Q.

Does the Bible teach that it is possible for believers to be ashamed when they stand before our Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

If so, how do we interpret Romans 9.33 and 10:11? If shame is a result of sins of commission and/or omission, we will have escaped all such condemnation, according to Romans.

We are also clothed in the perfection of Christ. Would not such reasoning require Christ to be ashamed of Himself?

A.
I am glad you referred to believers standing before the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Some people confuse the Judgment Seat of Christ with the Great White Throne Judgment, mentioned in Revelation 20:11‒15. The Great White Throne Judgment is the judgment of all unbelievers, where they will be sentenced to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Believers will not be at this judgment.

In contrast, the Judgment Seat of Christ mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:10 involves believers. It will not be a sentencing because of sin but rather an evaluation for rewards based on each believer’s life on earth. It will occur after the Rapture. But it is still a judgment, and I fear that there has been a wrong emphasis in our day of minimizing the seriousness of this event.

With regard to the sin problem, it is true that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). All the punishment for sin was laid upon Christ when He took our place on the cross. And it is also true that the Judgment Seat of Christ will not bring up our past sins that have been confessed (Ps. 103:12; 1 John 1:9).

However, the Word of God continually reminds us of our personal responsibility to holiness and to serve the Lord with our whole hearts—and that we will be held accountable to God. If we are not faithful, I do not see how we can expect to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ in the same way as those who have been faithful, as far as shame or otherwise is concerned. Second Corinthians 5:10 reads, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” If we look at the verses surrounding this text, we can see that this judgment is a serious matter. Verse 9 states, “That we may be accepted of him.” Verse 11 reads, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. . . .”

H. A. Ironside said, “This, I think, is a forgotten note in modem preaching in many places. ‘The terror of the Lord.’ Is there anything in God to be afraid of?” Surely this passage indicates that there is—for those believers who have not been faithful. Again, it is not because of sin or to determine whether or not an individual is a believer, but because of the evaluation of one’s life and what he has done on earth.

We find similar truth in 1 Corinthians 4:5, where it tells of the Lord, “who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” Hebrews 12:28 and 29 state, “Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our. God is a consuming fire.” First John 2:28 likewise instructs us, “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

You referred to Romans 9:33, where the word “ashamed” also appears: “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Here the apostle Paul was referring to Israel. He was pointing out that when Christ came to Israel the first time, the nation refused Him. But as “the stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner,” when He comes again after the Tribulation, Israel will believe on Him and see Him as the chief cornerstone. They will not be “ashamed.”

Thus the context is different from 1 John 2:28, where the writer indicated that there will be shame on the part of those believers who have not been abiding in Christ and are, therefore, fruitless and empty-handed. But those who have been abiding in Christ and are fruitful (not just soul winning is referred to here, by the way) will not be ashamed when Christ comes for us believers.

Some have argued that there could not be regrets, remorse and sorrow in Heaven, but this would seem to be refuted by Revelation 21:4, which states that “God shall wipe all tears from their eyes.”

One other matter we should consider in this subject is the fact that no two believers are alike; no two believers have exactly the same work to do. God looks at quality, not quantity. Therefore, only He can rightly be the judge. We cannot look around in this life and say that so and so has not been faithful, while others have. A person who has been in the limelight and has won countless souls, for example, is not necessarily more faithful than the person who has labored under hardships of different kinds and has had the privilege of winning few souls. The beautiful fact about the Judgment Seat of Christ is that all things will be taken into consideration perfectly. Those things we have done that are not noticed by anyone else will suddenly count as we stand before Him.

Another purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ will be the assigning of responsibilities in the millennial Kingdom. First Corinthians 6:2 and 3 state, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” Revelation 2:25 and 26 add, “But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.”

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to nolson@garbc.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

Reprinted from the Baptist Bulletin (January 1989).
© 1989 Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.