The Judgment Seat of Christ

The Pauline Bootcamp: Session IX
(The Hope of the Body of Christ III)

Trinity Grace Fellowship

4 October 1997

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§0. Introduction. This session, along with the previous two sessions, comprises that unit of our Pauline Bootcamp dedicated to Pauline eschatology (doctrine of future things). These previous two session established, respectively, the Pauline doctine concerning the Third Heavenly hope and position of the Body of Christ in contrast to the earthly hope and position of Israel presented in the non-Pauline Scripture, as well as the great Rapture-Battle which closes this present part of the Body dispensation as the means by which the Body enters into its eternal hope. This session completes our unit on Pauline eschatology by refocusing on the Rapture-Battle and its intimate relationship to the Judgment Seat of Christ by which that portion of the Third Heaven alloted to each member of the Body of Christ is formally declared and justified.

This session will allow us to answer the following questions:

  1. Who will be present at the Judgment Seat of Christ?
  2. On what basis will this judgment be made?
  3. By what means or mechanism will a Body saint's life be judged at the Judgment Seat?
  4. Will a Body saint's sins be declared at the Judgment Seat?
  5. What is the relationship between the Rapture-Battle and the Judgment Seat?

This session, in conjunction with the previous two sesions, affirms that the present life and warfare are the means by which the Body saint is equipped for the great Rapture-Battle, that the Rapture-Battle is the means by which the life and preparation of an individual saint is tested and revealed, and the Judgment Seat formally declares what the Rapture-Battle revealed and secured. Additional applications include:

  1. The sins of a saint are never mentioned or declared.
  2. Every saint will gain reward and secure his/her specific inheritance.
  3. The specific inheritance of each saint is secured by the Rapture-Battle and declared by the Judgment Seat.
  4. The Body will be functionally united for the first time, and saints will help each other in the Rapture-Battle to gain their inheritance and reward.

An outline of this session is as follows:

§1. Rapture-Battle and Important Preliminary Issues

§2. Judgment Seat of Rom. 14:10 and II Cor. 5:9–10

§3. Day of Fire of I Cor. 3:10–15 and Role of Rapture-Battle

§1. Rapture-Battle and Important Preliminary Issues.

The material of this section focuses on the following proposition and its proofs from Scripture.

Proposition. Each member of the Body will participate in and triumph in the Rapture-Battle against Satan and his demons and thus win reward/inheritance in the Third Heaven (though not all rewards will be identical—I Cor. 15:41c).

Proofs of Proposition.

A. Proof from I Cor. 15:35–58, especially 42,43,52. At the resurrection of the Body, each member will be glorified and empowered. This proves that each member will be victorious in the Rapture-Battle and reap great rewards.

(1) Each member of the Body is empowered prior to battle (at the Body's Last Trumpet summoning us to the great Rapture-Battle), but for defeat or non-participation?

(2) Each member of the Body is glorified prior to battle. But we have:

(a) Rom. 8:17 says the jointly-glorified ones = those who have jointly-suffered, and each Body member suffers (condition of the first class)
(b) II Tim. 2:11–12 says the jointly-suffering ones = those who jointly-reign, and each Body member suffers (condition of the first class)

But is not reigning the reward of victory? Why should a defeated saint jointly-reign with Christ?

B. From Philip. 1:29 and II Tim. 3:12. It is given to each Body member to suffer for Paul's distinctive gospel. This amplifies and confirms the condition of the first class seen in Rom. 8:17 and II Tim. 2:11–12 (A(2) above).

C. From Eph. 6:11–17 in context, together with I Thess. 5:8 in context. Each Body member puts on each piece of the Pauline armor to some "non-zero" degree.

(1) Putting on the Body armor is something done in this earthly life—the armor is to be taken or put on (Verse 13).

