That the saints will receive a reward from the Lord is one of the fundamental truth of the Bible. This is because the Lord Jesus Christ Himself assured this to us as written in Revelation 22:12 saying:
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
According to this verse, there are three things that we need to look at concerning this reward from our Lord. They are the following:
1. Behold, I Come Quickly
This phrase told us that the giving of the reward will happen right after the quick coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what is this quick coming of the Lord? It is no other than the Rapture of Bride as written in 1 Corinthians 15:52:
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
This coming of the Lord is very quick that it was described as only “a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” And since the rewarding will only happen after the Rapture, this means that the reward will be given to the Raptured saints of the Lord – His Bride.
2. And my Reward is with Me
This is a reward coming from the Lord Himself. This is His reward. It will be given to those “good and faithful servants” (Mat. 25:21,23) of Him. Since this is coming from our Lord, we are assured that this reward is true for our Lord can never lie.
3. To give every Man according as his Work
This is the third truth concerning this reward that we need to look at. The reward will be according to our works. This reward is directly proportional to our works. This means that the more you work for the Lord, the greater your reward will be. The lesser you work for Him, the lesser will be your reward also. All according to our works.
We can actually read this in the parable of the Talents in Luke 19:12-27. The one that had gained 10 pounds was given ten cities (Luke 19:16-17) while the one that gained 5 pounds was given five cities (Luke 19:18-19). All according to their works.
NO MORE CONDEMNATION TO THEM WHICH ARE IN CHRIST JESUS
To know more about this reward from our Lord, let us start with 2 Corinthians 5:10 that says:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Most of the believers today interpret this verse as “all people will face judgment from Christ”. They interpret the word “all” here as both the Sheep and the Goats or both the Children of God and the children of Satan. Like what most of the denominations are telling us today, they think that even though you are a child of God, you will still face Christ for judgment where He will show you all the sins and good deeds that you have done in your lifetime. But this is not actually the case.
First of all, the “we” that the Apostle Paul refers to here are the believers in Corinth, including himself. He is only referring to the children of God (Sheep) and not the unbelievers (Goats), that is why he includes himself. Second, for those who are children of God, the Bible is very clear that because we are already forgiven, our Lord Jesus Christ will no longer remember our sins anymore as written in Hebrew 8:12:
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
This is why when we come face to face with Him someday, if you are His Child, He will no longer remind you of your sins. He will not shame you to other believers by flashing all your sins before you and before them, unlike what many denominations are teaching today. What for? There is no need for it because you are already in heaven. What would be His reason why He would show your sins to you? You can no longer repent in heaven. Showing saved people their sins when they are already with the Lord is useless. It will also contradict these two verses of the Bible:
Rom. 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
John 5:1 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
There is no more condemnation to them who have eternal life. If you died and you go to heaven, that means you have eternal life. It also means that Christ will not condemn you or remind you of your sins anymore. This was made possible because “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). All believers became righteous because God imputed their sins to our Lord Jesus Christ. They will all face our Lord one day as righteous people. No sins can ever condemn them anymore.
So what does it means when 2 Corinthians 5:10 says “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ?”
THE BEMA SEAT OF CHRIST
If we will try to look at again 2 Corinthians 5:10 using Strong’s Concordance, we will see that the word “Judgement” here was translated from the Greek word “Bema” that means “a raised place,” “a step,” “a rostrum,” “an elevated place,” “an official seat of a judge”. Now, because Paul’s letter here was addressed to the Corinthians, he didn’t have to explain to them what he meant when he used the word Bema. The Corinthians know perfectly well what the Bema seat is for. They had one in their city which they had seen to be used frequently. It is being used by the judge to reward the winners of the Olympic games.
Starting 776 BC, Greeks had some games they called the “Olympics”. The earliest games in the Olympics involved marathon, sprint, wrestling, javelin throw, chariot racing and long jump. Part way in the games, they would stop to offer a sacrifice of 100 oxen to their god Zeus, whom the games were held in honor of, as their supreme god. So those in Corinth whom Paul is writing to, knew all about the games. They can relate to Paul when he told them about finishing the race. And they knew about the bema seat which is a raised platform used by the judges to reward the victorious athletes at the end of the Olympic games. The Bema Seat is elevated so that the judge will not have a hard time putting the crown made of Laurel leaf to the heads of the winners. Today, a medal made of gold, silver and bronse are the rewards of the Olympic winners. But during those time, its a Laurel leaf crown.
