Index To All Six Sections
Part I... Defining "Heaven" as The Promised Kingdom of God
Part II... The Location and Nature of Heaven... The Promises and The Prophecies
Part III ... Jesus' Second Coming and The Resurrection of The Body
Part IV... A New Heaven and A New Earth
Part IV B... No More Sea?
Part V... What The Bible Says About The Resurrected Body
Part VI... Will There Be Time and Space In The New Earth?
You Are Here Part VII... The Bema or Judgment seat of Christ, and Rewards in Heaven
On This Page
The Bema Seat
What is The Bema Seat?
The Bema Seat and The Christian
The Purpose of Christ's Bema Seat
Rewards Vs. Salvation
Are Matthew 16:27 and Matthew 20:1-16 Contradictory?
The Nature of The Rewards
Isn't it Presumptuous to Expect Rewards From God?
Redeeming The Time
Unfortunately many Christians, have come to the conclusion that since all our sins have been forgiven, our works cannot possibly be considered at the judgment Seat of Christ
The Bible teaches clearly that all men, both living and dead, saved and unsaved, must give an account to Christ. While the New Testament makes it very clear that "... there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [Romans 8:1 NASB], there are other passages that should give us pause for thought... a very long pause. For example these words were written to believers.
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat (Gk. bema) of God. [Romans 14:10 NASB]
For we must all appear before the judgment seat (Gk. bema) of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. [2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB]
There are two parts to consider about the above verse. 1) what is the "judgment (Gk. bema) seat of Christ", and 2) what recompense, or rewards, the New Testament speaks about.
What Is The Bema Seat
The Greek word bema means a raised platform accessed by steps. In Athens, the bema was used as a tribunal from which orators addressed the citizens as well as the courts of law, and subsequently became a standard fixture in Jewish synagogues from which a selection from the Torah was read. This ceremonial use of the bema carried over from Judaism into early Christian church architecture. It was used originally as a raised platform with a lectern and seats for the clergy, from which lessons from the Scriptures were read, and the sermon was delivered. In Western Christianity the bema developed over time into the chancel (or presbytery) and the pulpit.
However, the bema was also a raised seat for a judge acting in a official capacity, which is how it is usually, but not exclusively, referred to in the Scriptures.
In Matthew 27:19 Pilate sat on the bema seat, from where he decided the fate of Jesus and Barabbas.
While he was sitting on the judgment-seat (Gk. bema), his wife sent him a message, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him." [Matthew 27:19 NASB]
In Acts 18, the proconsul Gallio heard charges of wrong against Paul while seated upon the bema (v. 12). Sosthenes was seized and beaten by the mob in front of the judgment seat in the presence of Gallio, when he refused to proceed against Paul at the instigation of the Jews.
But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment-seat (Gk. bema), saying, "This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law." But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you; but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters." And he drove them away from the judgment seat. And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment-seat (Gk. bema). But Gallio was not concerned about any of these things. [Acts 18:12-17 NASB]
In Acts 25:6, when the high priest and the chief of the Jews brought charges against Paul, he was brought before Festus, who had taken his place on the bema, translated "tribunal" in the NASB
After he had spent not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he took his seat on the tribunal (Gk. bema) and ordered Paul to be brought...But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal (Gk. bema) , where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know... "So after they had assembled here, I did not delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal (Gk. bema) and ordered the man to be brought before me. [Acts 25:6, 10, 17 NASB]
In Acts 12:21, Herod arrayed himself in royal apparel, sat on the throne, and made a speech to the people from the bema, but since he did not give God the glory, an angel of the Lord struck him down.
On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum (Gk. bema) and began delivering an address to them. [Acts 12:21 NASB]
The Bema Seat and The Christian
Some have argued that since the word bema, was used in Greek literature as a seat for the judge who was watching the contestants in the Grecian athletic games, it implies honor and reward, rather than justice or judgment. Thus, they conclude that Christ will, from the bema seat, simply reward and honor the victorious runners in the Christian race.
It is true that Paul made several allusions to the Greek athletic contests using the Greek word stephanos (translated crown), which was public recognition of victory in races and games, which we will come to a little later.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath (Gk. stephanos), but we an imperishable. [1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NASB]
Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize (Gk. stephanoo) unless he competes according to the rules. [2 Timothy 2:5 NASB]
However, the New Testament never once uses the word bema in the setting of an athletic contest with rewards. On the contrary, a careful reading of 2 Corinthians 5:10 (above), shows that deeds will be recompensed "whether good or bad”. This is obviously not just a rewards or rah-rah ceremony, but one that also considers bad deeds, when believers must give an account of their lives to Christ.