(2) Review the structure of the armor (see TGF studies, including REW's The Pauline Bootcamp: Session VIII and Comments on Eph. 6:10–17 [COE]):

Armor of the (One) God (the Father)

Girdle of Truth (by One Baptism): all truth centered on Paul's distinctive gospel
Breastplate of Righteousness (of the One Lord): righteousness of Christ as Head of Body
Boots of the Gospel of this Peace (in the One Body): peace between Jew and Gentile
Shield of the One Faith: doctrine and faith comprising the Mystery given by Christ to Paul
Helmet of the (One Hope of ) this Salvation: Hope/Salvation peculiar to Body
Sword of this (One) Spirit: the Scriptures rightly plowed, especially the Pauline Scriptures

(3) Each piece of the armor refers to the great Mystery (Eph. 5:32) concerning the Body of Christ.

(4) Note the doctrines of the defensive/"stationary" armor (breastplate, helmet, girdle) = the doctrines of the offensive/"active" armor (shoes, shield, sword). Thus the Pauline gospel concerning Christ as our Head is both our offense and our defense.

(5) Each Body saint will develop in Paul's gospel and put on this armor to at least some degree—Paul's inspired prayer of Eph. 1:16–23 is always answered "yes" (Ro. 8:26)! See E below on perseverance.

(6) The defensive armor protects against loss of reward, and the offensive armor enables the gaining of reward. The doctrines for one are the same as the doctrines for the other.

D. From I Cor. 12:12-27 and Rom. 16:20. All collectively will crush Satan. Each saint is indispensable to that great victory in our joint-Ascension with Christ; each saint plays a winning role in the Rapture-Battle.

E. From Doctrine of Perseverance. Each Body member will persevere to at least some degree in Pauline doctrine. Analogous statements hold for saints of Elect Israel and the Elect Gentiles. General principles of perseverance across the board of God's Elect include the following:

(1) inheritance = reward won in battle;

(2) one is saved if and only if (iff) one inherits;

(3) one is saved iff one is rewarded;

(4) one is saved iff one serves God and reigns with Him in eternity; and

(5) one is saved iff one has some non-zero understanding of, and loyalty to, his Hope.

Proof of (1).

(a) Israel entering the Land as a Nation (Josh. 11:23; 14). God assigned the Land to Israel as their inheritance, which they then won in battle.
(b) Tribes won through battle the inheritance assigned to them (Judges 1:3).
(c) Caleb won through battle his inheritance (Hebron) as an individual Elect Jew, which was previously allotted (Joshua 14:6–15; 15:13–15). Similar proof for Caleb's nephew.
(d) Analogy. Each Body saint inherits a portion of the Third Heaven (II Cor. 12:1–4, Eph. 1:3), of the unapproachable light (Col. 1:12, I Tim. 6:16), of ..., which each will receive as the spoils of victory in the Rapture-Battle.
(e) Eph. 6:13 implies that Body saint participates in the Rapture-Battle: the degree to which we stand now and defend = the degree to which we can attack in the Evil Day. Perseverance says each member of the Body can learn to defend himself/herself to some degree in this life. Thus each will attack successfully (to that degree) in that Day.

Proof of (2).

(a) Israel's priesthood inherited the Lord (Josh. 13:14; 18:7), and Elect Israel is the priesthood (Ex. 19:5–6, I Pet. 2:9) and inherits Christ as the Messiah-King and His Throne in the Land (Rev. 2:25–27; 22:19). This is true of every Elect Jew who in fact is an overcomer.
(b) Elect Gentiles have an inheritance in Israel's eternal earthly empire (Matt. 25:34,41).
(c) Each Body saint is blessed Third Heaven (II Cor. 12:1–4, Eph. 1:3), each has inheritance rights of mature sons through adoption (Eph. 1:5), each inherits a body of glory (Philip. 3:21, Rom. 8:23, I Cor. 15:43), each inherits a portion of the unapproachable light (Col. 1:12, I Tim. 6:16).

Proof of (3).

(a) This is established for Israel by the Parable of Talents (Matt. 25:14–30).
(b) For the Body we have:

Proof of (4).

(a) For Israel: Isaiah 14:1–3, Amos 9:9–12, Rev. 2:25–27; 22:3. Elect Israel reigns over the Nations.
(b) Body jointly rules with Christ: II Tim. 2:11–13.

