Differences between 2 future events
We have been looking at the differences between two great future events on God’s calendar, the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 and the Bema Seat of Christ (translated “judgment seat of Christ” in the Authorized Version). Some verses for the Bema are Romans 14:10, I Corinthians 3:12-15, and II Corinthians 5:10.
Last week we saw that the Bema Seat of Christ is part of the Rapture and takes place just before the Tribulation period begins. The Great White Throne Judgment takes place after the destruction of the universe, which is after the 1,000-year millennium, which is after the seven-year Tribulation. So the Bema Seat is separated from the Great White Throne by 1,007 years (the destruction of the universe will be a brief event).
This week we want to compare the participants and what is judged during these two events.
The Bema Seat is conducted by Christ himself. This event involves a judgment, and Christ himself will be the judge. Paul calls Christ “the Lord” when referring to him as the one judging (I Cor. 4:4-5).
Christ is also the judge at the Great White Throne event. The presence of Christ as the judge is a constant in both events. The difference in who is present lies with the human beings involved.
At the Rapture, the only people involved are the members of the “body of Christ,” grace-believers, commonly called Christians today. They are also called “the Church.” They are the ones having truly believed the gospel of I Corinthians 15:3-4. In order for a person to believe this gospel (or good news), they has to recognize that they are a sinner, because part of this gospel is that “…Christ died for our sins,” verse 3. If a person was not a sinner and therefore not guilty of sin, then Christ would not have had to die on the cross, since there would have been no sins for which to die.
At the Great White Throne judgment, the people involved will be most unsaved humans since Adam and Eve. These people will come from all walks of life, different cultures, prominent positions (the “great”) and insignificant roles (the “small,” Rev. 20:12). This judgment does not include those already in “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12) or “eternal (AV “everlasting”) fire” (Matt. 25:41).
The last comparison we want to make today between the Bema Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne involves what is judged.
The Bema Seat of Christ is a judgment of the works of believers. It is an evaluation by Christ of everything that a Christian has done while on earth. It does not include the works done before they became a Christian because those works have been forgiven by Christ and are therefore no longer an issue. We must distinguish between a Christian and his works in order to understand the Bema Seat of Christ. The Christian’s works, not the Christian himself, are the object of judgment at this event.
The Great White Throne is a judgment of unbelievers based upon their works. The lifestyle of every person is individual to that person. Each person standing before the Great White Throne was unsaved for their entire lifetime upon earth. Their lifetime of works will be evaluated at this event.
So in our comparison of the Bema Seat and the Great White Throne, we see that these events are different in time, in participants, and in the extent of the works judged.