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I feel God has given me for this morning a teaching message and its theme is the judgment seat of Christ. I want to teach this morning for a while on this theme of the judgment seat of Christ. The Greek word that’s translated “judgment seat” is bema. It had an official connotation in the Roman world, it was a special kind of seat or throne on which a ruler or a judge or a military commander sat to judge. It’s used in two particular places in the New Testament apart from the one we’ll look at. It’s used of Pontius Pilate sitting on his bemato judge Jesus. And, it’s used by the apostle Paul when he appealed to this judgment of the Roman emperor and he said, “I stand before Caesar’s judgment seat.” That’s bema. So, that gives you a little idea, it’s a word that combines dignity, authority and, I would say, a sense of awe.
We’ll turn first of all or you can just follow with me in Romans 14:10−12.
“But why do you judge your brother, or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. [that’s bema] For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then, each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
What Paul is saying is we’re really mistaken to try and judge one another and assess the value of each other’s service completely. It’s not our job. But there’s going to come a time out of time and in eternity when every one of us will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus. He will give his assessment. It’s very comprehensive. It says “we all” and then it says “each of us.” So we’ll all go through it but it will be individual. Each one of us will answer individually for our lives on earth.
Paul comes back to the same truth in 2Corinthians 5:9−11.
“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to him. [that’s to the Lord] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. What we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known to your conscience.”
Paul says one of the things that motivates him in desiring to be pleasing to the Lord is he knows one day he, together with all the rest of us, is going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of all that he’s done during his earthly life.
Again, it’s emphatic, we must all, we don’t have any options. Then it says “each one may receive the things.” It’s total but it’s individual. The word that’s translated “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” is a very vivid word. It means to be made manifest. It’s like everything that is ever relevant in our lives will be totally revealed. Nothing will be concealed.
Then he says we’re going to have to account for the things done in our body, whether good or bad. I think it’s important to see there are only two categories. I think the whole Bible bears testimony to that. Everything we do is either good or bad, there’s nothing in between. There’s no neutrality. This is totally different from contemporary thinking which is adding continually to the number of gray areas which are neither black or white. But that’s not in line with God’s estimation.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:30:
“He that is not with me is against me, he that gathers not with me scatters.”
Again, there’s no neutrality. If you are not with him you are against him. You may not feel against him, you may not see that you’re against him but you don’t have any other option. If you’re not gathering, positively accumulating, for the kingdom of God, you’re scattering, you’re wasting. You’re wasting everything that God has given you. Your time, your talent, your strength, your money. It’s either used positively or it’s wasted. Everything we do is either good or bad.
I believe if we would absorb that truth it would change many of our attitudes instantly. Let me suggest to you that every time you say something like “Is there any harm in,” your attitude is wrong. Whether there is any harm in it or not is not important. The question you need to ask is “Is there any good in it? What good will come out of this?”
Many of you might be surprised to know that Christians are going to be judged. Not merely that, the Bible says we’re going to be the first to be judged. If you turn to 1Peter 4:17−18 it says:
“The time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God. And if it begins with us first what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
Very clearly that refers to us as Christians. And:
“If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
It doesn’t suggest that it’s exactly a matter that we can take for granted that we’ll pass the judgment or be saved. Salvation is free but I tell you one thing, it is not cheap.
The first thing that I need to emphasize before I analyze the way we will be judged is that if we are true believers in Jesus Christ, if our lives are built on the foundation of faith in him as our savior and our Lord, we will not be judged for condemnation. There is no question of our being condemned. It’s very important to establish that. There’s a number of scriptures but I’ll just give you three. John 3:18:
“He who believes in him [that’s the Son of God] is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
If you have believed you are not condemned. If you have not believed you are condemned.
And in John 5:24 Jesus says:
The old version used to say “verily, verily.” That’s the most emphatic form of statement in the New Testament. Sometimes Jesus said verily and sometimes he said verily, verily. When he said verily, verily that was number one in emphasis. The New King James translates it:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, He who heard my word and believes in him who sent me, has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment [that’s condemnation], but has passed from death into life.”
So, if you’ve heard the word of Jesus and believed in the Father that sent him and received him as your savior, you will not come into condemnation. You have passed from death to life.
And then that beautiful, simple statement at the beginning of Romans 8:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
So, the purpose of the judgment of true Christians is not to determine whether they’re condemned.
There’s one very satisfying reason why we will not be condemned. It’s because our righteousness is not our own. It’s the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God is never going to find any fault with the righteousness of Jesus.
