Under Review - Pt. 2
November 17, 2019 Pastor: Philip De Courcy Series: Life After Life
Topic: Sunday Sermons Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:9-11
Transcript of our Sermon Audio:
We're in a series on heaven called life after life. Take your Bible and turn to 2nd Corinthians 5:9 to 11. We started a message last Sunday morning entitled Under Review, and I want to come back to that. Last week we were looking at the doctrine of the Judgment Seat of Christ, maybe perhaps a new doctrine to many of you, but it's a sobering doctrine. It's a stirring doctrine, and it reminds us that someday we will stand toe-to-toe, eyeball to eyeball with the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will give an account for our days on the earth and the things we did in our body, whether good or bad, whether worthy or unworthy, whether useful or useless. We reminded ourselves that life after life begins with Jesus looking at our life to determine the extent of our eternal happiness.
That's challenging. That's why Robert Moffat, the great Scottish missionary, said that "we have all of eternity to celebrate our victories, but we have one short hour before the sun sets to win them." That's why Jonathan Edwards, the great New England theologian, as a young man wrote several resolutions that he wanted to shape and drive his life, and he said this in one of them: "Resolved to endeavor, to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all power, might, vigor and violence I am capable of or can bring myself to exert in any way that can bring about that truth." Listen to those words again, "I endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world," and the Judgment Seat of Christ will determine that, will decide that. So let's come back and look at 2nd Corinthians 5:9 to 11. We're reminding ourselves of that judgment seat when you and I will give an account for the things done in our body.
I think it was several years ago, if my memory serves me right. I heard a sermon by the great Dr. Stephen Alford on the three judgments of Christian thesis. He said this: Our past judgment as sinners, that was taken care of at the cross. There's therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ. If we put our faith in God's son, we put our faith for God through our sin, in Jesus Christ we will pass from life onto death, we will not come into judgment. Our past judgment as sinners was resolved at the cross, and it is ours through faith in Jesus Christ. There's not only our past judgment as sinners, there's our present judgment as sons. We know from Hebrews Chapter 12, Verses 6, 7 and 8 that the Lord Jesus Christ does not let us sin easily, those whom he loves, he chastises. When you and I are outside the binderies, when you and I are heading in a direction that's outside the will of God, out of love Jesus Christ might grab us by the scruff of the neck and drag us backwards towards himself. He might use sickness. He might use circumstances. He might use the rebuke of another and our lives, but He will judge us as sons so that indeed He might promote holiness in each of our lives.
Our past judgment as sinners resolved at the cross, our present judgment as sons ongoing in discipline and our future judgment as stewards. 1st Corinthians 4:1 to 5 reminds us that as stewards of God, we need to be found faithful. God has given us time, talents, treasures as a stewardship, and He expects us to take our life and dedicate it to His glory, and then some day we will give an account for that stewardship. In the basis of that we will be rewarded. So I want us to come again and look at this Judgment Seat of Christ. We looked at the ambition in Verse 9, therefore we make it our aim or our ambition while they're pressing an option to be well-pleasing to him. Given what's at stake, given the Judgment Seat of Christ, we will want to hear the well-done so that we might have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God. Remember that it's faith in Jesus Christ that will get us to heaven, but it's works produced by faith that will determine what we get when we get to heaven.
When you know that, you set an aim and you have an ambition in life to be fine-pleasing to him, "to secure for yourself through endeavor as much happiness as is possible in the life to come." Jonathan Edwards. We move on, the ambition, the appearance. Paul is driven to be fine-pleasing to Jesus Christ, because he knows that one day he will appear, stand before Christ and give an account of the days of his life. Verse 10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." You get a similar thought in Romans 14:12 to 14. In fact, I want to remind you that this is the thing that keeps Paul up at night. It gets him up early in the morning, and it keeps him working lead into the night, the thought of his personal accountability before God. Daniel Webster was a statesman here in the United States, for a time the secretary of state. He was asked one day, what was the most profound thought that's ever occupied his mind, to which he replied, "My personal accountability to God."
