What will happen to the church during the Tribulation Period? Some believe that the church will have to go through all, or at least a portion, of the Tribulation. Others, such as myself, believe that the church will be raptured out before the Tribulation begins. During that time period the church will experience two major events in heaven: ‘The Bema Seat of Christ’ and ‘The Marriage of the Lamb.’
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:6-10 NKJV)
Why do we call this event the “Bema Seat” of Christ? The word ‘bema’ is the Greek word used in 2 Cor 5 for – ‘judgement seat’ of Christ. During ancient times, athletic events were often judged from a raised platform called the Bema. At the Bema, contestants were rewarded according to their performance in the games. At the Bema Seat of Christ, the lives and works of Christians will be examined to determine: whether or not what was done was done for the glory of Christ; and whether or not it is worthy of recognition in heaven.
At this point we should note that this event is not to be confused with another event often called the Great White Throne of Judgment. (Rev 20:11-15) At the Great White Throne, unredeemed mankind will be examined to determine whether or not their name has been recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life; therefore determining whether or not they will be allowed into heaven. The central issue of the Bema Seat of Christ concerns what a believer has done with the grace of God. Consider what the Apostle Paul has written –
But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. (1 Cor 15:10)
Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. (1 Cor 3:10)
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them … (Rom 12:3, 6)
As Christians, we are all a part of the body of Christ and each of us has been given a portion of God’s grace which enables us to serve the Lord. This administration of grace is often referred to as a ‘spiritual gift.’
Why do we believe that the Bema Seat will take place during the Tribulation Period? Actually there several reasons. First of all, we must note the distinction between the church and the nation Israel. The Tribulation Period is Daniel’s 70th week determined for Israel and it is also called – ‘The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.’ Paul also makes several links between the time of our rewards and rapture.
And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Tim 4:10)
After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! (1 Thess 2:19)
“A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.” (Mt 24:45)
“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.” (Rev 22:12)
How will Christ judge our works?
Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. (1 Cor 3:10-15)
Several things should be noted:
- Every kind of work each builder has done will be revealed
- This revelation is compared to a fire. Most likely the fire is the penetrating gaze of Christ.
- If a man’s work survives, he will receive a reward
- If a man’s work is consumed, he will receive no reward; yet the builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames
What are the areas where we will be examined and what are the rewards we might expect? Let me list some of them for you:
- How we treat our fellow believers Heb. 6:10; Matt. 10:41-42
- How we exercise authority over fellow believers Heb. 13:17; James 3:1
- How we invest and use the gifts and abilities God gives us Matthew 25:14-29
- How we use our money Matt 6:19-21; 1 Tim. 6:17-19
- How we suffer for the cause of Christ Matt. 5:11-12; Mk 10:29-30
- How we run the Christian race that is set before us 1 Cor. 9:24; Php. 3:13-14
- How we use the time God has given to us 1 Pet. 1:17
In addition to these areas, many believe that there are also various crowns thay may be earned:
- Incorruptible Crown – How well we master our old nature 1 Cor. 9:25
- Crown of Rejoicing – How many souls we seek to win to Christ 1 Thess. 2:19
- Crown of Life – How we react to trials James 1:12
- Crown of Righteousness – How we view and anticipate the rapture 2 Tim. 4:8
- Crown of Glory – How we shepherd the sheep of the Master 1 Pet. 5:4
In closing I would like to briefly mention why this event should be important to every believer.
- It will bear influence upon how we spend eternity in heaven Matt 25:14-28; Rev 22:3
- It will bear influence upon how we are able to worship the Lord Rev 4:9-11
- It says much about whether or not we truly love the Lord Matt 25:14-28
This has been a rather extensive study; yet it barely scratches the surface of all that has been written in scripture regarding this important event. In closing, let us again consider the words of the Apostle Paul –
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
For a outline of other End Times Events covered in this study, click on END TIME EVENTS.