The Purpose of Christ's Bema Seat
From the two references to the bema as the judgment seat of Christ, it seems to be clear that this judgment is reserved for believers whose salvation has already been secured by faith in Jesus Christ. It is therefore, completely separate from the general White Throne judgment spoken of in Revelation 20:11-15, when "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire".
While, 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14, taken by themselves, certainly seem to indicate that Christians can be condemned at the bema seat judgment to come, doctrine should never be formulated without taking into consideration other verses that bear on the subject. [See Context is Crucial]. For example …
"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [John 3:18 NASB]
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. [John 5:24 NASB]
For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." [John 6:40 NASB]
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, [Romans 5:1 NASB]
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [Romans 8:1 NASB]
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. [Colossians 2:13-14 NASB]
"and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. [Hebrews 10:17-18 NASB]
The above texts assure us that the judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation, and has absolutely nothing to do with punishment for sin. The sins of everyone who, in faith, follows Christ are forgiven. Believers will never be condemned for these sins (Romans 8:1), which are remembered no more (Hebrews 10:17). They are saved and will gain entrance to Heaven (John 5:24).
All of which begs the question of what exactly will be judged at the bema seat of Christ, the answer to which question is found I Corinthians 3:9-13..
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. [1 Corinthians 3:9-13 NASB]
The purpose of this bema judgment by Jesus Christ is to reward believers based on how faithfully they served Him. As said by J. Hampton Keathley III...
"... though it is tremendously serious with eternal ramifications, the judgment seat of Christ is not a place and time when the Lord will mete out punishment for sins committed by the child of God. Rather, it is a place where rewards will be given or lost depending on how one has used his or her life for the Lord.... While salvation is a gift, there are rewards given for faithfulness in the Christian life and loss of rewards for unfaithfulness. 
There is some debate as to the nature and exact timing of the bema seat judgment. Some believe that it will occur at the moment of death for each believer, others that it will be a general event at some point in the end times. However since the Bible is not specific about the timing, it is useless to speculate. What is far more important is that we are warned that it will occur and that we had better be prepared... redeeming the time wisely so that we are not ashamed when He comes.
Rewards [mis-thos'] in the Bible means pay for service. While we tend to think of "rewards" as being something given or received in recompense for worthy behavior, the Bible also uses the word as retribution for evil acts.
And shall receive the reward (Gk. misthos) of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages (Gk. misthos) of unrighteousness; [2 Peter 2:13-15]
While the wicked are also 'rewarded', this article concerns itself solely with the rewards for good deeds.
It is the consistent teaching of the New Testament that God promises to reward believers for their good works. This is explicitly mentioned in several verses...
"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. [Matthew 16:27 NASB]
So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward (Gk. misthos) according to his own labor. [1 Corinthians 3:7-8 NASB]
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward (Gk. misthos) is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. [Revelation 22:12 NASB]
...and implied in many more...
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work (Gk. ergon) of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. [1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NASB]
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. [2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NASB]
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward (Gk. antapodosis) of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. [Colossians 3:23-25 NASB]
knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. [Ephesians 6:8 NASB]
For God is not unjust so as to forget your work (Gk. ergon) and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. [Hebrews 6:10 NASB]
Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward (Gk. misthos)". [2 John 1:8 NASB].
Note: In the verse immediately above, John told his readers to watch themselves so that they may receive a "full reward", which implies that there is something less than a "full reward".
Rewards Vs. Salvation
Many Christians, quoting passages that speak out against "works", balk at the idea of rewards that believers may earn on earth, and receive in the life to come. These include...
because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin... Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. [Romans 3:20, 27-28 NASB]
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, [Romans 4:1-5 NASB]
nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. [Galatians 2:16 NASB]
Therefore, it is probably wise to make it clear from the outset that salvation and rewards are two totally different things, and that all the verses quoted above are speaking of the former. The Bible clearly teaches good works will not get us into heaven. Salvation (forgiveness of sin and entrance into eternal life) is a free gift, based on Jesus' work on the cross. [See Salvation] However, there are those that will make it to heaven, but who have earned few, if any, additional rewards, which will be based on works done in this life.
