunately, ever since sin entered the world, death entered the world. Yes, Adam may have lived 900 years and then he [age] went all the way down. to less than 60 at the time of King David. Thankfully, things are now better but still 120 max. Hello?
It is appointed for man to die once but after this, comes judgment. Every person will have to stand before God at some point and you will see what are the points, and have to stand before God, the Judge. He has to stand for judgment.
The Bible says, "So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many." Jesus came, and He was offered to bear the sins of many. Not all, He came to all but not all received Him. "So He bore the sins of many, those who received Him," of course. Then, look at this, "To those who eagerly wait for Him." The Bible says, "He will appear a 2nd time apart from sin, for salvation."
Jesus is going to come back and appear. The word "appear" in the English appears certain times. When he speaks of us appearing before Him or Him appearing before us. This is more the time of the rapture of the church rather than the 2nd coming. Second, coming, he's not appearing. He is coming on a white horse and every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess. Every eye shall see Him, from the east to the west.
It's not appearing. It's not that we, "boom," appear before Him; He, "boom", appears before us. It's something else. Then, "For those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a 2nd time." But this time, apart from sin, for salvation.
In other words, Jesus, for those who trust Him, there's another date that we have with Him. That is not a date for others. It's only for us. The salvation that he speaks of is not the salvation of your soul. It's not the redemption of your soul. It's the salvation and Romans 8 says, "Of your body from this world."
It's interesting because judgment is inevitable. We understand that. Even Job knew that "Be afraid of the sword for yourselves for wrath brings the punishment of the sword that you may know there is a judgment."
Every person should know that there are consequences to whatever he does, says, or even thinks. But I know that some of you are like "shaking", right now. You're thinking to yourself, "oh, my goodness, I drove through a red light yesterday. Oh, my goodness." Listen, listen.
I know that judgment sounds like a very harsh word especially, of course, when you know it's about you. But I want to tell you something. The "Judgment Seat of Christ" for His church is completely different than what you have in mind.
We will answer this morning 8 different questions that are there: What is the "Bema'? Where is the "Bema"? How many future judgments are there? Who will stand there? How will they get there? How is this judgment different from the others? When will that be? What is the purpose of it? And what's the purpose, by the way, of us even studying that today?
So, let's pray. Father, we thank you so much for your Word. Your Word is truth and we ask this morning that you will sanctify us by your truth. We ask that you will give us ears to hear and eyes to see and hearts to understand the things that you want us to learn this morning that which the Spirit has to say. We bless your name and we ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
What is a "Bema", after all? "Bema Seat", you have to remember, the judgment seat is known as "Bema" that word is also translated to "court or tribunal". It's a platform that could be either public or private. Public is when everyone, maybe that sits here hopefully, will stand before Him. John 19 says, "But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” That's a public judgment.
But then, of course, in Acts 25:22 when Agrippa said to Festus, in Caesarea, in Israel, "I, also, would like to hear the man myself." Namely, Paul giving his testimony. "Tomorrow, he said, you shall hear Him." This is a private thing where Paul stood all by himself before Festus, Felix and, of course, Herod Agrippa. That is a private set-up of a "bema".
So, "bema" is not a Hebrew word. The "Bema Seat" is, of course, something that is in heaven and not here. See, there are several "bemas", even on earth, today. These are the "bemas" that the Greek introduced to the world. But Romans 14:10 says, "Why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we should all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 says, "For we must all [What's the word?] 'appear'." And appear belongs to what? What event? The rapture. Remember, we should appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one, say "each one". "Each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."
Now let's take that verse and put it in the Greek. Can you read it? Okay, well, I know you can't but I highlighted what you need to see. That's "bematos tou Christou". "Bematos" is the "Bema", "the Bema". "Tou Christou", of Christ. So, the "Bema of Christ", the "Bema Seat of Christ". Namely the "Judgment Seat of Christ". If "Bema Seat' is tribunal or Judgment Seat, then it speaks that we all must stand before the "Bema Seat".
The "bema" is the seat, itself. It is the platform, itself. By the way, I can show you this word in 3 different languages. "Bema" is in English, of course. But then you have the "bema" in the Greek and in Hebrew "bimah" or "bama".
By the way, I just returned from the city of Corinth, where I had a group there and we went to the ancient Corinth. I also filmed there a year ago but this time we went all the way. You can see the main street of Corinth ends up with this platform. The city officials used to hold their trials, right there, on that platform. Then I zoomed in and you can see what it says, "BHMA/BEMA. The "bema seat" was there.
