We also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
–2 Corinthians 5:9
What is the difference between the Christian’s judgment and the non-Christian’s judgment? The Judgment Seat of Christ is for the commendation of believers, while the Great White Throne Judgment is for the condemnation of unbelievers. The result of the Judgment Seat of Christ will be eternal rewards, while the result of the Great White Throne Judgment will be God’s eternal punishment. And only those who are saved will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Judgment Seat of Christ is not to determine whether somebody goes to Heaven or Hell. If you are a Christian, that has already been decided by your faith in Jesus. If you wait until after you die to choose whether you are going to Heaven or Hell, you will have waited too long. That is a decision you make now by placing your faith in Jesus Christ. The moment you trust in Jesus as your Savior, you are justified in the sight of God. Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That word “justified” means “to declare to be righteous.” It does not matter what you have done, when you trust in Jesus as Savior, He washes it away, and God declares you “not guilty” before Him. When you become a Christian, God no longer sees your sin; He sees the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. That is what it means to be justified: to be in a right relationship with God. Romans 8:1 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If you are a Christian and have been forgiven by God, then you never have to worry that one day God is going to condemn you.
God’s justification exempts us from God’s condemnation, but it does not exempt us from God’s evaluation. After you become a Christian, you no longer have to worry about God’s condemnation, but you still need to be mindful of His evaluation of your life. That is why 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “We [Christians] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” Every one of us will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ–no exceptions. Paul wrote, “We also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (5:9). Knowing that we will stand before that evaluation, we ought to have as our one aim in life to be pleasing to God.
When does this judgment of Christians take place? It does not happen the moment we die. Although the Bible does not tell us exactly, I believe it happens at the Rapture of the Church, at the beginning of the Tribulation on earth. Revelation 4:10 says before the Tribulation, the 24 elders in Heaven are wearing their crowns and praising God. The 24 elders represent the Church, so apparently Christians have already been rewarded at the beginning of the Tribulation. And Revelation 19:8 says, “It was given to her [the Church] to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Apparently by this time, those of us who are Christians will have received our rewards.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Will Heaven Be The Same For Everyone?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)