The following passage from Paul's letter to the Corinthians should make it clear that the foundation, which is Christ, has already been laid in the believer's life. However, we have to be careful what we build atop that foundation. If what we build does not withstand the fires that will test the quality of the work, then we will "suffer loss", although we ourselves will be saved.
 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  each man's work (Gk. ergon) will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work (Gk. ergon).  If any man's work (Gk. ergon) which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. (Gk. misthos) .  If any man's work (Gk. ergon) is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. [1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NASB] [1 Corinthians 3:14-15 NASB]
Note: The Greek word ergon, which occurs four times in the verses above, is a common one in the New Testament and is often translated "deeds".
Leonard Ravenhill, close friend of A. W. Tozer, and no less outspoken, said it well. The following is excerpted from his article The Judgment Seat of Christ... [Emphasis added]
"Notice what it [I Corinthians 3:9-13] says very carefully, "...the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work." Not how much work, but rather what kind of work. Not the quantity but the quality. This scripture is speaking of your whole life's work. In other words, your life's work can be wood or hay or straw -- or it can be silver, gold, or costly stones. And on that day, the fire will put it to the final test. What fire? The Bible tells that God is love, but it also tells us that He is a consuming fire as well. (Hebrews 12:29)…
Our whole life, from the very moment we begin to witness for Christ, including all of our service and our labor for Him, is going to be tested by fire. We must be very careful to make wise investments, or in the end, all that will be left is ashes...
Will our life's work stand the test of the fire when we come before the Lord? Will it have lasting eternal value - or will it end up in ashes? There's an interesting difference between wood, hay, straw - and gold, silver, and costly stones. Wood, hay, and stubble are found above the ground. They catch the eye, just like many people's ministries do. They are quite plentiful and easy to find. On the other hand, silver, gold, and precious stones are found below the ground. Nobody sees them - again, like many people's ministries. They're not just lying around in a field somewhere for anyone to pick up. They are much harder to come by; in fact, it takes a lot of hard work to get them. That's why they are so expensive. They are of much higher quality than many other things, and much more rare too.
Again, it’s the quality, not the quantity that sets their value. Many things are difficult in the Christian life, but we should desire to acquire those things which will hold their value, not only on earth, but in heaven as well".
Are Matthew 16:27 and Matthew 20:1-16 Contradictory?
While Matthew 16:27 ("For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds) tells us that God's rewards are "according to what we have done", but Matthew 20:1-16, makes the point that all the laborers received the same wages or 'reward'?
This is not a contradiction. Matthew 20:1-16 is a parable about workers, who were all found and hired at different times of the day ... ranging from the third to the eleventh hour.
When evening came, the foreman (under instructions from the owner of the vineyard) paid the laborers beginning with the last group (hired about the eleventh hour), who were paid one denarius. The parable goes on to tell us that when those hired first came to be paid, they thought that they would receive more money, but each of them also received a single denarius. They then grumbled at the landowner since they had worked through the scorching heat of the day, but had been paid no more than those who had worked a much shorter time. To which the landowner response to one of them was...
"Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 'Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?' "So the last shall be first, and the first last." [Matthew 20:13-16 NASB]
This parable is clearly about salvation, not degrees of rewards. The emphasis is on the length of time of each man's workday, not on the quality of each man's work, of which we are told nothing. The parable does not tell us that the workers who were hired earlier in the day worked any harder than the workers hired later in the day... only that they worked longer. All who come to Christ regardless of whether they do so in the tenth year of their lives, or on their death beds, get the same 'reward', that is entrance to Heaven. And although some have struggled through many years of "scorching heat", we should be exceedingly happy when anyone attains forgiveness of sins and eternal life, even if they did so at the last possible minute. After all "saving" people is what the Gospel is all about.
However, common sense (and the Bible) tells there has to be a difference between the murderer who repents on death row and the person who has spent their whole lives working for the Gospel. Both will certainly make it to heaven, but once there, the works done on earth will make a difference through eternity.
The Nature of The Rewards
That God will reward us for good works is certain, but the Bible says very little about what we will receive. Matthew 10:41 talks about a prophet's reward, a righteous man's reward etc.
