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he Bema (Judgment Seat of Christ) – Part One

Bonnie Nelson



I Corinthians 3:11-15 ESV

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.

If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire



In order to understand the Bema (Judgment) Seat of Christ and how important it is to all believers in Christ, it is good to have a spiritual understanding of what it is and all things joined to it.


We need the fullness of a spiritual truth to understand what is expected of us and available for us through the Scriptures.


It is wise to consider how God created us. He is a Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we are a tripartite (i.e., three-part) being, created in His image, composed of body, soul and spirit, which is also known as a “trichotomous” (i.e., three part).  Our complete redemption has to deal with each of these areas:  spirit, soul and body.


And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole
“spirit and soul and body”
be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thes 5:23


Some folks have trouble understanding this and believe the spirit and soul of man are the same, making them synonymous, however, if we look at how God created us in Genesis 2:7, we have food for thought:


And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living soul.   Genesis 2:7 


Notice we were created from the dust (our body) and God breathed into our nostrils the breath of life; and we became a living soul. Here the breath of life is our soul. This does not address our spirit, for it is dead and separated from God until we are Born Again into Jesus Christ. He is the “first” of the Born Again.


The animal kingdom is “dichotomous (i.e., two parts) and possesses only soul and body. Animals have soul life, but they do not have a spirit life like us. Our spirit is the “immaterial” part of us that links us with God, who is Spirit, not to be confused with the Holy Spirit. The sin in the Garden resulted in the death of our spiritual connection with God and left us alienated from Him. (Eph 2:12)

When we accept Jesus, we are Born Again “into” and “through” Him, because He took our sins upon Himself.  So, when God looks upon us, He sees Jesus.  Through the Blood Sacrifice of Jesus, we are re-instated with The Father as the Holy Spirit regenerated our spirit. Being Born Again is a gift from God and when we accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit sealed our spirit unto God. Spiritual salvation is only through grace and not of any works we have done or will do. It is a finished work of Christ!


For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Not of works, lest any man should boast

Eph 2:8-9

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Titus 3:5 NAS



Paul knew the difference from our spirit salvation and soul salvation when he encouraged the “saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi” to save their souls. He was talking to believers who were obedient.


So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
Phil 2:12


Spirit rebirth is a supernatural work of God, and it is not something that we attain by works, in any way. The result of our spiritual rebirth is FAITH – a gift from God and man’s response of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 16:31 tells us, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.”


This salvation is free and it is apart from any of the works of man, including any works before this faith and any works after faith.  NOTE:  The Scriptures always speak of this spiritual salvation in regard to Christians, in the “past tense.” It was accomplished in the past and it is the current “possession” of every believer.


Past Tense Salvation – This happened the instant you trusted Jesus Christ as you Savior. You will never have to die and go to Hell, because Jesus paid the price for you. Past tense salvation means, you are no longer under the “Penalty of sin.”


The salvation of our soul is entirely different from spirit salvation and must not be associated with the “passive” aspect related to our spiritual salvation, where it is by grace and not by works. Spiritual salvation is by grace and soul salvation is by works.


In the study of Scriptures,
soul and spirit
Are never used interchangeably

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body
be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
I Thes 5:23

The Lord is careful to reveal the differences between the “past” completed work of spiritual salvation and the present “work/works” of soul salvation. NOTE: The words soul and life are synonymous to each other, which means, when we talk about the work/works of our soul, we are referring to the work/works of our life.


For more understanding, look at James. He was a Jew and he wrote to his fellow Jewish believers telling them how to be saved.


Now think about it, why would James be writing to fellow believers telling them how to be saved? If they were believers, they were already saved. But James had a deeper revelation, he understood, salvation comes in 3 tenses…past, present and future. He is talking about the present tense of their walk with the Lord regarding, the “saving of their souls.”


“Present Tense Salvation” is speaking of being saved from the Power of Sin. Look at the end of the verse in James 1:21…where he is saying….”which is able to save your soul.” The Greek word for soul is “Psuche,” which roughly speaking is your mind, will and emotions. James is telling us how to keep our mind, will and emotions in check and in line with God.


Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
James 1:21


It is amazing to me how God uses words that are rich in their defintions to help me understand what He is saying.   “Lay apart all filthiness and superfluidity of naughtiness. Now there is an interesting word, naughtiness. Sounds rather dainty, rather playful, don’t you think? But we all know it can be perverse too.


When I think of God telling me to stop being naughty, I remember when I was a child, my mom saying something like….”quit being so naughty.” (smile) But, by putting the word superfluidity in there, it brings it back to a more serious consideration of what James is sharing, because superfluity means an excessive amount of something, flowing like liquid back and forth. Add that to a serious and real definition of naughtiness – meaning “evil, malice and wickedness” and the Scripture stops being cutesy and reveals a strong warning for me to be sober and take heed to what I am doing.


And what about “filthiness?” The word translated here as filthy is “rhuparia” and it is closely related to the term used for “ear wax.” James just might be telling us to get the spiritual wax out of our ears. If so, how do we get rid of it?


The wax points to an analogy of the un-confessed sin in our life (soul) and this could be the reason James is warning us to save our souls. It is not good to be naive in what we are doing with our lives and wise to do some self examinations being quick to ask the Lord to reveal any sin, which might be hidden from us, so we can repent quickly. It is serious business to the Lord for us to “come clean” regarding sin, so our ears can be open to the “engrafted washing of the Word. Unrepentant sin is not covered under the blood of Jesus and will be recompensed at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is good to come to the Lord with a Repentive spirit.


Sin hurts our fellowship with God, so the first step to a better understanding of the Bible and what God wants to say to us, might be to approach the Bible and welcome the Word with a soft heart and a Receptive spirit.


I looked at the word engrafted and it is full of wisdom and understanding tied into the warning James is giving us to save our souls.  James uses another analogy of engrafting to describe how God’s Word is to function within our (believers) “soul.”


He says..”Receive with meekness the “engrafted word, which is able to save your souls”.


To receive the “engrafted word” means, to take Scripture and make it a living extension of your life, so that it can produce spiritual fruit in you. 


 Jesus said he was going to build His Church with a Nation who would bear fruit

“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

Matthew 21:43 NAS

And In the KJV


Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.


For example, if you “engraft” I Corinthians 13 and continue to meditate on it, it will produce the fruit of genuine love in your life. If you engraft the Book of I Peter, it will bear the fruit of patience during suffering. If you engraft Romans 6 and 8, you can have victory over sin.


If we engraft James 1:21, what is the end result James brings forth….. we can learn how to cleanse ourselves from all “naughtiness and filthiness” to “save our souls.”


But wait, there is more. What about meekness, what is that referring to?  Meekness is NOT weakness.  It is power under control.  In reading the Bible, you cannot treat it like a math or science book and try to draw truth from it.


Notice the word “receive” in the Scripture.  


There are two words in the Greek for receive.  One is “Lombano,” which means to grasp, to reach out and take for yourself.  This is not the word James uses, because we cannot just snatch truth out of the Word of God. Many have tried to pick up the Bible and glean from it and found it can be a difficult book to understand without the Holy Spirit’s leading.


James uses the other word for receive and it is “Decomai,” which means to welcome, to openly receive as you would receive a guest in your home. We must come to the Word of God with a receptive, meek spirit and ask God to show us the truths He wants to share with us, which are important to our lives.  God is under no obligation to show us His truths, if we don’t first come to the Word with a repentant and receptive spirit. Are we really seeking Him in reverence for His truths?


How many of us when we sit down to study the Bible ask ourselves…or think about how we are coming before the Lord? It might be wise the next time we come to study the Bible to do a little spiritual soul check. Maybe the first question should be, “Are we clean?” The second, “Are we meek, because the two questions go hand in hand and if we are not meek, we are not going to admit it if we are not clean?” Selah!


It is good to welcome the Word of God with a Responsive Spirit too. Look at the next two verses James brings forth…22-23, “be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”


But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.