Proof of (5).

(a) For Israel: II Pet. 2,3 (2:1; 3:3,4,16). Proof of reprobation is the denial of the Israel;s future kingdom under Christ. Cf. Jude 3.
(b) For Body: II Tim. 1:15; 2:17–20; 4:10.

F. From Israel's battles. Each participates in the battles and wins victories. See previous references to Joshua and add Judges 7:1–25, I Sam. 14:1–23; 17:1–54, etc.

Point. When the Body attacks the demons in the Evil Day, it will be a coordinated attack, each member of the Body filling that role to which he/she has been fitted in this life (see C above), each having triumph which contributes to the triumph of the whole. Each will help the other to win their victories and secure their inheritance/rewards. All Body saints are united (Rom. 12:3–6, I Cor. 12:11–27, Eph. 4:13–16, Col. 2:2,19) and Eph. 4:13 implies that the Body will be unified in the Evil Day; and so it will be coordinated in the Rapture-Battle.

Point. The unity and coordination of the Elect of any program is a general principle. For the angels, see Dan. 10:13–21; and for Israel, see F above and also Judges 1:3.

§2. The Judgment Seat of Rom. 14:10 and II Cor. 5:9–10.

A. Principles of Judgment: Ezekiel 18 and 33

(1) The judgment of a member of God's Elect makes no public mention of his/her sins: Ezek. 18:21–23,27; 33:14–16,19.

(2) The judgment of a reprobate makes no public mention of any "good deeds": Ezek. 18:24,26 ; 33:13,18. This is confirmed by Rev. 20:13. See D below.

B. Meaning of Bema-Seat

(1) Basic meaning: the seat of authority from which the authority publicly declares his mind or decisions on whatever matter.

(2) LXX concordance of bema:

Neh. 8:4 (wooden stage from which Ezra read, preached, prayed)
II Macc. 13:26 (soapbox from which Lysias expounded the cause of persecuted Jewry).

(3) Greek N.T. concordance of bema:

Matt. 17:19—Pilate's seat for announcing decisions
John 19:13—Pilate's seat for announcing decisions
Acts 7:5—inheritance or personal domain
Acts 12:21—Herod's bully pulpit
Acts 18:12,16,17—Gallio's seat of rendering judicial decisions
Acts 25:6,17—Festus' seat of rendering judicial decisions
Acts 25:10—Caesar's seat of rendering judicial decisions
Rom. 14:10—bema of God/Christ (manuscript discrepancy)
II Cor. 5:9–10—bema of Christ


C. Location of the Bema.

(1) Christ's seat of authority is the Father's Throne in heaven (see B).

(2) Whatever is declared concerning each member of the Body will be declared from the Throne.

D. Teaching of II Cor. 5:9–10.

(1) Our reward reflects all things done in this life, whether good or bad, and this reward is declared openly.

(2) Individual deeds are not said to be declared openly, but rather the reward.

(3) The reward will be declared openly, and it will reflect implicitly the sins of our life. See A, B above.

(4) There are degrees of reward since there are degrees of glory (cf. I Cor. 15:41).

(5) Comparison with Israel's Elect—Matt. 25:14–30.

(a) Both elect Jews showed the same degree of faithfulness, even though one had more good works (talents): to whom more is given, more is required. And the same commendation is given each.
(b) No bad deeds of either Jewish saint is mentioned in their judgment or assessment (they could have been more faithful and gained 200% instead of "only" 100%).
(c) No good deed of the reprobate Jew is mentioned—even that talent which he had was taken away.

(6) More comments on the judgment of the reprobate (see A above). This judgment takes place at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20) at the conclusion of the Millennium and is distinct from the Judgment Seat of Christ w.r.t. the Body of Christ. But there are analogous principles at work.

(a) No mention of their "good deeds". See Rev. 20:13.
(b) Degrees of torment for the reprobate: Gen. 3:9–21, Matt. 11:24.

