By David J. Stewart
2nd Corinthians 5:10, “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.”
Chapter 13 — The Judgment Seat of Christ
The fact that the Bible teaches two separate judgments is proof that believers do not lose salvation. There are two major judgments mentioned in the New Testament, one for the unsaved, and another for the saved. We are told in Revelation 20:11-15, "And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." This event is the Great White Throne of Judgment. This will be the final judgment for the unsaved. That is, for all those who have died in their sins throughout history without Christ as Savior. This will be a criminal court for unbelievers, who will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire forever to pay for their own sins, because they rejected Jesus Christ.
The other major judgment will be The Judgment Seat of Christ, and is only for believers. II Corinthians 5:10, "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." This will be a civil court for all believers, many of whom won't receive any rewards and will have nothing to show for their time on earth.
“At the judgment seat of Christ God's anger is not expressed against any individual who has thoroughly repented of his sins, confessed them and forsaken them. But God's judgment on the sin itself may continue where there is no judgment against the individual as such. It seems to me that we need to make a distinction between the proper anger and wrath of God against one who goes on unrepentant in sin, and God's proper wise judgment against the sin itself even when the sinner has been reconciled completely and forgiven.”
—Dr. John R. Rice, from his book, Dr. Rice, Here's My Question.
I Corinthians 3:15, "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." Notice that every believer will give account to Christ for the good and bad “done in his body,” that is, while hear on earth in this fleshly tabernacle. II Corinthians 5:1, "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." This fleshly body is only a temporary dwelling place of our spirit, which when we die will enter into eternity.
“Our salvation was settled by our acceptance of Jesus, but now we are to be judged for our works and service. Paul tells us that every one of us shall give an account of himself to God. No Christian will escape; therefore, the apostle reminds us that we are not to waste our time judging our brethren, for the time of their judgment is coming when they must stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”
—Dr. Lee Roberson, Chapter 2, Some Golden Daybreak.
Oh, how the tears will flow on Judgment Day, when each believer will be required to give account to God for the bad done in the body. And thankfully, there will be joy for the good we have done for the Lord's sake and the Gospel's.
The very fact that there is going to be a separate judgment exclusively for born-again believers is solid Biblical evidence that salvation cannot be lost. If salvation could be lost because of riotous living or departing from the faith, then there would be no need for a separate judgment just for Christians. The fact that I Corinthians 3:15 tells us that some believers will receive no rewards and be "saved; yet so as by fire," shows us that even the worst of Christian believers are still saved and go to Heaven. The Bible tells us these believers barely escaped the fires of Hell, "saved; yet so as by fire."
The vilest convicted criminal on death row will be abundantly pardoned by God, if he'll acknowledge his guilt of sin for violating God's Law, and come for forgiveness by way of the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Isaiah 55:7, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." Notice that the Bible says for the wicked to forsake his "way," not sins, his "thoughts," not lifestyle. A changed life is the fruit of genuine repentance of sins, and not a prerequisite to saving faith. That is, we forsake our sins because we are saved; not in order to get saved. Biblical repentance means owning before God that I am as vile a sinner as He has declared me to be in His Word.
The Bible speaks of numerous future judgments, but the two main judgments will be the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne of Judgment. The fact that Christians will stand in court before God at a separate judgment is irrefutable evidence that every believer has Eternal Security, for if salvation could be lost because of sin there wouldn't be a need for a separate judgment for Christians. If saved, always saved.
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