For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:


We can be clean and meek, but if we are not obedient to what we read, God is not going to reveal any new truths to us.


Looking back up to the original Scripture, James 1:21 what is his main reason for his teaching and warning?…..So we can save our souls.


Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word,
which is able to save your souls.
James 1:21


Christians are to put off sin and study their Bibles. This is work. It is through a knowledge of and obedience to the Word of God that Christians mature and save their souls.


The Epistles of I and II Peter were also written to believers regarding the salvation of the soul and Peter carefully depicts soul salvation as occurring in the future.


I Pet 1:7 that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:


I Peter 1:9 Receive the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls


The Epistle of Hebrews was also written to believers in regard to soul salvation, and the writer warns them about the consequences of neglecting this salvation. The writer even includes himself as someone who could neglect this salvation, and no one doubts that the writer, probably Paul, was born again spiritually:


Heb 2:2-3 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.


This Scripture confirms “a just recompense of reward” can be negative as well as positive, and this ties in with 2 Corinthians 5:10, where evil deeds will also be recompensed for those who have not received cleansing, according to I John 1:9:


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness


Our Soul/Life Works Shall Be Judged At the Bema Seat of Christ


Run The Race – Get The Prize


I Corinthians 9:4-27 ERV


We have the right to eat and drink, don’t we? We have the right to bring a believing wife with us when we travel, don’t we? The other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Peter all do this. And are Barnabas and I the only ones who must work to earn our living? No soldier ever serves in the army and pays his own salary. No one ever plants a vineyard without eating some of the grapes himself. No one takes care of a flock of sheep without drinking some of the milk himself.


These aren’t just my own thoughts. God’s law says the same thing. Yes, it is written in the Law of Moses: “When a work animal is being used to separate grain, don’t keep it from eating the grain.”a] When God said this, was he thinking only about work animals? No. 10 He was really talking about us. Yes, that was written for us. The one who plows and the one who separates the grain should both expect to get some of the grain for their work.


11 We planted spiritual seed among you, so we should be able to harvest from you some things for this life. Surely that is not asking too much. 12 Others have this right to get things from you. So surely we have this right too. But we don’t use this right. No, we endure everything ourselves so that we will not stop anyone from obeying the Good News of Christ.


13 Surely you know that those who work at the Temple get their food from the Temple. And those who serve at the altar get part of what is offered at the altar. 14 It is the same with those who have the work of telling the Good News. The Lord has commanded that those who tell the Good News should get their living from this work.


15 But I have not used any of these rights, and I am not trying to get anything from you. That is not my purpose for writing this. I would rather die than to have someone take away what for me is a great source of pride. 16 It’s not my work of telling the Good News that gives me any reason to boast. That is my duty—something I must do. If I don’t tell people the Good News, I am in real trouble. 17 If I did it because it was my own choice, I would deserve to be paid. But I have no choice. I must tell the Good News. So I am only doing the duty that was given to me. 18 So what do I get for doing it? My reward is that when I tell people the Good News I can offer it to them for free and not use the rights that come with doing this work.


19 I am free. I belong to no other person, but I make myself a slave to everyone. I do this to help save as many people as I can. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew so that I could help save Jews. I myself am not ruled by the law, but to those who are ruled by the law I became like someone who is ruled by the law. I did this to help save those who are ruled by the law.


21 To those who are without the law I became like someone who is without the law. I did this to help save those who are without the law. (But really, I am not without God’s law—I am ruled by the law of Christ.)


22 To those who are weak, I became weak so that I could help save them. I have become all things to all people. I did this so that I could save people in any way possible. 23 I do all this to make the Good News known. I do it so that I can share in the blessings of the Good News.


24 You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one runner gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! 25 All who compete in the games use strict training. They do this so that they can win a prize—one that doesn’t last. But our prize is one that will last forever.


26 So I run like someone who has a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something, not just the air. 27 It is my own body I fight to make it do what I want. I do this so that I won’t miss getting the prize myself after telling others about it.


 Bless The Lord Oh My Soul – Matt Redman

Author Becca Card

More posts by Becca Card

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