Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a Christian, I did "big" wrong things that I regretted and have not done them again. Does 2 Corinthians 5:10 ("For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad") really mean that when I go to heaven I will be judged and punished for those sins?
Be at peace. All of our sins were forever forgiven when we gave our lives to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. When we get to Heaven our sins will never be seen or mentioned again. We will be given pure white robes and ushered into the glories of Heaven where we will have a wonderful time.
With that being said, let me describes what the Bible says about this subject.
The other judgment is described in Revelation 20:10-15 which is called the "Great White Throne Judgment" when at the end of cosmic time Jesus will judge Satan, his demons and everyone who failed to surrender to Christ and become Christians. Only non-Christians will attend this judgment and they will be judged out of the Books of Works, which records everything they ever did. Not one single person at the Great White Throne is good enough for heaven. Jesus has the Books containing all of their works on earth and no one lives up to the perfection of Christ. They, along with Satan and his demons, are all thrown into the Lake of Fire.
Paul explained precisely what will be evaluated at the Judgment of Seat of Christ:
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" 2 Corinthians 5:10.
The translation of "Judgment of Christ" is better translated by the term, "Reward Stand" from the Greek word, "bema" which can also be translated as "throne." The "bema" was the award stand at the Greek Olympics. All winners stood before the "bema" to receive the laurel wreath that encircled the winner's head. All Christians "win" as they appear at the "Bema" of Christ.
The terms "good" and "bad' in Greek have more of the idea of "profitable" and "unprofitable". Our sins are not brought up. The issue is how well we furthered the Kingdom of God on earth. In other words, the rewards we will receive (or don't receive) in Heaven are based on the profitable or unprofitable things we did for the kingdom.
The kind of lives we build determines the rewards we receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ. If we build lives of gold, silver and costly stones we will receive many rewards. Those who waste their lives building with wood, hay and straw will receive few, if any rewards.
The profitability or unprofitability of our lives is determined by fire. Wood, hay and straw are consumed and destroyed by fire. Gold, silver and costly stones withstand the onslaught. By grace, even if all we build is burned in the fire, we still get forgiveness and Heaven because Jesus is the foundation of our lives and He remains unscorched no matter how hot the fire.
“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder … But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than … Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
The Bible identifies some of the rewards as crowns. For example:
- The Soul Winners crown for leading people to Jesus
- The Victors Crown for those who persevere and refuse to give up during persecution
- The Crown of Glory for those who pastor well Christ's "flock"
- The Crown of Life for martyrs
- The Crown of Righteousness for looking with anticipation for the Second Coming
By the way, we don't keep all of the rewards. We will lay them down at Jesus' feet because He alone is worthy to receive glory and honor and praise.
Those Christians who have their earthly works consumed by the fire will still receive great things because of the love, grace and mercy of Christ. In the letters to the churches of Revelation Jesus tells about the gifts He has in store for all Overcomers (Revelation 2-3).
- Eat Fruit from the Tree of Life
- Escape the second death (the Lake of Fire)
- Be given Heavenly manna
- Receive a white stone with Jesus "pet nickname" for them written on it
- Lead nations
- Receive the Morning Star (Jesus)
- Be dressed in pure white robes
- Have their name written securely in The Book Of Life for Eternity
- Be a pillar in God's Temple
- Receive a tattoo with the name on Jesus on his/her body
- Have the right to sit with Jesus on the throne of Jesus
Rosalina, I really appreciate this question. I hope that it is a great encouragement both to you as well as to the ones who read my answer to your question. Ask me a question whenever you like.
God bless you,
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.