All believers who die are ushered immediately into the presence of the Lord. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (NKJV). This gives us the assurance that we will be with our redeemer when we leave the earth.

Now let’s consider 2 Corinthians 5:10, “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.” Along with that, let’s also consider John 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” We are promised by the Lord Himself that believers “shall not come into judgment”, yet we see that we “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” How are we to understand this?

We get more information about this event in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, “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.” The believer will not be judged; indeed, he is beyond judgment because Christ was judged in our stead. Yet, the believer’s WORKS shall be judged. The judgment seat of Christ will manifest what type of servant we have been. If we have built with improper materials (such as serving the Lord to bring attention to ourselves), then that will be burnt up. For those works that survive the judgment, there will be reward. The believer’s salvation is not threatened at all at the judgment seat of Christ. As we read, “but he himself will be saved.” Although we will not be judged, we should live our lives seeking to please the Lord Jesus so that we should, “not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1 John 2:28)

The Lord Jesus tells us in Revelation 22:12, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” This, I believe is in reference to the Rapture of the Church, when the Lord returns to the air as we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” We read of the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19, where we see that the bride (the church) has already been rewarded with ‘fine linen’. Revelation 19:7-8 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

The order for the departed believers is that they are now in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). They are awaiting that great day to be reunited with their bodies, which are changed into incorruptible and immortal bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:51-55 along with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Then they will stand before the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10). In closing, let me point out that the judgment of Christ is not something to be feared. We should not be afraid to see our dear Savior. No, at that point, we will be glad to see all those undeserving works burnt up so that only that which is from Christ will endure and His name shall be glorified. (320.4)