Now let’s consider what the purpose of the judgment is. And, it’s very, very important. I would like to suggest that some of you will later on regret if you don’t give heed to what I’m saying this morning. Because, it really is going to affect your eternal destiny. As I understand the revelation of the Bible, once we step out of time and into eternity our destiny is settled. We can never go back again into time and change some of the things that we wish changed.
I’d like to begin therefore with some principles of judgment which relate to us. I’ll go quickly but I need to be thorough. 1Peter 1:17 and following. Peter says to Christians:
“If you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear.”
That’s addressed to Christians. Bear in mind you’re going to have to answer for your conduct.
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ...”
The very reason why we have to be so careful about our conduct is the price paid for our redemption. Because God gave the blood of his Son Jesus to redeem us we have to be very, very mindful of the fact that God has made that investment in us, he’s given us the most precious thing in the universe⎯the blood of his Son. We have to live our lives in the light of that.
Now Peter says there the Father judges all men. But if you go to John 5 you’ll find that the Father has transferred the judgment from himself to the Son. To me it appears that the nature of God is such that he does not want to judge or condemn. So, by divine, eternal right, the Father is the judge but he says to the Son, “Listen, Son, you do the judging.” As we follow on you’ll see the Son himself transfers the judgment, too.
Let’s look in John 5:22−23 for a moment. Jesus is speaking, he says:
“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son: that all should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”
The Father has committed all judgment to the Son and the reason given there is that the Father requires all men to honor the Son and they honor the Father. In any court of law anywhere in the world there is a special honor given to the judge. There’s a special place reserved for him to sit. There are special ways to relate to him. The Father says, “Just the same way you honor me as Father, I require that you honor Jesus my Son.”
Then a little further on in that chapter, verses 26−27, Jesus continues:
“For as the Father has life in himself, so has he granted the Son to have life in himself; and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.”
There’s another reason why Jesus has been appointed the judge. He’s the Son of man, he’s been totally human. He knows every weakness, he knows every problem, he knows every temptation. We cannot say to our judge, “But you don’t understand.” He says, “But I do understand. I’ve walked the same way before you.”
But Jesus in John 12 transfers the judgment from himself to the word. I think this is a very interesting insight into the nature of God. In John 12:47−48 Jesus says:
“If any one hears my word and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my word has that which judges him. The word which I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
So, Jesus in turn has transferred the responsibility from judgment from himself to his word. That’s the mercy of God for us because it means that if we go to the word of God and study it we can anticipate the judgment on ourselves. That’s why Paul said, I think, in 1Corinthians 11:31:
“For if we would judge ourselves we would not be judged.”
In other words, we can escape any negative judgment by judging ourselves in advance.
How do we judge ourselves? By the standard of the word of God, for Jesus said that is what will judge every one of us in the last days. When you look into the Bible you’re looking into a mirror which shows you what you’re really like inside. You are also looking at your judge. I believe if we really understood that our approach to the Bible might, in some cases, change.
I won’t turn there but in Romans 2 Paul is dealing with the judgment of God and he lists five principles of God’s judgment. If you want the reference I’ll give you the verse for each one. In verse 2 Paul says the judgment of God is according to truth. It’s based on absolute truth. There’s no possibility of false testimony or telling lies or evading the facts. It’s going to be the total truth.
Then in verse 6 Paul says it’s according to deeds. What we have done is what we will be judged for. That’s a principle that’s stated probably 10 times in the Bible in one place or another.
In verse 11 Paul says it’s without respect of persons. The new translations all say “without partiality” but that doesn’t fully represent the meaning because respect of persons means without looking at what a person seems to be on the outside. In other words, it doesn’t depend on a person’s social status or wealth or education. You see, you can be partial to somebody who has no claims just out of favoritism but what the Bible says when it says without respect of persons is nobody is going to be judged in a special way because of that special status. The five star general is going to be judged the same way as the enlisted man. The President is going to be judged the same way as the prisoner in the jail. And the pastor is going to be judged the same way as the new convert. There’s no looking at what people are on the outside with God. His judgment goes right below the surface and looks at what everyone is in his real, true, inner nature.