Therefore, the Bema Seat of Christ is used to reward the victorious winners of the race and not to condemn the sinners. It is used for believers only. For the Sheep (winners). It has nothing to do with sin. 2 Corinthians 5:10 is not about exposing sin. Rather, it is an awarding exercise (a graduation ceremony) for those who have successfully finished the race.
THE BEMA SEAT IS NOT THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT
The Bema Seat of Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:10 is NOT the Great White Throne Judgement of Revelation 20:11-15. The Greek word that is used in Revelation 20:12 for the word “Judge” is “krinō” which means “to condemn,” “to punish” “to judge.” This means that without a doubt, those who will be judged in the Great White Throne Judgement are SURE to receive punishment and condemnation. Which is the total opposite of those who will be judged in the Bema Seat of Christ who will only receive rewards from Him.
It is not be confused also with the Judgement of the Nations stated in Matthew 25 which will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation. Matthew 25 is about the separation of the Sheep (who are heirs of salvation) and the Goats. The Bema Seat of Christ has nothing to do with our Salvation at all which we have received as a Gift and not as a reward. We received our Salvation as a gift from Christ since He died for us and is not according to our works (Eph. 2:8-9). While our reward that we will receive in the Bema Seat of Christ will be solely dependent on our works here on Earth (2 Cor. 5:10, Rev. 22:12).
Just like what I have written above, the Bema Seat of Christ is more like a graduation ceremony. I remember our graduation ceremony when I graduated from our University. It is all laughter and rejoicing as your hard work is acknowledged and you shake hands with your University chancellor. If someone is crying here, it would be tears of joy. It is through this ceremony that your hard work is being acknowledged and your labor is being rewarded. But no matter how joyful our graduation ceremony here on Earth be, for those who have run well in their races here on Earth, the joy that they will receive during the Bema Seat of Christ will be much more, more, more than all the joy they have experienced here.
“ACCORDING TO THAT HE HATH DONE, WHETHER IT BE GOOD OR BAD”
2 Cor. 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
If the Bema Seat of Christ is only for the rewarding of the good works that we have done for our Lord, what does the phrase “according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” mean in 2 Corinthians 5:10? What does the word “BAD” mean here? If this is only a rewarding ceremony and not about the exposing of our sins, why is there a mention of the word “bad” here? Will our Lord going to bring up the bad things we have done?
Again, our Lord will not remind us of our sins any longer (Heb. 8:12, Rom. 8:1, John 5:1). If we will try to look at the word “bad” in this verse using the Strong’s Concordance, we will see that the Greek word that was used is “kakos” which means “worthless,” “good for nothing,” “depraved” or “injurious.” The main meaning which are “worthless” and “good for nothing” fit the context better because this is what the Apostle Paul had mentioned to the Corinthian believers earlier in his first letter to them:
1 Cor. 3:11-15 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
All our works here on Earth will be tested by fire. Are those works eternal? Or they are just temporal? Are your works aimed at eternal things which cannot be destroyed if tested by fire? Or are they just aimed for material gains that have no concern on the treasures in heaven? Are your works the works of Christ? Or are you only working for people and for personal gain? Are your works made of truth that cannot be destroyed by fire? Or are they made of worthless and good-for-nothing material like wood, hay and stubble that are easily burnt by fire?
You see? You need to make sure that your works here on Earth are not worthless or good for nothing that when they are put to a fiery test, they are easily burnt. This is what the Apostle Paul meant by “bad” things. If you are concentrating all your strength on these bad (worthless) things here on Earth, you won’t receive a reward from the Lord. Remember, those who will receive rewards are the people whose works are tried in fire but still abide.
PEOPLE WHO ARE SAVED BUT HAVE NO REWARDS
Now, remember again that our rewards have nothing to do with our salvation. Our salvation is a gift and is a work of Christ while our rewards are solely dependent on our works. Paul clearly says that there will be people who are saved but will receive no rewards as written in 1 Corinthians 3:15:
“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
These believers are saved but just like someone that just escapes the flames and gets out alive, he/she saved nothing else because all his/her works are burnt by fire. We don’t want to be like them. An example of these people in the Bible is Lot.
Lot lived in a corrupt city called Sodom. There were no “good” or eternal things that were going to come out of staying there since Sodom was a worldly place. People there have no regard for Godly things. And when the fire from God came, he and his daughters escaped with their lives, but with nothing else. Everything they had worked for all their lives in that place was all gone because all of them are worthless or noneternal. They made it out alive and were saved, but have no rewards. We don’t want to be like them.