That is a profound thought, that every minute of every hour, every day of every week, we will give an account for. Every action, every thought, every deed. That's a profound thought, and that's what kept Paul up at night. It was the terror of the Lord. It was standing before God and having his life ticked through. Paul didn't fear death, because the resurrection of Jesus Christ had solved that for him. Absent from the body, present with the Lord, but the judgment seat of Christ, his personal accountability before God, that was another thing. He dreaded the thought of picking up the ashes of any worthless service or lazy effort committed by him and pressing them into the nail scarred hands of the savior on that future day. You hear that, don't you, in his letter to the Philippians and in his letter to the Thessalonians. "Just tell me you guys are doing okay. Tell me that I haven't labored in vain. Tell me that I'm making an impact for Jesus Christ. My life counts for eternity, because in any given day, I'm either winning or losing, winning reward or losing reward." Paul is driven by this appearance.
Let me talk to you about this appearance before the judgment seat of Christ. The judgment seat is a Greek word, "Bema." It spoke of a raised platform. It was a judicial tribunal often where a judge just was sat and declared some decision or deliberation on someone in the courtroom, or perhaps I think more fitting is the idea that it was a raised platform in a sports stadium. The Isthmian Games or the Olympic Games, there was the Bema. Somewhere in the stadium you'd see a raised platform, and a judge or an empire sat on it, and after the sport was played, after the race was run, the athletes and competitors would come before the Bema, the judgment seat, the raised platform. You know what? It would be determined if they ran according to the rules, and the winners would win and the losers would lose. Crowns would be handed out, stephanos, garland wreaths that would be crowned on the winners. That's the image. That's where we're at.
I want to remind you, by the way, very quickly that the Lord Jesus Christ is perfectly suited to judge us. From John 5:22, we know that the father has given all judgment into the hands of the son. We know from 1st Corinthians 4:1 to 5 that Paul accepts that Jesus Christ is perfectly suited. In fact, regarding his own ministry and the judgements that people were making of him, they were measuring his ministry. He said, "It's a very light thing with me that I should be judged in a human court of public opinion." In fact, he says, "I don't even judge myself. I'm not even a good judge of myself because one, sometimes I don't know my true self, and secondly, I tend to be easier on myself, so I'm not even a good judge of myself." He says, "Why don't we stop judging one another and wait until the Lord comes who will judge and the hidden motives of the heart will be revealed in the counsel of man's minds or become plain."
And I'll tell you why Jesus is a good judge. His deity and his humanity, right? We believe that Jesus united his humanity to his deity at the incarnation, and even to this day, Jesus has carried his humanity to the heights of the throne. There is, as Leon Morris says in his famous book, a man in glory. The Lord Jesus is in physical form in heaven, and when you and I are judged by him, we'll be judged by him who is both God and man. Now, on the side of deity, that means he will be fair, knowledgeable, just and perfect. But I'm also glad on the side of his humanity that will allow him to be understanding and balanced and sympathetic, having been tempted in all points like as we, he is qualified to be a sympathetic high priest and a perfect judge.
Now, as we talk about disappearance several things quickly. Number one, what I call it's inevitability. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. It's a summons, not a suggestion. You don't get the duck out on the judgment seat of Christ. That's universal. It's without exception. We must all appear before the judgment seat. It's a day in your life as sure as today. 1st Corinthians 3:13, "For the day will declare it." There's coming a day when we'll all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Get it into your planner and let that future day affect every day, and also reminds you, according to Romans 14:12, "Every one shall give an account of himself to God." How sobering is that? every one shall give an account. That's a Greek word, logos. Everyone will speak something. We will speak to the Lord about the way we lived and how we acted.
We will give an account to the Lord. We will make a defense of ourselves. You're going to have to make a defense of the days He gives, the gifts He give, the time He allotted, and His call on your life and my life. And you know what? Unlike an American court where you cannot be compelled to testify against yourself, you can plead the fifth. There's no pleading the fifth at the judgment seat. We must each speak and give a defense of our lives. It's challenging, it's inevitability.
Number two, it's individuality. For we must all, universal, appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one particular may receive the things done in the body. It's back to Romans 14:12 to 14, that similar thought about the individuality of this event. "So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God." The judgment seat of Christ is single file. We're not going to be assessed as societies, as churches or families. We'll each give an account of himself. 1st Corinthians 3:13: "Every man's work will be tested." There's no shifting the blame, no pointing the finger. One of the things we're good at is making ourselves look good by making a comparison to someone else and making them look bad. Be none of that going on. It'll be something like Peter and John in John 21. Remember Peter's told how his days are going to end crucified? He looks at the beloved disciple John, who's leaning on Jesus's breast. Kind of what's going to happen to him? Tell me, is his end as bad as my end? What's his story?