So, Paul, when he writes to the Corinthians about that we all shall be standing before the "Bema Seat of Christ". He said, "Look, you've seen the bema of the masters of the city and the masters of the country. But all of us, not the city population of Corinth, but us, we have a different appointment, of a different "Bema". That's the "Bema Seat of Christ".
By the way, "bimah" or "bama", the Greek introduced that not only when it's a structure in the middle of a city. But mostly, as something that belongs to the world of theater. I want you to see the theater of Caesarea by the sea. It's a structure that you, by mistake, call amphitheater. Hello? How many of you were about to say that this is an amphitheater?
Now you're saying to yourself, "I better not say that because obviously, from the tone of the speaker, it's wrong." It is wrong because this is a theater. It comes from the Greek word, the "théatro". "Théatro" means "I spectate". I am watching. What are you watching? You're watching that which is happening on that platform below.
Do you see that platform that is elevated above the semicircle pavement over there? Well, that's a "bema" also and that "bema" is most likely where Paul was standing while he gave his testimony before Festus and before Felix, right on that stage. It's interesting that even in the modern Hebrew language, the word "bema" means stage.
The name of the National Theater of Israel is "Habima", "The Bema". It's Israel's National Theater. I know it's a little bit too much light for you to be able to see what it looks like. But the picture will show you. That's the structure in Tel Aviv, and that's the inside. It's a beautiful, beautiful theater and it's called "The Bema". I wish they knew that there is a different "Bema". They better stand before that Judgment Seat and not the others that are planned.
So that's what a "bema" is all about. The difference between the "bema" of the city of Corinth and the "Bema of Christ": Is that the "Bema of Christ" is a tribunal for awards, not for punishment. You have to remember that.
Now, let's try and understand: How many future judgments are there according to the Bible? That's by the way (slide) Point #3 or Question #3. But I will show you that there are 3 different judgments awaiting the population of planet earth. It depends on: Who; And Where?
The 1st one is around the corner and that's, of course, once we're translated out of here to the presence of Christ. We will stand before the "Bema Seat of Christ", according to Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10.
But then, of course, the Bible says that when Jesus will come back. All the nations of the world will come down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. He's going to judge them according to something completely different. Those who survive the tribulation will have to enter into the Millennial Kingdom or not: By how they treated the people of Israel.
Joel chapter 3:1-3, talks about how God will enter into judgment with all those nations. According to what they did to Israel and to the land, to the people and to the land. No anti-Semite will be allowed into the Millennial Kingdom. You have to understand that in the Millennium Kingdom, Israel is going to be the most important nation on planet earth.
Jesus, who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, is going to reign over the whole world. He is not going to be seated in the White House. He is going to be in Jerusalem, in a temple. So, you have to understand, an anti-Semite would not even want to live there during that time.
You have to worship the King of the Jews. You have to worship and come to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. You have to accept that that's what God is going to have for the next 1,000 years and that the sheep and the goats will be separated according to what they did to the least of the brethren of Christ which are the Jewish people.
Then, of course, after the thousand years Millennial Kingdom, once the display of God's righteousness will be there for a thousand years and people will have no excuse to sin. No excuse to not follow Christ because Christ is there physically. Because Satan is not there. He's cast down to the lake of fire for a thousand years. Because there is no bad climate and there are no bad animals on planet earth during that time.
Everything is going to be so great. You will have no excuse. Yet at the end of the thousand years Millennia Kingdom, people will once again be tested when Satan will be released for a short time. Then the Bible says, "Multitudes are going to join Satan to attack the city and the camp of the "Beloved One."
So my point is: At the display of the righteousness of God, yet the sinful nature of people. That's when the Lord will finally bring about the final judgment on mankind. That is the Great White Throne Judgment.
So, my question to you is: Do you want to be standing before a "Bema Seat" in Heaven and receive awards? Or do you want to be those who survive 7 years of tribulation? Or do you want to be those who will be raised at the end of the tribulation in order to be sent to eternal damnation, separation from the love of God and the presence of God, forever and ever and ever?
Which one is your judgment? The answer is with you, right? Because only those who belong to Him will be part.
So, who is going to stand there? Of course, it's the church only. It's the people of God those who trust the Lord Jesus as their Savior, those who understand that it's not by works. It's by faith. Those who understand that the finished work of Jesus on the cross 2,000 years ago allows us to live eternal life and allows us to, completely, be separated from the curse of sin and death.