AIM TO GET THE PRIZE
Many of the believers today, especially the true ministers of Christ, because of their humility, do not desire to get the rewards. We would often hear them say:
“Just to be with the Lord is enough for me, to have a reward is not my priority.”
Though on the surface, this may sound humble, but this is actually wrong. This is not what our Lord wanted for us. This is why we can read in 1 Corinthians 9:24:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
Our Lord is telling us that it is proper to aim for the prize. He is encouraging us to “run in such a way as to get the prize.” But why do ministers and believers today do not want the reward? It’s because they think that having the reward will put them in self-glory. And because they are humble, they don’t want this self-glory or own-glory, therefore, they don’t want the reward of our Lord.
Here is the truth: reward for your own glory is indeed wrong. If you are a person who is aiming for the prize just so you can someday proudly boast to others in heaven saying “Look at me! Look at me! I get the reward!” Then you have the wrong idea of the reward and to tell you, you cannot do that in heaven. The same is true for those people who think that the reward that our Lord will going to give us is something that will lead to our self-glorification. This too is a wrong idea about the reward. But what really is the reason why our Lord encourages us to aim for the prize?
It’s because it gives Him glory. Not you.
Believers who aim for the prize are also the people who give our Lord more glory through their works than those who are only contented that they are saved. It is true that He will reward us if we are faithful. It is true that we will be given positions of authority to sit with Him in the thrones in His Kingdom if we are good and faithful servants down here. But even greater than that, is the fact that these rewards give more glory to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Honestly, I myself am not exempted from this. Even as I write these words, I know how a failure I am. I am not even sure if I have a reward. But I am comforted by these words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:5:
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”
Praised God! All is not over yet. There is still time to aim for the prize. And to think that our Lord is looking for something in us which He can praise about us someday, are very reassuring words. Our goal now is to make Him not to look hard!
THE USE OF OUR REWARDS
Rev 4:4 “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.”
Here we can read that there are 24 elders sitting in the 24 thrones surrounding the throne of God. All of them are clothed in white garments and wearing golden crowns on their heads. These 24 elders represent the 12 patriarchs of the Old Testament and the 12 apostles of Christ in the New Testament. So all in all, they represent the believers in both the Old and New Testaments. They are the exact representation of the old and new testaments saints that have received rewards which are represented by the golden crowns in their heads.
In Revelation 20:4, these 24 thrones turned into many thrones after the promised of our Lord Jesus Christ in Revelation 22:12 had come to pass. This is when the saints had been raptured and the awarding ceremony (Bema Seat) has been done. Those who have received an award will be given a golden crown and will seat on the thrones. And the Lord Jesus Christ will be the “King of kings and the Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16, 17:14, 1 Tim. 6:15). The kings and the lords here are no other than the saints that sit in the thrones with the Lord.
But the main point that I wanted to show you is this:
Rev. 4:10-11 “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
I just want to emphasize here that the Golden Crowns means rewards (compare Rev. 3:11 “let no man take thy CROWN” and Col. 2:18: “let no man beguile you of your REWARD.”) When 1 Cor. 9:25-27 says “Don’t be cast away from your crown“, it means rewards, not salvation. The golden crowns which represent the rewards that the 24 Elders had received from our Lord were cast back to our Lord. The casting of crowns back to the Lord means that the 24 Elders give back the glory to Him! This will be done also by every saint that will going to receive a reward from our Lord someday. They will also cast back their crowns from the Lord because He is the one worthy to receive all the glory. Oh, how wonderful it would be to have something to be offered back to Him on that day!
Why did they cast back their crowns to our Lord? It is because they know that they have received those rewards NOT because of their own works, but because of the working of our Lord through them (Phil. 2:13)! Yes, those who have received the rewards are the people who are led by the Spirit of God. They are those who let the Spirit of the Lord works in them. This is why, in actuality, it is not them who work, but the Lord Who is in them. The 24 Elders realized this, and that’s why they cast back their crowns to our Lord. He is the One worthy of all their crowns because they are actually His works through them.
This is the only way to get the reward. You must realize that you cannot get the reward through your own works/efforts. To get the reward, it should be the work of our Lord.
The giving of rewards by our Lord Jesus Christ to His good and faithful servants is a true promise of our Lord as written in Revelation 22:12.
What we need to do today is to run in such a way that we are aiming to get the Prize so that someday, we will have something to offer back to Him for His glory. If now you are poor here on Earth, then this is your opportunity to be rich in eternity. The race is not over yet. Aim for the Prize. Store treasures in heaven now. Let the Spirit of the Lord work in you. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
May He continue to reveal to us His truth is my prayer.
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