Because of Paul’s confidence in God, he was not afraid of suffering and trials, or even dangers. He was willing to ‘lose his life’ for the sake of Christ and the ministry of the Gospel. He walked by faith and not by sight. He looked at the eternal unseen, not the temporal seen (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Heaven was not simply a destination for Paul: it was a motivation. Like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, he looked for the heavenly city and governed his life by eternal values.
Not every believer is ambitious for the Lord, but every believer is going to appear before the Lord. Now is the time to prepare. The Judgment Seat of Christ is that future event when God’s people will stand before the Savior as their works are judged and rewarded. Paul was ambitious for the Lord because he wanted to meet Him with confidence and not shame.
The term ‘judgment seat’ comes from the Greek word bema, which was the platform in Greek towns where speeches and decisions were given by rulers. It was also the place where the awards were given out to the winners in the annual Olympic games. This must not be confused with the Great White Throne from which Christ will judge the wicked (Rev. 20:11-15). Because of the gracious work of Christ on the cross, believers will not face their sins (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1), but we will have to give an account of our works and service for the Lord.
The Judgment Seat of Christ will be a place of:
- Revelation – As we live and work here on earth, it is relatively easy for us to hide things and pretend; but the true character of our works will be exposed before the searching eyes of the Savior.
- Reckoning – We will give an account of our ministries.
- Reward & Recognition – Those who have been good and faithful will glorify the Lord by giving our rewards back to Him in worship and in praise.
So what will be the rewards faithful Christians will receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ? I believe there will be many different kinds of rewards. Even giving a cup of cold water seems to receive a reward (Matthew 10:42). However, the Bible mentions certain ‘crowns’ that will be given:
1. The Crown of Righteousness is given to those who love the Lord’s appearing (2 Timothy 4:8)
2. The Incorruptible Crown is given to those who discipline their body and live in self-control (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).
3. The Crown of Life is given to those who endure patiently through trials (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).
4. The Crown of Glory is given to godly leaders who serve as faithful examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2-4).
5. The Crown of Rejoicing is given to those who win souls to Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:19; Daniel 12:3).
When John saw a vision of Jesus returning to the Earth in the Book of Revelation, He had ‘many crowns’ on His head (Revelation 19:12). How did He get all those crowns? It appears that sometime before He returns crowns will be cast at His throne (Revelation 4:10). I believe these will be the crowns that are awarded to Christians at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Let us work for Jesus so we have many crowns to give Him to wear on His return to Earth.
Read more about the Crowns at Rewards in Heaven.