What does Jesus say? "What's that to you? Follow me." That's kind of what's going to go on at the judgment seat. You'll give an account for your sanctification as a husband, as a wife, as a daughter, as a son, as an individual. You can't hide behind your husband or your wife or your children or your parents. You won't be assessed as a small group. There's no anonymity. No anonymity, no melting into the crowd. Some of you might know this, maybe not, but for a time before I was a believer, I was involved in a flute band in Northern Ireland. There was often political periods in Northern Ireland. Some good, some bad, and I was involved in one of these bands.
It was a flute band, so we had a core of drums, and then we had line upon line of flutes. Sometimes if we were going in one of these large and public marches and we were down a few fluters, we had to get some guys to join the band who couldn't even play the flute. We'd give them a flute and a uniform. We're telling them to hold it up to their lips but don't blow, and we'd swell our ranks so we looked good marching down the street. I played the drum, I played the bass drum, which was my favorite, and then I played the flute. But these guys couldn't play the flute. We called them dummy fluters, and sometimes we had several of them in our band, dummy flutters. You wouldn't know the difference. They melted in with the band. They looked the part, but we knew they couldn't play a lick.
Come the judgment seat of Christ, all the dummy Christians will be exposed. All those who are hiding, melting into the crowd, but their service is meager. Their giving is non-existent. Their involvement in the church, small. Inevitable, individual, intense, staggering and sobering encounter eyeball to eyeball, toe-to-toe with the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the way is described in Revelation 2 and 3 as having eyes as a flame of fire. The implication is like he burns through. He sees and sees through. This is the one before whom we will stand and, our lives will be turned inside out. The day will declare what kind of work we did. All the councils of the heart will be exposed. We will appear. In fact, the Greek word here appear means to make manifest. It carries the idea of being stripped down or being laid bare. It speaks of peeling away facades of ripping off masks, of revealing the true nature of a thing.
I just want you to realize this is not some Sunday school prize giving. This isn't a mercy seat even. This is a judgment seat. This is a severe peering in to your life and my life, the crevices of our heart, the head and motives. Striking. Christ will do a deep dive in to our lives. No blind spots, no secrets, no double life. It's intense. It's a tribunal. It's a judgment seat. It's a raised platform upon which the judge and umpire will decide the abundance of our entrance into the kingdom of God, the fullness of our joy in heaven, our authority and position within the kingdom of God, both in the millennial kingdom for a thousand years on earth and then the eternal state at the follow, the new earth and the new heaven.
And believe me, the outcomes are permanent and the loss lasting. We're told, aren't we, in 1st Corinthians 3 as the metaphor of a building is used. "The foundation is Jesus Christ," and you know what? There's going to be a building inspection someday, which is your life and my life. Jesus, the building inspector, who is also the foundation, is going to check how we built on the foundation. Did we use the best of materials? Did we do some good work? What's the quality of our work? "Each one's work will become clear, for the day we'll declare it because it will be revealed by fire and the fire will test each one's work of what sort it is. If anyone's work, which he has built endures, he'll receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he'll suffer loss."
I think the loss is the reward you could have won. You're not going to lose your salvation. You're not going to lose everything because according to 1st Corinthians 4:5, if you and I are a true believer, there are going to be works that mark our lives, because we're created in Christ Jesus unto good works. But the volume will differ and the quality will differ. You know what? You and I need to be like Jonathan Edwards and bring all endeavor to bear upon the pursuit of winning for ourselves much happiness in the life to come. But you can lose out, and the loss is permanent. It's not like a thousand years after we die and we're in God's kingdom, we get a redo or we get to make it up. You get one life. It will soon be passed. Only what's done for Jesus will last. Every day your life, my life, we're winning or losing. Every day we're winning or losing. We are accruing to ourselves greater happiness in the life to come, more reward, or we're not, because we're getting caught up in the affairs and the toys and the politics and the pleasures of a world that's passing away, and we forget that only he that does the will of God will endure forever.
Serious stuff, serious stuff. The outcomes are permanent. The loss is lasting. The shame is severe. I'm not convinced there won't be tears in heaven. The wiping away of the tears don't come too well in the Book of Revelation. 1st John 2:28 talks about not to be found ashamed at His coming. I'm telling you, this isn't a Sunday school prize giving. This isn't a mercy seat. This is a judgment seat, and you and I will weep. Looking into the face of the one who spurred nothing for us, we will cry and mourn over the loss of reward, because we didn't give him our all. We prayed at church. We mucked around with the things of God. We were in and we were out. We were stirred by sermons and good intentions rose up, and there was no follow through. It's all there. Isn't that why David Bernard often prayed, "Lord, help me not to linger on my way to heaven." Because this is inevitable, individual, intense.
