What Judgment Will I Face?

A discussion of the doctrine of the judgment of God requires an understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all men (John 3:16, Hebrews 12:2). All of our sins are forgiven via this single sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27), and we will never be judged for the individual sins that we commit. In eternity, our sins are forgiven and forgotten by God. Jesus supplied our eternal sacrifice, and through confession (1 John 1:9), we can have God's temporal forgiveness for this life. With this being the case, what judgment does 1 Peter 1:17 address? "Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." Furthermore, Romans 2:6 says that God will judge every man according to his deeds.

Indeed, all men will be judged, but there are two specific categories of judgment based upon the determining factor of believing in Jesus Christ as personal savior. Remember that upon accepting Christ as savior, God imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to each believer. Without this divine power, man can do no good (Romans 3:10, 12, Psalms 53:3). He may do some humanly good deeds, which have as their source the old sin nature, but unless the Holy Spirit indwells a person and God sees that person through the righteousness of His son, he cannot perform any divinely good works. In the first category of judgment then, unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne of God (Revelation 20:11-15), and in the second category, believers will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The Great White Throne

The judgment of unbelievers will occur after the Millennium as all unbelievers stand before the Great White Throne of God (Revelation 20:11). God will judge all of their deeds (Romans 2:6) and find that they are all lacking the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22), and He will cast them all into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:15). The Bible does not specify how the judgment of their individual human good works will affect their eternal doom in the lake of fire. Perhaps there will be degrees of punishment in hell, although we cannot perceive of a punishment worse than hell itself. Romans 1:18-27 tells us that they deserve their punishment, and that they have no excuse for their unbelief, since God has revealed Himself to all men.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

The judgment of all believers will occur at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10), but the Bible does not clearly specify when this judgment will occur. Many believe that it will be after the rapture and during the tribulation period, but it is probably a moot point since time cannot be set in an eternal state. Nevertheless, we are assured of this judgment which 1 Corinthians 1:8 calls "the day of the Lord Jesus Christ," and we are charged to be prepared for it and remain blameless in this life until that day. In 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, we see that in that day that the work of every man "will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light." Christ will test the quality of our works with fire, which will burn up the wood, hay, and straw, but leave the pure gold, silver, and precious stones. God will repay us for our deeds in the body, according to what we have done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). This is where Christ will reveal whether our good works were only humanly good works produced by the old sin nature like the wood, hay, and straw similar to that of "good" unbelievers, or whether our good works came from the divine power of the Holy Spirit in the form of gold, silver, and precious stones. For the divine good works that survive the test of fire, Jesus will credit our account (Philippians 4:17). For our human good works, we will suffer loss, but we will keep our eternal life (1 Corinthians 3:15). We are promised that God will repay us for our service to Him (Ephesians 6:8), and we will receive "an inheritance from the Lord as a reward" (Colossians 3:24).


We are not told the details of these rewards, but any reward from God must be wonderful and worthy of our service. Our rewards may be personal commendations from Jesus, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21, 23). They may be in the form of crowns (1 Corinthians 9:25, Revelation 3:11). In 1 Peter 5:4, a special "crown of glory" is specified for leaders who serve well. In 2 Timothy 4:8, we see a crown of righteousness for those who live Godly lives and long for Christ's return. James 1:12 references a crown of life for those who persevered by God's grace, while under trial for their faith. Philippians 4:1 speaks of a crown of joy for those who stand firm in their service to God.

Our rewards may be various positions of authority or leadership as we reign with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 20:6, 22:5). In 1 Corinthians 6:3, we see that we will even be given authority to judge the angels. No matter what our rewards are, Christians in this life must have faith that God will make all of our service to Him worthwhile. After salvation, and while we remain on the earth, we are told to serve God and earn rewards from Jesus Christ.


This system of judgment and rewards for Christians in return for divinely good works doesn't at first sound like a grace system, does it? However, God established this system of works within His all-encompassing system of grace, similar to the way that he had a system of works to govern the daily lives of the Jews in the Old Testament, although the two are completely mutually exclusive. When not properly oriented toward God's grace and sovereignty, a Christian can feel guilty for trying to earn eternal rewards. Of course our works should be motivated from our love for Christ, but Matthew 6:19-20 says that we should not seek earthly treasures (coveting), but we should seek heavenly treasures (rewards) with fervor.


We will all face God's judgment, whether we are believers or unbelievers. At the Great White Throne of God, unbelievers will be found to lack the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and they will be sentenced to the lake of fire forever. Believers will be rewarded for their divinely good works, and they will spend eternity in paradise, either as wealthy recipients of many rewards, or as paupers in comparison to what they could have had. The name of the game in the Christian life is to please God through our obedience and earning of heavenly rewards.

Owen Weber 2009