"He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. "And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." [Matthew 10:41-42 NASB]
Using the Greek word stephanos, Scripture also speaks of different types of "crowns" which were commonly used as prizes in public games
In ancient Greece there were two kinds of games: the "stephanos" (sacred) in which the prize was a wreath, and the "thematikoi," in which winners also received a monetary award. The Olympic games were the most important of the four panhellenic games, which were all "stephanitai." For each sacred festival, the prize was a wreath made from the branches of the sacred plant of the patron god. In the Pythian games it was a laurel wreath, in the Nemean it was from the celery plant, in the Isthmian games it was a pine wreath, and in the Olympic games it was made from an olive branch. 
As opposed to all these types of crowns which would eventually deteriorate, the crowns the apostles spoke of will be "imperishable".
Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. [1 Corinthians 9:25 NASB]
Although it is unclear as to whether these 'crowns' are literal or metaphorical, all the crowns mentioned in the New Testament are reserved for those who earn them.
The Crown Of Life - Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. [James 1:12 NASB]
'Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. [Revelation 2:10 NASB]
The Crown Of Glory - Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. [1 Peter 5:1-4 NASB]
The Crown Of Righteousness - in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. [2 Timothy 4:8 NASB]
The Crown Of Glory - shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. [1 Peter 5:2-4 NASB]
Some think that having a larger reward will translate into something like having a larger house in heaven. However, since the Bible says no such thing, it may well be assuming too much. What the Bible does say is that God's rewards seem to include some form of responsibility, with which we will be entrusted. In Jesus' parable of the talents, He spoke of rewarding those who had been faithful by putting them "in charge of many things" in His kingdom
"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' "Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' [Matthew 25:21-23 NASB]
This echoes the parable in Luke 19 in which the Lord rewards the servant who was a faithful steward of his money with authority over ten cities. Another was rewarded with authority over five cities. Another verse in the book of Revelation says something similar
'He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. [Revelation 2:26-28 NASB]
Isn't it Presumptuous to Expect Rewards From God?
If we think we are righteous enough to deserve divine rewards are, in some way, entitled to them, or think God owes us, then yes, we are being presumptuous. However, if we understand rewards just as the Bible depicts them, ie. an additional benefit to an already priceless gift, then we are certainly not being presumptuous.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with expecting God to keep His promises, and all believers should do their utmost to merit God's approval. However rewards are not a sort of celestial federal reserve system (as I have heard it expressed). The motivation behind our good works should not be how many jewels we can accumulate in our crowns, but what we can do to extend the love of God to our fellow man. How much compassion we have for those that are lost and/or suffering.
What we all too often forget, is that Christians are supposed to do good works. Right after assuring us that salvation is not by works in Ephesians 2, Paul says this, "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do". Yet there are Christians who do little or nothing towards spreading the Gospel, or helping their fellow believers. Some of the good works mentioned in Scripture which will be rewarded include
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. "Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. [Luke 6:22-23 NASB]
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. [Luke 6:35 NASB]
A selfish motive behind our works will probably not gain us very much at all... since the God who sees all, also reads our hearts.
The Bible says
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. [1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NASB]
Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. [2 Timothy 2:5-6 NASB]
However, There are verses that make it very obvious that it is possible to lose our rewards, or for someone to take our crown
Look to yourselves, that ye lose not the things which we have wrought, but that ye receive a full reward. (2 John 8),
I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown. (Revelation 3:11)
What we need to remember is that when one, or more, people are rewarded for something, those who are not will feel the loss of rewards every keenly. Some may even feel shame at His coming. as John warned in his letter to believers...
Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. [1 John 2:28 NASB]
When Paul told Timothy to...
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [2 Timothy 2:15 NASB]
He was warning Timothy to give diligence to making sure he was not going to be ashamed. And how is one to do this? Obviously, by "being diligent". While the immediate context of this verse is accurately handling the God's Word, Paul went on to tell Timothy to "avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness".
There is a real and clear danger that those that did not heed this, and many other warnings in the Bible, will be ashamed in that day. Obviously there is a lot we need to be diligent about. And Peter did not mince any waords about how we should live
If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; [1 Peter 1:17 NASB]
Redeeming The Time
Ephesians 5:15-17 warns us to make to most of our time. (The KJV translates it as "redeeming the time").
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. [Ephesians 5:15-17 NASB]
One of Jesus' parables illustrated this concept with considerable clarity and practicality.
In the parable of the ten servants, the story is told of a master who was preparing to depart for a distant country, to receive a kingdom for himself. Before leaving, he gave his ten servants ten minas (600 shekels) to trade with, until he returned. On returning from his travels, the master asked his servants for an account of the money given them.
