Summary: There is a coming inspection of our Christian Lives that will involve either REWARD or LOSS for every Christian. We should make our life for Christ count so that we receive His reward.
The Judgment Seat of Christ
The military takes inspection seriously. I remember visiting West Point as a teenager. Our family took a tour and which had a display of the Cadet Quarters. The tour guide explained how everything in the Cadet’s room was inspected - from how you made your bed to how you folded your sox. This inspection was no small matter for these Cadets.
The military tradition of inspections is reflected in the long standing tradition of a ceremony known as PASS in REVIEW. During a Pass in Review, the troops march by the base commander or visiting dignitaries.
These military inspections make for better soldiers, always under the watchful eye of a commander, drill instructor or leader.
The same principle is true in the business world. Louis V. Gerstner, Jr wrote, “People don't do what you expect but what you inspect.”
There is a coming inspection of our Christian Lives that will involve either REWARD or LOSS for every Christian. We should make our life for Christ count so that we receive His reward.
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:6–15, ESV)
This passage, and corresponding passages in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 3 speak about the coming Judgment Seat of Christ. JOHN PIPER described the Judgment Seat as the “public declaration of the measure of our reward in the kingdom of God according to our deeds” (John Piper, “What Happens When You Die?” http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/what-happens-when-you-die-all-appear-before-the-judgment-seat-of-christ
This INSPECTION Motivates us to Please Christ. 5:9-10
The CONTEXT of this passage is 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:21. In these two chapters, the struggle in our mortal life is explained. Paul’s focus is on the troubles of this mortal life. He describes this life as a “jar of clay” (4:7), an “earthly tent (5:1), and “affliction” (4:8). He reminds us that our outward bodies are “wasting away” (4:16). In these two chapters, heaven is in focus.
With this expected destination in mind, Christians are reminded that it should be out goal to “Please him” 5:9. Paul uses the Greek word, Eurestos. “Almost every usage in the NT of this word deals with God’s evaluation of the Christian. “it is always used of God’s attitude towards human conduct.” (Kittle, TDNT) Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 457.
The INSPECTION is for Believers
The Judgment Seat is for EVERY believer. “We must all appear,” (5:10).
It is ONLY for believers.
The Judgment Seat occurs in heaven, after the Rapture. This judgment is mentioned in other NT Scriptures.
Rom 14:10–12, ESV “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
Hebrews 4:13 “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
1 Corinthians 3:13 “each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”
The concept of the Judgment Seat originates with a commonly understood idea in the First Century World. It was the The BEMA, a seat of judgement.