Two Different Judgments Are Set In Heaven

The Book of Revelation identifies two different judgments that will occur in heaven. The first is a judgment for believers, and the second is a judgment for unbelievers and for those who die during the millennial reign of Christ. The purpose of the first judgment is to reward those who have labored faithfully for the gospel cause, and the second is to show men (and women) why they are condemned to the second death and to judge the angels.


18The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants,[a] the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

19Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings,[b] peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

The timing for this judgment is during what scholars identify as mid-Tribulation, somewhere in the middle of the seven years of tribulation that will unfold on Earth. The saints and righteous will have been „caught up” to meet the Lord, and the dead in Christ will have been raised (1Cor. 15:52-54; 1 Thess. 4:16-17). Jesus said, „For the Son of Man will come in the glory of  His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matt. 16:27). Paul calls this time of judgment and reward the judgment seat of Christ:

ROMANS 14:10-13

10Why 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; 11for it is written,

„As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess[a] to God.” 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Paul also wrote:


9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For 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.

The phrase judgment seat is found ten times in the King James translation of the New Testament. It is used when Pilate sat down to judge whether Christ should or should not be crucified (Matt. 27:19). It is found in Acts 18:12-17, where Paul was brought before the judgment seat and had to defend the gospel and the accusation from the Jews the he was preaching contrary to the Law of Moses. He was beaten at the judgment seat for the message he was declaring in the area (v. 17). Another use of the term is when Paul wrote that we would appear before the judgment seat in heaven (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10).

The Greek for judgment seat is the single word bema. The word bema means „to set foot on” or „foot room” and was used of the raised platform  a person stood on, reached by steps. The original bema seats were in Athens, Greece, and were raised platforms that existed on Pnyx Hill. From these raised platforms speeches were made to those who gathered together. Later the word was used to mark a tribunal in the Greek courts in which the accused would defend himself from one platform and the accusers would speak from the other.

The bema was also used in the time of the Olympics. It was the raised platform near the finish line where the judge would sit and determine who crossed the line first, second, and so forth during foot races. The writer to the Hebrews listed numerous saints, from righteous Abel to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and others who „died in faith” (Heb. 11-13). He then informs his readers:

HEBREWS  12:1-2

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that isset before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Running the race and looking unto Jesus would indicate that He is the rewarder and the judge at the finish line and that we must lay aside anything that would hinder our effectiveness and prevent us from receiving the prize at the end of our race.

John wrote that it was time to judge the dead. The dead in Christ will all be judged at one time at the great resurrection. Paul gives a powerful revelation on how a believer will be judged and the methods God will use to reveal the deeds done while a person lived on Earth.


1For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 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. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Many people would consider this passage as some form of metaphor. However, there is a golden altar in heaven where prayers are offered before God (Rev. 8:3-4). There is also an angel over fire:


18And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, „Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.”

How would our works „be revealed by fire” ? First, we are not saved by works but only by grace (Eph. 2:8-9). Our works are the deeds that were done while living in our bodies on Earth. For example, Christ thought: „Whoever gives one of these little once only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (Matt. 10:42). Christ revealed that when you are persecuted, it increases your heavenly reward:

MATTHEW 5:11-12

11 „Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Helping to care for true men of God will also bring you a special reward:


41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.

There is a special reward for those who serve others willingly, not for self- gain, but doing it as a service to the Lord:


22Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

This Scripture passage reminds me of the numerous volunteers who assist our ministry each year during our main conferences. Without these dedicated and trusty volunteers, it would be very difficult to conduct the regional conferences and to assist the crowds of fifteen hundred to thirty-five hundred who attend. Our volunteers are often asked why they spend there vacations and pay there own expenses to assist the ministry. They always answer that they are doing this „for the Lord”, not just for the ministry.

They understand the spiritual principle that my grandmother Lucy Bava understood. After Granddad’s passing, „Granny Bava” moved to Cleveland and would volunteer a few hours a day to my ministry doing odds and ends. I would say, „Granny, i need to pay you something  for this work you are doing!”

She would look up with a slight grin and point to a plate that had a small cross on a purple pillow with a gold-plated crown above on it, which read: „Give for the Crown”. „I don’t need money”, she said. „I am working for that in heaven!” These volunteers have the „reward of inheritance” and will inherit all of the blessings of the future kingdom since their hearts and motives were pure in a desire to be a blessing to others.

Many ask, „What will our rewards be if we are found faithful to Christ?” The Bible lists a series of crowns that will be awarded to individuals for particular aspects of ministry and obedient labor in their life.

Next Sunday, more to come…Five Crowns in the Bible

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