Therefore, from the moment those people trusted Christ as Savior, from the day of Pentecost until the coming of Christ for His church. Those people - that's the church.
It does not include, of course, the Old Testament believers. They're going to be resurrected later on in order to reign with us in the Millennial Kingdom. It's a different story.
We are the Bride of Christ. As the Bride of Christ, we will stand before Him and have that amazing time of judgment.
How will we get there? Look, if the trial or if the Judgment Seat of Christ is in heaven because Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. How do you get there? I mean, try to jump. Right now, I invite all of you. Do your best! Some of you might try the deadliest jalapeno and see if it'll get you to heaven.
I can tell you one thing that unless your body is changed, you will not be able to give up the power of gravity. and be up here meeting Christ in the air. In other words, only the rapture of the church. At the time of the rapture of the church, we will be able to make it, instantly and appear before Him, before that Seat of Judgment.
The whole description of how it's going to happen is, of course, in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4:16-18. The Bible says, "The Lord Himself, with a shout, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet will descend from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we, who are alive and remain will be caught up ["harpazo"] in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord [in the air, up, above, in heaven] forever. Therefore, encourage one another with these words."
So that is the event that is going to have to happen before in order for us to stand before Christ and then go through that thing. This is an illustration I prepared with my great skills of art. As you can see, I did not put the believer as someone who is standing. The Bible tells us, "We better fight the good fight and we better run the race." We're not to stand and be passive. We are to be active. We have to do things.
Now doing things will not save you. It's trusting, it's believing that will save you. But once you're saved, now comes the questions.
What did you do with that which God gave you with the talent He gave you? With the resources He gave you? With the time that He gave you? What have you done with these things? The whole point of the "Bema Seat of Christ" is about that.
So, my point is, run the race. The Bible says that we run the race looking at Jesus, the Author, and the Finisher of our faith. It is not the finish line on earth that we want. Our finish line is not on earth. We run the race on earth but our finish line is up in heaven when we will stand before the Lamb of God and the Lion of the tribe of Judah who will actually give us awards! And not punishment. This is a different story.
Don't you want to be part of that one? Hello? "Yeah, we want to. I'm hungry right now."
How is this judgment different from the other judgments? It's very simple. First of all, our actions will be judged. The Bible says that God will reward the actions of believers. Psalm 62:12 says, "And that you, O Lord are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done."
Look, we are saved. We will be there. It's not a matter of salvation. It's not a matter of forgiveness of sins. We made it to heaven! But now the judgment is: What have you done? A person will be getting a reward based on what he has done.
Matthew, 16:27 says, "For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father's glory with His angels and then He will reward each person [What?] according to what he has done."
The Bible says in Ephesians 6:8, "Knowing that whatever good we do; we will receive the same again from the Lord whether we are slaves or free." Your current situation means nothing. You might be a slave. You might be free.
In other words, look, it's not about your financial status. It's not about your social status. It's about what you do with that which God gave you. It's about the intention of your heart that's what it's all about. We're not going to be judged for our sins that's for sure. It's not a judgment to determine who will enter into heaven. You're already in heaven!
The sins of the believer will not be an issue at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They have been already forgiven. That's why Psalm 103 says, "He has not dealt with us according to our sins. Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy towards those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
The sins have been removed as Micah says in chapter 7:19, "He will again have compassion on us and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." The destiny of the Christian has been already settled. It's not about that. You know where you're going.
The question is once you get there: What are you going to tell Him? Because God records everything. I don't know if you know that but every thought, every word, and every action are being recorded. You're worried about "Big Brother", huh? You're worried about Google, about Apple, and about all of those. You'd better worry about what God is looking and seeing.
I want to tell you something that with the death of Christ on the cross, the destiny of the Christian has been already once and for all settled. There is no condemnation. In Romans chapter 8, he says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." So, it's not about condemning us for sin that issue has been dealt with already on the cross - on earth. We already have eternal life.
The Bible says in John 5:24, "I tell you the truth, whosoever hears my Word and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life and will not be condemned." Look, the Bible says, "When we believe, we're not condemned. If we don't believe, we're condemned already." Do you know what it means? It means that we were born condemned because of sin that is there in our life. But the minute we choose to believe, we finally disconnected ourselves from the curse of sin and debt.