Then Paul says in verse 12 of that chapter, those that have sinned in the law will be judged by the law. Those that have sinned without the law will be judged without the law. The principle varies that our judgment is according to the measure of light that we have received. The greater the light the more severe our judgment. That’s something, I think, we in the western world⎯and first and foremost in the United States⎯in the 20th century need to ponder on. Because, according to my view of history there never has been a group of people in human history who have ever had greater spiritual light available to them than we have. We’re going to be judged according to that light.
Finally Paul says in verse 16 that God will judge the secrets of men. He will judge the things that nobody else ever knew.
I think I’d like to read also in 1 Corinthians 4:5. Paul again is talking about the fact that we are unwise to judge one another and he says in verse 5:
“Therefore judge nothing before the time...”
The time, there’s a set time.
“...until the Lord comes...”
The time when the Lord comes is this time.
“...who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the heart.”
So, this judgment will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal people’s real inner motives, their thoughts, the reasons why they did things. God attaches a great deal of importance to people’s motives. Two people may do the same thing outwardly but they’ll be evaluated differently because the motives of one were right and the motives of the other were wrong.
So, those are the five principles of judgment that Paul lists in Romans 2. I’ll just repeat them once. I think it would be good if we all say them. I say them, you say them after me. “According to truth. According to deeds. Without respect of persons. According to light. And, the secret things.”
Now I’d like to look at a picture of the judge. To me this has become a very solemn subject. Even right now I feel a sense of solemnity. In fact, I can feel the fear of the Lord upon me. I trust it’s the same with you. Believe me, I’m not preaching at others, I’m concerned about my own condition.
In Revelation 1 we get this glorious picture of Jesus revealed to John on the Isle of Patmos. We could read from verse 13 a little bit.
“And in the midst of the seven lampstands one like the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were like a flame of fire; his feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace...”
I’ll give you an alternative translation for that in a moment.
“...and his voice was as the sound of many waters. He had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw him I fell at his feet as dead.”
I believe that’s the judge that we will stand in front of. Our glorified Lord. It’s interesting that John could recline on his bosom at the last supper and whisper in his ear but the same John, when he saw the glorified Lord, fell at his feet as one dead.
There’s two particular features of that that I feel are relevant to the judgment. His eyes and his feet. His eyes were like a flame of fire and his feet were like fine bronze burning in a furnace. To me the eyes are the way with which the Lord will judge us, his people. With those eyes of fire he’ll look into each of us and there will be nothing that isn’t revealed in a moment. Everything about us⎯past, present⎯there are things that we are not aware of ourselves. Everything will be laid bare by those eyes of fire. I believe the fire will also burn up everything that doesn’t pass his standards.
But, his feet like fine bronze in a furnace. Bronze in the Bible is always the metal that represents judgment. The furnace is a place of judgment. I think that’s the Lord in wrath judging the nations, trampling the winepress in his wrath. We have to consider not so much his feet as his eyes.
Then I’d like to speak for a moment about the recording angel. This has become so vivid to me, I hope I can make it vivid to you. In Ecclesiastes, one of those books we seldom read but it’s got a lot of nuggets in it here and there. Ecclesiastes 5, we read some advice about how to go to church. I’m afraid there are a lot of contemporary Christians who ignore this advice. I’m going to just make a few comments on the translation but beginning in Ecclesiastes 5:1:
“Walk prudently when you go to the house of God and draw near to hear, rather than to give the sacrifice of food: for they do not know that they do evil.”
I think the next verse explains how they do evil.
“Do not be rash with your mouth, and do not let your heart utter anything hastily before God: for God is in heaven, and you on earth: therefore let your words be few.”
We’ll go on to verse 4.
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay what you have vowed. It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”
You see, what Solomon calls the sacrifice of food is saying things in the presence of God that we don’t really mean and we’re not willing to stand by it. Like, I’m always embarrassed when people sing “All To Jesus I Surrender” and put a quarter in the offering. I mean, I think, you know, it would be much better if they didn’t offer anything or if they didn’t sing it. They’re going to be held accountable to God for singing that song and acting that way. A friend of Ruth’s once said to her, “It’s just as much a sin to sing a lie as it is to tell a lie.” How many of us⎯honestly⎯say things when we sing hymns that we need to consider very carefully. Am I going to stand behind what I’ve said? Because, if not, it’s the sacrifice of fools.
Then we come to this and here I prefer the Old King James Version. I’ll read the New King James Version, then we’ll go back.
“Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error...”