What about the issues? It's issues. Well, broadly speaking, it's the things done in the body, isn't it? Therefore, we make it our aim whether present or absent to be pleasing to Him, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body. That's just all of life, post-conversion. What did we do with our body? Where did we go? What did we do with its hands? What did we do with its feet? 1st Corinthians, right? "Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it to the glory of God." Do we? Do we live coram Deo, "before the face of God?" Do we make sure there is no wall between the saccular and sacred, and everything we do, leisure, play, family, work, love, career, it's all an expression of His Lordship. We'll turn it all to an act of worship. Have we dedicated our bodies? Romans 12:1 to 2.
Every day do we keep this body, which He has given us? This brain, this ability to think, gifts that He has given us, the health that He has given us. Do we take all of that and say, "Lord, what do you want to do today with me?" Do we pray as we've often said in this pulpit on our bed, "This bed is the altar. My body is the sacrifice. Lord, help me to prove what is that good and acceptable will of yours." When given the sexual temptation that abounds, do we possess our bodies and honor? 1st Thessalonians 4. Do we guard our minds? Some of us has stand our bodies in sexual sin with premarital sex, extramarital affairs. Some of us are addicted to pornography, all causing us to lose out, because someday you'll give an account for things done in the body with the body.
By implication we'll be challenged not only by what we did with our bodies, but what we didn't do, what we call the sins of commission, and the sins of omission. The judgment seat will not only look at what we did, but what we didn't do, what we should have done. Hebrews 10:24 to 25 is an example. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, such as the manner of some is." Don't miss church. Don't miss body life. "But stir one another on the love and good works, so much the more as you see the day approaching." Jesus loves his church and at the rapture, he's going to gather his church, and every Lord's Day, the people of God gather to worship him, and some of us don't come. Because we have better things to do on the Lord's Day, or we're taking our kids to some sporting event. It's crazy stuff. You'd get the point. It's challenging.
In fact, let me say this too, it's not just what we do, but how we do it. That's the implication of 1st Corinthians 3, isn't it? 1st Corinthians 3, when our work is looked at, the life we're building, the family and marriage we're constructing, the church we're seeking to put together for God's glory, it's all going to come under scrutiny. The focus is not only what was done, but the way it was done. "Each one's work will become clear, for the day will declare it because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test each one's work." Notice this. "Of what sort it is." I don't know about you. Have you caught onto this idea in the evangelical church? We're in love with quantity, but Jesus is in love as much if not more with quality. Not how big it is, but how good it is.
It may not be the biggest ministry anybody has ever seen, but it is the best. Is it the best? Am I giving my best? And you know what? The judgment seat will declare the quality and kind of work we do. Christ will be looking at attitude and the audience. Was the attitude right and was the audience God? Jesus tells us as an example of what I'm talking about in Matthew 6. "When you pray, do not pray like the Pharisees." How interesting. Before he says in this manner pray, he says, "Here's the way I don't want you to pray, because they like to pray on the street corner to be seen of man." Jesus says they have their reward. All they're going to get is the applause of man. You want the applause of heaven, then make heaven your audience, and make sure your motive is God-honoring.
Listen, if the devil cannot get us to do wrong, he will get us to do the right thing the wrong way. Reminds me of the story of the old Scot of a former generation who told the wrong coin out of his pocket, and he intentionally dropped the gold sovereign in the offering bag at the church service. Realizing his mistake, he tried to put his hand kind of back in the offering plate. He was slapped on the wrist by the deacon and said, "Once in, it stays in." He tried to rationalize and he said, "You know what? Well, I intended to give a shilling, but I gave a gold sovereign. I guess I'll get credit for it in heaven." To which the deacon replied, "Hardly. You'll get credit for your intention, which was a shilling, not what you give." It's a good reminder. Jesus is interested in attitude and audience.