We finally disconnected ourselves from the condemnation, shame, and all of that and we moved to the "Not Condemned Camp". The curse of sin, that curse, and it is a curse. Because you cannot get rid of it. David says in Psalm 50, he says, "In sin my mother has conceived me."
You're born with it. Babies, as pure as they are, can actually show you what they think about you and they won't agree with your loving kindness and care for them. Because they want to do whatever they want.
Rebellion is built-in in us, even at a young age. But the Bible says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." The price was paid already for our sins. So that's not the issue.
1 Peter 2:24, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross. So that free from sins we might now [now we're free from sins] we might live..." In other words, "I'm giving you, now, a new life. Live for righteousness", he says. "By His wounds you have been healed." The sin offering was already sacrificed and offered.
2 Corinthians 5:21, "For our sake He made Him to be sin, who knew no sin. So that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." The believer's judgment with respect to sin is long past. So the Bible says, "Run the race," in Hebrew 12:1. Or "Fight the good fight," in 1 Timothy 6:12. So, for those types of athletic illustrations, we will also get types of athletic rewards.
The judgment seat of Christ is not designed to punish believers but rather to reward them for their faithful service. All of us will give an account of what we have done after trusting Christ as Savior. Therefore, the judgment seat of Christ is a judgment of believers' works after salvation because you're not saved by works.
You're saved by faith but after you have been saved, okay, what have you done? Paul gave that analogy, and by the way, it is in 1 Corinthians. He wrote it to the Corinthians, of all people. Amazing, people who trusted the flesh, only. People who wanted to satisfy the flesh, only. People who lived in the midst of the greatest and the largest brothel on planet earth, in the history of planet earth.
It's "Amsterdam on steroids", they called it that's what Corinth used to be where the big shrine to Aphrodite's was causing people from all over the world to come. From the two different parts of the isthmus: From this sea-facing Rome; and from that sea-facing Turkey. They would come supposedly, to worship Aphrodite's. But what they don't tell you is that you actually sleep with a prostitute. Right outside of the temple of Aphrodite's and the money goes towards the temple of Aphrodite's.
So everybody thinks they're doing a noble thing and serve a god, somehow. All they do is quench their flesh and carnal desires. Paul to the Corinthians says, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder. I have laid the foundation, and another built on it. But that each one takes heed how he builds on it.
Now, if anyone builds on this foundation with gold and silver, precious stone, wood, hay, straw. Each one's work will become manifest for the day will declare it because it will be revealed by fire and fire will try each one's work and what sort it is." It's amazing because when all of what we did will go through the fire. I wonder how much is going to be left after that?
The Bible says, A lot of people who built huge palaces, based on things they did for Christ will end up - homeless. When everything they did, if it was not done with the right intention. It would be completely gone! 1 Corinthians 3:15, "If anyone's work is burned, they will suffer loss." They themselves will be saved.
They're in heaven; They're saved. Yet so as through fire that fire is the judgment of God and is a symbol of not only judgment butut also of God's character and holiness. Take a look at what Genesis 19 says, "Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah." That was a judgment. In Deuteronomy, "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
But then, in Revelation 1:14, the description of Jesus, "His head and His hair are white as white wool, white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire." You may be alive; You may stand before Jesus. But guess what? You may find yourself ashamed! Believers want to appear without that shame.
But in 1 John 2:28, he says, "And now, little children, abide in Him." Let Him be the source of what you do. Let Him be that goal to which you strive. Let Him be the engine of your life because when He appears..." Appears, hello? Again, rapture? You were standing before... "When He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming."
Can you imagine? All your life you wanted Jesus to come. He is coming from His seat. He's stepping down to the clouds. He's taking us all the way and instead of being so happy, you're ashamed. Do you know people that are so ashamed are not looking forward to the coming of Jesus? They're busy with the things that make them ashamed.
There will be a full reward, the Bible says in 2 John 1:8, "Look to yourselves that we do not lose those things we have worked for. But that we may receive a full reward," the Bible says. "And be careful not to lose that reward."
Scripture warns believers about losing their reward. Losing means that you did something but then when it was tested through the fire. It's gone. You lost it. Revelation 3:11, "Behold, I come quickly. Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown."
The crown, that same crown that Paul talked about to Timothy when he said, "Look, that crown of righteousness is there for me. Stored for me, waiting for me." Now I'm very bad in illustrations. I'm actually terrible in illustrations. I don't even know how people come up with illustrations. I mean, I just talk and I give verses. I'm the most boring teacher. I don't have a clue about how to bring... So, I had to search online for an illustration and I found one: The illustration of how you can be saved yet loose.
