(Tackling a subject like the events of the end times or the process of eternal judgment is a challenge. We simply do not have all the information. We are supposed to trust in what we have been told and in the character of the Lord who loves us. But I will take a stab at sharing how I interpret the idea of “the judgment seat of Christ.” Please, I know that I appear to combine the ideas of the “Great White Throne Judgment” and the “Judgment Seat of Christ” and I know that some people have spent years dissecting Scripture and designing timelines and systems for explaining all of this. My gut tells me that we don’t know as much as we think and that the unfolding of these events will surprise all of us. These are just some of my thought. Fools rush in….)
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ”
That statement is found in 2 Corinthians 5:10. It is the plain word of God. Does it scare you? Sadly, it is used in churches around the world to frighten believers into better behavior, more good works, and less sin. Many who have been told that they are saved by the blood of Jesus have also been told that they will still be judged and may “suffer loss.” Many believers live in fear and anxiety because of the threat of this judgment.
Yet, Paul seemed to look forward to it. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes about dying. He knows that he has enemies and that his walk is dangerous. He knows that he and his companions could be put to death for their message. But, if that were to happen, he is confident in his standing with the Lord. In fact, that is a key word in this text, “confident.” He is “always confident,” he says. Why? Because the Lord has prepared him for ministry and for death. Because the Lord has given him “the Spirit as a guarantee.” Because he is “well known to God.” Because he is a “new creation.” Because God has already reconciled Paul to Himself. And because God will not impute Paul’s sins to Paul’s account. All of this is in the chapter.
So we learn that Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, people who are truly saved. However, like Paul, we do not have to be afraid. Those who will be saved through eternity will already be saved before they stand at the judgment seat.