Finally, on this, it's immanency, it's individuality, it's inevitability, it's intensity, it's issues, it's immanency. This is by deduction. We made this argument last week. Remember when we answered a series of questions? Who, when, were, what? Who? Believers at the judgment seat of Christ. Where? In heaven. When? After the rupture. What? Works post-conversion. I'm going to come back to that thought. I believe that the judgment seat of Christ will happen immediately after the rapture, which is another word for the catching up or catching away of the church described in 1st Thessalonians 4. We'll be caught up to meet Him in the air and soever be with the Lord. That's the rupture. I believe that happens, but prior to the tribulation, it's a distinct event from the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ at His second coming in a moment of universal revelation. 1st Corinthians 4:5 tells us, "You know what? Don't judge one another until the Lord comes and let him judge us." James 5:7 and 8 tells us that, "The coming of the Lord is at hand. The judge is at the door."
It seems very clear that the judgment of believers happens at the return of Jesus Christ for the church. Here's my deduction. The rupture is imminent. If the rupture is something distinct from the revelation, which I believe it is, and I've made that argument in other sermons, which I'm not going to cover today. The rupture is a movement of the church to heaven, where the revolution is a movement of the church to earth, Revelation 19, as Jesus returns with the sins. If the rupture is imminent, that doesn't mean the next moment. It means any moment, then you and I need to be ready for it. This judgment seat is imminent. I'm not saying it's going to happen the next moment, but I am saying it could happen at any moment. Today, tomorrow. Are you ready? Am I ready to look sea of you're in the face? While none of our records will be perfect since we're fallen creatures, do you have a spiritual resume? On the scoreboard, are there spiritual wins, sanctification, soul winning service? There better be. There must be.
Look, I used to like it at the master's seminary when an exam was coming, maybe the final exam at the end of the semester, and the professor would give us some questions. He said, "Hey, here's a list of questions that might come up on the exam." Give you a kind of a headstart. You weren't shooting in the dark. I loved that. What I didn't like was getting into a class at the the master seminary, and all of a sudden the professor would go, "Pop quiz." You go, "What? Man, I shouldn't have watched Monday Night Football." You scramble to do the test, and that's kind of combining both those thoughts. Our final exam can be a pop quiz. It can happen today. Jesus can come back and suddenly say to all of us, "Pop quiz. How did you live your life for me? What did you do with your days? What about that money I gave you, the days I allotted you, the opportunities I sat before you?"
It's challenging, isn't it? That's why we need to, Romans 13:11 to 14, "Wake up, because our salvation is nearer than we first believed." And you know what we need to do? We need to cast off the works of darkness. We need to put on the armor of light. We need to walk properly as in the day, not in revelry, drunkenness, not in lewdness, not in lust, not in strife, not in envy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh. That's what we need to be doing.
Let's move on. The awards. The awards. Remember we have said all along that faith in Christ will determine who gets into heaven, but works prompted by faith will determine what we get when we get into heaven. Remember, belief determines where we spend eternity, but behavior works the way we live after we come to faith. Jesus Christ will determine how we spend eternity. That's what the judgment seat is about. It's not about your entrance, it's about your recompense. It's about your inheritance. It's about the possibility of reward. Go back to our text. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one of us may receive the things done in the body." The word receive in the Greek is to be paid back, to be given what you're owed. 1st Corinthians 3:14 to 15, "If the work that anyone is built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward." Can I just underscore this. There are rewards in heaven.
Heaven's not the reward. Jesus isn't the reward. That's grace. But there are works post-conversion that we are held accountable for. There's a life that God wants you and me to live. There are gifts He has given us that we must employ. There are resources that we are the steward, and we're going to be held accountable. In the basis of it, the depth and breadth of our eternal happiness will be founded. Matthew 5:11 and 12, "You know what? They'll despise you. They'll persecute you, but be glad for your reward in heaven will be great. Reward in heaven will be great." Ephesians 6:8 tells us in our workplace, in our everyday pursuit of our careers, we're to do good so that we might receive back from the Lord. How cool is that? How amazing is God's salvation? We get the gift of salvation. Then in His grace, He produces change in us and He gives us something to do in His name, and you know what? We should and would do it for free, but you know what? He's going to give us back on His investment in our lives.
Now, there are degrees of reward in heaven just as our degrees of punishment in hell. I want you to think about that. Maybe you haven't heard about that before. Buy my friend's books, Mark Hitchcock, Heavenly Rewards. It's a whole book on the judgment seat of Christ, and you need to expose yourself to the thought that not everybody's heaven will be the same, and not everybody's hell will be the same. There is moral accountability and capability. It's hard to believe or imagine in the Bible [inaudible 00:33:26] a sight that God will treat a life equal that's marked by a general ease in relative indifference compared to a life marked by costly commitment, visionary endeavor and selfless service to the hungry and the hurting and the lost. No, there are winners and losers, and the outcomes are permanent and the losses are lasting. Do you realize that heaven will be hierarchical?