We can illustrate that by let's say, you have recently built a new 2 story house. While on the 2nd floor you smell smoke and looking downstairs, you see that the 1st floor is on fire. You jump out of the 2nd story window to save your life and you then watch your new house burn to the ground. Obviously, you'll have mixed emotions. Because you're thankful that you were able to jump and save your life. But you're sad because your new house is destroyed.
This is similar to those believers who are saved but have nothing to show for it. They squandered their opportunities to live for Christ et they are enjoying the benefits of heaven with Jesus. You want a position of honor. All who experience the judgment seat of Christ will possess the privileges and honors as children of God.
The Bible says in Matthew 10:32, "Therefore, whoever confesses me before [people] humanity, I will also confess him before my Father, who is in Heaven." There will be gifts to be received.
Paul wrote this to the Corinthian and he said, "It is written, eye has not seen nor ears heard nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God."
By the way, when we receive rewards: They will be proportionate to the faithfulness we show in this life. The key is faithfulness to the gifts God has given us. 1 Corinthians 4:2, All of that which was written, was written to the Corinthians, to the people of Corinth. The people who only thought about material goods only thought about seeing the blessing here on earth.
If you're rich, if you're famous, if you are super, super, I guess, trendy. If you have the things that everybody can see that you have. Look, to the Corinthians, he said, "Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful,” he said.
There will be different degrees of rewards, of course. In Luke 19, when he gave that parable, he said, "Well done, my good servant! His master replied, because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter. Take charge of 10 cities and to another," he said in verse 19, "His master answered, you take charge of five cities."
Both of them see the master. Both of them are in the presence of the master. However, one gets 10 while the other gets to rule over five. It's all according to the degree of their faithfulness and what it is that they did with that which the Lord left with them. Crowns...
Remember what Paul says to Timothy, "I have fought the good fight." "My life was active. I was not seated at home. I was there fighting the good fight. I finished the race." He already saw the end of his life. It's the same Paul that was sure the rapture was about to happen in his lifetime and he could already see the end of his life.
But he's not sad, "Woe, the rapture may not take place in my lifetime. I'm bummed." No! He can see the finish line. He can already see that he's about to receive that crown. "I kept the faith. Now there is in store for me."
He's very realistic, also. He understands, "There is in store for me. I'm not going to get it right now. I have to wait until everybody will be there." Who? "That crown of righteous, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will award me [when?] on that day." The day we are all going to be there. "Not only me," he said, "but also to all who have longed for His appearance." All who eagerly wait for His appearance.
So, you have to wait for His appearance. You have to eagerly wait. You have to long for His appearance that means you are ready. That's when you get the crown. That's when you get to keep the crown. That's when you get to put the crown back at the feet of Jesus. Just as the 24 elders did when they were at His feet in the Book of Revelation.
Now you have to understand that when we are born, the Bible says, "Our days are numbered, but also our names are written in the Book of Life." The Book of Life is a book that every person who is born is written in the Book of Life. Because he has life. Hello? Life? Your life? You're written in the Book of Life, obviously. But if you place your faith in Jesus, then your name is written in the Book of Life of the Lamb, in blood and it cannot be erased.
Why do I say that? Yeah, thank you for your great enthusiasm. As Barry says, "Thank you, the two of you". Well, listen, it goes like that. Names can be blotted out from the Book of Life. The moment you die, death has power over you because you are not a believer.
You see, when you're a believer, death has no longer power over you. To live, is what? And to die, is? That's it. Death lost its sting. But if we are not a believer: The minute death comes to visit you, that means your name was removed from the Book of Life. Very simple, by the way. Erased.
The Bible says in Revelation 3:4-5, "He says, “Those who overcome will have their names written." But look what he says, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garment and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life. But I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels."
When is that going to be, of course? Right after the rapture. The minute we are out of here. The minute we stand before Christ. That's going to be before the 2nd coming of Christ to earth. We have a meeting in heaven. We've got seven years to be with Jesus in heaven. We've got to check all the gadgets and the mansions that He prepared for us. I mean, for 2000 years He's been working on mansions for us. Not for a few seconds.
Like those who believe that the rapture is going to take place at the end of the tribulation? It's like "whoosh" and then He comes back with us, "boom". Hello? Don't you want to live there after 2,000 years of construction?