Point. David's adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband will not be mentioned to him or anyone else, and Beethoven's music will not be mentioned to him or anyone else. Furthermore, the degree of reward declared is a specific saint's end and hope and final salvation, and the specific degree of torment declared is a specific reprobate's end and condemnation. The Father ordained Paul to a certain role in the Third Heaven, and He ordained Hitler to a certain place in the Lake of Fire.

(7) Those being declared at the Bema of Christ are the Body of Christ (we must all appear).

(8) The standard for assessment at the Judgment Seat is Paul's distinctive gospel (Rom. 2:16) and the Seven Ones (Eph. 4:1–6), just as it is the standard in this life (Rom 16:17, I Cor. 3:10–15, Philip. 3:17; 4:9, I Thess. 1:6, etc).

(9) What is assessed is progress in Paul's gospel—Philip. 1:9–11, both in understanding and in obedience.

Question. What is the means of assessment? More precisely, what mechanism does Christ use to justify His public assessment of saints whose lives have never been observed by other? The mechanism is the Rapture-Battle, and this brings us to the next section.

§3. Day of Fire of I Cor. 3:10–15 and Role of Rapture-Battle.

A. Preliminary Comments.

(1) Every true saint of this dispensation exhibits some progress in, and faithfulness to, Paul's gospel, and no Body saint exhibits perfect conformity to Paul's gospel over his "regenerate lifetime". II Cor. 5:9–10 implies that each of us has good and bad deeds in reference to Paul's ministry, and this compares favorably with Rom. 7.

(2) I Cor. 3:10–15 must be making a meaningful statement each Body saint's life or else why would the Holy Spirit through Paul write it?

(3) From (1) and (2) it follows that "work" in I Cor. 3:13–15 must refer to a particular work or deed of a particular saint. If "work" means the totality of a man's Body ministry and life, then these verses say nothing about any of us, Paul included, and the passage is meaningless. Therefore, "work" means a particular deed at a particular time of a particular saint's life.

B. Role of the Day of Fire in I Cor. 3:10–15

(1) The Day, in context the Day of Fire, shall try every saint's work; i.e. the Day of Fire shall try each deed of each saint.

(2) The Day of Fire must surely be the Day of Evil of Eph. 6:13, for in the Day of Evil the Shield of the One Faith will quench the darts of fire of the Wicked One (Eph. 6:16). So the fire which manifests the quality of each deed is the fire of conflict with Satan and his host. We stand now against his host (Eph. 6:11) in order that we shall attack in the Day of Evil (Eph. 6:13), and the fire of that battle will be the final assessment of our works (I Cor. 3:10–15). Thus the Rapture-Battle is stated to play a fundamental role in the assessment of each deed of this life.

C. Sum of the Matter

(1) Our good works are the gold, silver, precious stones specified by the blueprints of this dispensation given to Paul's charge as the master-architect (I Cor. 3:10–12), namely those deeds which are in accordance with the Mystery and Seven Ones of Paul's gospel and show progress in that gospel.

(2) These good works are now fitting us to a certain degree of glory and empowerment, which in turn fits us to a certain role and triumph in the fiery battle, the Rapture-Battle.

(3) This battle openly manifests what our good works are and it implicitly reveals what our bad works are (the particular victory we gain might have been otherwise if we had had different good works and a hence a different empowerment and glory).

(4) We battle to enter and claim the Third Heaven, to obtain our inheritance. Each member of the Body will obtain a share of the Third Heaven, and this is their victory in the Rapture-Battle.

(5) This particular share of the Third Heaven and corresponding eternal role in governing the angelic hosts will be publicly declared by Christ Himself at the bema.

(6) The role and victory of the battle will both accurately reflect that person's regenerate life and justify Christ's declaration concerning that saint as to reward.

(7) There will be no shame in that Day, only reward: Rom. 8:28, Philip. 1:6; 2:12–13. This is God's sovereign and gracious purpose for the Body of His Son.

Comment. The above framework fits all passages I know on this and related matters. The reader can see for themselves what happens to passages we have not explicitly covered above, e.g. Philip. 2:12–13, I Tim. 5:24–25.