The Bema Seat: Faced with Grace

“As for me, I will behold Your face in righteousness.”

These words come from David; they come at the conclusion of one of the king’s prayers, Psalm 17. They are bold words from a bold man, a man after God’s heart.

With what righteousness could David claim an audience with the Lord? A face-to-face audience, nonetheless? Why it is the righteousness of Christ, of course. It is the righteousness He robes upon all who call upon His name and claim His perfect finished work of redemption for themselves.

Confidence and Rest

“As for me, I will behold Your face in righteousness.”

These are words of confidence; David knows God and is at rest in his relationship with Him. Earlier in Psalm 17, David wrote these things: “You have proved my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me; keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”

I think these are the words we should keep in mind when think about facing Christ.

The things we did in our bodies will be tested by the fire of His glory. Click To Tweet

And face Him we will. The epistles of Paul tell us so. To the Romans and to the Corinthians, Paul wrote of a place and a time when Jesus will sit upon the Bema seat, and we shall be brought there.

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

“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 Corinthians 5:10).

The Place of Revelation

What’s the point of this appearance? Let’s be clear, it will be a place of revelation. It is at the Bema seat where what we did in the name of Christ and the motivations of our hearts will be made manifest.

The things we did in our bodies will be tested by the fire of His glory. What we did in the power of the Spirit and in the strength of His grace will glow as gold, silver, and precious stones. These works will take the heat and form the substance of our eternal rewards.

Things shown to be done from the wrong motivation, in envy, self-conceit, and carnal ambition, will burn away as sticks, straw, and stubble. From dust these works will have come and to dust and ashes they shall return. The Bema seat will reveal that these things were without substance as far as God is concerned and will be counted as loss.

Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? What will we feel at that moment? Shame? Disappointment? Will we think that we let God down somehow? Some have picked chunks out of the parables of Jesus and crafted strange doctrines about wailing places and times of gnashing teeth.

I believe we have to draw our comfort from the Scriptures and no place else. We have go to back to David and Psalm 17:

“As for me, I will behold Your face in righteousness.”

Run and Fight to Win

I take for granted the figures of speech Paul used to describe our way of life as Christians. He pointed to the athletes and the centurions who were celebrated throughout the Roman empire. Paul exhorted the early Christians to run the race and fight the good fight. He pictured runners who trained hard, followed all the rules, and competed to gain a crown of garland, a reward that withers away. Applying these examples to the spiritual life, Paul encouraged us and told us that there are prizes to be won.

This can sound strange to ears that have been tuned to the certain sound of grace and mercy. Heaven will be a place of joy and love and eternal life. However, Heaven will not be about an equality of experience for all. “Good and faithful servants” will be hailed with the proclamation of “well done” and also will be assigned authority and responsibility, according to Matthew 25. The rewards correspond to their attitude of service in the opportunities presented to them.

These things are a reality. But consider what we shall be like when we reach the Bema seat. Our corruptible natures will be no more. As Christ is, so shall we be – alive in glorified bodies. Our corruption will have put on incorruption. Carnality and competition will not be part of the story.

Yes, let’s purpose to run well and run to win. Let’s give all we’ve got and seek a full reward at that Bema seat. But look at the Word and see that day for what it will really be – a day of rejoicing, a day ruled by celebration and appreciation, a day when the full glory of God’s presence will envelope all who are in Christ.

For more on the Bema Seat, listen to “The Bema Seat: A Confident Experience,” a message preached by Thomas Schaller, pastor of Greater Grace Church of Baltimore.










Steve Andrulonis
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