There will be a day when we will be at Jesus feet. Some will see Him at the Great White throne judgment, and those of us who follow Him will see Him at the Bema seat. Those who decide to not follow Him will be judged by what they did in their life to determine where they will go. The Great White Throne is where He will judge the nations on whether they are worthy to enter into heaven. Unfortunately, none of us are good enough to enter heaven on our own merit.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire
But, fortunately, Christ died on the cross and took the full penalty of our sins, so that those who believe will be saved and will spend eternity with Him. We will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Believers will be judged in a different way. Our salvation is not based on what we do, but where our heart is. We follow Christ and are saved. As we follow Christ, we do works because we love Him. We should be doing things to further God’s kingdom. God will use each of us for His purpose. The things we do on our own are of no use to Him.
1 Corinthians 3:9-15
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Our works will be judged to determine the rewards we will receive in heaven. I believe when we receive these rewards, we will lay them down at Jesus feet in worship and gratitude to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 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.
The judgment seat, also known as the Bema seat is where Christ will sit and determine what rewards we will gain. As believers, we have that guarantee to be in His presence for all eternity. What a wonderful day that will be! How awesome to be in His presence. So what are these rewards? There are several references in the Bible to different crowns we may obtain. What are they? These are the five crowns I have found in my studies. Are there more? Maybe. Please comment if there are any in scripture I may have missed.
1. The Imperishable Crown.
I believe this may also be the crown of faith, or the crown of salvation. Be strong in the Lord. Follow His will. Obey His commands. Discipline yourself and practice those things in God’s word. That is how you obtain this crown.
1 Cor 9:24-27
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
2.The Crown of Life.
Those who believe in Jesus Christ, repent and overcome temptation, and endure by trusting in Him will receive the Crown of Life.
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”‘
3. The Crown of Righteousness.
This crown goes to those who yearn for Christ’s return, those who are ready. Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Are you answering and allowing Him to come in? Are you following Him and surrendering your entire life to Him? What if He were to return right now? Would He be pleased with what you are doing, how you are living? Paul encourages us to be ready to share the gospel; to teach the truth; to not give up sharing the gospel and to defend it.
2 Timothy 4:1-8
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
4. The Crown of Rejoicing.
As people come to Christ, those who disciple them will see great joy in watching their faith grow.
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.
5. The Crown of Glory.
This is for those who lead in the church, in particular elders, who “shepherd the flock,” teaching and guiding with integrity to help others grow spiritually.
1 Peter 5:1-4
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
I think we receive some of these rewards in this life as well. When you share the gospel and you see someone make a decision to follow Christ, there is no greater reward than that. When you disciple someone and watch their faith grow, it is such a blessing. May we strive to do all these things and more, not to gain reward, but because we love God and want to please Him, and because we love others and want them to have the grace and gifts of God that He has given us.