The Old King James translates it “angel.” The Hebrew word, ?malach? means a messenger but it normally means an angel as a messenger of God. It’s the same in Greek with the word ?anglos? which means a messenger but, usually means an angel. So, both languages, you have the two possibilities. It can be a messenger, a human messenger or it can be a divine messenger, an angel. The NIV says “the temple messenger.”
To me, the whole context indicates you’re dealing with God, not with the pastor. It would be so easy if all you had to deal with was a pastor, wouldn’t it? I mean, he’s easy to fool. But here’s somebody you’re not going to fool.
There’s the angel that’s recorded everything you’ve ever said and done. And the angel says, “On the 9th of November you were singing that old, familiar hymn “All to Jesus I Surrender.” You walked out and you wouldn’t even put anything in the offering for the poor. You say, “But I didn’t mean it.” The angel says, “I’m sorry but it’s recorded.” Don’t say it was a mistake, it will be too late.
See, as I was preparing this message I felt the Holy Spirit impressed upon me⎯because I emphasize this point⎯that it’s a sin to vow something to God and not pay it. God holds you to it. I felt God wanted me to say there are people here this morning whose spiritual progress is being held up. You can go no further because you made a vow and you haven’t kept it. No matter what you say or do that’s like a chain around your ankle. The only way you can get making progress again is by removing the chain from your ankle. Maybe there’s somebody here that wrote in a pledge. “I pledge $50 a month to support such and such a ministry.” And the angel says, “I’ve been through your check stubs, no indication that you’ve sent $50 a month.” “Oh, but I didn’t really mean it, I was just emotionally disturbed.” “Sorry,” says the angel “but it’s here recorded against you.”
Or, you volunteered some form of service. Maybe for Derek Prince Ministries. And Derek Prince Ministries never saw you. Derek Prince Ministries doesn’t hold it against you but the angel does.
Or, you said to God, “I want to give myself to win the lost. I’ll enroll in the next EE training program.” The angel says, “I never saw you at one of the meetings.” “Oh, but it was a mistake.” “Sorry,” the angel says, “it’s too late. You’ve said it, it’s recorded.” I think it’s very, very important. We’re going to answer for everything we’ve ever said.
Let me turn to Matthew 12 for a moment. You say, that’s only Ecclesiastes. We know that doesn’t count so much! What about the words of Jesus himself? Matthew 12:36−37:
“But I say to you, That for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment...”
Every idle word. What’s an idle word? It’s a word that does no work. It’s a word that you don’t follow up, it’s a word that’s just noise that comes out of your mouth or marks on a piece of paper but it has no validity. Every one of those words we’re going to give account on the day of judgment.
“...for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
I have a two week radio series⎯I didn’t plan this but I feel the Holy Spirit is telling me⎯entitled “Does Your Tongue Need Healing?” I have a kind of feeling some of you would do well to listen to that two week radio series! Does your tongue need healing?
Let’s consider briefly a few examples of how the judgment will be carried out. First of all, let’s look in 1Corinthians 3, beginning at verse 11.
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ...”
We’re talking about people who have built their lives on that foundation.
“...therefore there is no condemnation. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw; each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will declare it because it will be revealed by fire. The fire will test each one’s work of what sort it is.”
There are two kinds of service that we may offer to Jesus. One is gold, silver, precious stones. The other is wood, hay, straw. The difference is that when the fiery eyes of Jesus fall upon the wood, hay and stubble, they’ll be consumed in an instant. I mean, nothing left. But gold, silver and precious stones stand the test of fire.
I think it’s obvious, really, that God is more interested in quality than quantity. You can pile up mounds of wood, hay and straw but what’s the good of it? Can you picture the person who spent 30 or 40 years in the ministry pastoring a congregation and all he’s got is this mountain of combustible material. And, in one instant in the presence of Jesus it’s gone. His life’s work is blotted out. He’s still saved but he’s a naked soul.
Let’s read the next verse.
“And the fire will test each one’s work of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endure, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss. But he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
I think the New International Version says “like someone escaping through flames.” That’s tragic. It’s wonderful to be saved as a soul for eternity but what a tragedy that everything you’ve given your life to in the service of the Lord just disappears like that in a moment.
I tell you one thing about the Bible, it is not sentimental.
Then, I think we should read the next two verses, too. That’s 1Corinthians 3:16−17.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
That’s directly in the context of our judgment before the Lord. I think we need to bear it in mind. What it says to me is this: That God is very jealous about anything that affects the church, the temple of God. Anything that defiles the church comes under his severest judgment. Again, I find many contemporary Christians are extremely careless about how they treat the church.