No less a theologian than Jonathan Edwards said that, listen to him. "Heaven like everywhere else will be hierarchical. Some would be above others in glory, but such differences would cause no diminishment of happiness, because all would wish only the fullest happiness of others." There will be differences in the kingdom of come, but he's saying since we'll be perfect and sanctified, there's going to be no jealousy because we're going to rejoice in the happiness of others, but there will be a hierarchical kind of structure in heaven. There will be some above others in glory and honor. Jesus said that in one of his parables by implication. To the faithful steward, you'll be over 10 cities, and another one, you'll be over five, and another one, you'll be over one. The guy that didn't do much, you wicked servant. I'm sorry, think it out.
If it's fresh and kind of almost upsetting, listen to Jonathan Edwards again, "There are many mansions in God's hous, because heaven is intended for various degrees of honor and blessedness. Some are designed to sit in higher places than others. Some are designed to be advanced to higher degrees of honor and glory than others, and therefore there are various mansions, some more honorable mansions and seats in heaven and others, though they are all seats of excellent honor and blessedness, yet some more than others." The time will only allow me to kind of hop, skip and jump over this, and you may be of wishing I'd managed my time a little bit more to get into this, but we'll cover some of this as we go along further into the series. Three things jumped out quickly about awards: radiance, rule and recognition. Radiance, rule and recognition. It's my belief, and Jonathan Edwards talks about this and several other writers, that you know what? After the resurrection, some sins will have a greater capacity to know, enjoy and reflect the glory of God in the life to come through their resurrected bodies.
Are we getting a hint of that in Daniel 12:3, which Jesus quotes in Matthew 13:43? Listen to what Daniel says: "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." The wise Christian, the soul-winning saint will shine like stars based on that. Mark Hitchcock in the book, Heavenly Rewards, says, "We could think of it this way. Together as God's redeemed multitude in heaven, we will all be like lights in a magnificent chandelier radiating God's glory, but some of us will be 20 watt, 60 watt, 75 watt and 100 watt bulbs. We will all shine, but perhaps some more radiant than others." It's not a hell I'm going to die on, but it is something to think through. The ability to shine like stars in the life to come, some ability and capacity based on the judgment of our lives to reflect God's glory.
Rule? This is much clearer. Acknowledging Christ's rule over our lives and expressing that lordship through fearful and fervent service on earth will lead to you and I ruling and reigning with Christ in the coming millennial kingdom and in the eternal state. This time is training time. That time is reigning time. Training time, reigning time. As you and I live under the lordship of Jesus Christ and express His rule in our lives, and we restore something of His glory and power as we at the fuller expression of that rule in the millennial kingdom, which will last a thousand years, which then will morph into an eternal state of a new heaven and a new earth where the meek will inherit the earth, where there will be responsibilities in the life to come. You and I need to understand that, you know what? Through serving Christ, we can own and rule land in both future kingdoms. That's what the Bible seems to say. I'm not sure how it all works out, but it's a glorious thought that you and I will rule and reign with Christ.
The meek will inherit the earth. 2nd Thessalonians 2:12: "If we endure with him, we shall reign with him." In answer to Peter's question, "Lord, we have given up much. What do we get?" Instead of saying to Peter, "That's the wrong question, Peter." Jesus answered it. Said, "You've given up stuff for me. You'll be rewarded in this life and in the life to come, and you will sit on the 12 thrones, and you will reign and rule over the nation of Israel." In the Book of Revelation to the church Laodicea, I'll give you one other example of this. There are multiple verses about ruling and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 3:21. This is a promise held out to those who overcome. Jesus says this, "To him who overcomes, I will grant the sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my father on his throne."
In fact, if you go back to Chapter 2 in Verse 26: "And he who overcomes and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations." What a blessing to the master's minority, to the little lambs of Jesus Christ amidst of wolves of the world and the room and empire. We're under the time of the Domitian. We've passed the time of Nero when Christians were sewn in animal skins and used as lighted lanterns in Nero's backyard. Some day the saints will reign and rule with Jesus. Does that not make you want to salivate? And it's all going to be based on your faithfulness. That's the implication of the story of the 10 minas or the talents. When the monster comes back and finds out what the servants did with what they were given, he says to a couple of them, "Well done good and faithful servant. You're over 10 cities in my kingdom. You're over five cities in my kingdom." The person who just held onto it and didn't do much with it, wicked servant.