Listen, in the Book of Revelation we're told that the bride is clothed with righteous deeds. The church, therefore, has already been at the judgment seat of Christ because they are all ready for the Groom when He comes.
Hence, the judgment takes place sometime before the 2nd coming of Christ while we're taken up, and we are there with Him, right after the rapture of the church. Revelation 19, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear."
Fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints, of course. Let's summarize everything. The first thing is: The Lord will resurrect the bodies of the saints who have died during the church age and they shall all change as well the bodies of those that are still alive.
So, all, whether you're dead or you're alive, everyone will change. Then we will meet the Lord in the air and proceed to the Judgment Seat of Christ. This judgment will consist of rewards for faithful service. There will be no condemnation for anyone.
Rewards will consist of crowns given to believers based upon our faithful service to Him. The rewards will be proportionate to our faithfulness.
The last thing is: What is the purpose of the "Bema Seat of Christ"? In fact, what is the purpose of even studying the "Bema Seat of Christ"?
I'll tell you this because every time I study for a message, I ask myself the question: What's the purpose of it? Like, for example, when I studied for the message on the Millennial Kingdom. I asked God, "Excuse me. I don't see the point. Why do I spend time with you in heaven in that beautiful mansion? And why do you make me come back to earth? And for how long? For a thousand years." I disagree. I protest.
But then He showed me the purpose and the purpose here, by the way, is very simple. Knowing today what the "Bema Seat" in heaven is all about causes us to live faithful lives as believers here on earth. When you understand what you're going to stand before and what the whole thing is going to be all about.
It makes you feel, "oh, my goodness. I better, in the very little time that is left for me, I want to live for Christ and I want to be a faithful servant." Because the greatest consequence of unfaithfulness here on earth is that it disappoints Christ. How sad it is.
1 John 2:28, "Now, little children, abide in Him that when He appears... [Rapture!] we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at his coming." This is indeed a sobering thought. We could be ashamed as we stand before the Lord. At the same time, it should encourage us with the prospect of receiving his lavish rewards.
If you serve Him faithfully during the time here on earth. You have to remember: sin and indifference in this life, rob us from our present desire for serving the Lord and that, in turn, means a loss of rewards. Because we will not have used our time for His glory.
Ephesians 5:15-16, "See then that you walk, circumspectly. Not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time. Because the days are evil." Sin and indifference result also in a loss of power in our lives because sin grieves the Holy Spirit. Sin and indifference cause us to pass up opportunities for service, which we would otherwise perform, and then, what? Be rewarded for it.
Look, in our lives, and this is it, we're done. We are to run the race... not just to run the race... When you show up to a race, you dress up with all those tights and all of those things, whatever. You show up and then the shot is being heard. Everybody's running and you're just walking. That's not how you need to run the race.
By the way, even when you run, you can run like that. That's, also, not how you need to run. The Bible says that we need to run in order to win! To run, to receive that prize! But our prize is not just a perishable crown. But it is an unperishable one. So, we have to run in order to win. The believer needs to be active, full of the Holy Spirit, eager to please God. Whatever we do, we must do unto the Lord!
1 Corinthians 9:24-25, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it and everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown but we for an imperishable crown."
Colossians 3:23-24, "And whatever you do, do it heartily. As to the Lord and not to men knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance for you serve the Lord Christ."
Romans 12:1, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren by the mercies of God..." That you will not sit and do nothing. That you will not just walk through life. You will not be in a submarine underneath and let life go by. That you will not be saved as if through fire. "But I beseech you that you present your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."
Father, we thank you so much for your Word. We thank you, Father, that through Christ we're no longer condemned. There is no condemnation. Death has no longer power over us. We are no longer having that curse of death and sin that comes from the law.
But we're free. Yet, Father, you gave us that freedom to live for righteousness. But every minute that we're still here, counts and we need to redeem that time in a wise way.
Father, we thank you whether it's 10 more minutes that we have, an hour, a month, a day, a week, a year, maybe a decade. May we from today do everything unto the Lord. So, we will receive that amazing award, not be ashamed at His coming, be able to gladly take that crown, take that award and place it at the feet of Jesus.
We thank you and we bless you this morning and we pray this in the name of the Holy One of Israel. The Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Immanuel.
In the name of Jesus, we pray. And all of God's people say, Amen. Amen