On Thrones and Crowns
“for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23, NASB95)
So, you have believed in your heart that God raised Jesus from the grave and confessed Jesus as Lord…now what? “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9–10, NASB95)
First, you are saved and born again spiritually! Amen. But, what is next? We are going to learn about two judgments (one for believers and one for non-believers) and some rewards or crowns that apply to believers. Wait, I am a Christian now, I thought I would not be judged? A believer’s sin has already been judged. ““Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”” (John 12:31–32, NASB95)
When Jesus died on the cross at Calvary, He became sin for us. “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (Romans 6:10, NASB95) “not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Hebrews 9:25–28, NKJV) “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24, NASB95)
Christ’s perfect work was to die so that believers would be justified. ““I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4, NASB95) ““Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24, NASB95) John 5:24 means that the person will not be judged for their sins. “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,” (Romans 6:8, NASB95) Jesus died a substitutionary death on the cross in our place. Our past, present, and future sins were judged when He hung on the cross. He became our sins, and the judgment was death. “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:25, NASB95) “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1, NASB95)
Judgment Seat of Christ
This is a judgment of a believer’s works. “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Romans 14:10, NASB95) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NASB95) The word we translate “judgment seat” (bema) basically means “step” from which it comes to be used as a unit of measure (Acts 7:5). It is used of a raised platform on which the judge sat during judicial proceedings (and from which he pronounced his verdict) or of the seat itself.
During the judgment seat of Christ, a fire will come and test all believer’s works each one by one. Good works are precious metals and stones, other works are wood, hay, and stubble. “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:12–15, NASB95) ““But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”” (Matthew 12:36–37, NASB95)
We have not been saved because of our good works, but, our works will be a reward for us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NASB95) “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8, NASB95) After the fire tests our works (the wood, hay, and stubble will be consumed by the fire) what is left will be Gold and silver with precious stones to be made into a crown for us. Our good works become a crown.
The Great White Throne Judgment
““For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” (Matthew 16:27, NASB95) “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5, NASB95) “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7–8, NASB95) ““Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12, NASB95) This judgment is primarily for unbelievers.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11–15, NASB95)
The unbelieving unregenerate is called the dead (being dead spiritually), both great and small. Their deeds (namely not accepting Jesus as Lord, or believing that God raised Him from the dead) are written in the books. They will be judged according to these books and the book of life. When a person accepts Jesus as Lord and believes in his heart confessing with his mouth, then their name is written in the book of life. Those that don’t will be thrown into the lake of fire and will be consumed there. This judgment will be finite, and eternal. There are angels that are bound in Tartarus that will be loosed and judged during the great white throne judgment. “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;” (2 Peter 2:4, NASB95) “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,” (Jude 6, NASB95)
We have learned about two judgments and rewards for a believer’s works. However, when we leave this tabernacle of our present body, we go to be with Christ which constitutes the greatest reward and gain for the believer. Amen!
 Elwell, Walter A., and Walter A. Elwell. Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology 1996 : n. pag. Print. Baker Reference Library.