The Judgment Seat of Christ

Justin Johnson

Every person will eventually stand before the Lord and be judged.

“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” – Romans 14:12

Yes, even those that trust the gospel of the grace of God. After all, Christ is our Head, why wouldn’t we as members of his body be accountable to him?

“…we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” – Romans 14:10

The important question you need to ask is for what are you being judged? It would be good to know before that day.

The Judgment of Sin

All sin must be judged, but if you trust the gospel, then the judgment you face will not be for sin.

When Christ died he took the judgment for sin upon himself. By his resurrection he offers forgiveness of sins through faith in what he accomplished in our place (Rom 3:24-26; 2 Cor 5:21).

When you trust this gospel that saves you are counted as crucified with Christ, and your sin has already been judged by the cross. What remains for you is to live through the power of the resurrection of Christ.

If you are crucified with Christ, then you will not face a judgment again for sin, because by grace you are saved through faith in Christ. You cannot be condemned for sin again. The judgment of sin is over for you.

Judgment of Responsibility

Though the believer’s sin is judged by Christ’s cross, the saved will still stand before the Lord in judgment.

At this point, some cry “double jeopardy” as if we are held in judgment again for our sins, but this is not so.

Remember, salvation is not from judgment, but from the judgment of sin which is death.

Yes, you are still accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing more right than that members of the Body are held accountable to their Head.

You will face judgment for your responsibility in His body. Being made servants of Christ, there is work entrusted to us as members of His body according to what Christ has given us by grace.

In fact, only believers can be held accountable for this work as servants of Christ. Unbelievers are neither made servants of Christ, nor do they have any responsibility as workmen for the Lord. They will be accountable to the Lord for their sins at a different judgment.

The judgment where members of the body of Christ attend is called the “judgment seat of Christ” in Romans 14:10. This is different than the judgment of nations before Israel’s kingdom (Matt 25) and the great white throne judgment of the wicked in Rev 20:12 and Rev 21:8.

Our Work Judged

For what are we being judged if not for sin or salvation?

This judgment seat will judge the sort of work done by members of His body, whether according to God’s will or not. It is described in 1 Cor 3 and 2 Cor 5:10.

In 1 Cor 3:10 Paul describes himself as the wise masterbuilder laying the foundation of Christ, elsewhere described as Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (1 Cor 4:1; Rom 16:25).

Paul admonishes…

“…let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” – 1 Cor 3:10

The judgment on that day will not be to determine the character of a man’s soul whether his identity is that of a sinner or a saint. At this judgment all are believers and are sanctified in Christ Jesus by grace through faith (1 Cor 1:30).

Neither is this judgment to weigh the number of good works over against the bad works to see whether on balance a person was good or bad.

Rather, the fire at this judgment will “try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Cor 3:13). The sort of work that endures is that which builds and edifies the body of Christ according to the Pauline pattern.

The sort of work that is lost to the fire is that which is not edifying to the body of Christ.

Good work is worthy of a reward. Bad work will not remain.


Do you see how important it is to know the will of God, the mystery of Christ, and how to rightly divide the word of truth?

Without understanding God’s will, we do not know how to build according to plan. Our effort in service will be in vain.

All of our study is for the purpose of pleasing God by the sort of work that will survive the judgment seat of Christ (1 Thess 4:1; Eph 1:5; Eph 2:10). Any lower standard for ministry is vanity.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15

The reason we study is not to be right, but to build right. Not building at all is the same as building wrong. It will not last.

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest …” – 1 Corinthians 3:13

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Published: April 22, 2017
Last Modified: September 16, 2019
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