There’s been one kind of prayer that I’ve had over the years which is, “God, may I never be held accountable for injuring a church or a family.” I find God is the avenger of the church and family. I really need to warn you, be careful. You can leave a church, that’s all right. But be careful how you do it. Don’t go out and speak against the church that you leave. Do you know what I learned as a pastor? People who come to me and criticize the church they’ve come from in due course will leave me and criticize my church. They’re not buildable material at all. I believe every Christian should belong to the church where he feels at home but let’s respect the church. If anybody defiles the church, he’s accountable to God.
I travel around so much I find there are certain things that are preached against and certain things are never spoken about. Basically, in the church it’s a sin to be a drunkard but it’s no sin to be a glutton. In God’s eyes, I think, they’re just the same.
I’ll just take a moment, We won’t read them. The two well known parables of the talents and the pounds or minas. These are patterns of judgment. If you want the reference, the talents are in Matthew 25:14−30, the pounds, or the minas as they’re called in modern translations, are in Luke 19:12−27.
In the parable of the talents we have this ruler who goes away and he leaves behind his servants and he commits to them certain sums of money. To one he gives five, to another he gives two and to another he gives one. After a long while he comes back and the first thing he does is to reckon with his servants⎯I think that’s interesting⎯before he does anything else. The one who had five said, “Look master, I’ve traded with your five talents, I’ve made five more.” The master says, “Well done, you good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little, I will make you ruler over many things.”
The one who had two comes and says, “I’ve traded with your two, I’ve made two more.” The words of commendation are exactly the same. “Well done, you good and faithful servant.” In other words, apparently 100 percent increase was the maximum. Anybody who achieved a maximum with whatever he started with was considered equally commendable.
I’d like to point out to you that he didn’t say “Well done, you good and successful servant.” I don’t think God is so much interested in our success as we are. Much that’s considered success by this world’s standards is not assessed that way by God. What God is looking for is faithfulness.
Then there came the man that received the one talent and he said, “I knew you were an austere man, you reap where you haven’t sown, you gather where you haven’t scattered. So, I just hid my talent in the earth.” You see, that man’s problem was his picture of God. He really thought God was somehow his enemy. I’ve seen that that’s a very dangerous attitude. “Well, God’s going to pick on me for something, I better be careful.” The words of condemnation that Jesus spoke were very severe. “You wicked and lazy servant.” Notice, laziness is a sin, too. I mean, just as much⎯in fact, I think it’s more of a sin than drunkenness. I don’t think you find a good word in the Bible about laziness.
Then the Lord said, “Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten.” And they said, “But he’s got ten.” He said, “That’s right. But the one who has, to him will be given and from the one who has not will be taken away even that which he seems to have.” And then, “Cast him into utter darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That man was totally and finally rejected from the presence of God.
What was the difference between him and the man who got mountains of hay and straw? I think the difference is this. The man who piled up straw was really doing something for God. He was misguided. But the man who just buried his talent did nothing. You see, the Bible says faith without works is dead.
I also observe this and I’ve had more than 40 years to observe it. It is really true. To the one who has it will be given. From the one who does not have it will be taken what he seems to have.
I say something which some of you might find rather strange. When the Lord gave me the gift of faith for lengthening people’s legs⎯which many of you have seen me do⎯some of my good friends suggested to me that this wasn’t a very dignified thing for a scholarly Bible teacher to go around doing. I said I’ll check with the Lord. When I checked with the Lord I felt he gave me a clear answer. He said, “I’ve given you a gift. There are two things you can do with it. You can use it and get more or fail to use it and lose it.” My mind was made up that moment. I said I’ll use it and get more. To the glory of God, I can say consistently I have got more and more and more. But, I can think of others to whom God gave gifts who didn’t use them. And do you know what I think? Some of those gifts have come to me. That may shock you but I really think I’ve got some gifts God didn’t originally plan for me to have but he gave them to another servant who didn’t use them. He said, “Take them away from him. There’s that man, Derek Prince. He’s got a lot of faults but he does use what I’ve given him.”
Then there’s the ten pounds, the ten servants, each of whom received one pound or one mina. The difference there is each one received the same. With the talents the Lord said God gave to each one according to his ability. God doesn’t give us more than we can use.