We are only told of the actions of three of the servants, the first of whom made ten minas more and was rewarded with a 'well done' and given authority over ten cities. The second made five minas and was given authority over five cities. The third who is the central figure of the story (not its hero) hid his talent in a napkin for safekeeping, and therefore returned the original amount to his master. The master who probably expected the slave to take his instructions to trade both literally and seriously, was extremely displeased and the servant was then 'rewarded' with loss of even the one mina he was originally given. (Luke 19:12-26).
Jesus told this parable as He and the disciples were approaching Jerusalem and His final hours on earth, and the expectations of the disciples was at an all time high, as they supposed "the kingdom of God was to appear immediately ". In this context the parable makes a great deal of sense. As said by Bob Deffinbaugh
"The departure of the king to a distant land, and his later return signaled a time delay in the arrival of the kingdom of God. The people expected the kingdom to be established almost immediately, but this parable taught that there were some intervening events which must take place first.
The delay of the kingdom's arrival had at least two reasons. In the first place, the king had to go away in order to gain the right to rule. Our Lord had to lay the foundation for His kingdom by laying down His life for the sins of the world, by making a provision for righteousness on the basis of His grace, so that men could be pronounced righteous and be allowed to enter into His kingdom. Jesus had to go up to heaven to be crowned king (cf. Philippians 2:9-11), and to wait for the Father's appointed time for Him to return and to reign.
In the second place, the delay of the kingdom provided a time for the king's servants to be proven, to be tested, so that those who were faithful could be rewarded by greater responsibilities in the kingdom. The delay in the coming of the kingdom enables the Master to test His servants in the use of the money that has been entrusted to them. To the degree that the slaves are faithful in the use of money — a small thing — they will be given greater authority, the authority to rule in the kingdom.
And finally, while the disciples (especially) thought of the kingdom of God in terms of political revolution and of personal position and power, this parable reminded them that the coming of the kingdom would begin with a time of judgment. A judgment in terms of those who rejected Christ as Savior, and also a judging of the followers of the Lord as to their faithfulness in serving Him, which will be the basis of their rewards in the kingdom”. 
None of which means a believer remains sinless.
On the contrary, the Bible tells us that if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." In other words, Christians who claim to be sin free are deceiving themselves.
The idea of being born again means that we should be transformed day by day into the image of Christ. However, although we receive a new, godly nature (Ephesians 4:24), our old nature [also called the flesh] still exists. Although we should strive for perfection (Matthew 5:48), it doesn't mean that we will always achieve it in this life.
What are you living for? Is entertaining yourself with hobbies and such something that you do on the side, just occasionally? Or is your relationship with God something that you do on the side, just occasionally? There's a dark, decaying world around us, going to Hell. Are you salt and light?
After you die, what will you be remembered for? How many sports statistics you had memorized? How many jokes you knew and how easily you could get people to laugh? How many cans of beer you could drink in a sitting? How well you managed your company or served tables at a restaurant? How much you were loved just because you were born into a particular family, even though you never did much else other than being born? [Read Don’t Waste Your Life]
The prophet Daniel was told:
"those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever" - Daniel 12:3
How brightly will you shine? Will you in this late hour, like Esther, stand up and be counted, or will you slink away into the shadows and fritter away your life? Either way, you will be counted.
Either way you will receive the rewards (or just dues) at the Bema seat of Christ.
Also See The Myth of Faith Alone
Perhaps one of the all time greatest delusions in the Christian world, is the innumerable number of people who are under the impression that, in order to be forgiven their sins, and thus inherit eternal life, all they have to do is believe Jesus died for their sins on the cross. What one never, or very rarely, hears is that anything other than faith is required to be saved. In fact the suggestion that anything other than faith is required for salvation, is not only militantly opposed by most of Christendom, but denounced as an unbiblical, works based, false teaching. But is this true? While it is certainly a fact that the Bible teaches that faith is an essential ingredient, without which it is impossible to please God, it never ever teaches that faith is the only requirement for salvation. In fact the Scriptures point to a number of things by which a person is saved.
 J. Hampton Keathley III, The Doctrine of Rewards: The Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ.
 Olympic-Legacy.com. Ancient Prizes. http://www.pe04.com/olympic/olympia/prizes_o.php
 Bob Deffinbaugh Th.M. The Nobleman: His Slaves and His Citizens. http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=1127