My wife, June, went to a Presbyterian school in Northern Ireland called the Whitfield College of the Bible. It was layered by quite a famous preacher, quite a controversial figure in many ways, Dr. Ian Paisley. He was a fighting fundamentalist. He was tied in with the Bob Jones University here in the United States. He was a Presbyterian pastor, a moderator of the Presbyterian Church, a member of the British Parliament, a member of the European Parliament, and he was a staunch opponent of the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, he took his Presbyterian vows seriously. Do you read the Westminster Confession? It declares the Pope to be the man of sin. In fact, he once famously stood up in the European Parliament and called Pope John Paul the man of sin to his fierce. It didn't go down well.
I heard him preach once. He was a pre-millennialist by conviction, and one night, tongue-in-cheek, he stood up in a congregation and Belfast and he says, "I'm praying when the millennial kingdom comes that God would allow me to rule over Vatican City." We all laughed, a little tongue-in-cheek, but the thought of it, even the thought of it for a Protestant was quite a thought. You get to rule over Vatican City. If you're a republican in California, you may want to rule over Sacramento in the millennial kingdom. If you're a Buckeye from Ohio, you might want the whole state of Michigan, but here's the thought. At some point on the new earth, if you've been faithful to Jesus Christ, you'll be given land to own and rule and reflect the glory of God. Powerful.
Time is gone, recognition. If I had time to develop that, that's well done, good and faithful servant. That's the raised platform. That's the Bema. That's the handing out of the crowns, five of them, stephanos, not diadem. The Greek word is stephanos, the victor's crown, and there's the incorruptible crown. There's the crown of life, the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory. The point is that somehow these crowns, whether real or symbolic, they represent that Jesus Christ will recognize you and me and honor us with blessing and victory. It's powerful. I hope you're winning crowns, but let me say this in closing, lest we get the kind of the wrong impression, maybe balance this out. While Jesus is working through his honor list, while Jesus is recognizing faithful service, the outcome is satisfaction but not self-glory. Satisfaction but not self-glory. God may reward us, but even in the midst of these rewards, radiance, rule, recognition, we know that in the end the greatest reward is God himself. Amen?
Genesis 15:1: "You are our great and exceeding reward." For me to live as Chris, to die is gain. To be absent from the body and present with him, that's heaven enough. The judgment seat of Christ won't leave us with big heads. Even though we receive rewards, it will leave us with big hearts bursting with the thought of the wonder, love and praise of God. Don't forget that image. I want to mix it into the recipe. Revelation 4:9 to 11 where the elders who represent perhaps the triumphant church in heaven, they cast their crowns at Jesus feet. They cast their crowns at Jesus feet. Whatever the crown represents in terms of honor and glory, the sense of God will kick thy crown that they have received, and they'll give it back in some manner. They'll use it in some manner to glorify the one who has loved them with an everlasting love, because they realize whatever they are, they are by the grace of God that works mightily in them.
In his book on heaven, John Blanchard tells the story of Queen Victoria, who one day in her very court heard a sermon from her chaplain about the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory to take the title deed of the earth and to reign, and every knee will bow and every tongue confess. At the end of the sermon, Queen Victoria said to her chaplain, "Oh, I wish that he might come in my lifetime." When she was asked to explain this desire, she replied with quivering lips, with a countenance that was lit up with deep emotion: "I should love to lay my crown at his feet."
Father, this has been a stirring, challenging sermon and study of a forgotten doctrine, the judgment seat of Christ, but I pray, Lord, it will not remain buried. I pray that these two studies will resurrect it in our thinking, and it will become a North Star in the way we conduct ourselves, young and old, only one life to live. It's going to be past. Only what's done for Jesus will last. Today is a day in which I get to acquire for myself much happiness in the life to come. Oh, may it get us up in the morning, and may it keep us awake late into the evening as we seek to serve you, reach out to the hurting, be a means and a channel of your love so that indeed some day we would hear that, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Lord, help us not to worry about what others are doing or not doing, help us not to compare our gifts with other people's gifts. Just help us to determine who we are, what you've given us and what you want us to do, and help us having put our hand at the plow not to turn back. We have all of eternity to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour before sunset to win them. May we not linger on our way to heaven for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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