Q. Will believers be judged when they die?
A. Believers will stand in the Bema Seat, a place of rewards and loss of rewards.
When believers die they will stand before the Lord in judgment. Hebrews 9:27 says, “it is appointed unto men to die once, and after this the judgment.” Before we enter heaven we will face the Lord in judgment.
Those who refused God’s free gift of salvation will be cast into hell (Matthew 7:21-23), while those saved by God will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21, 23).”
There is, however, more to the believer’s judgment than just admittance into heaven. The Bible speaks of rewards that will be bestowed upon believers for their work on earth. There are five crowns recorded in the New Testament that will be given out for different reasons, and these crowns will eventually be cast at the feet of Jesus in worship (Revelation 4:10).
The Greek work used for judgment is bema, which referred to the place where the judge stood to watch the Olympic games. From his platform the judge could see who finished first, second, etc., and give out awards accordingly. The winner would step up onto the bema to receive his prize. The primary picture painted by Paul, then, is one of rewards.
This judgment will also be a time when we give an account of how we used our spiritual gifts (2 Corinthians 5:10). The Holy Spirit has given us all abilities that are to be used to win the lost and minister to the saved, and our performance will result either in rewards or in reduction of rewards.
Because of this, and knowing the fear of the Lord, 2 Corinthians 5:11 says we must “persuade men.” We must do our best to tell the world about Christ before it is too late.
The believer’s judgment should serve as a motivating factor in our lives. We should strive for the rewards available to us, while also understanding that we will have to give an account of how we used our talents (Matthew 25:14-30).