Let me also point out this which I think is very important. Characteristically it’s the person with one talent who doesn’t use it. If you think you’re a one talent person, let me tell you, you’re the one who’s in real danger. Because you tend to think, “Well, all I have is one talent. What can I do with that?” Remember what the Lord said? If you can’t do much with it, put it in the bank and I’ll have my own with interest when I come. What does that mean to put it in the bank? It means to invest it. You don’t have a ministry of your own but you’ve got a talent. Invest it in somebody who does have a ministry. There’s lots of ministries that are bringing forth lots of fruit. There’s no reason for you to put that under the seat in the church and hide it. You invest somewhere. You’ll get the credit for what’s achieved by that ministry. You’ll get no credit for what you hide under the church pew.
Anyhow, we come to the ten pounds. Each one had one pound, the one mina. The first one traded and made ten. The second traded and made five. Their words of commendation were not the same. There was greater commendation given to the one who traded and made ten than to the one who traded and made five. Furthermore, their destiny in eternity was settled. To the one who made ten the Lord said, “Be over ten cities.” To the one who made five he said, “Be over five cities.” That tells me very clearly there our responsibilities in eternity will be determined by what we’ve done in time. I believe we’re all destined to rule in eternity with the Lord. But the extent of our rule and our authority will be determined by the faithfulness by which we’ve administered whatever God entrusted to us in this age.
The one who had one and did nothing with it heard exactly the same words of commendation. “You wicked and lazy servant.” He was rejected. Obviously, finally.
Those are just parables but they’re patterns. I think they contain very simple principles that are easy to grasp. If you are faithful in what God has given you and it’s multiplied, God will commend you and your assignments in eternity will be determined by your faithfulness in time. If you do nothing with what God has committed to you you will be finally and totally rejected from the presence of the Lord. That’s wickedness.
Now, in closing let me just offer you two principles of conduct which I believe can help you. You say, “I really don’t know exactly what to do and you’ve kind of scared me. I’m not sure that I’m really where I ought to be. What advice would you give me?” Well, just let the apostle Paul give you two verses. The first is in 1Corinthians 10:31.
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
You’re safe when everything you do you do to the glory of God. Notice it’s very simple things like eating and drinking. It’s not some spiritual service but the simplest acts of daily life should be performed with the glory of God in view.
I should stop but what does it mean to eat to the glory of God? I mean, your answer is as good as mine. First of all, I think it means you acknowledge your food comes from God. Second, you give God thanks for it. Third, you realize that the strength you receive from it you owe to God for his service.
I think some of your physical problems would be solved⎯honestly⎯if you’d eat that way. Some of you.
And then, the other principle is in Colossians 3:17. I don’t know how much good it does praying for the healing of people who consistently abuse their bodies. Colossians 3:17:
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Again, that’s a rule for everything. You put them together, there are three rules. Do all to the glory of God, do all in the name of Jesus and, do all giving thanks to God. I want to suggest to you anything you could do to the glory of God, in the name of Jesus, giving thanks⎯you’re perfectly safe to be doing it. And, anything you can’t do you probably shouldn’t do. Is there any reason why anybody should do anything that we don’t do to the glory of God? Is there any reason why we should do anything that we don’t do in the name of Jesus? Is there any reason why we should do anything that we can’t give thanks to God in? See, I believe if you would accept those three principles you couldn’t go wrong.
One final word. If you doubt, don’t do it. May the Lord help you. I think somehow⎯I’m a little informal this morning⎯I think in a way we ought really to deal with that issue of broken vows just to help people. I’m not doing this for any reason except to help people. If you’re here and as I spoke about making vows you did not keep and the Holy Spirit put his finger specifically on something and you realize that that’s something you’ve still got to answer God for, and you would like to tell God, “God, I’m sorry, but with your help I will retrieve that vow and I’ll keep it. I’ll do whatever I can.” If you’d like to make that confession and acknowledgment to God, I would like you just to stand up where you are in your place⎯if that’s your situation. I’d like the other pastors to come and stand here with me.
You see, you’ve got a ball and chain around your ankle. You can try to run the race but you’re dragging that vow you didn’t keep. Now, let’s just turn to God. Would you say these simple words after me? “Lord Jesus, I know that one day I’m going to stand before your judgment seat. And Lord, I don’t want to come there with a broken vow behind me. If I’ve made a vow, Lord, that I haven’t kept, Lord, I ask you to forgive me. I repent, Lord. I ask you to enable me to do whatever is appropriate to fulfill that which I vowed. Give me your grace, Lord. Give me your strength. I look to you now, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” God bless you.